ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Monday stressed the need for early disposal of pending cases. He was addressing a ceremony held to mark the official start of the 2018-2019 judicial year at the Supreme Court in Islamabad. In his address, Justice Nisar said that the case disposal rate in the last year was higher than in the previous five years. “The number of pending cases, nevertheless, slightly increased,” he added. “We began the last year with the resolve to lessen the backlog of cases faced by the apex court,” he said while placing the number of pending cases at the start of the previous judicial year at 37, 000 – out of which the top court had decided 19, 000 cases. It is pertinent to note that at least 8, 000 cases have been added on top of previous pending cases during the 20-month-long tenure of Justice Nisar. Between 2013 and 2018, the pendency of cases has doubled. The top judge said that frivolous litigation was a “major contributing factor” behind increasing backlog. “Unnecessary adjournments and customary delay tactics were next on the list of factors hampering the judicial process,” he said, adding that removal of such “poisonous” issues was vital for the survival of justice system. “In the past year, the Supreme Court has been the most stringent in this context with a zero tolerance policy to any form of unnecessary delay,” he remarked. He said that judges and judicial staff worked tirelessly round the clock to expedite the litigation process. Justice Nisar called for initiatives to aid lawyers and litigant public, including the issuance of proposed cause lists in advance to enable counsel to prepare briefs and make necessary arrangements for their appearance, simplification of the process of filing of applications and capacity building through training courses at the federal and provincial level. On freedom of speech, the top judge said that the apex court would allow fair criticism but won’t tolerate any attack on the judiciary. He also urged the media to not hold talk shows on sub-judice matters which may cause prejudice. In his address, Pakistan Bar Council Vice Chairperson Kamran Murtaza said it was unfortunate that advisories were being issued to “curb media freedom in democratic periods.” Reiterating that bad governance and injustice had plagued society, the chief justice encouraged the judicial fraternity to aim higher. “We have spent enough time being complacent, it is now time to proactively search inwards and rectify the wrongs within the legal system.” “There is no valour in being complacent, no wisdom in limiting our potential by aiming low and certainly no nobility in looking down on those who aim high despite the odds. You see, time has never favoured the timid, it favours only the bold and courageous,” reflected the top judge. Published in Daily Times, September 11th 2018.