Judicial Pendency

Zero Pendency Courts Project


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Zero Pendency Courts Project

Mains level : Judicial Pendency in India

  • A Delhi High Court’s pilot project report on the backlog of cases has said the Capital needed 43 more judges above the current strength of 143 to clear all the pending cases in one year.
  • The ‘Zero Pendency Courts Project’ is a one-of-its-kind project in India aimed to study the life cycle of cases to come up with optimal timelines for cases.

Zero Pendency Courts Project

  • Prompted by the urgent need to ensure timely justice, the Delhi High Court started the pilot project from January 2017 in certain subordinate courts in Delhi.
  • It is one of its kind in India aimed to study the life cycles of cases to come up with optimal timelines for cases.
  • The primary goal of the project was to study the flow of cases in the absence of backlog.
  • The inspiration for the “zero pendency court project” was a remark by Justice M.N. Venkatachalaiah (former Chief Justice of India).

Cost of Pendency

  • As recently as in 2016, it was estimated that judicial delays cost India around 1.5% of its Gross Domestic Product annually.
  • The report noted that the number of criminal cases in Delhi is far more than the number of civil cases.
  • As on March 20, 2019, there were 5.5 lakh criminal cases and 1.8 lakh civil cases pending in subordinate courts in Delhi.
  • It said the highest amount of time per hearing on average was spent on the final arguments stage followed by the final order or judgment.
  • A considerable amount of time is taken on dictation, researching on case laws etc. before pronouncing the final judgment. Thus, a lot of time is spent on each of the hearings.

Reason for delays

  • The reason for delays, the report said was the absence of witnesses.
  • Evidence stage forms an important of a case. Absence of witnesses during the evidence stage causes a serious impediment to the progress of the case.
  • Also, unnecessary adjournments sought by the advocates or the parties at various stages in a case delay the proceedings, thus prolonging the case life.
  • Additionally, there is a delay in the service of summons, especially to outstation parties.
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