PHC categorizes district courts on pendency basis

Humayun Khan

PESHAWAR: Peshawar High Court has categorized district judiciary into three zones A, B, C on the basis of pendency of cases, on Monday. This was revealed by Registrar PHC during press conference held at Peshawar high court. He added that PHC had established plan to ensure zero pendency across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by categorization of district courts into A, B, C zones high, normal and low pendency respectively.

In view of the Judicial Reform Strategy 2018-22, the Peshawar High Court proclaimed its first performance year in 2018. The second performance year was launched in the year 2019. The outbreak of the pandemic i.e Covid-19 influenced litigation and functionality of the court proceedings were crippled as the courts remained closed for over three months.

This resulted in an increase in the backlog of cases. The Peshawar High Court, therefore, after analyzing the performance of the district judiciary devised an exhaustive and all-encompassing policy focusing on worldwide acknowledged key performance indicators (KPIs). The policy provided three main zones keeping in view the pendency of cases.

The requirement of disposal of cases in terms of the policy was 20% for Zone “A”, 30% for Zone “B” and 100 % for Zone “C” for clearance of backlog in addition to 100% disposal against the institution.

As a continuation of its objective to provide inexpensive and expeditious justice/ clear backlog and curtail delay in disposal of cases, the Peshawar High Court declared a third performance year in September 2020.

It was learnt that the Peshawar High Court and the district judiciary despite various challenges such as strikes for a month and the sad demise of the Honorable Chief Justice Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth showed laudable performance. Besides, the cessation of work in courts due to pandemic and summer vacations resulted in staggering institution of cases in the first quarter of third performance year. The launch of the policy after a month of the declaration of first performance year also proved to be an impediment in the quick disposal of cases as the districts required sometime to acclimatize the performance indicators. The availability of Human Resource in terms of the policy is also a stumbling block for effective implementation of the policy.

It was informed that in the first quarter at the district level total pendency in the non-NMDs increased from 212886 cases at the end of August 2020 to 226231 at the end of November 2020. A total of 140049 fresh cases were instituted while 126678 cases were disposed of during the period. In the NMDs, it was disclosed, 5315 cases were decided while 5809 were instituted during the period, thereby increasing the pendency from 6908 cases at the end of August 2020 to 7453 at the end of November 2020.

Cumulatively an institution of 145858 cases was recorded in Non-NMDs and NMDs in the first quarter of the third performance year, as against the disposal of 131993 cases leaving a pendency of 233684 cases at the end of November 2020 vis-à-vis 219794 cases at the end of August 2020. The Child Protection courts, it was informed showed commendable performance by deciding 1366 cases as against the institution of 1247 cases. The performance of the Peshawar High Court also remained remarkable as the percentage of disposal of cases was 102%. Total 7295 cases were instituted in the quarter and 7426 cases were disposed of. The total pendency remained 41958 cases.

Facilitation of the litigants has long been a focus of the policy concern of the Peshawar High Court. With this end in view, the Peshawar High Court pioneered the initiative of authorization of the copying agents of the offices of the Districts & sessions Judges to certify and issue copies from the record of this court and its benches to the extent of the record of respective districts.

Peshawar High Court realizing that the use of technology is increasing at a breakneck pace also started virtual hearing of the cases and virtual benches were created. The creation of the e-courts, virtual benches, and the establishment of the Remote Access Rooms for virtual hearings of the cases is the blueprint for the future of Peshawar High Court.