Judges of the Supreme Court's appellate and high court divisions have decided in principle that they will work extra time after their office hours in two days a week to reduce the backlog of pending cases.
In the additional time, which would be half an hour or an hour, the judges will hear and dispose of the long-pending cases as around 36 lakh cases are now pending with the courts across the country, SC sources said.
The decision was taken at a full court meeting of the SC's two divisions presided over by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain on the occasion of Mujib Borsho, marking the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The meeting was held at the Judges' Lounge in the Supreme Court building Thursday afternoon where judges of the two divisions were present.
At the meeting, the judges had discussions about instructing the lower court judges to hear and dispose of cases after their office time. They also talked about the merits and demerits of working extra hours.
The chief justice and other judges of the Appellate Division will finalise the decision soon, and then the decision will be officially disclosed, sources said.
At present, the HC judges discharge judicial functions in the courtrooms between 10:30am and 4:00pm with an hour lunch and prayer break from 1:00pm to 2:00pm.
The Appellate Division judges do their judicial activities between 9:00am and 1:15pm with half an hour break from 11:00am to 11:30am.
The working hours of the lower court judges are between 9:30am and 4:30pm with an hour lunch and prayer break from 1:00pm to 2:00pm.
Besides, the judges work for writing orders, judgements and other relevant tasks beyond their office hours, according to sources.
A SC study report said as of March 31 last year, 35,82,347 cases were pending with the courts across the country.
Around 30.53 lakh cases were pending with the lower courts, 22,000 with the Appellate Division and 5.06 lakh with the HC Division until March 31 last year, according to the report.
On January 1 this year, Law Minister Anisul Huq told reporters that the government would take initiatives to settle pending cases so that at least five to six lakh such cases could be cleared from the existing backlog within this year.
"It's not possible to dispose of all the 31 lakh pending cases within a year, but it's possible to reduce the number by five to six lakh," he said.
The minister added that the government would also take steps so that more cases are disposed of outside the court -- under the alternative dispute regulation system -- and the lower court judges would be provided with necessary training in this regard.