There have been several reports about the volumes of litigations in Indian courts. The Law Minister released a detailed National Litigation Policy last month to combat the ever-growing litigation statistics in India. Bar & Bench has compiled a three-year statistics to accurately estimate the pending litigations in India and the vacancies of judges in the Lower Courts, High Courts and the Supreme Court.
There have been several reports about the volumes of litigations in Indian courts. The Law Minister released a detailed National Litigation Policy (NLP) last month to combat the ever-growing litigation statistics in India. Here are some of the litigation and judges’ vacancies statistics released by the Supreme Court. Bar & Bench has compiled a three-year statistics to accurately estimate the pending litigations in India and the vacancies of judges in the Lower Courts, High Courts and the Supreme Court.
The backlog has been increasing at an average rate of 3.4 percent annually. This huge backlog of unresolved cases, experts claim, is directly proportional to a lack of judges. First and foremost, poor pay for judges causes a huge talent crunch, which leads to delays and also is a cause of rampant corruption and bribery in the Indian judicial system. Though with the 6th Pay Commission which seeks to increase the salary of the Chief Justice of India from a measly Rs. 33,000 ($ 733) to Rs. 1lakh ($2,200) might go along some distance to solve this problem.
The increase in the salary will not serve as a solution to reduce the vacancies of judges or increase the quality of the people joining the legal services. In India there are only 10 judges for every million people whereas the United States and Great Britain have around 150 judges for a million of its population.
Statistics released by the Supreme Court although shows a drop in the vacancies of the judges in the courts of the country, the number is still very high. Here are the statistics for the past three years and vacancies that continue to exist.
Vacancies in the Courts:
The vacancies in the Supreme Court have been reduced by the new appointments last year and this year. The High Courts’ statistics however, show some concerns. There have been nearly 30 percent vacancies in the High Courts for the past three years. The Lower Courts are not doing any better. Lower Courts across India continue to have a 16 percent vacancy, although this figure has come down over the past three years whereas in 2008 there was a 30 percent vacancy in the number of Lower Court judges.
Among the many proposals that have been mooted to reduce the pendency of cases as eschewed by the NLP are guidelines specifically aimed at the government which is the biggest contributor to the number of pending cases. Among the other proposals that have been voiced include, increasing the number of fast track courts, setting up of and encouraging mobile courts and Lok Adalats wherever feasible and also the setting up of Gram Nyayalayas at the grassroots levels.
At the High Court level and the Lower Courts, Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state with nearly 20 percent of India’s population, is the single largest contributor to the backlog of cases. The Allahabad High Court (0.95 million cases) and the Lower Courts (5.4 million cases) in Uttar Pradesh contribute to nearly 25 percent of the total pending cases in the country. Sikkim contributed the least amongst all states to the backlog statistics with 85 cases in the High Court and 1,128 cases in the lower court. Here is a state wise statistics of the pending cases.
*Total Pending cases as of December 31, 2009
BHC-Bombay High Court
CHC- Calcutta High Court
GHC- Guwahati High Court
KHC- Kerala High Court
P&H HC- Punjab & Haryana High Court
The NLP also aims at educating the masses about being a responsible and efficient litigant while at the same time dissuading lawyers from asking for frequent and unnecessary adjournments among other proposals.
One hopes that the NLP is implemented in earnest otherwise the Indian citizens will continue to grapple with protracted judicial delays and injustices.