Over two crore cases are pending in the country’s lower judiciary, out of which more than 10% have remained unsettled for over 10 years, latest law ministry data says.
According to the data on the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) website as on December 31, 2015, there are a total of 2,00,60,998 cases pending across the district courts in different states.
Out of these, 83,00,462 or 41.38% cases have been pending for less than two years. At the same time, 21,72,411 or 10.83% cases are pending for over 10 years, a note by the department of justice says. The note has been prepared for a high-level meeting next week on Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms.
While referring to the data available on NJDG website, the note clarifies that it does not cover all courts across the country, therefore, the department of justice periodically collects the data on pendency of cases from the 24 high courts and the Supreme Court.
In a written reply, law minister D V Sadananda Gowda had informed Lok Sabha in December last that the subordinate courts settled 1,9019,658 cases in 2014.
He had said that the 24 high courts disposed of 17,34,542 cases in 2014. The pendency in the high courts was estimated at 41.53 lakh at the end of December 2014.
The Supreme Court disposed of 44,090 cases last year till December one, while the pendency there has been estimated at 58,906 till the beginning of December 2015.
Regarding the pending cases, the Department of Justice says that one of the biggest problems facing policy makers in this field is the “lack of any benchmark” to determine when a case should be considered delayed.
“For example, if a case is not disposed of within a year of it being instituted, will it be considered to be delayed? The lack of a clear criterion to determine what constitutes delay poses a hurdle to determine the policy changes needed to address the issue,” the note reads.
The e-Committee of Supreme Court had launched the National Judicial Data Grid to provide data on cases pending in the district courts across the country.
The data is segregated into civil and criminal cases and further broken down on the basis of the number of years the cases have been pending.