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Stats IQ: Pendency in the Indian Judiciary

Context: The India Justice Report (IJR) 2022 categorises data of States and UTs, based on the police, judiciary, prisons, and legal aid.

Justice Delivery in States:

  • Large and mid-sized states: Karnataka ranked 1st followed by Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh, respectively.
    • Uttar Pradesh ranked the lowest (18th) among large states.
  • Small States: Sikkim ranked first among 7 small states while Goa was at the bottom.

Pendency in States (2018-2022)

Current backlog of 4.8 crore cases in the judiciary.

  • 1 in every 4 High Court (HC) cases is pending for more than 5 years.
  • In Allahabad and Calcutta HCs, pendency of cases was over 63%.
  • Northeastern HCs including Tripura, Sikkim and Meghalaya had less than 10% cases pending.

Rate of Case Clearance in Indian HCs (2018-2022):

The clearance rate in 2022 was 95%, with 5% getting added as a backlog.

  • The rate was poorer during the pandemic years: 83% in 2021 and 77% in 2020.
  • Madras HC had a high clearance rate of 107% in 2022.
  • Tripura and Manipur, the clearance rate was over 100% as the supply of fresh cases was lower.
  • Gujarat, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh had low clearance rates of about 80% or lower.

Judicial Vacancy(2022)

India had only 19 judges per one million people.

  • Overall judicial vacancy in Indian HCs was 29.8% and High Court staff vacancies were at 25.6%.
  • In Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan more than 40% of HC judge positions were vacant.
  • Only 13% of HC judges and 35% of Subordinate Court judges are women.

Causes of Pendency:

  • More Cases per Year: Active cases in HCs increased from over 41 lakh in 2014 to 53 lakh in 2022.
  • Less Number of Judges: Number of judges is either stagnant or not increasing.
  • Low Spending: Except for Delhi and Chandigarh, no State spends more than 1% of its total annual expenditure on the judiciary.
  • Under Utilization of Funds: Most States have not fully utilised the funds given to them by the Central Government.

Pendency in Indian Judiciary: National Judicial Data Grid 

  •  93 crore cases are pending in the subordinate courts, 49 lakhs in High Courts and 57,987 cases in Supreme Court.
  • In the Supreme Court, more than 30% of pending cases are more than five years old while in the Allahabad High Court, 15% of the appeals have been pending since 1980s.
  • High Courts have high pendency with half of all the 8 million cases pending for more than three years.

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