ISLAMABAD: With the aim to show ‘transparency and openness’, Lahore High Court Chief Justice Mansoor Ali Shah has posted details of his annual tax returns on the LHC website.
“Let it be opened for the sake of total disclosure, as we, being judges, have nothing to hide. I have posted my tax returns simply for the honour of this institution (judiciary),” the LHC chief justice said while addressing the Annual Tax Conference organised by Rawalpindi-Islamabad Tax Bar Association.
“Public confidence is the basis of any judiciary,” the chief justice said, adding: “I take this step because some people are raising questions regarding this matter.”
Legal experts say this is going to be the first time that such a disclosure is made by a superior court judge regarding their wealth. The chief justice also said that no institution could work without the element of ‘openness’ in it. “Therefore, they are promoting transparency at the LHC.”
The chief justice said special benches were working to end tax matters as 5,000 cases had been decided during one year, 6,500 tax cases were pending in the LHC, in addition to 18,000 cases pending in the ATIR.
Justice Mansoor also said the quality of judgments on tax matters have also been improved in Punjab.
The chief justice urged lawyers to encourage tax culture and “let it be known to the public how important it is to pay one’s taxes for the improvement of health and education infrastructure”.
Regarding the introduction of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) system in Punjab, the chief justice said the system had been effectively working in 36 districts and one judge in each district was being deputed to decide cases through the mechanism. “We are getting reports daily and cases as old as 15 years are being resolved and decided in 30 minutes through the ADR system.”
He also urged lawyers to support the ADR system as this would save their time, adding the ADR was the future.
The chief justice also asked the legal community to change the trend of organising strikes on any issue. “Litigants are suffering due to an unnecessary boycott of court proceedings.”
He informed the participants of the conference that 1.1 million cases were pending in lower courts of Punjab while in the LHC the number was 130,000.
“The LHC has decided 130,000 cases in one year and this improvement has been made due to new innovative techniques in the provincial courts.”
The CJ believes that the case management system is necessary for early disposal of cases “because the whole world has been able to avoid a backlog of cases through this system.”
“Without introduction of Information Technology to the judicial system, there is no future for courts. We are thinking about ways in which to improve our judicial system.
“Access to justice is a fundamental right of every citizen.” He said the enterprise system will be introduced from September 22.
The LHC chief justice also expressed concern over inefficiency of ex cadre courts like banking courts, etc., in the province. “We are discussing with the government that it is the judiciary’s job to run these courts rather than the executive branch.”
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar has already taken satisfactory action over various non-functional tribunals and administrative courts.
The action was taken on a note sent by the Supreme Court Registrar, listing 20 federal tribunals and special courts and 19 provincial tribunals and special courts. The list was based on the data gathered by high courts. The matter is still pending.