ISLAMABAD – Since independence the country has witnessed many judicial crisis, but till today, the most important issue is the appointment of judges. It is very sad that the strength of the judges in all the four provinces remained insufficient for last 65 years. Though recently efforts have been made to fill up the vacancies, there is shortage of the judges in all High Courts.Total assigned strength of the Lahore High Court is 60 judges but presently 37 are working, in Sindh out of total sanctioned 40 judges 24 are performing duties. Similarly, in Khyber Pukht-oonkhawa the strength is 20 but 14 are presently working, while in Balochistan the total strength is 10 and out of that 8 including the Chief Justice are working. The Lahore High Court besides having principal seats in Lahore has branch registries in Rawalpindi, Multan and Bhawalpur. According to the statement for 1st May 2012 to 31st May 2012, the cases filed from 01.03.2011 the pending civil cases in the Lahore are 43,878, cases instituted 8,640, disposed of were 6,385 and the balance of civil cases is 46,133. While pending criminal cases in the same period are 14,504, instituted 3,909, disposed of 3,787 and the balance is 14,626.The Sindh High Court besides the principal seat in Karachi has branches in Sukkur, Hyderabad and Larkana. As per the information/data for the month of June, 2012 in respect of institution, disposal and balance of cases of High Court of Sindh, Karachi and its Circuit Courts/Bench the previous cases were 80,697, cases instituted 4,088, disposed of 2,246 and balance is 82,559. The Peshawar High Court has principal seat in Peshawar and the branch registries in Abbottabad, D.I. Khan, Mingora and Bannu. Till April 2012 instituted cases were 5,643 and disposed of 3,496.In Balochistan High Court till 31st December 2011 total pending cases were 4,862, cases instituted 2,968, disposed of 3,187 and the total balance till December 31, 2011 is 4,643. In Balochistan High Court except the Chief Justice all other judges are working as Additional Judges.Yaseen Azad President Supreme Court Bar Association talking to The Nation said that judiciary is the most important organ of the State that must remain independent. “We should pay full attention regarding the appointment of judges. Even in the past it was not done so and still we are facing with the same problem,” adding: “We hope it will be done as soon as possible.” He said that judicial history of Pakistan witnessed that the judges had been appointed without considering the merits, without taking into confidence the leaders of the Bar Associations and the Bar Council, and favouritism had been an important criteria in the appointment of judges.Yaseen said in the High Courts of all the provinces and judges must be elevated on merits, considering the experience, area of practice, length of service and level of impartiality. There is crucial need to fill in gap in total number of judges, he added.Under the 18th Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan 1973, a Judicial Commission has been created to recommend the appointment of judges of the superior Courts. For this purpose, Article 175A has been inserted in the Constitution for the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court, High Courts and the Federal Shariat Court.For the appointment of Supreme Court judges, the Commission consists of Chief Justice of Pakistan as Chairman, four most senior judges of the Supreme Court, a former Chief Justice or a former judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Federal Minister for Law and Justice, Attorney General of Pakistan, a representative of Pakistan Bar Council as its members.For appointment of High Court judges besides the Commission members would also include Chief Justice of the High Court to which the appointment is being made, the most senior judge of that High Court, Provincial Minister for Law; and representative of the concerned Bar Council. Ashthar Ausaf, senior Advocate, said that the Chief Justices of all the respected High Courts has to send the requisition to the Judicial Commission of Pakistan for filling the judges posts in their respective courts.  He said besides empowering the higher judiciary there is also need to empower the lower judiciary so that a session judge should also feel strong. Though many judges in the high courts have been appointed through the new system, but the legal fraternity said that sanctioned strength of the judges in the high court must be filled soon so that people could get relief. They say due to the pendency and institution of fresh cases the litigants have to wait for months for the hearing of their cases.Advocate Noshad Rana said that given the high number of pending cases and institution of hundreds of fresh case every month in the high courts it is “inevitable to fill the number of judges to clear the backlog”.