THE government's decision to increase the number of Supreme Court judges from 16 to 29, as proposed in the Finance Bill presented before the National Assembly by Finance Minister Naveed Qamar, appears to be an attempt to give legal cover to the November 3 Emergency imposed by President Musharraf as it would retain the PCO judges. Not surprisingly, that part of the speech became an object of criticism by some members of the National Assembly, especially those belonging to the PML(N), who maintained that it meant giving validity to Musharraf's unconstitutional acts. According to sources, the move would restore the deposed judges while retaining those inducted under the PCO. The proposal, however, could have severe repercussions. On the one hand, it gives an indemnity to the President for his illegal acts and on the other, it complicates the judicial crisis by throwing another stumbling block in the way of the judges' restoration. Besides, it could rock the coalition's boat. Though the PML(N) was reluctant to see the PCO judges as lawful, reportedly it had agreed to keep them on the Bench on an ad hoc basis to get the country out of political uncertainly to enable the leadership to tackle other nagging problems. But to believe that the party would agree to this increase appears to be wide of the mark. On the other side of the tunnel, the PPP has opened a Pandora's box. There is the legal fraternity spearheading a long march that is now heading for the federal capital. The participants and their supporters are determined to achieve their goal. Deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has stressed that the PCO judges are as much accountable as Musharraf and would be taken to task. SCBA President Aitzaz Ahsan has taken an equally firm line. Any possibility of the PCO judges working in concert with the deposed judges, therefore, looks to be non-existent. In fact, it would be like trying to fit square pegs in round holes. The proposal of raising the number of judges would only spoil the broth. As time passes by, the movement to restore judges is generating more and more heat, clouding other economic and political imperatives. However, only a speedy solution can prevent further sliding down of the situation. It is hoped that good sense will prevail on all sides: the movement would attain its goals of restoration and the government would direct its energies towards solving the people's problems. There is no time to waste.