The Economic Survey 2018 chose the words of Sunny Deol and Shakespeare to explain the Ease of Doing Business environment in the country. “The now iconic scream of ‘Tarikh-par-Tarikh, Tarikh-par-Tarikh’ by Sunny Deol was Bollywood’s counterpart to Shakespeare: two different expressional forms–the one loud and melodramatic, the other brooding and self-reflective–but both nevertheless united in forcefully articulating the frustrations of delayed-and-hence-denied justice,” said the Economic Survey 2018 report.
In the chapter titled ‘Ease of Doing Business’ Next Frontier: Timely Justice’, the survey puts a spotlight on pendency, delays and backlogs in the appellate and judicial arenas, perhaps, leading to lower business sentiments in the country. Praising India’s latest jump of 30 ranks on World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index to top 100, the survey said, that the rankings reflected government’s reform measures on a wide range of indicators, however, much more need to be done and the next frontier for making business easier was to address delayed justice.
“The economic activity is being affected by the realities and the long shadow of delays and pendency across the legal landscape,” the Economic Survey report said. The survey found that the average age of pending cases across these tribunals is 3.8 years. “It is noteworthy that in two cases—telecommunications and electricity—the explosion in pendency resulted from interventions by the Supreme Court.”
“Pendency, delays and injunctions are overburdening courts and severely impacting the progress of cases, especially economic cases, through the different tiers of the appellate and judicial arenas. The Government and the Courts need to both work together for large-scale reforms and incremental improvements to combat a problem that is exacting a large toll from the economy,” the survey suggested.
Delays and pendency of economic cases are high and mounting in the Supreme Court, High Courts, Economic Tribunals, and Tax Department, which is taking a severe toll on the economy in terms of stalled projects, mounting legal costs, contested tax revenues, and reduced investment more broadly.
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An analysis of six prominent appellate tribunals that deal exclusively with high stakes commercial matters revealed two patterns; first, there is a high level of pendency across the six tribunals, estimated at about 1.8 lakh cases, second, pendency has risen sharply over time. According to the survey, the average pendency of civil suits in Delhi High Court were 19,740; Delhi Lower Judiciary were 15,223; Bombay High Court 16,099 and Maharashtra Lower Judiciary were 1,02,931.
Economic Survey is an annual document of the Ministry of Finance, Government of India, and reviews the developments in the Indian economy over the previous 12 months, summarises the performance on major development programs, and highlights the policy initiatives of the government and the prospects of the economy in the short to medium term. The full Economic Survey is available at www.indiabudget.gov.in.