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2.77 crore cases pending in India’s lower courts, 25% of them in Uttar Pradesh

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As CJI Ranjan Gogoi tries to streamline India’s judicial system, a look at the National Judicial Data Grid will help him focus on a few key states.

New Delhi: As soon as he took office, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi made it clear  that one of his key objectives was to reduce time-wasting and pendency in the judicial system. To this end, he has held top-level discussions with high court chief justices and tried to streamline the system.

However, the CJI might want to focus on the lack of efficiency in a few key states. A look at data from the National Judicial Data Grid shows that 24.4 per cent of all cases languishing in subordinate courts in India are in Uttar Pradesh alone.

Pending cases

The scale of the problem is vast — 55,000 cases are pending in the Supreme Court, 32.4 lakh in high courts, and a staggering 2.77 crore are yet to be disposed of in the country’s district and taluka courts.

As on 12 October 2018, there are 67.7 lakh pending cases in UP’s district and taluka courts, of which 51.2 lakh are criminal cases and 16.4 lakh are civil cases.

Maharashtra is second on the list, with 12.56 per cent of the total cases pending in its district and taluka courts. West Bengal (6.9 per cent), Bihar (6.01 per cent) and Gujarat (5.43 per cent) round out the top five.

Also read: Be more proactive, am watching – new CJI Ranjan Gogoi tells high court chief justices

Judge vacancies

The trend goes hand-in-hand with the high number of judge vacancies. CJI Gogoi had acknowledged this a few weeks before his elevation at a conference, highlighting that there were 5,094 vacancies in the country’s district judiciary.

Unsurprisingly, Uttar Pradesh has the maximum number of vacant judgeships. Bihar follows with 825, and Madhya Pradesh with 748.

Positive trend

However, data from the National Judicial Data Grid also shows that the number of total cases disposed of last month at the district and taluka level — 13.13 lakh — was higher than the total number of cases filed — 12.02 lakh — indicating that the tide is slowly turning.

Grid has helped

The National Judicial Data Grid found special mention in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2018 ranking, in which India jumped 30 positions to rank 100th out of 190 countries.

Also read: Only 28 per cent of judges in India’s lower courts are women, and there’s no sign of change

The report said the National Judicial Data Grid “made it possible to generate case management reports on local courts, thereby making it easier to enforce contracts”.

About 3,027 district and taluka courts are currently listed in the Grid, and the e-court network holds states accountable by measuring pending cases in almost real-time.

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