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Health of Indian Judicial System!

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These are the days of 'Fight against Corruption". Suddenly the middle class has woken up from the deep slumber. The reaction is almost like the Earth has moved beneath them. Every sundry now is joining the bandwagon of 'Crusade Against Corruption'. I hope the Indian Middle class keeps the momentum and sustains the steam to fight this battle till the end.

What is interesting is Indian Judiciary has suddenly become active and and asserting its reach for 'Just Governance'. Added to that many legal luminaries have joined the battle with Seminars, Rallies, Marches etc. In the midst of these activism it is suggested for new laws and modified laws dealing with corruption in public life. Does that enough to fight corruption?

Except in few instances, most time Judiciary has failed to live up to the citizen's expectations. It is common phrase that courts and kacheris are for rich only. Poor doesn't even need to go near it. While it sounds good hear that courts preaches morality to govt and its functionaries. But what about its own responses to allegations of corruption in Judiciary? Classic example is case of slapping 'Contempt' charges against SC Lawyer Prashanth Bhushan and his father. Bribery allegations are still to be settled against Punjab HC judge(s). The list can go on. Not much to say positives about lower courts. SCs own observation of UP HC is another point in case.

I would say that in the fight of corruption, it is time Indian Judicial system gets reform in terms of laws, judicial system, Judicial Infrastructure and justice delivery system in time bound manner. Along with that needed is reforms in police (law and order) without which all laws will fall flat. If investigation is shoddy no amount fo good laws will deliver the true justice. Offenders will always walk free. Therefore police reforms are must along with judicial reforms.

I hope legal luminaries like justice Hegde, Bhushans, crusaders like Swamy Agnivesh, Ramdev etc take that bold step to force the system, people and spirit to re-haul our judicial system from top to bottom. Otherwise the fight against corruption will remain unsuccessful.

Let us take a look at our health of Indian Judiciary.

Indian judiciary would take 320 years to clear the backlog

Supreme Court
Total - 39,780 Cases Pending (Civil and Criminal)

High Courts

Total - 39 Lakh Cases Pending (7 Lakh Criminal, 32 Lakh civil)
Allahbad High Court - 11 Lakh Cases pending
Madras High Court - 4 Lakh Cases pending
Bombay High Court - 3.6 Lakh Cases pending

Subordinate Courts
Total - 2.63 Crore Cases Pending
UP - 46 Lakhs Cases
Mahrashtra - 41 Lakh cases
Gujarat - 39 Lakh Cases
West Bengal - 19 Lakh Cases
Bihar - 12 Lakh Cases
Karnataka - 10 Lakh Cases
Rajsthan - 10 Lakh Cases
Orissa - 10 Lakh Cases
Andhra Pradesh - 9 Lakh Cases

Total - 2.5 lakh under-trails languishing in Jails
Mahrashtra - 15,784 undertrails
Madhya Pradesh - 15, 777 Undertrails

Undertrails in jails for more than 5 years without any judgment on thier guilt or innocence.
2069 have been in jail for more than 5 years
Bihar - 628
Punjab - 334
Uttar Pradesh - 212
Delhi - 344

Judicial Strength
India has 14,576 judges as against the sanctioned strength of 17,641 including 630 High Court Judges and 31 SC judges.
India accounts for 10. 5 judges for every million persons.
Bangladesh 12 judges for a million
Australia with 41. 6 judges per million population,
Hungary with 70 , Canada with 75. 2 and
USA with 107 judges per million.

  • Every year around 380 murders take place in Delhi. But the Sessions Courts are equipped to dispose of only 250 murder cases every year. This means a backlog of 130 cases.
  • Average disposal per judge is about 1300 cases in subordinate courts.
  • The average disposal of all Indian high courts is about 2400 cases per year.
  • The national average of disposal of cases per judge per year in major high courts is: Kerala, 3,103; Madras, 2,979; Calcutta, 2,919; Punjab and Haryana, 2,900; Karnataka 2,817 and Andhra Pradesh, 2,625.
  • The national Indian average is 188 cases disposed of among 21 high courts everyday.
  • The Madras High Court leads in terms of speedy disposal of 648 cases, on an average, each day.
  • Tamil Nadu is followed by Uttar Pradesh where the Allahabad High Court (Lucknow and Kanpur benches put together) dispose of 445 cases everyday. Applying the national average of 2400 cases per judge per year, the time for disposal of backlog of cases can be calculated by any one.
  • The Punjab and Haryana High Court had been successful in increasing the disposal of cases due to special efforts of the judges. The average disposal of cases in this High Court is 2900 as against the national average of 2400 per year. The number of cases pending in this High Court is around 2.60 lakh and old cases over the age of two years are 1.70 lakh.
  • In the same period, the number of pending cases in the subordinate courts is around 11.8 lakh.

Really a shocking tale of Indian judicial system. Can't really balme one entity or one person for such broken environment. Isn't time to address these before anything else?



xs400's picture

Super class

196 users have liked.

I am amazed at the 'Frivolous PIL' law/rule/penalty. I dont know how many actual PILs have been eliminated. Only a matter of time when a corrupt judge uses this to his/her advantage. What is most annoying is that a CJI has brought this rule.

kbsyed61's picture

Possible Reasons!

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  1. Absence of 'loser pays costs' system.
  2. Low court fees to file the case in Indian Courts
  3. Inadequate judge strength
  4. Not awarding costs against the loser resulting in frivolous litigation are three major causes of delay in the disposal of cases.


psaram42's picture

Fight against corruption

165 users have liked.

It indeed is a well researched / written blog entry on the health of Judiciary. At  any standards the health of this important arm of the civic triangle, is far from healthy.  

 As Santosh Hegde had pointed out in his corruption related public meetings, even judges and judiciary as such are no exception. Therefore 

  1. The Jan Lokpal bill needs to be passed.
  2. Voting needs to be made compulsory 

Sayed sir, you may like to kindly refer to the related posts / discussions like [1] and [2].


kbsyed61's picture

what has the judicial fraternity done?

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Psaram sir,

Why is that a Retired/working policeman doesn't say anything bad about police department? or even hint to improve it? Engineering fraternity doesn't seem to discuss the shabby engineering done by their fellow tribes? Likewise, very rare to hear about a teacher on crusade to cleanse the education system? So the rule applies to politicians and babus? Why single out them?

Nice to hear legal luminaries, former bureacrat  and a retd IPS taking on netas? But who will bell the judiciary? Not necessary to prosecute the corrupt judicial officers, but atleast address the infrastructure needs of the judicial system.

What would take it to shake our judicial system to deliver that promised justice for poorest of the poor in least possible time?

A case in point - (Courtesy -, Why deliver inconsistent justice? )

"...A dusty June of 2002. A petition on behalf of the victims of the Gujarat riots by 250 eminent writers and artists was filed in the Supreme Court.

It craved for its urgent attention, as the relief camps for the displaced were being dismantled by the BJP government and they had nowhere to go. There was also the plea for compensation and other measures.

A very senior lawyer told us that it would have to wait for at least a year if not more to be heard. How right he was! Its turn came 18 months after filing of the case. By that time many of the prayers had become meaningless. ..."

Compare to this look at the SC's urgency in disposing Sidhu's case for fighting re-election post his conviction in lower court.

murali772's picture

Justice denied

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Not one or two, this dismissed transport employee from Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu has won 14 judicial orders in his favour - seven in the Madras high court, five in the Supreme Court and one each in the industrial tribunal and a criminal court. When he started his legal battle, T Neethivilangan, who was dismissed as junior superintendent in Cholan Roadways Corporation (CRC) in 1983, was 34 years old. Now, he is 62, a good four years past his age of retirement. With the TN government itself donning the role of a rogue litigant bent on circumventing all judicial orders, Neethivilangan was denied his rightful benefits all these years.

For the full report in the ToI, click here.

Unbelievable how the state can torment a person if it chooses to. What are organisations like the Human Rights Commission etc doing, I wonder.

A senior lawyer had once told me that the tribunals and courts are generally cluttered with government cases, with no official wanting to leave an order against the state unchallenged, whether there is merit to the case or not, for fear of it being seen as favouring the opposite party, and affecting the official's personal record.

Things have gone really too far - some solutions have to evolve. When is it ever going to happen, and who is going to make it happen?

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

weak judiciary

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This debate misses the main reason why the Lokpal is likely to flop. Even if the Lokpal controls the CBI, it will have no control over the courts. These seem incapable of convicting any resourceful person beyond appeals within his or her lifetime. Little will be achieved if the Lokpal initiates a thousand cases that then drag on for decades, with the accused out on bail.

Example: the murder case of LN Mishra, former chief minister of Bihar and right-hand man of Indira Gandhi, is dragging on 37 years after his killing in 1975. The 27-year-old man accused of murder is now an ailing 64. Of the 39 witnesses he cited to prove his innocence, 31 have died, gravely prejudicing the case against him. No less than 22 different judges have handled the trial over the years. The case is being tried on a day-by-day basis, the fastest possible. If this happens in a VIP’s case, what hope of justice do lesser mortals have?

The corruption case against Sukh Ram, former telecom minister, has gone on for 16 years. The High Court has just pronounced him guilty, but he can appeal to the Supreme Court. He is now 85 years old and ailing, and may not live to hear the Supreme Court’s verdict.

These are just two of a myriad of examples. The problem is not limited to criminal cases—civil cases are even more problematic. The IFC and World Bank produce an annual Doing Business report on how difficult it is to do business in different countries. In the category “enforcement of contract” , India ranks 182out of 183 countries! It is the second worst in the world. India is sometimes called a miracle economy, but the real miracle is how a country with such a pathetic judicial system grows fast at all.

For the full text of the blog by Mr S A Aiyar in the Sunday ToI, click here.

Mr V Balasubramanian, retired additional chief secretary, GoK, has a suggestion - "Replace the "adversarial system of jurisprudence", where an accused is innocent until proven guilty, with the Continental system of "inquisitorial jurisprudence", where an accused has to prove his innocence once he is charged by an 'investigating magistrate' (check this). Is that a possible answer?

Whatever, finding a proper way out of this sad state of affairs has become the prime need of the country.

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