Cases piling up in courts | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 29, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:59 AM, August 29, 2015

Cases piling up in courts of Bangladesh

31 lakh lawsuits await disposal; over 1,000 added to backlog every day

A whopping 1,051 cases are added every day to the existing backlog, already in the millions, due to a shortage of judges in the country.

At this rate, around 3.84 lakh new cases will pile up in a year, according to estimates provided in a Supreme Court study, in addition to the 31 lakh pending ones till March 31.

This means it will take at least 945 days or over 2.5 years to dispose off all these pending cases even if no new case is filed from this very day and the disposal rate continues in the current pace.

"Shortage of judges is the main reason behind the ever increasing backlog of cases," observed Law Commission Chairman Justice ABM Khairul Haque.

Though there might be some other "petty reasons" like incompetence of some judges and corruption behind the logjam, it wouldn't have been so acute had there been sufficient judges in service, he told this correspondent on Thursday.

"At least 4,000 judges are required for tackling the current backlog in our country.  But we have only around 1,600 posts for judges and some 400 of them are now vacant. This is very alarming," said the former chief justice, claiming Bangladesh has the highest rate of case disposal in the world.

Different courts of the country disposed off more than 3 lakh cases between January and March this year, according to the SC study released in June.

From 100-200 new judges should be appointed every year, Justice Khairul said.

"There's one judge for every 10,000 people in the USA and for 67,000 in India. But in Bangladesh, we have only one judge for more than 1 lakh people."

As part of his efforts to reduce the case logjam, the Law Commission chief on June 16 wrote to Finance Minister AMA Muhith seeking budgetary allocation for appointment of judges for the lower courts on contractual and permanent basis without delay.

But the commission did not receive any response to the letter till Thursday, according to sources there.

The finance minister could not be reached on his phone for comments despite several attempts on Thursday.

The SC study showed that as of March 31 this year, 3,098,569 cases were pending with all the courts across the country. Of them, 15,383 were with the Appellate Division, 369,813 with the High Court, and 2,713,373 with the lower courts.

Under these circumstances, the government has taken steps for recruiting 400-500 new judges for the lower courts in phases.

When this correspondent on Thursday asked Law Minister Anisul Huq if there was any plan to recruit judges in the HC, the minster replied in the negative and refused to elaborate on this.

Talking to The Daily Star, Law Commission Chairman Justice Khairul held police "somewhat responsible" for the case backlogs.

Many false cases could have been resolved even before the trial proceedings began if the police had properly investigated them and submitted the reports to the courts, he said.

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