Pandemic blues: Lower court pendency at record 4cr now

What is the News?

The Pendency of cases in lower courts has crossed the four-crore mark for the first time.

Pendency of Cases in Judiciary
Pending cases
Source: TOI

The total pending cases in district and subordinate courts stands at above 4 crores currently. But, it was 3.2 crores at the start of the Covid pandemic in March 2020. 

If we include the Supreme Court and 25 high courts, the pendency of cases has reached 4.6 crores from 3.7 crores in March 2020.

Among these, the Supreme Court(SC) alone has 70,000 cases currently pending, which was 60,600 in March 2020.

Reasons for increase in Pendency of Cases in Judiciary

Inability to adapt to Digital Format: Inability of the justice delivery system to adapt to the new challenges and swiftly migrate to the digital format and the e-courts system. 

Hesitancy From Bar Associations to accept e-courts: After the outbreak of the Covid pandemic, there had been an initial hesitancy and reluctance from the Bar associations in several states who refused to accept e-courts and digital hearings. 

Vacancies: Against a sanctioned strength of 24,490 judges in district and subordinate courts, the current strength of these courts is 19,367. Moreover, the 25 High Courts(HCs) with 465 vacant posts of judges is the worst in history. 

What are the recent steps taken to reduce Pendency?

A software is being used by courts to accept e-filing, e-pay of court fees, and issue of e-summons. 

The Law Ministry with the help of the e-committee of SC has formed a subcommittee consisting of seven judges of high courts for drafting model e-registers which will replace manual ones. 

Another subcommittee comprising HC judges and domain experts has been formed to extend e-court benefits to three identified marginalised sections — women, the LGBTQIA+ community and persons with disabilities.

Source:  This post is based on the article “Pandemic blues: Lower court pendency at record 4cr now” published in TOI on 15th September 2021.

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