7 PM Editorial |Pendency In Indian Judiciary – Reasons and Solutions|28th August 2020

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pendency of cases in India Judiciary – Reasons and Solutions


pendency of cases in India  judicial system is a huge challenge. About 3 crore cases are pending before all levels of judiciary – Supreme court, High courts and subordinate courts. This leads to a situation of “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied”.

Further it has social, political and economic costs associated with it:

  • Loss of trust of people in Rule of law
  • High litigation costs, delayed contract enforcement reduces FDI in India.
  • Assets being locked in litigation reduces productivity
  • Direct and indirect loss of rights of people
    • Undertrials lose their right to life directly due to long pendency
    • Other litigants lose their rights like right to property, right to constitutional remedies

Hence it is vital to ensure this pendency of cases is addressed

Reasons for pendency of cases in India :

Major causes include:

  • Unfilled vacancies of both judicial and non judicial officers. This increases the burden on existing staff and reduces their productivity.
    • 40000 vacancies of non judicial support staff in subordinate judiciary
    • Upto 40% vacancies in High court judges. Similar situation in subordinate judiciary
  • Inadequate physical infrastructure: Supreme court report on Subordinate courts highlights dilapidated buildings with less space and insufficient courtrooms. Low budgets for infrastructure development is a concern.
    • 5000 courtrooms are needed to accommodate about 20000 judicial officers which is not present currently.
  • Inadequate technological infrastructure: Old technologies used in administration increases time of litigation. Process to adopt new digital technologies is slow.
  • Time taken for case disposal is high: Reasons are
    • Repeated adjournments despite court guidelines provide not more than 3 times
    • Frivolous litigation
    • Time wasted due to inefficiencies in investigation, hearings and delivery of judgments. Ex: Reserving delivery of judgments for months despite completion of hearings
  • Exponential increase in new cases(due to better awareness of rights) and inability to deal with the rise
    • Police are under equipped in terms of new methods and technologies of investigation and evidence gathering
    • ADR(Alternative DIspute Resolution) is not effective

These have to be addressed for timely justice delivery.


Comprehensive solution needs steps by all judiciary, legislature and executive as well as adoption of technology.

  • Judicial measures:
    • Increasing working days in higher judiciary
    • Professional court managersto be appointed to increase efficiency of functioning. 13th Finance commission suggested this to reduce pendency
    • Ad-hoc and retired judgesto be appointed under Articles 127 and 128 to supreme court to deal with pendency and vacancies
    • Additional judges, acting judges and retired judgesin High courts under Articles 224 and 224 A to deal with high pendency and vacancies
    • Reducing disposal times of pending cases
      • Time specification for different categories of trials and cases
      • Annual target and action plan for subordinate and high courts in terms of number of cases disposed
      • Strict regulation of adjournments by limiting to 3
      • Code of conduct for officers to improve performance
    • Legislative measures:
      • AIJS(All India Judicial Service)to improve quality of judges
      • Non judicial bodies to reduce burden on judicial bodies of non judicial aspects of trial
    • Executive measures:
      • Creation of physical infrastructure – Court buildings, rooms etc. Budget allocation must be increased for the same
      • New framework for appointments of judicial officers. Number of judges must be fixed optimally at court level as suggested by 120th law commission report
    • Technological interventions: Use of IT(Information technology) helps in reducing time wastage , reliable data collection, better tracking and monitoring. Some interventions include:
      • Redesigning core operationsof case filing, sending notices, documents submission, hearings, details of court, status of case etc
        • Increased use of mobile applications to reduce the early stage of cases where most time is spent in notices
        • Virtual/ e-courtsas seen in Delhi improves litigant experience and reduce costs
      • Pace of e-Courts Mission mode projectmust be increased in adoption
    • Improving efficiency of litigation:
      • Promoting ADR:
        • Pre litigation mediation
        • Regular conduct of Lok adalats
        • Gram Nyayalayas in villages
      • Legal care and support centrespromoted by higher judiciary in villages to make litigations more effective
      • Fast track courts and special courtsfor important categories of cases like political criminality.

India being a democracy with rule of law cannot continue with high pendency of cases in India as seen in current times. A mission mode effort by all the organs of state is needed to make the judicial system free of long pending cases.

Source: Live Law

Mains question:
  1. Discuss the reasons for high judicial case pendency and possible steps to address them?[15 marks, 250 words]
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