Over 8,000 new judges needed to clear backlog of court cases

To clear the backlog in five years time, the survey suggests appointing 8,152 judges in district and subordinate courts, 361 in high courts and eight in the Supreme Court to achieve the targets.
For representational purposes (Photo | EPS)
For representational purposes (Photo | EPS)

NEW DELHI: With an aim of ensuring enforcement of contracts and resolution of disputes in a time bound manner, the Economic Survey 2019 suggested slew of measures for the legal system which will have a direct effect on the social well being which will ultimately have a positive impact on the economy.

It is estimated that over 3.5 crore cases are pending in various courts across India, and the survey suggests a way to clear this backlog by appointing more judges, especially in the district and subordinate courts and increasing the number of working days especially at the Supreme Court and the High Courts, which barely works for 190 days at the apex court level while high courts works for 232 days.

On an average, central government offices remain open for 244 days in 2019. The survey cites that the main reason of the huge backlog of cases is because the courts are unable to meet the case clearance rate as new cases gets piled up by the time old cases get solved. To clear the backlog in five years time, the survey suggests appointing 8,152 judges in district and subordinate courts, 361 in high courts and eight in the Supreme Court to achieve the targets.

At the lower judiciary level, the shortage is most severe in Meghalaya where 58 out of 97 approved positions are vacant. Puducherry (14 out of 26), Uttar Pradesh (1,208 of 3,225), Tripura (40 of 115) and Bihar (622 of 1,845) follow.

Last month, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had also written to PM Narendra Modi, seeking increase in the judges’ strength in the Supreme Court. He had also sought raising the retirement age of high court judges from 62 to 65 years. Pointing towards the bottlenecks which will come in implementing these changes, the survey states that since criminal cases form 71.62% of the total case pendency, additional judges must also be proportionately allocated. This is important as the disposing rate for civil cases is 94.76% while that for criminal cases is 87.41%.

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