As reported in Sept 2014, around 3.13 crore cases were pending in high courts and subordinate courts across the country while 63,843 cases were pending in the Supreme Court at the end of May 2014 – 9% increase over 58,519 cases in 2011. Of the total of 3.13 crore cases 70% cases were less than five years old. About 40 lakh cases are pending in high courts and 2.65 crore cases in the subordinate courts.
The following website provides latest information on pending cases in the Supreme Court:
“When the under-trial prisoners are detained in jail custody to an indefinite period, Article 21 of the Constitution is violated.” – The Supreme Court
In addition, about 2.5 lakh under-trials are languishing jails, of which over 2,000 are in jails for over five years. Undertrials also out-number convicted inmates. For instance, recent data indicates that over 70 percent inmates in Asia’a largest prison, Tihar in Delhi, are undertrials.
“73.5 percent (8,911 out of 12,124 which also include 410 women) inmates of Tihar Jail are undergoing trial, which is much above the national average of 66.4 percent undertrials in Indian jails.” – Director General (Prisons) – Tihar Jail, Neeraj Kumar
Some Facts and Figures
Here are some facts and figures showing the status of Indian legal system:
- Every year around 380 murders take place in Delhi. But the Sessions Courts are equipped to dispose of only 250 murder cases every year. This means a backlog of 130 cases. [There is no mechanism to worry about it, ironically.]
- In subordinate courts, a judge on an average disposes about 1300 cases every year.
- The average disposal of all Indian high courts is about 2400 cases per year. Compare it with the national average of disposal of cases per judge per year in major high courts: Kerala, 3,103;Madras, 2,979;Calcutta, 2,919;Punjab and Haryana, 2,900; Karnataka 2,817 and Andhra Pradesh, 2,625.
- On an average, the 21 high courts dispose off around 188 cases everyday.
- The Madras High Court is fastest in terms of speedy disposal: average 648 cases daily. It is followed by the Allahabad High Court (Lucknow and Kanpur benches put together) which disposes of 445 cases everyday.
There are roughly about 14,600 judges as against the sanctioned strength of about 17,600 (including 630 High Court Judges and 31 SC judges). In India there are 10.5 judges for every million people – compare it with Bangladesh 12 judges, Australia with 41. 6, Hungary with 70, Canada with 75.2, and the USA with 107 judges per million. Needless to say, there is plenty of scope for improvement in Indian judiciary.