ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) on Tuesday called for an increase in the number of high court judges across the country because of pending cases.

As a National Assembly’s committee passed with majority a government bill proposing an increase in the number of judges of the Islamabad High Court from six to nine, representatives of the three opposition parties opposed the move. Riaz Fatiana chaired the meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Law and Justice.

According to the opposition, the bill does not give equal importance to all high courts. The critics of the bill were of the opinion that the sanctioned strength of judges in all high courts should be increased commensurate with the number of pending cases and workload.

The three opposition parties demanded merit-based appointments of judges for all high courts without any delay.

The law secretary informed the committee that the decision to increase the number of judges in the high courts was to be taken by respective chief justices.

The committee members also called for appointment of judges from different provinces in the Islamabad High Court. Aalia Kamran of the JUI-F said that there should be two judges each from every province in the IHC.

The chairman of the committee said that the entire nation was looking towards parliament as it wanted justice for all. He said that there should be consensus on the issue of appointment of judges.

The committee also took up another bill proposing an increase in the number of seats for religious minorities in the National Assem­bly. However, Law Minister Farogh Naseem had left by then and was criticised by the opposition for not staying for discussion on the bill. The committee deferr­ed consideration of the bill till the next meeting.

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2019