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Daily Editorial – Ailing Judicial System of India


  • Ailing Judicial System of India

  1. Challenges facing Indian judiciary
  2. Some of the reasons of delay
  3. State of financing
  4. Cost of judicial delays
  5. Way ahead

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  • Ailing Judicial System of India

India has one of the largest judicial systems in the world, it acts like a guardian in protecting the fundamental rights of the people, as enshrined in the Constitution, from infringement by any organ of the state.

Despite the importance it holds in Indian democracy, judicial system of India is also suffering from the various challenges and problems.

Challenges Facing Indian Judiciary

  • Over 22 million cases pending across courts in the country.
  • India has only 15 judges per million people
  • Currently, over 470 vacancies in various high courts are yet to be filled up.
  • With fewer judges than required, the workload of judges goes up, resulting in inefficiency.
  • The completion rate for cases has fallen to 13.19% in 2013 from 14.61% in 2003.
  • At the Calcutta, Kerala and Jharkhand high courts, for instance, the case load per judge is between 4,000 and 6,000 cases.
  • With fewer judges, the amount of time given to each case decreases drastically.
  • For instance, the Patna high court is functioning at 50% of its approved judge strength and spends merely two minutes on an average on a case.

  • According to a report, nearly 57 per cent of cases from 331 district and subordinate courts, which were included in the analysis, have taken more than 10 years to be disposed of.
  • Same report has reported that 21 surveyed high courts, judges hear between 20 and 150 cases a day, averaging 70 hearings per day for a judge.

Some of the reasons of delay

  • There are record numbers of vacancies in the Indian Judicial system.
  • Financing of the judicial system has not been adequate.
  • Logjam between government and judiciary over appointment of higher judges is still a pending issue.
  • Administration of justice has not been regarded as part of developmental activity.
  • Even back in the 1980s, the 127th Law Commission had pointed towards the poor quality of infrastructure, in which courts have to function.
  • An increase in certain crimes such as crimes against women and increase in the reporting of criminal activities, have both contributed to rise in the workload of the judiciary.
  • Inadequate strength of the police force has also played its part in the pile up of cases before the courts.
  • The Law Commission report said that speedy investigation by the police has not been achieved due to various reasons like corruption.

State of Financing

  • While National defence allocation of India is around 2% of GDP, allocation for judicial system amounts to about 0.01% of the gross domestic product.
  • India currently spends about Rs12,000 crore a year on the judiciary.
  • Judiciary is funded mostly by the states, which historically haven’t had too much to spend at their discretion.
  • Out of the special grant of Rs5,000 crore by the 13th Finance Commission for improving judicial infrastructure and services, almost 80% remained unspent.
  • Some of the examples prove that spending on judicial system is not a priority even for the state governments.


  • 8% of the annual expenditure by the state of Maharashtra was on the judiciary while on health it was 14%.
  • Gujarat’s spending was 0.6% on the judiciary and 2.92% on health.

Cost of Judicial delays

  • Conservative estimates by DAKSH states that about 0.5% of the GDP is incurred by litigants only on attending to court hearings, excluding legal fees.
  • On average, each litigant spent Rs 519 per day to attend court.
  • Even on such a conservative basis, total amount of money being spent by litigants just to attend court hearings, amountsatRs. 30,000 crore per year.
  • Litigants with an annual family income of less than rs 1 lakh per annum spent 10 per cent of their earnings in attending court hearings, other than legal fees, in a year.
  • Due to delays, common people lose confidence in the judicial system, it force them to take informal alternatives for their resolutions.

Way ahead

  • Budgetary allocation needs to be increased
  • There is a need to move from outlay-based budgeting to outcome-based budgeting
  • Only increasing the budgetary allocation and more appointments will not increase the efficiency of judicial system.
  • There is also need of re-engineering, re-imagining court processes, widespread use of technology and reforms in substantive law.
  • Judicial administration system should be revamped.
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