With more than 3,500 posts of judges lying vacant, the judiciary is struggling to clear backlog of some three crore cases across the country.
According to latest figures released by the Supreme Court, of the 16,158 sanctioned posts of judges in subordinate courts, 3,239 are lying vacant. Little surprise then a whopping 2.60 crore cases are pending in the lower courts.
The 21 high courts are no better — of the total 886 sanctioned posts of judges, 266 are vacant and over 38.31 lakh cases are lying pending.
The SC, too, has its problems. Five of the 26 posts of judges are vacant. Backlog has touched 49,346 cases even as the government and the court slug it out over the elevation of three high court chief justices to the apex court.
Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra have the highest number of vacancies in subordinate courts (see table). The vacancies’ relation with backlog is well explained as UP has the most number of pending cases (see table).
Among the HCs, Allahabad tops the pendency list with 8.97 lakh cases, followed by Madras HC 4.43 lakh cases. Bombay, Calcutta and Punjab and Haryana HCs have 3.61 lakh, 2.88 lakh and 2.62 lakh cases, respectively, awaiting disposal.
Interestingly, Sikkim HC has just 65 cases pending, while Lakshadweep has a backlog of only 178 cases.
“It’s a very serious matter. Primarily judiciary will have to take the blame because the recruitment process is practically in its hands — both for the high courts and subordinate courts. There can be no justification for creating additional posts when we have proved ourselves incapable of filling up the existing posts. It proves that there’s something seriously wrong with the whole judicial recruitment process,” senior advocate KTS Tulsi said.