Judge shortage not the only reason for pending cases: Law Ministry

The ministry's note comes months after Chief Justice of India T S Thakur lamented "inaction" by the Executive to increase the number of judges.

By: PTI | New Delhi | Published: October 10, 2016 7:51 pm
Chief Justice of India, T S Thakur, CJI, CJI statement, Allahabad High Court anniversary, Indian Judiciary, Indian Justice system, Indian Judiciary credibility, Judiciary credibility crisis, India news Chief Justice T S Thakur.

Contrary to common perception, the shortage of judges is not the “sole reason” for increasing pendency of cases, the Law Ministry has said citing data of states like Delhi and Gujarat which are struggling to dispose of cases despite a higher judge-population ratio.

The ministry’s note comes months after Chief Justice of India T S Thakur lamented “inaction” by the Executive to increase the number of judges from the present 21,000 to 40,000 to handle the “avalanche” of litigations.

Quoting experts, the ministry said a variety of factors contribute to delay in disposal of court cases which include, lack of court management systems, frequent adjournments, strikes by lawyers, accumulation of first appeals, indiscriminate use of writ jurisdiction and lack of adequate arrangement to monitor, track and bunch cases for hearing.

According to the data, states with a higher judge-population ratio such as Delhi (ranked 2 in terms of the judge-population ratio) and Gujarat (ranked 5 in terms of the judge population ratio) are still struggling to dispose of the pending cases.

“Conversely, states such as Tamil Nadu and Punjab which are ranked lower in terms of judge-population ratio have comparatively lesser number of pending cases,” it says.

A note prepared by the ministry for the Advisory Council of National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms states that “the linking of problem of pendency of cases in courts with shortage of judges alone may not present the complete picture.”

It states that an analysis of the figures regarding the number of civil cases instituted per annum in district and subordinate courts between 2005 and 2015 reveals that the number of cases instituted has come down from 40,69,073 civil cases in 2005 to 36,22,815 in 2015 — a decline of 11 per cent.

During the same time, the pendency of civil cases has increased from 72,54,145 in 2005 to 84,056,47 in 2015 — an increase of 16 per cent.

“It is pertinent to note that in 2005, the working strength of the judges in the district and subordinate courts was 11,682 which increased to 16,070 in 2015. Despite the increase in the number of judges and a decline in the number of cases being filed, the pendency of civil cases has increased,” the document observed.

Addressing the inaugural session of Joint Conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of High Courts on April 24, Justice Thakur had said that since 1987, when the Law Commission had recommended increase in the number of judges from then 10 judges per 10 lakh people to 50, “nothing has moved”.

“Then comes inaction by the government as the increase (in the strength of judges) does not take place,” he had said.

There are 4,432 vacancies of judges in subordinate courts in the country as on December 31, 2015, while the 24 high courts face a shortage of nearly 450 judges.

Nearly three crore cases are pending in courts across India.

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  1. H
    Oct 10, 2016 at 2:39 pm
    One of the main reasons for cases getting prolonged is the postponed of the same by all the parties involved. Everyday lakhs of cases are called for and then postponed due to various reasons. Having a better control on the number of times a case can be postponed itself will bring down the pendancy substantially. Currently the cases are postponed and posted manually by judges and other administrative people. Computerizing this activity so that a decision to postpone can be immediately taken by the judges based on the parties involved in postponement is one way. Another way is to ensure that postponement due to unavailability of parties/advocates should be done the previous day so that precious time is not wasted by calling such cases with limits on number of times each party can postpone.
    1. Annu Chopra
      Oct 11, 2016 at 7:04 am
      Criminal Negligence and Cruelty by Judiciary Due to Delayslt;br/gt;Reasons For Abnormally High Pendencylt;br/gt;1. unlimited adjournmentslt;br/gt;2. multiple laws for maintenance for same issuelt;br/gt;3.multiple cases for same cause --cruelty( 498a/125/dv/divorce). Almost identical cruelty issues are debated in 4 courts. Consolidation into a single law will minimise judiciary work and litigant harmentlt;br/gt;4.No punishment to liar women for false caseslt;br/gt;5.if wife commit perjury in one case, perjury has to be filed again as a separate case leading to additional harment and workloadlt;br/gt;6. incompetent, illiterate judges who themeselves don't know lawslt;br/gt;7. Clumsily written laws. So, each judge gives opinionated judgments as no definitive basis is given in the written law. lt;br/gt;8.Non accountability of judges. If a sweeper and PM is accountable, why a judge is not when corruption is known to be rampant in the corridors of judiciarylt;br/gt;9. Corruption of police and judiciarylt;br/gt;10. Multiple Courts. If wise judges are there in SC only, need for HC,Session Courts and District Courts is not there. Fair judgment is sometimes given by HC and mostly by SC. It is quite clear that lower courts ARE corrupts and invariably give wrong judgments.