LAHORE - Five posts of judges are lying vacant in Lahore High Court with two more going to retire this year thus taking the shortfall to seven at the end of the year.

Chief Justice Lahore High Court Justice Ijazul Ahsan, though, will retire in 2022 but his possible elevation to the Supreme Court of Pakistan will create a vacuum at the highest court of the province.

The sanction strength of LHC judges is 60.

Justice Muhammad Khalid Mehmood Khan will retire in May 2016 while Justice Mehmood Maqbool Bajwa will get retirement in September 2016.

Reliable sources told The Nation that currently there is no move for the appointment of new judges which eventually will create temporary vacuum at the higher judiciary.

Senior Judge Mr. Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah is the next Chief Justice of Lahore High Court if he is not elevated to the apex court this year before taking oath as LHC chief justice.

More than 100,000 cases are lying pending before the Lahore High Court and if the appointment of judges is not made timely, it could create trouble for the public. And if the number of judges at the SC is increased from 17 to 26 as approved by the Senate it would create a temporary vacuum at the high courts which could be filled up if the competent lawyers are selected as judges of the high courts.

The lawyer’s bodies, however, object to the appointment procedure of judges with superior judiciary. They say that the merit is not maintained while appointing a person as judge.

The lawyers always criticised ad-hocism and unfair appointment of judges with the higher judiciary saying that the strength must be maintained but it should be through proper way.

Two months back, Pakistan Bar Council showed strong reaction as Judicial Commission on Appointment of Judges had recommended names of two former judges –Tariq Pervez and Khilji Arif Hussain as ad hoc judges of the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Bar Association President Barrister Ali Zafar said that vacuum started just after the lawyers’ movement which has become a permanent hurdle in the way of timely justice. He believed competent lawyers should be appointed as judges. He suggested that age limit for appointment of a judge should be decreased from 45 years to 40, so the youngsters could get a chance to become judge of the higher judiciary and could get proper training. Thus, he maintained, there would be no dearth of candidates to fill up the vacant posts.

“I strongly reject the idea of ad-hocism which must be stopped,” said Mr Zafar. “If timely appointment is not made out at high courts, how is it possible to fill the gap at SC, because the judges for SC are elevated from the high courts,” he added.