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India

As Pending Cases In Courts Mount, Justice For Citizens Seems Far From Reality

According to the data provided by Union Minister of Law and Justice Kiren Rijiju, there are around 4.79 crore cases pending in courts across the country.

In the age of technology, the anonymity of internet allows a miscreant to easily spread false and offensive ideas. (Image Courtesy: Envato)
On an average, there are 3068 cases pending per one lakh population. (Photo: Envato)

New Delhi: The rise in pending cases has been a matter of great concern for the courts across the country and this issue doesn’t seem to be dying down. According to the data provided by Union Minister of Law and Justice Kiren Rijiju, there are around 4.79 crore cases pending in courts across the country.

Out of these pending cases, 72,062 cases are pending in the Supreme Court whereas the number in all high courts stands at 59.45 lakh. The number of pending cases in district and subordinate courts is at 4.19 crore.

In all courts, data shows, the pendency has gone up in the last few years. According to publicly available data, four states, namely, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, and West Bengal constitute 50% of pending cases in lower courts of India.

Out of the four states, Uttar Pradesh alone has one crore cases pending in the lower courts. Notably, in Uttar Pradesh, around 34 lakh cases are pending for more than 5 years and 14.5 lakh cases are pending for more than 10 years.

On an average, there are 3068 cases pending per one lakh population. Keeping the average to the fore, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Delhi, and Haryana have a high number of pending cases per capita. Himachal Pradesh has 6460 cases pending per one lakh population, whereas Kerala, Delhi, and Haryana have 5,005, 4,817, and 4808 cases pending per one lakh population respectively.

Why do these four states really matter?

– Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, and West Bengal constitute 50 per cent of the total cases pending throughout the country.

– Out of the total number of cases pending for more than 5 years, 68% are from Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, and West Bengal.

– Out of the total number of cases pending for more than 10 years, 80% are from Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, and West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh has the largest share of such cases.

According to the data of Stats of India, more than one lakh cases are pending for more than 30 years. More than six lakh cases are pending for 20+ years and more than 35 lakh cases are pending for more than 10 years.

According to a paper published by NITI Ayog in 2018, when the number of pending cases in courts was around 2.9 crores, it will take 324 years just to clear the backlog of cases based on the prevailing rate of disposal of cases in the courts.

Among several factors that have contributed to the pendency of cases and delay in justice, the unfilled vacancies and poor population-to-judge ratio have been at the core. The other reason surrounding the issue is the problem of poor infrastructure faced by the embattled judiciary.

Even If all the 24,520 posts of judges in the subordinate courts are filled there won’t be enough courtrooms to seat all of them since there are only 21,812 existing courtrooms. In the current scenario, there are only 19,350 judges manning the lower courts while there are 5,170 vacant posts.

In the last eight years, from 2014 to 2022, while the number of pending cases has gone up by 37 per cent, the judge-population ratio in the country has only increased from 16.11 per million people in 2014 to 21.03 per million people in 2022 which is a serious concern soon need to be dealt with.

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