A staggering number of 83,664 civil and criminal cases are pending in various courts across Ludhiana with the district courts in the city alone accounting for over 67,679 of them.
Last Sunday, Chief Justice of India Tirath Singh Thakur broke down in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, bringing to light the grim picture of the country’s overburdened and understaffed judiciary.
A total of 40,636 civil and over 43,028 criminal cases are pending with district courts complexes in Ludhiana, Khanna, Payal, Jagraon and Samrala. On an average, each judge in the district court is saddled with 1,164 cases.
The court complex in Ludhiana houses a court of the district and sessions judge, 18 courts of the additional sessions judges and 32 courts of judicial magistrates. At present, 16,900 cases, including 9,998 civil and 6,902 criminal, are pending with the sessions courts.
When it comes to the lower courts that cater to civil cases, the number of cases pending with the civil judge senior divisions here is 22,321. Another 28,467 cases (civil and criminal) are pending with the judicial magistrates.
But even if the required judges are appointed, the existing infrastructure is grossly deficient. For the docket burden of over 80,000 pending cases is already overstretching the available infrastructure and resources.
For example, of the current 51 judges in the district courts, 10 are working from a makeshift arrangement by having converted the offices of ahlmads (clerk) into courtrooms.
In some cases, a single room has been partitioned with the help of almirahs to house two judges at a time. On an average, over 500 cases are listed for hearing in the district courts every day.
“We need at least 100 more judges keeping in view the burden of cases, rising population, and pendency of cases in Ludhiana,” said advocate Vijay Verma, president, District Bar Association.
“Even if we get the new courts, we don’t have adequate infrastructure for them. Staff shortage is another issue. The current crisis is bearing on in the judiciary for some years now. It is said that a modern society needs 50 judges per million population, though it seems impossible that such a situation will ever become a reality in Ludhiana,” added Vijay Verma.