Over 4.23 Cr Cases Pending, 5k Posts Vacant In India’s District, Subordinate Courts

Cases have also piled up in the High Courts, which have over 59.5 lakh cases pending, and the Supreme Court where 72,062 cases are pending as on July 1.

(Representational Image: Pexels)

New Delhi: India currently sees a massive backlog of cases in various courts across the country with the total count reaching 4.83 crore. Of these, over 4.23 crore cases are pending in the district and subordinate courts, as logged till July 25 this year. Cases have also piled up in the High Courts, which have over 59.5 lakh cases pending, and the Supreme Court where 72,062 cases are pending as on July 1.

Meanwhile, the courts remain grossly understaffed, with the sanctioned and working strength of judicial officers in district and subordinate courts having 5,343 vacant posts. The total working strength here was 19,288 against the sanctioned strength of 24,631.

According to the state-wise data on district and subordinate courts, as on July 25, Uttar Pradesh has the greatest number of vacancies of judges at 1,126, with the sanctioned strength 3,634 and working strength of 2,508. It is followed by Bihar with a vacancy of 600, Madhya Pradesh which has 482 vacancies of judges, and then Gujarat with 351.

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At the same time even in the High Court, Allahabad (UP) HC sees the mot number of vacant posts of judges at 69, followed by Punjab & Haryana HC which has 39 vacant posts, followed by Bombay HC with 31.

Minister of Law And Justice Kiren Rijiju informed the Lok Sabha on the issue and also on the vacant posts of Judges in the Supreme Court, high courts and subordinate courts, and the Schedule Castes, Schedule Tribes and Other Backward Castes and Women judges in district and subordinate courts. He was responding to questions, in written, raised by 26 Members of Parliament together.

The National Crime Record Bureau’s 2020 data shows the state-wise summary with total IPC & SLL crimes in UP at 6,57,925 in 2020. In Bihar’s case it was 2,57,512, MP had a total of 4,28,046 and Gujarat with an even higher total of cases than UP at 6,99,619.

Explaining why there was such a delay in disposal of cases, Rijiju pointed out several reasons. “These, inter-alia, include vacancies of judges, frequent adjournments and lack of adequate arrangement to monitor, track and bunch cases for hearing. The government has taken several initiatives to provide an ecosystem for faster disposal of cases by the judiciary,” he said.

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This includes, improving infrastructure for which number of court halls have increased from 15,818 as on June 30, 2014 to nine years later with 20,993 court halls. Residential units have increased from 10,211 as on one the same date in 2014, to 18,502 in 2022. In addition, 2,777 court halls and 1,659 residential units are under construction as informed by various High Courts.

The Centrally Sponsored Scheme for the Development of Infrastructure Facilities for Judiciary has been extended till 2025-26 at a total cost of Rs. 9,000 crore, out of which central share will be Rs. 5,307 crore. Besides, construction of Court Halls and Residential Units, three new components, i.e. construction of Lawyer’s Halls, Toilet Complexes and Digital Computer Rooms have now been included.

While Covid-19 had struck, judiciary just like every other aspect of life had been affected, the pending rate during the time was high. The only way courts could be run were virtually, and at the moment the number of computerized District & Subordinate courts has increased to 18,735 so far.

Twenty virtual courts have been set up in 16 States and union territories. As these courts have handle more than 1.69 crore cases and realized more than Rs. 271.48 crore in fines, as on March 3 of this year. Since Covid lockdown started, the District courts heard over 1.28 crore cases (1,28,76,549) while the High Court heard 63,76,561 cases (totalling 1.92 crore) till April 30 using video conferencing. The Supreme Court had 2,61,338 hearings since the lockdown period upto June 13 of this year.

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