Vacancies in Madurai district court delay justice delivery

A total of 30,237 civil cases and 25,543 criminal cases are pending before the Madurai district court.

A total of 30,237 civil cases and 25,543 criminal cases are pending before the Madurai district court.   | Photo Credit: R. Ashok

Court sources say litigants and advocates also contribute to the delay

A 68-year-old litigant from Madurai has been frequenting the district court for over five years now. The reason is the delay in disposal of a case filed following the death of her daughter-in-law. She claims that the daughter-in-law committed suicide and she was named as an accused in the case. Now out on bail, she claims that she is innocent and it is she who takes care of her granddaughter.

Her case has seen a number of adjournments and she hopes that it will be disposed of soon. In another case, a 38-year-old woman, also from Madurai, claims that her domestic violence case has been pending for over three years and she too hopes that it will be resolved soon.

The burden of judicial vacancy has hit the litigants. Madurai is facing a situation where a number of key judicial officers’ posts are lying vacant for a while. A total of 30,237 civil cases and 25,543 criminal cases are pending before the Madurai district court as on date, according to sources in the subordinate judiciary.

Some of the key posts lying vacant include those of presiding officers of fast track, mahila and special courts dealing with narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, motor claims and land grab cases and the post of chairman of Permanent Lok Adalat and Mobile Court (Rural). In order to maintain a balance, these cases are heard by judges undertaking other portfolios, thereby taking additional charge.

J. Anandavalli

J. Anandavalli   | Photo Credit: G. Moorthy


Advocates opine that such key positions must be filled up quickly so that pendency rate does not escalate any further. Otherwise, it will be a burden on the those taking up additional charges, they point out.

Women and children are the ones who frequent the Mahila Court. Sometimes, they spend the whole day waiting outside the courts halls, only for the cases to be adjourned. This amounts to their further victimisation, says A. Rajini, advocate. This practice can also turn away witnesses in the case, who may not turn up again. The lacuna has to be addressed, she says.

Advocate K. Sami Durai, secretary, Indian Association of Lawyers, says that filing up of vacancies should be expedited. The government is now mulling setting up of special fast track courts for quick disposal of cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. Though this is a welcome move, given the increasing rate of crime against children, existing vacancies must be filled up. The very purpose of establishing fast track and special courts for swift disposal of cases must not be defeated, he says.

J. Anandavalli, president, Women Advocates Association at the Madras High Court Bench, is of the opinion that it is stressful on the judges to take up additional portfolios. Existing judges are taking up additional charge in a makeshift arrangement. This increases the burden on them, she adds.

However, Special Public Prosecutor for Mahila Court K. Christy Theboral is of the view that important cases, particularly those relating to women and children, are given top priority.

K. Sami Durai

K. Sami Durai   | Photo Credit: R. Ashok


Court sources say that it is not only the vacancies that lead to pendency of cases. Advocates and litigants too contribute to it. They seek adjournments at times, thereby keeping the cases pending. Though the vacancies need to be filled up, a constant disposal rate is being maintained, sources say.

The Ministry of Law and Justice acknowledged recently that over 5,000 posts in lower judiciary are lying vacant throughout the country. Tamil Nadu has at least 27% vacancies in lower and subordinate courts.

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Printable version | May 29, 2020 5:28:15 PM |

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