IHC: Backlog of cases in IHC rises to over 10, 000 due to shortage of judges

ISLAMABAD: Owing to severe shortage of judges in the Islamabad High Court (IHC), the backlog of cases has reached to over 10, 000, causing problems to the litigants. According to a senior official of the IHC, about 200 cases are adjourned daily without conducting any hearing due to non appointment of judges. The sanctioned strength of IHC judges is seven including the chief justice, however only three judges including the chief justice are performing their functions presently.

Due to shortage of judges, particularly from November 21, when two additional judges were not confirmed and sent home, the hearing of over 2,000 cases could not be held. The backlog of cases is increasing day by day.

The IHC Bar Association has also demanded that the vacant offices of judges be filled immediately and the number of judges be increased from seven to eleven to overcome the growing backlog of cases and lessen the miseries of the litigants.

According to IHC’s registrar office, before November 21, when five judges were functioning, over 500 cases were being disposed of monthly. About 600 newly cases are instituted in the IHC per month. Due to shortage of judges, the applications filed by the litigants or their lawyers for early hearing of their cases are also affecting. According to IHC Bar Association president Syed Nayab Gardezi, the shortage of judges has multiplied the miseries of lawyers as well as litigants.

On November 21, two additional judges of the IHC were stopped to perform their judicial functions after the notification for extension in their tenure was not issued. On November 27, both the judges were restrained from releasing detailed judgments on short orders they had pronounced before the expiry of their term in office, which was Nov 21. Then both the judges had returned back the cases’ files to the registrar office.

On Oct 22, the Judicial Commission of Pakistan had recommended the permanent appointment of additional judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui and a six-month extension in the tenure of additional judge Noorul Haq N. Qureshi. On Nov 6 the Parliamentary Committee for appointment of superior courts’ judges had also endorsed the recommendations of Judicial Commission. The law ministry, however, had not issued a notification for extension in the tenure of these two judges and the matter is still pending before the Supreme Court for adjudication. The government has also decided to file a reference under Article 186 of the Constitution with the Supreme Court over the issue of extension in the tenure of these two judges.

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