Pending cases in India exceed Rs 4.4 million, 19% more than last year | India News
Despite resuming urgent hearings on the digital platform about the lifting of the blockade imposed in March last year, more than 70 lakh of cases have been added to the pending list. The total pending cases as of March 25, 2020 was 3.68 million rupees, which has now risen to 4.4 million rupees as on Thursday.
It is not surprising to see this alarming increase in case processing given the reluctance of the Indian legal system to quickly adapt to new challenges and migrate to the digital format. After a modernization campaign of more than a decade, almost the entire three-tier justice system has been computerized and equipped with modern technology. However, opposition from a section of the lawyers’ fraternity has led to a slow migration to digital.
The other reason that has aggravated the current situation is the increase in vacancies at the three levels of the judiciary. While there have been more than 400 vacancies for judges in 25 higher courts, the situation is worrying in the lower judiciary with 5,000 judges vacancies. The cusp court also has four vacancies.
District and subordinate courts have been hit the hardest with a total of pending cases increasing from 3.2 crore to 3.8 crore over the past year. About two years ago, the lower court processing of Rs 2.9 million had shown a slowing trend. During the same period, the 25 High Courts have added 10 lakhs of cases to the pending list. Slopes in the HC have increased from 46 lakh last year in March to over 57 lakh as on April 15.
The Niti Aayog, in a 2018 strategy paper (New India @ 75), had noted that at the current rate of resolution of cases in our courts, it will take more than 324 years to eliminate the backlog. Then the processing was 2.9 million cases. The Covid-19 pandemic has only made matters worse, as the backlog of 30-year cases only increased by 61% in the past two years across the country, from 65,695 in December 2018 to 1,05,560 as of January. 2021.
The high court should urgently consider the implementation of the next phase of the proposed eCourts project, which provides for the complete transformation of the Indian courts into a digital platform, with electronic payment facilities, eSummons, eHearings and eJudgment. It proposes a digital window 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for litigants to present cases from anywhere and at any time, with the possibility of scheduling digital hearings and guaranteeing compliance with deadlines by judges and lawyers.