Backlog of cases keep rising
Lower judiciary steps into 6th year of its independence todayStaff Correspondent
The lower judiciary steps into the sixth sixth year of its independence today, with about two million cases now pending in court, causing enormous sufferings to justice seekers.
Experts on law and judiciary, however, think that the independence of the lower judiciary still is on paper as no separate secretariat has yet been set up for the judiciary and the transfer, promotion and posting of judges are still carried out by the executive, the law ministry, although in consultation with the Supreme Court.
They said that the backlog of cases was increasing as the lower judiciary is functioning with shortcomings such as crisis of courtrooms and judge’s chambers.
Lower court judges still share courtrooms by turns in most of the courts across the country and it is a major reason for delayed disposal of cases, they said.
Law ministry and Supreme Court officials said that the backlog continued increasing with an increase in the number of cases being filed and the judiciary found it difficult to cope with the situation with limited manpower and infrastructural facilities and logistics.
A separate salary structure for judges is yet to be framed and a Supreme Court verdict on the increase of the salary of Supreme Court judges is yet to be implemented.
On October 1, the Appellate Division gave the government until November 4 to implement the recommendations the Judicial Service Pay Commission made as the government had failed to meet the a number of deadlines for the implementation of the recommendations.
They said that cases continued to pile up although the rate of the disposal of cases had increased after the judiciary had become independent of the executive with the implementation of the 12-point directive of the Supreme Court giving effect to the amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure on November 1, 2007.
According to statistics available with the Supreme Court as of January 1, 2012, 7.01 lakh civil cases were pending with lowers courts while 3.74 lakh criminal cases were pending with sessions judge’s courts and more than 10 lakh criminal cases were pending with the judicial magistracy.
Supreme Court lawyer Shahdeen Malik, also director of the law faculty at BRAC University, told New Age that some of the administrative functions or responsibilities had been taken over by the Supreme Court but it was yet to have its secretariat or administrative set-up for full administrative or financial control over the lower judiciary.
The executive influence remains on the lower judiciary as the Supreme Court
has no full control over the appointment, posting, transfer of lower court judges, he said.
Retired district judge Ikteder Ahmed, who was the Supreme Court registrar on November 1, 2007, said that the main purpose of separating the lower judiciary from the executive branch was that the Supreme Court would have full control over the appointment, posting, transfer and promotion of lower court judges.
Although the appointment, promotion and posting of lower court judges are made in consultation with the Supreme Court, in practice, the law ministry usually proposes the promotion, transfer and posting and then the chief justice is consulted by the law ministry and finally the president issues the orders ‘in accordance with the advice of the prime minister,’ they said.
Shahdeen and Ikteder also suggested amendment to Article 115 and 116 of the constitution making provisions for the appointment, promotion, posting and transfer of lower court judges at the recommendations of the Supreme Court.
The attorney general, Mahbubey Alam, said, ‘The judges are being appointed, posted and transferred in consultation with the chief justice. So, how can the government influence the lower judiciary?’
The Supreme Court registrar, AKM Shamsul Islam, said that the Supreme Court was still working to set up a secretariat at the Supreme Court. ‘We also have prepared an organogram regarding the secretariat.’
Asked to comment on the results of the separation of the lower judiciary from the executive, he said, ‘We are happy that judicial magistrates now sit in courts on time. Executive magistrates did not sit in courts on various excuses although lawyers and litigants were waiting.’
He also said that judges, despite their various problems, were working from morning to night to reduce the backlog of cases.
There are 1,598 judges in lower courts and a process is on to appoint 75 more judges to fill vacant positions, he added. More than 100 of the judges
are now deputed to ministries and government agencies.
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