A total of eleven new additional judges have been appointed to the High Court Division of the Bangladesh Supreme Court. All the newly appointed judges have taken oath.
Chief Justice Hasan Foez Siddique administered the oath at the Supreme Court Judges Lounge in the afternoon on Sunday (July 31).
Judges of both the Appellate Division and the High Court Division of the Supreme Court and others related to the judiciary were present during the oath taking ceremony. Among them, Attorney General AM Amin Uddin and President of the Supreme Court Bar Association Advocate Md. Momtaz Uddin Fakir. The oath-taking ceremony was conducted by Registrar of the High Court Division Md Golam Rabbani, while Hafez Masum Billah recited from the Quran. Gita was also recited at the function.
Earlier, President Md Abdul Hamid appointed the 11 additional judges to the High Court for two years in line with article 98 of the Constitution of Bangladesh.
The Law Ministry issued a gazette notification in this regard signed by secretary to the Law and Justice Division of the ministry Md Golam Sarwar. The matter was revealed in the morning on Sunday.
Among the new Additional Judges, five are from Judicial Service and six are from Advocates of the Supreme Court and Deputy Attorney Generals.
The newly-appointed eleven news judges are-- District and Sessions Judge (who was on PRL) Md. Shawkat Ali Chowdhury, District and Sessions Judge in Cumilla Mohammad Atabullah, Deputy Attorney General Biswajit Debnath, Deputy Attorney General Aminul Islam, Advocate of Bangladesh Supreme Court Md Ali Reza, Registrar General of the Supreme Court Md Bazlur Rahman, Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate KM Imrul Kayes, District and Sessions Judge in Tangail Fahmida Quader, Deputy Attorney General Md Bashir Ullah, Advocate of Bangladesh Supreme Court SM Masud Hossain Dolon and Advocate of Bangladesh Supreme Court AKM Rabiul Hasan.
The High Court had been facing a shortage of judges for years. The shortage of judges increased the case backlogs in the higher court and also in the apex court and Covid-19 situation turned the situation graver, causing immense sufferings to the justice seekers.
The eleven new judges were appointed to the High Court to resolve the shortage of judges in the higher court and increase case disposal rate.
The judge shortage in the High Court was going on following the retirement and death of some judges and promotion of the four judges to the Appellate Division. Apart from the vacancies, no one has been appointed in the High Court in the places of these four judges after their promotion.
Four judges from the High Court Division were promoted to the Appellate Division on January 10. The judges who were promoted to the Appellate Division are Justice Borhanuddin, Justice M Enayetur Rahim, Justice FRM Nazmul Ahasan and Justice Krishna Debnath.
After the appointment of the eleven additional judges, the number of judges in the High Court Division of the Supreme Court is now 95. The number of HC judges was 101 in 2012.
Among the HC judges, three have been performing duties as judges of the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT), a domestic war crimes tribunal in Bangladesh set up in 2009 to investigate and prosecute the people who committed crimes against humanity in the Bangladesh War of Liberation in 1971.
Three other HC judges have not been allowed to conduct judicial functions, as an inquiry centering them has been ongoing since August 22 in 2019. The three judges are Justice Salma Masud Chowdhury, Justice AKM Zahirul Hoque and Justice Quazi Reza-Ul Hoque. They have refrained from participating in judicial activities since 2019. Their names don’t appear in the Supreme Court’s working schedule.
Several thousands of cases are pending with the two divisions of the Supreme Court for years. The total number of pending cases in the High Court Division was 4,52,963 till December 31 in 2020. That year, 97 HC judges were serving, according to an annual report of the SC. Last year’s data could not be known, as the updated annual report has not been published till now.