Minister urges Prez to appoint more HC judges


Ajith P Perera

By Saman Indrajith

The President had failed to appoint judges to High Courts, though the laws had been passed five months back to increase the number of judges from 75 to 110 in order to clear the backlog of cases, Power and Renewable Energy State Minister Ajith P Perera said yesterday.

Addressing the media at the Parliament complex, the minister said the government was being accused of not punishing the criminals and delaying cases. "We call upon the President to carry out his duties and obligations and make appointments to the High Courts so that we can avoid further delays in court cases."

Delays in the judicial procedure had benefited wrongdoers. "On average it would take around 17 years for a case to be completed in High Courts. The minimum number of years is ten and the maximum number can even be 25. The average number is 17 years.

"The main reason for laws delays is the shortage of High Court judges to hear cases. There are only 75 judges. So, we passed laws to increase that number five months back. The President is vested with powers to appoint High Court judges.

"The second reason is that the Attorney General’s Department does not have enough counsel. There are some 17,000 cases and the Department has only 113 counsel. Attorneys-at-law are reluctant to join the AG’s Department as the salaries are low. They can engage in private practice and earn more. So, we get the cadre approval increased to 213 and increased the salaries for state counsels. Four months have elapsed but no one has been recruited.

"Third reason is the shortage of High Courts in the country. We hope the Speaker will sign the Judicature Amendment Bill today or tomorrow. The Justice Minister can put out the gazettes announcing the setting up of Special High Court of Trial at Bar. We need at least three more courts for the Western Province itself. We need a special high Court to hear crimes against children. We need at least 10 more high courts in other provinces.

"So we hope the President, the Attorney General and Justice Minister will do their jobs to expedite cases."

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