The pendency of cases before the judiciary has been a challenge for law practitioners and the government as the number is rising with every new data available. As per latest data on the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG), as on December 27, 2018, there are 49,83,236 pending cases in the High Courts of the country and 2,93,05,114 cases pending before the lower courts.
While subordinate courts account for the bulk of pending cases across courts, the backlog in the High Courts was over 49 lakh, these include over 24 lakh civil cases and over 13 lakh criminal cases, the rest being writ petitions.
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Meanwhile, the combined pendency of cases before the lower courts in Punjab and Haryana states has reached around one million. As of December 27, 2018, the pendency is 13,31,244 cases.
In Punjab, there are 6,01,431 pending cases before the lower courts- 2,57,005 civil and 3,44,426 criminal. In Haryana, the data says there are 7,29,813 pending cases- 2,80,863 civil and 4,48,950 criminal.
Moreover, the highest court for the two states, Punjab and Haryana High Court, has 3,93,953 pending cases, this clearly shows the burden on the lower judiciary in the two states.
Among the High Courts, Rajasthan has the highest pendency with 7,41,358 lakh cases as on Thursday, followed by Allahabad HC with 7,25,143 and Bombay with 4,64,074.
The highest number of pending criminal cases is in Allahabad High Court (3,18,774), followed by Rajasthan HC (2,23,646) and Madhya Pradesh (1,25,253). Meghalaya has the lowest number of criminal cases pending (46) before the HC.
According to a report in The Indian Express, against the number of 777 total courts, Punjab state has a strength of 528 judicial officers. However, around 73 of them are on deputation or are holding ex-cadre posts. Three judicial officers are also under suspension. In Haryana, there are 484 judicial officers against 670 total courts and 72 judicial officers are on deputation or are holding ex-cadre posts and three officers are under suspension.
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Recently, President Ram Nath Kovind also expressed concern over the pendency of court cases in the country. According to a report by the Supreme Court in 2015, the shortfall of judges in lower courts is one of the main reasons behind the rising figure of pending litigations. The report has predicted that Punjab by 2025 would require some 956 Judges in district courts to tackle the pendency and fresh cases and 838 judges would be needed in Haryana.