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Day 27 – Q 5. Examine the factors that have led to excessive pendency and delays in the disposal of cases in the Indian judicial system. Can you suggest some reforms to address this issue? 

5. Examine the factors that have led to excessive pendency and delays in the disposal of cases in the Indian judicial system. Can you suggest some reforms to address this issue? 

भारतीय न्यायिक प्रणाली में मामलों के निपटान में अत्यधिक पेंडेंसी और देरी का कारण बने कारकों की जांच करें। क्या आप इस मुद्दे को हल करने के लिए कुछ सुधार सुझा सकते हैं?


As per the statistics of PRS India, the pendency of cases in Indian judiciary has increased drastically over the last decade. The pendency is around 3 crores across all the levels if the judiciary and it is around 54000 in supreme court and it is around 43 lakhs in high courts.



  • In the High Courts, 23% of cases have been pending for over ten years. Further, over 29% of all cases have been pending between two and five years. 
  • In the subordinate courts, over 8% cases have been pending for over ten years. The maximum number of cases in subordinate Courts (47%) have been pending for less than two years (around 1.2 crore cases).
  • As of 2015, there were over four lakh prisoners in jails.  Of these, two-thirds were undertrials (2.8 lakh) and the remaining one-third were convicts.
  • A total of 3,599 undertrials were detained in jails for more than 5 years.

Factors leading to pendency and delays:

  • Judicial vacancy: In high courts alone, over 5000 posts are vacant off the total 22000 sanctioned posts.
    • A cumbersome and opaque way of appointment of judges through the collegium system has resulted in delays which has resulted in the low judges to population ratio leading to pending cases.
    • There is a delay in appointing the district judges due to lengthy process through examinations which are delayed in majority of the cases.
    • Further, there is a conflict between Judiciary and Executive regarding the appointment of Judges to Supreme Court and various High Courts.
  • Government litigation: As per as report, half of the litigations is by the government. The failure of national litigation policy is also a reason for increasing frivolous litigations by the government adding up to the number of cases.
  • Appeals: The quality of judgements in the lower judiciary in India is rated low by ‘state of Indian judiciary’ report by Daksh. This in turn has increased the appeals over judgements by lower judiciary prolonging the cases and increasing the number of cases.
  • Infrastructural constraints: There are no enough courts for starters. Further, Indian judiciary has insufficient resources. Budgetary allocations are inadequate and is as low as 0.3-0,4% of the total budget. Furthermore, Modernization and computerization have not reached all courts.
  • Archaic laws and vague drafting of laws: This has resulted in multiple interpretations of laws by various courts are also reasons for prolonged litigation.
  • Colonial legacy factors like paid long vacations specially in the high courts is adding up to the piling number of cases.
  • New judicial inventions through judicial activism like PIL has increased the number of litigations filed.
  • Increasing awareness of the common man regarding the constitutional rights: though this is welcome has resulted in increasing number of cases filed in the court.
  • The mechanisms like Lok Adalats, Gram Nyayalaya, tribunals etc., have seen almost compulsory appeals to higher judiciary adding to the number of pending cases.

Factors leading to pendency and delays:

  • Enhancing productivity:
    • Economic Survey 2018-19 suggests Increased number of working days, Establishment of Indian Courts and Tribunal Services to focus on the administrative aspects of the legal system, technology use in courts through projects like e-courts MMP and National judicial data grid for quick disposal of cases.
    • In 230th Law Commission in its report “reform in Judiciary” in 2009 recommended that there must be full utilization of the court working hours and Grant of adjournment must be guided strictly by the provisions of Order 17 of the Civil Procedure Code.
  • The proposed All India judicial service should be established as soon as possible to fill in the vacancy. The same is suggested by the 2nd ARC and law commission report.
  • Indian Judicial Services: The proposal for an All India exam along the lines of Civil Services has been mooted many a time, the first instance being 1960. Setting standards of judicial recruitment examinations to improve the quality of district judges.
  • Vacations in the higher judiciary must be curtailed by at least 10 to 15 days and the court working hours should be extended by at least half-an hour.
  • Case and court management: National Service and Tracking of Electronic Processes (NSTEP), Computerization and Automation (e.g. Virtual Court in Delhi), Professional Court Managers as suggested by the 13th Finance Commission are some of the measures that needs to be taken for expedited disposal of cases.
  • Setting up of Tribunals, Fast Track Courts and Special Courts to dispense important cases at the earliest.
  • Mechanisms such as ADR (Alternate Dispute Resolution), Lok Adalat, Gram Nyayalayas should be effectively utilized.
  • The high courts have to fast track cases pending more than 10 yrs. Also, the chief justices of high court have additional responsibility to expedite the appointment process of lower judiciary.
  • Additional benches of supreme court have to be established in different parts of India which would reduce the pendency of cases in supreme court by expedited proceedings of cases. 
  • Implementing recommendations of Malimath committee which suggested reforms in criminal justice system which helps in expedited judicial process.
    • Amending the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Indian Evidence Act to accommodate the changing nature of crimes and address provisions which are delaying judicial proceedings.
    • working days of the Supreme Court be raised to 206 days.
    • working days of the High Courts be raised to 231 days.


Aruna Roy observe that the proceedings towards justice itself is a punishment in Indian judicial system. Justice delayed is justice denied. Speedy Justice is not only a fundamental right but also a prerequisite of maintaining the rule of law and delivering good governance. Hence, reforms as suggested above needs to be taken in order to have a robust justice system ensuring timely justice.

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