CJP for formation of 120 new ACs for early disposal of corruption cases July 08, 2020

CJP for formation of 120 new ACs for early disposal of corruption cases July 08, 2020

ISLAMABAD-Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Gulzar Ahmed Wednesday asked the government for formation of 120 new accountability courts (ACs) for speedy disposal of pending corruption references within three months.

He asked the law secretary to set up new courts after getting approval from the authorities concerned.

The court also summoned the attorney general, prosecutor general and law secretary for the next hearing.

The court also sought suggestions from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman for the expeditious disposal of pending references.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed and comprised Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Yahya Afridi, made these remarks while hearing the case regarding delay in trial of cases by the Accountability Courts in the light of Section 16 of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 requiring decision of NAB cases within 30 days.

The court in its order said five Accountability Courts were vacant in Pakistan whereas 1,226 cases were pending.

The bench said no reason had been given as to why the vacant posts had not been filled up till now. "We are unable to understand the rational or logic behind the courts vacant for long periods by the relevant authorities. More so when we see that the cases before the Accountability Court are to be decided in terms of law within thirty days. The courts keep lying vacant for even years and cases of that court remain pending," the court order stated. 

The bench said the whole purpose of making of accountability law apparently seemed to be rendered futile if the courts were allowed to remain vacant.

The bench noted that the number of pendency of cases in the Accountability Court demand more than hundred number of judges/courts for dealing with and deciding these cases as such cases were being filed regularly and their numbers were also increasing while the numbers of courts were totally stagnant. 

"In these circumstances we direct the law secretary to immediately seek instructions from the government on proposal of creating at least 120 Accountability Courts in Pakistan and to fill-up such courts with the judges and distribute all pending cases among them so that these cases were decided at fast pace and also in accordance with the time frame provided in the law," the court order stated. 

The court said the civil miscellaneous application number 715 of 2020 filed by NAB showed that the cases even of the years, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 onward were pending before the Accountability Courts and apparently there seems to be no valid justification as to why these cases were being allowed to remain pending as they had to be disposed of without delay at all.

"In these circumstances we expect that the law secretary after seeking instructions from the government shall immediately fill in all the vacancies of the Accountability Courts and this shall be done within a period of one week without fail otherwise the court shall take coercive action against the officials who are found defaulting in performing of their duties. Further the strength of the Accountability Courts all over the Pakistan shall immediately be increased by the government in order to ensure that all the pending accountability cases are come to their logical conclusion at fast pace and at least within three months time," the order read. 

The court said the Accountability Courts to the extent of 120 as proposed need to be established to see the backlog of cases decided.

The court said the attorney general for Pakistan and also the law secretary should appear before the court on the next date of hearing. 

The court asked the NAB prosecutor general to submit a report duly singed by the chairman, as to how the NAB propose to deal with all these pending cases and decided them at the earliest.

"We may note that if such measures are not adopted by the government and NAB, the whole purpose of the law will stand vitiated which apparently is not the purpose of the legislature," it added. 

The court directed to relist the case after one week.