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Pendency of Cases in SC

Context:

The retirements come at a time when the court is in the process of steadying itself after particularly brutal waves of the pandemic.

Relevance:

GS II- Executive and Judiciary

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Pendency in Supreme Court
  2. Causes for Pendency of cases
  3. Impacts of Pendency of cases
  4. Way Forward

Pendency in Supreme Court

  • According to the Supreme Court’s data, there are 70,362 cases outstanding as of April 1, 2022.
  • Because they have not completed the essential preliminaries, almost 19% of them are not ready to be brought before a judge for a judicial hearing.
  • There are 52,110 admission cases and 18,522 regular hearing cases.
  • There are a total of 422 Constitution Bench cases (including main and related topics).
  • India’s legal system has the world’s greatest backlog of pending cases, with up to 30 million cases pending.
  • The fact that this number continues to rise demonstrates the legal system’s incompetence.
  • In addition, majority of the inmates in India’s prisons are detainees awaiting trial as a result of the backlog.

Causes for Pendency of cases

  • An increase in the number of cases: Increases in literacy, population expansion, and the development of citizen-friendly instruments such as PIL have resulted in a massive surge of cases in the courts.
  • Increasing Vacancies: The courts are operating at a fraction of their authorised capacity. Out of a sanctioned strength of 1,079 judges, the High Courts had 403 vacancies as of 2017. However, there has been no progress in filling vacancies. Subordinate courts, meanwhile, have 5,676 vacancies out of a total of 22,704 judges. The increase in vacancies is due to the delay in appointments.
  • Strict Procedural Requirements: Each case requires a significant amount of documentation, which can cause unnecessary delays.
  • Lawyers’ Bad Behavior: Lawyers have been caught engaging in collusive corruption, particularly at lower levels, in order to stretch the case out. Furthermore, the lawyers demand multiple adjournments for illegitimate grounds.
  • Police Personnel Inefficiencies: They are sometimes perceived as complacent in submitting charge sheets and completing quick investigations, causing a delay in delivering timely judgement.
  • Law schools are more concerned with developing attorneys than with developing future members of the judiciary.

Impacts of Pendency of cases

  • Rising pendency creates an excess burden on judges.
  • Pendency enhances the number of undertrials in the prisons which eventually leads to overcrowding.
  • It undermines Right to life
  • The pendency causes harassment of the accused and victim. As they need to go through significant financial, physical and mental stress for years due to the pendency. 
  • The faith and trust of the common man in the judicial setup are also lost if he/she didn’t receive timely justice.
  • The disposal rate(number of cases disposed of) has stayed between 55 -59% in the Supreme Court, 28% in the High Courts, and 40% in the subordinate courts.

Way Forward

  • Time limitations for pendency should be mandated for all cases based on priorities; hence, time standards must be established, and they will vary for different cases, as well as for different courts, depending on their disposal capability.
  • For out-of-court agreements, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) techniques should be pushed.

-Source: The Hindu

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September 2022
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