The India Justice Report (IJR) 2022 released highlights the issues in Indian Judicial system with pendency of cases, lack of staff and Judges and overburdening of cases in courts day by day.
About the report:
IJR is a collaborative effort undertaken in partnership with DAKSH, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Common Cause, and Centre for Social Justice, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy and TISS-Prayas.
The report is released as a measure to find the comparison between high courts and lower courts/District courts and also amongst same level courts.
Key highlights of the report:
Lack of Judges:
As of December 2022, against a sanctioned strength of 1,108 judges, the High Courts were functioning with only 778 judges.
The subordinate courts were found functioning with 19,288 judges against a sanctioned strength of 24,631 judges.
Correspondingly, the number of cases pending per judge is rising in most States over last five years while the sanctioned strength has remained more or less the same.
At High Court level, Uttar Pradesh has the highest average pendency; cases remain pending for an average of 11.34 years, and in West Bengal for 9.9 years.
The lowest average High Court pendency is in Tripura [1 year], Sikkim [1.9 years] and Meghalaya [2.1 years].
The number of cases a judge has to deal with has also steadily increased.
Between 2018 and 2022, the caseload per judge increased in 22 States and Union Territories.
The IJR report found that High Courts are increasingly clearing more cases annually than subordinate courts.
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 High Courts of Kerala and Odisha have higher case clearance rates — 156% and 131% respectively — while the High Courts of Rajasthan [65%] and Bombay [72%] have the lowest case clearance rates.
Judiciary in India:
Judicial System or the court system is called the Judiciary System.
The court has the power to make decisions and also enforce the law, solve disputes.
Judiciary system consists of Judges and other magistrates and they form the bench or the core of the judiciary system.
The Supreme Court of India:
Under the constitution of India, the Supreme Court is the final court of appeal.
Unsolved or still in dispute cases are levelled up to Supreme Court to retain justice.
High Court of India:
Under the constitution of India, every state should regard to one high court.
Mumbai high court is the oldest high court in India.
Every High court has 94 judges out of which 71 are permanent and 23 are additional judges.
High court deals with economic issues and legal documentation.
These courts also have an additional set of legal professionals.
District Court of India:
Under the constitution of India, district courts or Subordinate Courts are subordinate to the high court.
District courts are established according to the population distribution of the district and state.
It looks after the Civil and criminal matters of the district.
A law declared by the district court is applicable to all subordinate courts. Since District court is at a higher hierarchical level.
Challenges in the system:
Subordinate courts perform the most critical judicial functions: It affect the life of a common man- conducting trials, settling civil disputes, and implementing the bare bones of the law.
Large pendency of cases: Of the total 3 crore cases pending at different courts, 27.8 lakh cases are piled up in subordinate courts and 4.3 lakh in 10 high courts of India. The pendency in lower courtswith 22.57 lakh cases pending for more than 10 years and about 25% of cases pending for over 5 years is a matter of concern.
The Quality of the subordinate judiciary: It is average and by extension at least one-third of high court judges elevated from the subordinate judiciary are also mostly average. As a result, the litigants are left to suffer.
Huge workload:Judges in high courts hear between 20 and 150 cases every day, or an average of 70 hearings daily. The average time that the judges have for each hearing could be as little as 2 minutes.
Vulnerable population: They suffer as more than 10% of these pending cases are filed by women and about 5% by senior citizens. Poor litigants and under trials stand to suffer the most due to judicial delay.
Violation of Fundamental right: The backlog violates the spirit of Article 14 (right to equality before law) and Article 21 of the Constitution (right to life and liberty) that too by the protectors of the constitution.
It hampers dispute resolution, contract enforcement, discourage investment, stall projects, hamper tax collection, stress tax payers and escalate legal costs.
Economic Survey said that although India jumped to 100th rank in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Report 2018, the country continues to lag on the indicator on enforcing contracts which marginally improved to 164 from 172 in the previous report.
This leads to poor economic activity and hence lower per capita income.
Social Impacts: A slow and tardy judiciary may lead to higher expenditure for people, higher poverty rates, poor public infrastructure and higher crime rates and more industrial riots.