The backlog of cases in the Supreme Court has risen 62 per cent in the last four years, amid all the discussions in legal and government circles on how it should be brought down.
The total number of cases pending in the apex court was 55,791 at the end of 2009, against 34,481 in 2005, according to figures released by the Supreme Court itself.
The trend in the Supreme Court is all the more surprising when the number of pending cases in the lower courts is increasing at a much slower pace. The average backlog in subordinate courts rose by just 7.35 per cent in the last three years, while it went up 11.84 per cent in the high courts during the same period.
Six high courts — those of Delhi, Bombay, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Uttaranchal, Kerala and Jharkhand — actually managed to bring down their backlogs.
“The Supreme Court was meant to decide only constitutional matters of great significance,” said senior advocate K. K. Venugopal.
“But today it deals with a whole lot of other matters too. The apex court wants to correct every error in every judgment passed by about 600 judges of 22 high courts and a large number of tribunals. This is bound to increase the backlog.”
Venugopal suggested the Supreme Court should confine itself only to important constitutional matters and disputes between states, or those between states and the Centre.
“It can be done if a Court of Appeal is created in each region to hear and decide appeals arising out of judgments passed by high courts,” he said. “This will drastically reduce the number of Supreme Court cases.”