NEW DELHI: The cry for speedy justice is going to be shriller in the next three decades as a conservative judicial estimate predicts that case pendency is going to register a five-fold increase to touch 15 crore but the judge strength will go up only four times to settle at 75,000.
At present, nearly 19,000 judges, including 18,000 in trial courts, are dealing with a pendency of 3 crore cases, resulting in a civil case lasting for nearly 15 years and giving credence to the adage “justice delayed is justice denied”.The Supreme Court-supported National Court Management System (NCMS), devised just four months back, has put the statistics in perspective. “India has one of the largest judicial systems in the world – with over 3 crore of cases and sanctioned strength of some 18,871 judges,” it said.
“The system has expanded rapidly in the last three decades, reflecting India’s social, economic and political developments in this period. It is estimated that the number of judges/courts expanded six-fold while the number of cases expanded by double that rate – 12-fold,” it said.The mismatch between the increase in court cases to the judge strength is going to continue. “The judicial system is set to continue to expand significantly over the next three decades, rising, by most conservative estimate, to at least about 15 crore cases requiring at least 75,000 courts/judges,” NCMS said.
The policy and action plan document has charted out an information technology integrated monitoring system to make the justice delivery system faster and for that purpose, has created a jumbo supervising process to detect and eliminate glitches in speedy disposal of cases.If the lack of matching increase in the number of judges has led to docket explosion, it is not going to ease in the next three decades.
The number of cases, as per the “most conservative estimate”, will increase five-fold from the present level, but the judge strength would increase only four times from the current strength to 75,000. This means, the judges could expect to be burdened with more work than now, which could extend the life span of cases.Giving reasons for the estimate, the NCMS said, “As India’s literacy rate and per capita income increases, the number of new cases filed per thousand population is likely to increase from the current rate of about 15 (up from around three cases per thousand some three decades ago) to about 75 cases in the next three decades.
“By this time, India’s population should be about 1.5 billion. This will mean that some 15 crore cases may be filed into the judicial system each year by them. To achieve a ratio of 50 judges per million population, at 1.5 billion, India will need to have 75,000 judges.”The present lot of judges has matched the litigants’ enthusiasm in filing cases. In 2011, over 2 crore cases were filed in the judicial system, and 2.04 crore cases were disposed of. This means every judge disposed of 1,372 matters in a span of 12 months and all of them worked to reduce the pendency from 3.20 crore cases to 3.136 crore, a reduction of over 6 lakh.
Nearly 30% of the cases, that is nearly 1 crore cases, are over five years old, prompting the Chief Justice of India to write to all chief justices of high courts to take up ‘Five Plus Zero’ initiative to ensure that cases pending for more than five years are taken up on priority basis and pendency of such cases brought down to zero level. – TOI