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The Supreme Court Of Pakistan


       The Supreme Court of Pakistan is the highest appellate court of the country, the final arbiter of the law and the Constitution. Its orders/decisions are binding on all other courts in letter and spirit. All executive and judicial authorities are bound to act in aid of the Supreme Court. The Constitution contains elaborate provisions on the composition, jurisdiction, powers and functions of the Supreme Court. The qualifications for and mode of appointment of judges, the age of retirement, the grounds and procedure for removal and the terms and conditions of service of judges are elaborately prescribed. The Constitution provides for the independence of judiciary and its separation from the executive. The Constitution assigns the Supreme Court the  unique responsibility of maintaining harmony and balance between the three pillars of the State, namely, the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary. As guardian of the Constitution, the Court is required to preserve, protect and defend this basic authority

      The Supreme Court exercises original, appellate and review jurisdiction. It possesses exclusive original jurisdiction for the settlement of intergovernmental disputes between Federal and Provincial Government(s) or Provincial Governments inter se. Under this jurisdiction, the Court pronounces declaratory judgments. The Supreme Court can also exercise original jurisdiction with respect to the enforcement of fundamental rights if the case involves an issue of public importance. The Court also exercises advisory jurisdiction, whereunder the President may obtain its opinion on a question of law. Under its appellate jurisdiction, the Court entertains appeals against orders and decisions of High Courts and other special courts/tribunals. 

      The Supreme Court was created under the Constitution of 1956. It succeeded the Federal Court, set up in 1948, which was successor to the Federal Court of India, established in 1937. Since its creation in 1956, the Supreme Court has retained its name and jurisdiction through the successive legal instruments including the Constitution of 1973.

       The Constitution of 1956 provided that the Supreme Court should be based in Karachi or at such other place as the Chief Justice of Pakistan, with the approval of the President, may decide. The Court was housed initially at Karachi but later on shifted to Lahore and housed in the High Court building. The 1973 Constitution provides for the permanent seat of the Court at Islamabad. The non-availability of funds however prevented the construction of the building. The Court was shifted in 1974 from Lahore to Rawalpindi and was housed in an improvised building called East Pakistan House. In 1989, funds were allocated for the new building at Islamabad and construction started in 1990. The work was completed and on 31st December 1993 the Court Ws shifted to its new premises in Islamabad. 

      The present building is a majestic addition to the Constitution Avenue in the Federal Capital. Its white marbled façade depicts the strength of the institution to uphold the principles of rule of law and constitutionalism in the country. The open book front elevation reflects a unique synthesis of Islamic and Japanese architectural tradition emphasizing the importance of education, transparency and equality before the law as avowed objectives of the judicial organ of the State of Pakistan. The Court also has branch registries at each of the four provincial headquarters. Cases are filed at principal seat and/or branch registries. Benches of the Court rotate between the principal seat and branch registries to dispose of cases. With wide/broad jurisdiction of the Court, it is a great relief to the litigant parties to have easy and convenient access to justice, closer to home town.


Peshawar High court Peshawar.


      During the last days of the 19th century, Lord Curzon (1899-1905), the then viceroy of India, proposed, primarily for administrative purposes, the creation of North West Frontier Province which got the approval of Lord George F. Hamilton, the then His Majesty’s Secretary of State for India on 20th December 1900.The province having formally founded on 9th November, 1901, (the Kings birth day) had to get one Judicial Commissioner. The N.-W.F.P. Law and Justice Regulation No. VII of 1901 was enacted by the Governor-General-in-Council in order to establish judicial institutions. The Regulation repealed the Punjab Courts Act, 1884. Parts II and III of the Regulation deal with criminal justice, police and civil justice respectively; while part IV provides in detail the constitution and powers of courts. Section 2 (1) (a) read with section 42 of the said Regulation defined the duties and responsibilities of the Judicial Commissioner who was stated to be the highest civil and criminal court of appeal or revision in the province. The Judicial Commissioner was also entrusted with duties of general superintendence and control of all other courts, which were made subordinate to his office. He was to appoint Registrar and make rules consistent with the Regulation and any other enactment for the time being in force.

      The Regulation, besides the Court of the Judicial Commissioner and the Courts of Small Causes, established under the Provincial Small Causes Courts Act, 1887, created such other civil courts as Divisional Court; the Court of the District Judge; the Court of the Subordinate Judge and the Court of Munsif. According to the Regulation, appointments to and removal or suspension from the posts of the Divisional Judge, District Judge and subordinate judge were to be made by the Local Government, and of Munsif by the Judicial Commissioner.

      In 1931, further steps were taken to consolidate and to amend the law relating to courts in the province. In this respect the N.-W.F.P. Regulation No. 1 of 1931 was promulgated. The Regulation, while keeping intact some important powers of the Judicial Commissioner such as precedence over other Judges of the court, distribution of business, administration, and the highest Civil and Criminal Court of Appeal or Revision, provided three classes of courts, viz.

  1. The Court of the District Judge
  2. The Court of the Additional Judge
  3. The Court of the Subordinate Judge

       Thereby changing the hierarchy of courts provided under Regulation No. VII of 1901.The law required the provincial government to divide the province into civil districts to be headed by District Judges who would be assisted by Additional District Judges if required. The status of the District Judge being the principal Civil Court of original jurisdiction was retained. It is clear from the above stated position that the above  law did not repeal N.-W.F.P. Regulation No. VII of 1901 as a whole; a major portion of part IV comprising section 45 to 49 pertaining to courts was, however, repealed.

       The Establishment of West Pakistan Act, 1955, which created the province of West Pakistan, comprised, inter alia, the N.W.F.P. Soon after the enactment of the said law, a separate High Court for the province of West Pakistan was created under the High Court of West Pakistan (Establishment) Order, 1955, Lahore as its principal seat and benches at Karachi and Peshawar. This repealed the former Lahore High Court, the Chief Court of Sindh and the Judicial Commissioner Court in the N.-W.F.P. and Baluchistan and any other Court functioning as High Court for any other specified territories.

       Consequent upon the dissolution of One Unit, which created four provinces and a High Court for each of these provinces, the President issued a separate Order for the establishment of High Courts, according to which the High Court for the N.W.F.P had to be called Peshawar High Court, with its principal seat at Peshawar. Under this law the High Court of the N.-W.F.P. and others were given such powers as were conferred on the High Court of West Pakistan.

       Our Legal history evinces that the law of civil courts has separately been evolved since 1884, the year in which the Punjab Courts Act was enacted. The West Pakistan Civil Courts Ordinance, 1962 (Ordinance II of 1962) has been promulgated thereafter to establish certain civil courts. The Ordinance provided three civil courts, namely, the Courts of District Judge, Additional District Judge and Civil Judge in addition to the Small Causes Courts established under the Provincial Small Cause Court Act 1887. The law empowered the government to appoint, as per requirement, District and Additional District Judges and to fix the number of Civil Judges in consultation with the Chief Justice. Under the Ordinance, the power to determine the class and pecuniary jurisdiction of the Civil Judges rested with the High Court. Accordingly the Civil Judge of the first class was conferred with pecuniary powers without limitation, whereas the Civil Judge of the second and third class were conferred with the pecuniary powers up to Rs 15000 and Rs 5000 respectively. These pecuniary powers have been enhanced by now. The pecuniary jurisdiction of a Civil Judge first class is without limit, while that of Civil Judge second class and third class has been enhanced to Rs. 5,00,000 and Rs. 1,00,000 respectively. The pecuniary powers of the District Courts have been enhanced to Rs. 10, 00,000 vide an amendment in the West Pakistan Civil Courts Ordinance, 1962.

       The Constitution of Pakistan 1973 provides that Peshawar High Court shall have a Bench each at Abbottabad and DI Khan. Article 199 of the Constitution lays down in detail the jurisdiction of the High Court. The jurisdiction was more or less the same as provided under the Constitution of 1956 and further detailed under the Constitution of 1962.


District & Sessions Court Peshawar


 District & Sessions Court exists in each district of the province. It has both civil and criminal jurisdictions. Wherever the number of District and Sessions Judge jurisdiction cases are large, there are also deputed Additional District & Sessions Judges in the District Headquarters as well as in some Tehsils, wherever required. District & Sessions Judge has administrative and judicial powers as head of the district judiciary all over the district under his/ her jurisdiction. The courts of the District & Sessions Judge & Additional District & Sessions Judge are presided by the same Judge, however, when he/she is hearing criminal cases,  called the Sessions Judge/Additional Session Judge, and when  hearing civil cases, then  the District Judge/Additional District Judge. 

The Sessions Court Peshawar was established in 1901 under the N.W.F.P LAW & JUSTICE & REGULATION No. VII OF 1901, at its old building situated on Jail Road, adjacent to M.P.A Hostel and opposite to Central Jail, Peshawar. In the beginning, there was only one District & Sessions Judge, who presided the court but with the passage of time, as the work-load increased, several Additional District & Sessions Judges were also deputed for the purpose of administration of justice. An Additional District & Sessions Judge has the same judicial powers as full District & Sessions Judge except the Administrative Powers which are only exercised by the District & Sessions Judge and in his absence, the senior most Additional District & Sessions Judge at the district exercises such powers.

Major Englis was the first District & Sessions Judge at Peshawar, who served here from  12th December, 1901 to 10th May, 1903. Mr. S. W. Gray was the second District & Sessions Judge of district Peshawar from 20th May 1903 to 3th April, 1905 and so on... Mr. Ashfaque Taj is the present District & Sessions Judge.

Courts in the District

Courts in the District

       For the administration of justice, several courts of law are established in the District Peshawar. Every court has its own jurisdiction which exercises its powers laid down by the law for provision of the justice to the litigants.  Some details of these courts are given below:-

District & Sessions Court

      The appellate court of the orders of civil Judge in civil matters is called District Court. The Sessions Court is the appellate court of the orders passed in criminal matters by Magistrates. The District and Sessions Court is presided over by the District and Sessions Judge  functioning in every district of the province. Depending  the number of cases  in a district, then as per cases pendency, the number of Additional District and Sessions Judges are deputed in such a district for the help of the District & Sessions Judge. The judicial powers of District & Sessions Judge and Additional District & Sessions Judges are equal, however, District and Sessions Judge is the administrative head of the District Judiciary. Apart from the appellant jurisdiction, the courts of District and Sessions Judge/Additional District and Sessions Judge have also powers of original jurisdiction in civil matters such as in the defamation cases, in the encroachment cases,  and in criminal matters such as murder, rape, and robbery .

Civil Courts/Civil Judges Courts

      Civil Courts hear and decide disputes between parties over land, money, ownership, for example. A Senior Civil Judge or Civil Judge presides the civil court, whose decisions can be challenged in an appellate court e.g. District Court in case, the value of the disputed matter is less than one million, or to High Court, where value of disputed matter exceeds one million. All the civil cases are instituted in the court of Senior Civil Judge  who distributes the cases further to other Civil Judges courts, keeping in view their pendency. A Senior Civil Judge also performs duty as DDO of the civil courts and also as Guardian Judge and S. 30 Cr.PC Magistrate. 

Criminal Courts/Magistrate Courts

      Every Magisterial Court is allocated a local jurisdiction, usually consisting of one or more Police Stations in the area. All criminal matters, which are not of a heinous nature, are tried by the Magistrate. When the case is in investigation stage with the police, the Magistrate handles the investigation proceedings. The custody of the accused to the police, of sending them to the judicial lock up and recording statements of the witnesses and accused in investigation stage are made before the Magistrate concerned. Some Magistrates have special powers of trial of particular cases and some Magistrates, especially, Senior Civil Judges are invested with powers of section 30 under the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.P.C.) and they have the jurisdiction to hear all criminal matters other than those which carry the death penalty (such as attempted murder, dacoity, robbery, extortion etc.), but they may only pass a sentence up to seven years  imprisonment.

Family Court

      The Family Court is usually presided over by a Female Civil Judge, however, wherever a female civil judge is not available in the District, then the court may be presided over by a male Civil Judge. In each district, there is a family court , depending on the number of cases in the district.  The West Pakistan Family Courts Act 1964 governs the jurisdiction of Family Courts. These courts have exclusive jurisdiction over matters relating to personal or marital status. Appeals against the decisions of the Family courts are made at the District Judge/Additional District Judge Courts. 

Rent Controller

      The court of Rent Controller is presided over by a Civil Judge and this court deals with all matters relating to the rent of property including houses, shops, for example. Wherever the number of rent cases are large then a separate court of rent controller is established, however, where the number of cases are less, then these cases are transferred to the court of civil judges, dealing with ordinary civil nature cases.

      In district Peshawar, at present, there are working one District & Sessions Judge, fifteen Additional District and Sessions Judges, one Senior Civil Judge, sixteen Civil Judges, three Family Court Judges, one Rent Controller and six Judicial Magistrates.

      Apart from these courts in the old Judicial Complex, Peshawar, there are other special courts such as National Accountability Courts, Anti-Narcotics Court, Service Tribunal, Labour Court, Anti-Corruption provincial court and Anti-Terrorist Courts. These courts are also presided over by District & Sessions Judges and have a separate entity.  

For further details of the different functions of the Judicial Officers and courts, please refer to “JUDICIAL ESTACODE  ” Chapter 2, Section 3 & Section 5 & "The Judicial System of Pakistan"