Judicial Backlogs

Judicial Backlogs

  • Justice delayed is justice denied“- goes the famous adage. 

Statistics & Magnitude:

  • Number of Backlogs
    • 3.20 crore cases are pending before various courts.
    • 60,000 cases in Supreme Court
  • Number of Judges in India are low
    • Present – 17 judges per 1 million population
    • Required – Atleast 50 judges per 10 lakh (according to recommendations of Law Commission)
    •  In contrast, US has 151 and China has 170 judges for a million population. 

Causes of huge backlog of cases

  • Number of the judges is very low , given the size of our democracy.  There were only 17 judges to a 10 Lakh population when there should be at least 50 judges per 10 lakh.
  • Even sanctioned posts are vacant.
    • All India vacancy = 26 %
    • Bihar = 45% sanctioned posts vacant (highest)
  • Low budgetary allocation leading to poor infrastructure-  India spends only about 0.09% of its GDP
  • Tendency to take appeals till Supreme Court
  • Increase in PILs & Special Leave Petitions
  • Malpractices by lawyers
  • Government & its departments act as Compulsive litigant => in 46% cases, government is Litigant  
  • Redundant Case Management System (CMS): There is large amount of paperwork , rigid rules , archaic practices
  • Complexity in  Indian law with overlapping provisions in different Acts. In September 2014, government setup Ramanujam Committee to identify central government statutes ready for repeal. It identified 1,741 such old statutes 
  • Police lacks training for scientific collection of evidences 
  • Lack of infrastructure  : such as inadequate support staff for judges and dearth of basic courtroom facilities.

Impact of backlog of cases

  • Fundamental Rights like Equal Protection of Law and Right to life (of under-trials) impinged
  • Erosion of the rule of law
  • A market-based capitalist system can operate efficiently only if judicial processes ensure a fair enforcement of contracts.
  • Huge NPAs as commercial litigations not solved
  • Low foreign investment as investors are doubtful about timely justice


  • 245th Law Commission Report on “Arrears and Backlogs: Creating Additional Judicial manpower” has recommended various measures increasing judges , Alternate Dispute Resolution methods   etc
  • Constituting an All India Judicial Service to provide more number of highly competent judges
  • Using Alternate Dispute Redressal Mechanisms like Lok Adalats, Tribunals for dispute settlement.
  • Improving the Courts Case Management System . Initiatives like the Crown Court Management Services of the UK  may be considered.
  • Simplification and repealing of outdated laws.
  • Judicial Impact Assessment should be introduced while introducing a legislation.
  • Government is the biggest litigant in India. It should take steps at – setting up institutional measures for arbitration and dispute resolution. 
  • Setting up more courts in areas having more case-load as ordered by  Supreme Court in Imtiayaz Ahmad vs State of Uttar Pradesh (2012). 
  • Institution of evening and morning courts to deal with petty matter like traffic violations/challans
  • Promoting research and studies on judicial reforms.

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