74 lakh cases pending before courts28 September 2021
Gulam Rabbani :
The number of the cases is increasing day by day, but the judges are not being recruited in the same ratio. This shortage is crippling the judicial proceedings of the Appellate Divisions of the Supreme Court and lower courts across the country.
The Appellate division is running with the lowest number of judges in its history of last one decade. Once there were highest number of 11 judges, now the number is reduced to five.
The number of cases lying pending with the AD was 15,225 till December 31 last year, according to a study report of Law Lab, a law-chamber that conducts research on legal and constitutional issues.
In 1974, the AD had five judges and the pending cases in the AD at that time were 4,094.
The Law Lab collected the data from the reports published by the SC and from the parliamentary proceedings.
Across the country, the number of pending cases at different courts till December 31 last year was extremely high, 39,33,186.
In one year from January 1 to December 31 that year, 7,39,563 cases were resolved in these courts, said the report.
The SC administration does not have statistics on the numbers of cases filed and disposed of last year and this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, said SC spokesperson Mohammad Saifur Rahman.
According to the Law Lab report, each judge of the AD is bearing burden of more than 3,045 cases on an average as the number of its judges drastically falls.
The judges at the lower courts are also burdened with a huge backlog of cases as there are only 1,700 judges to deal with 34.65 lakh cases filed in courts across the country.
That means each of the judges will have to dispose of 2,038 cases on an average, the report said.
The situation is also worse in the High Court as each of its 91 judges is burdened with 4,923.51 cases on an average. Three of the HC judges are not being allowed to conduct bench as an inquiry is going on against them since August 22, 2019.
Besides, three HC judges are conducting the International Crimes Tribunal-1 for disposing of the 1971 war crimes related cases, SC sources said.
Law Minister Anisul Huq recently said that appointment of the judges is a continuous process.
Supreme Court lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan said, "The number of judges in both the divisions of the Supreme Court, especially in the Appellate Division, is much less than required. We hope that immediate step will be taken in this regard."
The lawyer was also optimistic that honest, competent and meritorious candidates would be considered in the recruitment process.
According to the Article 94(2) of the Constitution, "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."
And the Article 95(1) of the Constitution said, "The Chief Justice shall be appointed by the President, and the other Judges shall be appointed by the President after consultation with the Chief Justice."