INDIA JUSTICE REPORT

  • Indian courts are jammed with cases and are seeing pendency increase by the day and they are also functioning with fewer judges than the sanctioned number, the India Justice Report (IJR), 2022 said.
  • The India Justice Report is a collaborative effort undertaken in partnership with DAKSH, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Common Cause, Centre for Social Justice, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy and TISS-Prayas.

High courts:

As of December 2022, against a sanctioned strength of 1,108 judges, the High Courts were functioning with only 778 judges.

Subordinate courts:

  • The subordinate courts were found functioning with 19,288 judges against a sanctioned strength of 24,631 judges.
  • Rising pendency
  • The number of cases pending per judge is rising in most States over the past five years.

Number of cases per judge:

  • The number of cases a judge has to deal with has steadily increased.
  • Between 2018 and 2022, the caseload per judge increased in 22 States and Union Territories.
  • The case clearance rate (CCR), or the number of cases disposed of in a year measured against the number filed in that year, is a common metric used to determine the rate at which cases are disposed of.
  • A CCR of more than 100% indicates that the number of pending cases is reducing.
  • The report found that the High Courts are clearing more cases annually than the subordinate courts.
  • Between 2018-19 and 2022, the national average improved by six percentage points (88.5% to 94.6%) in High Courts, but declined by 3.6 points in lower courts (93% to 89.4%).
  • Tripura is the only State where the CCR in district courts remained above 100%, with the exception of 2020 — the year of the pandemic.
  • Nationally, the number of court halls appears sufficient for the number of actual judges.
  • However, that space will become a problem if all the sanctioned posts are filled.

Representation of Women:

  • There are more women judges at the district court level than at the High Court level, with 35% of the total number of judges at the district court level and only 13% of judges in the High Courts across the country being women.
  • Goa, with 70%, has the highest percentage of women judges at subordinate courts, followed by Meghalaya and Nagaland at 63% each.
  • Among the High Courts, Sikkim, with a total strength of just three judges, has the highest national average at 33.3% of women judges.
  • Bihar, Tripura, Manipur, Meghalaya, and Uttarakhand continued to have no women judges in their High Courts. 

Caste based reservation:

  • Though caste-based reservations vary from State to State, at the district court level, no State or Union Territory could fully meet all its Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes quotas.
  • State-wise data on caste diversity in High Courts remains unavailable.

SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, PIB

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