It’s huge, too huge for a district. More than 2.5 lakh civil and criminal cases are pending in courts in Ernakulam district as of March 31, 2014 — the highest number for any district in the State.
According to a report by the High Court of Kerala, less than 40 per cent of cases reaching the courts in Kerala are disposed of within a year.
Courts in the district have for ages been grappling with the problem of mountainous pendency list. A court official said things move from bad to worse with each passing month as thousands of cases pour in each day. Majority of the pending cases were piled up at the 19 Magistrate courts in the district, compared to the Sessions courts.
The official had an explanation for it. Over the years everything — population, number of crimes and police stations — grew exponentially in the district. But the number of courts hasn’t. “New laws are being created all the time too, and so are new kinds of crimes. But the number of courts has not increased by much in the last 30 years. The situation is especially severe with Magistrate courts,” said the official.
“Magistrate courts also have to deal with cases of drunk driving, minor traffic violations, and hundreds of other similar cases. While the case may be considered a minor one, they eat up a lot of time,” he said.
The State government had approved the setting up of 16 new courts in the district last year. Officials said space was still being located to set up these courts.
“It hits the commoner the hardest. We see so many people hanging around the courts all day after day,” said another court official. An officer said cases from more than 20 years ago were still being heard in a court here.