Judicial Pendency

Doubling court strength won’t end pendency: Supreme Court


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Resolving judicial pendency


Judiciary is overburdened because of the system, says Chief Justice of India Chandrachud; he points out that it is already difficult to find good lawyers to fill judicial vacancies in High Courts.

What is the news?

  • The Supreme Court has said that increasing the number of judges will not demolish the perennial problem of pendency.
  • It noted that it is already difficult finding good lawyers to accept the call to the Bench in High Courts.

Indian Judiciary: A Backgrounder

  • Our Judicial system has been the nation’s moral conscience keeper.
  • It speaks truth to political power, upholds the rights of citizens, mediates between Centre-state conflicts, provides justice to the rich and poor alike, and on several momentous occasions, saved democracy itself.
  • Despite its achievements, a gap between the ideal and reality has been becoming clear over the years.
  • The justice delivery is slow, the appointment of judges is mired in controversy, disciplinary mechanisms scarcely work, hierarchy rather than merit is preferred, women are severely under-represented, and constitutional matters often languish in the Supreme Court for years.

Why there is huge pendency?

There are various reasons for delay of disposal of cases. Some of the important reasons as well as some suggestion and recommendations are as follows:

  • Low judge strength and appointment: In High courts of India, there are 1079 approved strength of judges out of which 680 is the working strength. There are 399 vacancies as per the approved strength.
  • Process of law: There are lot of hearings in a case, number of adjournments in a case, victims become frustrated of fighting for justice. The accused are misusing the process of law for their benefit.
  • Absenteeism of Judges: Judges need vacations to spent time with their family and society. The judiciary is providing them vacations to spent time in the society but some judges need more holidays to enjoy their life.
  • Number of appeals available in a case: Appeal provisions are made to satisfy the party or to check justice but litigants made it a means to earn more money from the parties. They make an appeal in every case decided by the lower court.
  • Lack of infrastructure: Courts lack of basic facilities like proper washroom facilities, canteen facilities, parking, and library for advocates, sitting facilities for advocates and drinking water facilities.
  • Misuse of process of law: There are so many cases which are running for more than 30 years and accused are contesting election and doing the corruption. The delay is often rewarding for the accused.
  • Legal education system: Legal education is not capable to produce efficient law professionals. Advocates are not capable do trial efficiently and fast, they need time to prepare for the case that results in slow trial of the case.

Other challenges to the judicial system

  • Lack of infrastructure of courts
  • High vacancy of judges in the district judiciary
  • Pendency of Cases
  • Ineffective planning in the functioning of the courts
  • Delay in the delivery of judgements
  • Lack of transparency in appointments and transfers.
  • Corruption
  • Undertrials serving Jail
  • Outdated laws ex. Section 124A IPC

What led to the underperformance of the Indian Judiciary?

The primary factors contributing to docket explosion and arrears as highlighted by the Justice Malimath Committee report are as follows:

  • Population explosion
  • Litigation explosion
  • Hasty and imperfect drafting of legislation
  • Plurality and accumulation of appeals (Multiple appeals for the same issue)
  • Inadequacy of judge strength
  • Failure to provide adequate forums of appeal against quasi-judicial orders
  • Lack of priority for disposal of old cases (due to the improper constitution of benches)

Recent developments:

Proposal for the creation of National Judicial Infrastructure Corporation (NJIC)

  • The CJI has pitched to set up a National Judicial Infrastructure Corporation (NJIC) to develop judicial infrastructure in trial courts.
  • He indicated a substantial gap in infrastructure and availability of basic amenities in the lower judiciary.
  • There is a dearth of court halls, residential accommodation, and waiting rooms for litigants in trial courts, especially in smaller towns and rural areas.
  • Experience shows that budgetary allocation for state judiciary often lapses since there is no independent body to supervise and execute such works.
  • NJIC is expected to fill this vacuum and overcome problems related to infrastructure.

Way forward

  • Creating NJIC: It will bring a revolutionary change in the judicial functioning provided the proposed body is given financial and executive powers to operate independently of the Union and the State governments.
  • Appointment reforms: There are many experts who advocate the need to appoint more judges with unquestionable transparency in such appointments.
  • Creating All Indian Judiciary Services: It would be a landmark move to create a pan-India Service that would result in a wide pool of qualified and committed judges entering the system.
  • Technology infusion: The ethical and responsible use of AI and ML for the advancement of efficiency-enhancing can be increasingly embedded in legal and judicial processes. Ex. SUPACE.
  • Legal education: This should be in alignment with the evolving dynamics of the law and must be propagated in trial and constitutional courts. This will improve the competence of the judicial system.
  • Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR): ADR mechanisms should be promoted for out-of-court settlements. Primary courts of appeal should be set up.


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