Supreme Court was put to test by constitutional cases: CJP Bandial

Sohail Khan
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Umer Ata Bandial. — SC website
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Umer Ata Bandial. — SC website

  • Apex court disposed of some 23,000 cases last year, CJP says.
  • CJP Bandial says he has "great respect" justice Qazi Faez Isa.
  • He adds several remarks were inaccurately reported by media.

 ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Umar Ata Bandial Monday said that the apex court's performance was affected when it was flooded with constitutional cases and tested.

"The court itself became a victim of these tough tests and environment several times," the CJP said, adding that these circumstances had affected the performance of the judiciary.  

CJP Bandial's remarks came as he was addressing a ceremony in connection with the new judicial year in the federal capital.

Fifteen judges of the apex court — excluding Justice Yahya Afridi who is abroad — attended the ceremony in which the CJP gave his last address. 

The CJP is set to retire from his office on September 16 upon reaching the age of superannuation. His successor senior puisne Judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa will step into his shoes on September 17. 

"This is my last speech on the auspicious occasion of the new judicial year. Last time, I spoke to you as well." 

He further said: "I don’t want to repeat the environment the court faced, but it faced several times and we have made those events part of our judgment in audio leaks." 

Highlighting the performance of the court after he assumed charge, the CJP said the apex court disposed of some 23,000 cases last year, breaking the record of 18,000 cases in one year.

"Although I wished to reduce the pendency of 50,000 cases, I could manage to address only 2,000 cases from the backlog", he added. 

The chief justice said despite summer vacations, he along with other judges worked tirelessly and lauded the earnest support of his fellow judges for an early adjudication of cases.

Looking towards his successor Justice Qazi Faez Isa, the chief justice expressed good wishes saying, "My brother is an admirable personality. Our view point is different from each other, as when there is an open mind, a difference of opinion is always there. But I have great respect for him as well."

"We have laid down the procedure for exercising the original jurisdiction of the court under Article 184(3) of the Constitution and took only one suo motu case in nine months," he said.

The chief justice expressed grave concern over the economic situation of the country as well as political instability but said once political stability was established, other sectors would also flourish.

"Journalists are the ears and nose of the society. Some inaccurate reporting was done when my remarks 'Good to see you', and 'short and sweet verdict', words were misinterpreted by the media persons", said the chief justice, adding that they ignored it when it was done.

He expressed hope that the Supreme Court would further strengthen and would be independent adding that it was now for the successive administration to strengthen the institution further.

Apart from the other court staff, he also lauded the inclusion of female colleagues on the bench, including Justice Ayesha A Malick and Justice Mussarat Hilali, whom he found kind and cooperative in discharging their constitutional obligation.

'Opportunity to reflect'

Earlier, speaking on the occasion, Attorney General Mansoor Usman Awan said the dawn of the new judicial year provided each of them with an opportunity to reflect and reaffirm their resolve to play their role in ensuring a fair and efficient justice system.

He said the exercise of original jurisdiction under Article 184(3) must be used sparingly and in most extraordinary cases adding that the Constitution required that this jurisdiction be exercised for matters of public importance, related to the enforcement of fundamental rights only — unlike Article 185 which provided more specific guidelines for this court’s appellate jurisdiction.

'Justice to citizens remained slow'

President Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Abid S Zubairi lauded the Supreme Court for continuing its work during the summer vacations; however, he said several cases of a political nature were fixed for hearing before the court due to which dispensation of justice to the ordinary citizens remained rather slow.

He also touched on the issue of election in Punjab where the court’s order was not implemented by the Election Commission ensuring election with a constitutional requirement of 90 days.

He demanded that the Election Commission should be proceeded against under Article 6 of the Constitution so that in future no constitutional institution could dare violate the Constitution.

'Detailed orders delayed'

Addressing the ceremony, Vice Chairman Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) Haroon Rashid said a practice had been adopted by the apex court by issuing short orders while detailed orders were delayed to such an extent that some of the judges retired while the time of filing the review petition also expired.

He requested the designated Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa to establish such a system that could remove such perception and fix cases on merit so that public confidence in the institution could be restored.