The total pendency of civil and criminal cases in the subordinate courts of the State touched the 12 lakh mark. The number was only 9.28 lakh in 2007. Despite best efforts to dispose of such cases by judicial authorities in the State, the pendency continues to increase year after year.
As per data of Home Department-Administration of Justice, the total pendency of civil and criminal cases was 9,28,046 at the end of 2007 while 15,64,033 cases were disposed.
Even though an equal number of cases were disposed by the state judicial officers every year since then, the pendency has touched 12,32,469 as on December 31, 2012 in Tamil Nadu. Of these, 7,78,636 are civil and 4,53,833 criminal cases.
In the courts of Puducherry, there are 14, 286 civil and 14,455 criminal cases pending as of now.
Senior advocates and lawyers’ associations attributed the alarming increase in pendency to the greater awareness among the public about their rights.
They also cited non-availability of adequate number of courts and judicial officers to dispose of the large number of cases.
New legislation such as the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 and other laws made people fight for their rights before the court.
Recalling his earlier days in profession, T.R.Rajagopalan, senior advocate, said, “In 1966, when I began the profession, the number of cases was much lower before the courts. People were scared of courts in those days. Now people know their rights and many come to court for relief.”
“Courts are not sufficient in number and more number of judges need to be appointed management of cases to dispose of cases. The time allotted for trial is not enough, and trials take place only in the afternoon,” he added.
P. Paramasivam, president of Bar Federation of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry said, “There is inordinate delay in disposal of the cases related to land acquisition or motor accident claim as the government side does not come to file counter within a stipulated time. There should be effective mechanism to dispose such cases. Adequate number of judicial officers and staff should be appointed.”
Directive to district judges
Already, the Madras High Court had directed all principal district judges to monitor and ensure that civil and criminal cases pending for long in their respective districts should be disposed of within a shorter period.
They also keep filing compliance report in respect of the aforesaid disposal on the last day of every month.
However, lawyers and the litigant public suggested more number of efficient judges to be appointed as after all they are dealing with rights of people, while judicial officers also suggested that there should be no strikes of lawyers that would cripple the court activities.