Outgoing CJP, AGP differ on reasons behind ever-rising SC caseload
Justice Bandial says Supreme Court was tested by entangling it in constitutional matters while Attorney General says high-profile cases under 184/3 affect general petitioners: Suggests apex court to spend its time hearing cases under Article 185
By News Desk
September 11, 2023 12:32 PM
During the Full-Court Reference at the start of the new judicial year in the Supreme Court, an argument was exchanged between the outgoing Chief Justice of Pakistan and the Attorney General regarding the rising number of unattended cases as both of them held divergent views on the issue with the top judge saying that they were entangled in the constitutional cases and the AGP suggesting that the court spend its time hearing cases under Article 185, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.
Addressing the function on Monday, Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that many constitutional cases came before the Supreme Court in February 2023 and the court was examined by entangling it in the constitutional issues.
The Chief Justice said that the court itself fell victim to the tough test and environment several times.
“I don't want to repeat what happened but it affected the judicial performance. We have made all the incidents part of our decision in the Audio Leaks case.”
He said that as the Chief Justice, he was addressing the new judicial year ceremony for the last time and this might be his last address. He said he highlighted the one-year performance of the court last year.
Chief Justice Bandial said that the Supreme Court disposed of a record 23,000 cases in one year after his appointment and earlier the maximum number of cases disposed of in a year was 18,000.
The outgoing Chief Justice of Pakistan said that he tried to reduce the number of pending cases to less than 50,000, but it didn’t happen.
Talking about Chief Justice-designate Justice Qazi Faez Isa, he said that he might have a different opinion from the newly appointed Chief Justice, but his successor is an admirable person.
The outgoing Chief Justice rued that the media is the eyes and ears of society, ‘but wrong reporting was also done in the media regarding me. My phrase "good to see" was given the wrong colour, and the observation about short and sweet judgment was given which was wrong. Reporting is done, which I forgive’.
The chief justice said that in August 2013, people deposited Rs400,000 in the dam fund which shows public trust in the fund.
He explained that a five-member bench is supervising the dam fund and Rs18.6 billion have been invested in the State Bank of Pakistan out of this fund.
He hoped that the Supreme Court would become a strong and independent institution. He articulated that we have not only learned from agreement but also from disagreement.
“I pray that there will be stability in the country. When there is political stability in the country, then every institution in the country including the judiciary will be strong,” the CJP opined.
During his address on the occasion, Attorney General for Pakistan Mansoor Usman Awan disagreed with the chief justice on the matter of piled-up cases, saying that a lot of work needs to be done.
He said that the number of pending cases is rising. “We appreciate the effort of the top court to reduce the number of cases but still a lot of work needs to be done,” he added.
AGP Awan suggested that the cases of common petitioners be decided without delay. He was of the view that the Supreme Court should devote its energies to hearing cases under Article 185.
The political and high-profile cases of Article 184/3 affect ordinary civilian cases. He opined that these cases should be extraordinary, and must concern public interest and fundamental rights.
The Attorney General said that while exercising the power under Article 184/3, the court should keep in mind the constitutional division of powers.
“By not taking into account the principle of division of powers, the court interferes with the jurisdiction of the Parliament and the Executive,” the Attorney General added.
He was of the view that the indiscriminate use of Article 184/3 has affected the dignity of the court.
“There is a need for transparency in the judicial and administrative matters of the Supreme Court. The Chief Justice appoints judges and forms benches. This prerogative gives an inappropriate proportional control to the Chief Justice while deciding the contentious matters,” the AGP maintained.
He said that the prestige of the Supreme Court could be restored by bringing transparency into the judicial and administrative affairs.
Awan said that with the new judicial year, new leadership would come in the form of Justice Qazi Faez Isa.
“Justice Isa will take over the command of the Supreme Court in a difficult situation. We hope that he will restore people's confidence in the judiciary,” the AGP said.
The Full Court Reference was attended by all the judges except Justice Yahya Afridi.
The attorney general, advocate generals, representatives of the Supreme Court Bar and Pakistan Bar, and a large number of lawyers also participated in the ceremony.
In his address, Supreme Court Bar Association President Abid Zubairi said when the political and parliamentary systems fail, its responsibility also falls on judiciary. He said that he wanted to divert his attention towards holding elections within 90 days.
He said that the Election Commission is running away from its responsibility to hold polls in its stipulated constitutional period time but the Supreme Court too has not taken any step to implement its verdict in this regard.
The SCBA president said that he hoped that the new CJP-designate Justice Isa would ensure the implementation of the constitution and law.
Reporter Amanat Gishkori