No pending cases older than 50 years in Supreme Court: Kiren Rijiju
The high courts, however, had as many as 1,514 civil and criminal cases pending, that were over 50 years old
The minister of law and justice Kiren Rijiju on Thursday informed Parliament that there are no pending cases that are more than 50 years, civil or criminal, in the Supreme Court.
However, the high courts had as many as 1,514 civil and criminal cases pending, that were over 50 years old, said Rijiju said in a written reply.
The minister cited the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) data and said that local courts had about 1,390 cases older than 50 years.
Rijiju was answering a question raised by Congress MP Rajmani Patel.
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Across different states, the Calcutta high court recorded the maximum pending cases, with as many as 1,192 civil cases pending for more than half a century.
Orrisa recorded the least number of pending cases, with only one civil case that was over 50 years old.
“The disposal of pending cases in courts lies within the domain of the judiciary and the central government has no role in the matter,’’ said Rijiju.
He told Parliament that the Supreme Court has urged the high courts and lower courts to accelerate the clearing process in a time-bound manner. They added that the Supreme Court had cautioned the high court of using its authority sparingly, while staying the investigation or trial in any criminal cases.
“Once such power has been exercised, the high courts should not lose sight of the case where they have exercised their extraordinary power of staying investigation and trial,” the SC order had stated.
“The high courts should ensure disposing of such proceedings as early as possible but preferably within six months from the date the stay order was issued,” SC added.
The maximum number of 50-year-old cases in the lower courts, were in the states of Uttar Pradesh (572), Bihar (284) and Bengal (273), the government data stated.
A law commission report in 2009 said that it will require 464 years to clear the backlog with the present strength of judges.
Despite sanctioned strength of judges, courts in India have often not worked at full capacity due to vacancies of judges.
In 2022, the working strength of judges in India was 14.4 judges per million population. It has changed marginally from 13.2 in 2016.