Dismissing the notion that judges were not working hard, Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice Mansoor Ali Shah said on Sunday that the court system suffered this year because of 3,840 strikes by lawyers in just 10 months.
As a result of the strikes, around 2.2 million cases were not heard in Punjab, Justice Shah said. “0.24 million cases could have been decided according to our calculations had the strikes not taken place,” he added.
According to the judge, of the 3 million cases, 2.1 were wrapped up by the courts this year while 12 million are still pending.
While addressing a ceremony in Lahore, he said that strikes are justified when they are done for a purpose. The chief justice pointed out that in reality, most of these strikes are called for reasons devoid of substance, such as “situation worsening in Turkey or United States”.
Elaborating on difficulties faced by judges, Justice Shah said that there was only one judge in Punjab for every 62,000 residents while there was one for every 4,000 in Germany.
“Some people say that the Lahore Chief Justice is against lawyers,” he said. “If I say that the courts [in Punjab] run the way courts all over the world run and nobody misbehaves with anyone, is that wrong? Is it something to be angry about?”
“They are angry about why the system is changing.”
Echoing Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar’s comments on judiciary not taking ‘dictation’ from anyone, Justice Shah rejected speculations that decisions were being “imposed on courts”.
Justice Shah said that he had initiated the process of accountability from his own home, yet he had still faced backlash.
A lawyer, Anwar Dar, had filed a petition before the Islamabad High Court alleging that LHC Chief Justice had got bank’s loan written off, and asking the court to seek money trail from Justice Shah and details of his family business.
A letter written to the Punjab Information Commissioner on behalf of Justice Shah had stated that while the law does not bind the chief justice to disclose the information sought in an application filed before the information commission, Chief Justice Shah had desired to release the information voluntarily in the public interest.