Data

Data | Justice delayed: 1 crore cases pending for over 5 years, 76% prisoners are undertrials

Awaiting justice: The cases pending in lower courts of India are piling up due to an insufficient number of subordinate judges, and judicial vacancies in courts which result in the overcrowding of prisons, with a large share of people under trial.

Awaiting justice: The cases pending in lower courts of India are piling up due to an insufficient number of subordinate judges, and judicial vacancies in courts which result in the overcrowding of prisons, with a large share of people under trial.

More than four crore cases are pending in the lower courts (District and Taluk Courts) of India, of which about 25% have been pending for over five years. More than half of India’s pending cases were filed in lower courts of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, and West Bengal. The stark rise in pending cases is a demand and supply issue. In some States, the number of cases filed per capita has burgeoned in recent years, and so the demand for justice is higher. In other States, due to relatively high judicial vacancies, the supply of justice is poor, delaying the cases. For instance, in Maharashtra, Kerala, Delhi, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh, though the number of cases pending per lakh population is higher than 4,500, less than 25% of them have been pending for more than five years — mostly a demand-side issue. In Bihar and West Bengal, the number of cases pending per capita is lower than the national average but over 40% of them are pending for more than 5 years — a supply-side issue. In States such as U.P. and Odisha, both these figures are above India’s average — a demand and supply-side issue. Judicial vacancies as a share of sanctioned strength in lower courts are 20% or more in 19 States/U.T.s. Due to inconsistent recruitment, in some States such as Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar and Telangana, there is only one judge per one lakh people. Because of the incessant delays, undertrials as a share of total prisoners have peaked at 76% in 2020. And prisons, especially in the north are overcrowded with occupancy rates as high as 177% in Uttar Pradesh. 

Hanging fire

The map depicts the share of cases pending for more than five years in the lower courts of India. About 1.08 crore cases (25%) of 4.18 crores total cases have been pending for over five years

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State-wise share

The tree-map depicts the number of pending cases across different States. With over one crore cases, U.P. has the most pending cases, of which 14% have been pending for more than 10 years

Piling up

The map shows the number of pending cases per one lakh population in different States/U.T.s. Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Delhi and Haryana are on the top of the list

Delays and lengths

The chart shows the number of pending cases per 1 lakh population against the share of cases pending for more than five years in different States/U.T.s. Though the number of cases per capita is high for Kerala, Delhi, Haryana and Himachal their pendency % is lower than 25%. U.P and Odisha have both a higher number of cases per capita and the share of cases pending for more than five years

Court vacancies

 The scatter-plot shows the total vacancies of judges in the lower courts (horizontal axis) and the vacancies as a share of the total sanctioned strength (vertical axis) as of 2020. For instance, in Uttar Pradesh, there were about 1,000 judicial vacancies in lower courts and the share of vacancies in the total sanctioned strength was about 30%, among the highest in the country

Availability of judges

The map shows the number of residents per subordinate court judge in 2018-19

Overcrowded prisons

The map shows the occupancy rate (%) of prisons in 2020. The occupancy rate in 17 States/U.T.s was higher than 100%, with Uttar Pradesh (177%) at the top of the list

Undertrial share

The chart shows the undertrials as a share of the total prisoners. The share of undertrials has increased substantially over the years

Source: Statsofindia.in, NCRB, NJDG

*Pratap Vardhan runs Statsofindia.in

Also read: A wish list for reform in India’s higher judiciary


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Printable version | Sep 8, 2022 9:19:38 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/data/data-justice-delayed-1-crore-cases-pending-for-over-5-years-76-prisoners-are-undertrial/article65635435.ece