LAHORE-Punjab govt has taken a quantum leap toward improving the efficiency of the subordinate judiciary and curbing the corrupt elements that have negatively affected the working of the judiciary by increasing three-fold the basic salaries of the judges of the lower judiciary. For this purpose, the Punjab govt has allocated Rs 200 million in 2008-09 budget. The provincial govt announced a three-fold increase in the salaries of the judges here on Monday while unveiling its budget. At present, more than 800 judicial officers are working in 35 districts of Punjab as Session Judges, Additional Sessions Judges, Senior Civil Judges and Civil Judges. These judicial officers will be hugely benefited from this initiative, a brainchild of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. He spelled out his policies even before assuming the office of Chief Minister, declaring the judiciary and the education as his priority areas. Currently, District and Sessions Judges basic salaries are Rs 28,000 per month that has been increased to Rs 120,000 while Additional District and Sessions judges basic pay scale is Rs 19,000 that would go to Rs 76,000. Similarly, the senior civil judges would now get basic salaries of RS 48,000 instead of Rs 12,000. The Civil Judges cum judicial magistrates, the real under dogs in the judiciary were getting just Rs 8,000 per month as basic salaries which has now been increased to Rs 32,000. The Punjab govt has fulfilled a long standing demand of subordinate judiciary, thereby shifting the burden of improving its performance and efficiency on its shoulder. Now the judicial officers will have to deliver as after hefty raise in their salaries the govt will be closely watching their performance, especially when Chief minister is Shahbaz Sharif who is considered as a tough task master. In addition to the Punjab govt, Lahore High Court administration would have to be on its toes, monitoring the working of the sub-ordinate judiciary. It is the venue which is visited by most of the people in pursuit of their problems and seek justice. In a related development, the govt has also declared that from now onwards the Civil Judges appointment would be made through Punjab Public Service Commission(PPSC). Last year when the former Chief Justice of LHC Justice Iftikhar Hussain Chaudhry was in office, the then Punjab govt had provisionally allowed LHC to make appointments of civil judges on trial basis. Now this power has been withdrawn from LHC. The govt received complaints that power to recruit judicial officers has been abused by former Chief Justice Iftikhar Husain Ch. Even the Finance Minister in his budget speech referred to the appointments made by the former Chief Justice. The Finance Minister hoped that LHC would also look into these appointments as well. Thousands of cases are pending in subordinate judiciary over the years. A large number of them remain undecided despite the lapse of years. A huge amount relating to the access to justice programme had been spent over the years but it failed to lessen the woes of the poor litigants. Some judicial officers, on the condition of anonymity, said the decision would help overcome the financial constraints of judicial officers and will go a long way in improving the working of lower judiciary. The new incentive for the judicial officers will make their cadre more attractive for the new entrants and youth. The judges who are to benefit from this pay increase, commended the new initiative taken by the govt. Talking to The Nation, they said that this would allow them to work with more single-mindedness once their financial woes are taken care of.