NEW DELHI: Even as the judge versus judge imbroglio in the Supreme Court sends a shudder through the ranks of the judiciary, a government study has pointed to the urgency required in dealing with pending cases.
A study by the ministry of law and justice has listed 10 reasons why more than three crore cases are pending with the courts from the lowest to the highest.
The reasons are vacancies in the judiciary; new laws and gaps in understanding them; appeals; challenge to administrative orders; review petitions; transfer petitions; writ petitions; lack of case monitoring; clubbing of cases; and some high courts keeping civil cases to themselves.
The study found that new laws and ordinances by the government are often challenged and this contributes to the increasing number of litigations. For instance, the ordinance passed by the Tamil Nadu government in 2016 over jallikattu was challenged in the Supreme Court and it is still being heard.
Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra has written to all Chief Justices of High Courts to hold special sittings on official holidays and on Saturdays to dispose of pending cases, particularly those that are 10 years or more old. But cases following new laws and ordinances keep adding to the number of cases every week.
The Supreme Court also has an ‘Arrears Committee’ to formulate steps to reduce the number of cases in high courts and district courts.
Vacancies in the judiciary are also major reasons. There are six vacancies in the Supreme Court itself. The study has now been forwarded to the Chief Justice urging him to take remedial measures.
According to the statistics available on National Judicial Data Grid more than 34.27 lakh cases were pending in high courts, excluding High Courts of Allahabad and Jammu & Kashmir.
Data available on the Uttar Pradesh law department’s website show that there are more than 3.2 lakh cases pending in the state.
The data also shows out of 34.27 lakh pending cases, 7.46 lakh cases—almost 22 per cent, were five to 10 years old. Another 6.42 lakh cases, that constituted around 19 per cent were more than 10 years old. A total of 40 per cent of the pending cases in the high courts have been waiting disposal for at least five years now. The high courts are working at less than two-thirds of their approved strength of judges.