Wednesday, September 20, 2006

2.4 judges to a million people

23 posts created to ease workload of judges

Wednesday, 20 September 2006, 09:28

© New Straits Times
by Anis Ibrahim

More judges to be appointedKUALA LUMPUR: Twenty-three new judicial posts have been created to help ease the workload of judges and expedite the disposal of cases.

The number of judges at the Court of Appeal will be increased from 15 to 22 while at the High Court, 16 new posts have been created.

This will bring the number of judges at the High Court of Malaya and the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak to 73.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz said the Cabinet had given its approval last week following a proposal from the Chief Justice’s office.

When pressed for details, Nazri said: "At this stage, only the new posts have been created. The names of the candidates will be put forward by the Chief Justice in due course.

"Candidates may be from the legal and judicial service or the private sector."

Constitutional law expert Prof Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi said the new positions would be created by way of gazette notification by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the advice of the Prime Minister.

"This will not be the first time new posts have been created," he said.

This development is the latest effort by Chief Justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim to expedite the disposal of court cases.

Last month, he proposed that retired judges be appointed on an ad-hoc basis to ease the backlog.

According to Federal Court chief registrar Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, the number of judges in the country was low compared with other Commonwealth nations.

The Malaysian ratio is 2.4 judges to a million people — a far cry from the ratio in India (10.5 judges), Australia (57.1), Britain (50.1) and Canada (75).

The increase in the number of cases has also aggravated the problem, which is at its worst at the magistrate’s courts.

Between January and June this year, 505,774 cases were registered at magistrate’s courts nationwide.

Another 475,507 cases were brought forward from last year, bringing the total number of cases to 981,281.

Of these, nearly 450,000 cases are still unresolved.

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