4 judges, 16,000 cases
The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court has been facing an acute shortage of judges as no new judges have been appointed to the court for more than two years despite the retirement, resignation and death of some judges.
The crisis of judges has led to a huge backlog of cases in the apex court, causing sufferings to justice seekers.
Law Minister Anisul Huq told the media on Wednesday that some new judges would be appointed soon.
He said he didn't feel that there was a shortage of judges in the Appellate Division although there were four judges now, down from 11 in 2009.
Once, there were seven judges at the Appellate Division. Later, five judges had run the apex court for several years and the four sitting judges have been running the court for a long time, the minister said.
He was talking to journalists after attending the inauguration of a training programme for the lower court judges in the capital's Judicial Administration Training Institute.
Anisul, however, admitted that the number of cases pending before the apex court has gone up.
A law ministry source recently said some judges from the High Court Division would be promoted to the Appellate Division within a month or two, as 18 new judges have been appointed to the HC on May 30.
The number of Appellate Division judges came down to four following the resignation of Justice Md Abdul Wahhab Miah, who had been discharging the duties of the chief justice since October 3 last year.
Justice Wahhab stepped down on February 2 this year after Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain was appointed as the country's 22nd chief justice, superseding the former.
With the 18 new judges, the number of HC judges now stands at 98. The new judges took oath on May 31.
According to SC sources, more than 16,000 cases are now pending with the Appellate Division and 4.75 lakh with the High Court Division. The HC has 98 judges.
On average, around 5,000 cases were disposed of by the apex court and 22,000 to 25,000 cases by the HC in a year.
The president last promoted three HC judges to the Appellate Division on February 8, 2016. The judges are Justice Mirza Hussain Haider, Justice Md Nizamul Huq and Justice Mohammad Bazlur Rahman. Of them, Justice Bazlur has died and Justice Nizamul has retired.
Article 94(2) of the constitution says, “The Supreme Court shall consist of the chief justice, to be known as the chief justice of Bangladesh, and such number of other judges as the president may deem it necessary to appoint to each division”.
According to article 94 (3), “The chief justice, and the judges appointed to the Appellate Division, shall sit only in that Division, and the other judges shall sit only in the High Court Division.”
The total number of Appellate Division judges reached 11 on July 9, 2009 when the then president appointed four new judges for the disposal of some important cases, including those involving the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the fifth constitutional amendment.
SC Registrar General Md Zakir Hossain told this correspondent that he did not know if the chief justice had any plan to take steps for promoting judges to the Appellate Division to fill the vacant posts.
The Supreme Court Bar Association has long been demanding appointment of judges to the vacant posts through formulating a guideline for quick disposal of the pending cases.