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High Court likely to get 20 new judges soon

Published : 30 Jul 2022 09:38 PM | Updated : 31 Jul 2022 03:35 PM

The High Court (HC) Division of Bangladesh Supreme Court is likely to get some new judges soon.

According to sources at the Supreme Court (SC) and the Ministry of Law, around 20 judges may be appointed to the HC within a few days in order to resolve the shortage of judges in the higher court and increase case disposal rate.

“The new judges may be appointed to the HC in a few days. The President will make the appointments in line with the chief justice’s recommendations,” said an official of the Supreme Court.

Chief Justice Hasan Foez Siddique in a recent speech made the  disclosure about the appointment of several new judges to the High Court Division. “We hope that we will get some new judges in a few days. Then the number of benches in the High Court Division will increase. I will try to set up benches for speedy disposal of cases,” he said while addressing an event organised by Dhaka-based Khulna Divisional Lawyers’ Association on Thursday.

According to Article 98 of the Constitution of Bangladesh, the new judges will be appointed as additional judges for two years. 

It was said in the Article 98, the President will appoint one or more duly qualified persons to be Additional Judges for such period not exceeding two years as he may specify, or, if he thinks fit, may require a Judge of the High Court Division to sit in the Appellate Division for any temporary period. 

Meanwhile, Article 95 (1) of the Constitution regarding the appointment of judges to the High Court states, “The Chief Justice shall be appointed by the President and the President shall appoint other judges in consultation with the Chief Justice.”

The High Court Division and the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court have been facing a shortage of judges for years. The shortage of judges increased the case backlogs in the higher court and the apex court and Covid-19 situation turned the situation graver, causing immense sufferings to the justice seekers.

Meanwhile, the shortage of Appellate Division judges has been fulfilled to some extent after the appointment of four new judges at the beginning of the year.

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.

They were appointed to the Appellate Division by the President. With their appointments, the Appellate Division now has seven judges.

The crisis in the High Court started 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.

Currently, the number of judges in the High Court Division is 86, while the number was 101 in 2012. Seven judges, including Chief Justice Hasan Foez Siddique, are now serving at the Appellate Division; when the number was 11 in 2009.

Among the 86 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 centring 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 obtained as the updated annual report has not been published till now. 

According to sources at the Supreme Court, many senior lawyers, deputy attorney generals and lower court judges have been pursuing and lobbying to get appointed as HC judges.

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