Indian Courts Need Major Reforms: Indian Justice Report 2022

The Indian Judiciary is acutely short of judges and infrastructure, leading to an increase in the pendency of cases, rising caseload and declining Case Disposal Rate (CCR) in lower courts.
Supreme Court 

Supreme Court 

Indian Justice Report

The third pillar of the Indian governance system is the judiciary. India's system of governance is federal. Here the division of powers has taken place between the Central Government and the State Governments, but in spite of all this, the Judiciary is integrated here. This means that there is only one Supreme Court for the whole country and the distribution of justice is equal to all. Under the Supreme Court are the High Courts of various states and under each High Court there is a hierarchical system of other courts called 'Subordinate Courts', which are subordinate to the High Court and work under its control.

In modern democratic political systems, justice is considered to be open, fair, continuous, stable and predictable. While underlining the importance of justice in the Indian judicial system and the functions of the judiciary, it is very important to first of all understand the point quoted by William Edward that "justice delayed is equal to injustice". This is necessary because the number of cases waiting for justice within the Indian judicial system is continuously increasing, due to which the pending cases are increasing day by day.

Courts in India are an instrument to provide justice and relief to the poor and weaker sections of the society, but if the process is years long and time-consuming, will it be the right form of justice? This question is because the report of 'Indian Justice Report - 2022' (IJR 2022) has come out recently. The objective of the Indian Justice Report is to comprehensively assess the state of justice delivery in India and identify areas where improvements are needed.

The Indian Justice Report, released on 4 April, states that the Indian Judiciary is acutely short of judges and infrastructure, leading to an increase in pendency, increasing caseload and the disposal rate of cases in lower courts. (CCR) is showing a decline. According to the report, as of December 2022, India's High Courts were functioning with only 778 judges as against the sanctioned strength of 1,108 judges. This means that 330 Judgeships are lying vacant in the High Courts across the country. Simultaneously, the report states that the lower courts across the country were functioning with only 19,288 judges as against the sanctioned strength of 24,631 judges, i.e. with a shortfall of 5,343 judges.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Indian Justice Report logo</p></div>

Indian Justice Report logo

Indian Justice Report

The report, released by the Tata Trusts in collaboration with the Center for Social Justice, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and Common Cause, also highlights that That the pendency of cases per judge has increased in most states in the last five years, while the number of judges has not increased. The average pendency in High Courts is highest in Uttar Pradesh with 11.34 years. Next comes the number of West Bengal where the average pendency is 9.9 years. Talking about the lowest average pendency, Tripura leads with an average pendency of 1 year, followed by Sikkim (1.9 years) and Meghalaya (2.1 years).

The report also mentions the rate of disposal of cases within the High Courts and lower courts across India. The report shows that the case clearance rate within the High Courts of India has improved by six percentage points (from 88.5% to 94.6%) between 2018-19 and 2022, but the case clearance rate within the lower courts has remained the same. There has been a decline of 3.6 points (93% to 89.4%) in the disposal rate.

The Indian Justice Report 2022, in its recommendations, says that the shortage of judges and infrastructure is a serious concern for the Indian judiciary, which has led to an increase in pendency of cases and a decrease in the disposal rate of cases in lower courts. The government needs to address this issue through measures to improve the efficiency of the judicial system by filling vacancies of judges and providing adequate infrastructure. [ Original / JS ]

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