From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : NA
Mains level : Resolving judicial pendency
The retirements in the topmost rung of the judiciary in 2022 will encompass changes in the powerful Supreme Court Collegium and see two new Chief Justices in a span of months.
Why in news?
- The retirements come at a time when the court is in the process of steadying itself after particularly brutal waves of the pandemic.
Pendency in Supreme Court
- The Supreme Court’s statistics show that 70,362 cases are pending with it as on April 1, 2022.
- Over 19% of them are not ready to be placed before a Bench for judicial hearing as they have not completed the required preliminaries.
- While 52,110 are admission matters, 18,522 are regular hearing cases.
- The number of Constitution Bench cases (both main and connected matters) totals 422.
General scenario: Pendency of Cases
- India’s legal system has the largest backlog of pending cases in the world – as many as 30 million pending cases.
- This number is continuously increasing and this itself shows the inadequacy of the legal system.
- And also due to this backlog, most of the prisoners in India’s prisons are detainees awaiting trial.
Factors leading to under-performance of Indian Judiciary
- The issue of heavy arrears pending in the various courts of the country has been a matter of concern since the time of independence.
- The primary factors contributing to docket explosion and arrears as highlighted by 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)
- Issue of appointment in Quasi-Judicial Bodies
- For pendency, time limits should be prescribed for all cases based on priorities.
- So setting time standards is essential and it will vary for different cases, and also for different courts depending on their disposal capacity.
- Alternative disputes resolution (ADR) mechanisms should be promoted for out-of-court settlements.