ISLAMABAD - Number of pending cases in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has escalated to over 12,000 in three years of its establishment primarily due to dearth of judges.
According to the IHC Act, the court should have seven judges available. But the federal government has failed to appoint the requisite number of judges in the IHC since its inception. Presently, only four judges are performing their duties.
Although the IHC disposed of many high profile cases during 2013, the general public is suffering due to the shortage of judges as thousands of litigants are still waiting for justice.
The sources in judiciary informed The Nation that number of pending cases in IHC has mounted to 12,131 since its setting up in 2011. In 2013, around 6,700 new cases were instituted in the high court and 6,018 were disposed of by the four IHC judges, they added.
They informed that out of the disposed of cases, 137 were old, 2,791 urgent, 457 motion cases and 2,633 were notice cases while about 8,500 cases were transferred from the Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi Bench to the IHC after its establishment.
The four judges who are serving at IHC are Chief Justice Muhammed Anwar Khan Kasi, Justice Riaz Ahmad Khan, Justice Noorul Haq N Qureshi and Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui. But Justice Riaz Ahmad is going to retire in May and only three judges will be left at the court if the vacant seats are not filled by the government.
The IHC Act reads, “Each of the six other judges will be appointed from provinces, Islamabad Capital Territory and Federally Administrated Tribal Areas.”
Initially three judges, including former IHC Chief Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman of Punjab, were appointed as the IHC judges In January 2011. The other two were Justice Muhammad Anwar Khan Kasi of Balochistan and Justice Riaz Ahmad Khan of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
In its meeting on October 27, 2011, the Judicial Commission had recommended the names of Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui from Punjab, Justice Noorul Haq N Quraishi from Sindh and Muhammad Azim Khan Afridi from Fata for the vacant positions of the IHC judges. But, the Judicial Commission did not give extension to Justice Azim Afridi on October 23, 2012.
Later, Justice Iqbal Hameed-ur-Rehman, Chief Justice of the Islamabad High Court, was elevated as judge of the Supreme Court creating another vacancy in IHC on February 24. In addition to the vacant position of IHC judge from the federal capital, one each from Balochistan and Fata are also lying vacant.
On August 3, 2013, the meeting of Judicial Commission was held but could not evolve consensus on the names of lawyers Haroon Rashid, Anees Jillani and Raja Ishtiaq for the additional judge of Islamabad High Court.
Now, IHC Chief Justice Muhammad Anwar Khan Kasi with the consultation of other permanent judges has short-listed names of seven lawyers to fill the post from Islamabad which had been lying vacant for the last three years. They are Anis Jilani, Rehaan-ud-Din Golra, Mujtaba Haider Sheerazi, Zullifqar Abbasi, Haroon Rashid, Islamabad District Bar Association former president Dr Syed M Anwar Shah and IHCBA ex-president Nayab Hassan Gerdezi.