There are more than 4.36 crore cased pending before the courts across India, the Union government told the Rajya Sabha. At the same time, there are 5,598 vacancies in the judiciary, including the Supreme Court, high courts and district and subordinate courts.
In a written reply, Kiren Rijiju, minister of law and justice, says, Supreme Court has 70,038 cases pending as of 8 November 2021, while the high courts and district and subordinate courts have 56.43 lakh and 3.79 crore cases, respectively, pending as of 29 November 2021.
Disposal of pending cases in courts is within the domain of the judiciary, the minister says, adding "No time frame has been prescribed for disposal of various kinds of cases by the respective courts. Government has no role in disposal of cases in courts."
Derek O’Brien, a member of Parliament (MP) from Trinamool Congress, had asked about the number of cases pending, and data on vacancies at the judiciary at each level. He also asked about steps taken by the Union government to resolve the issue of pendency of cases.
In his reply, Mr Rijiju, the minister, says, "Timely disposal of cases in courts depends on several factors which, interalia, include availability of adequate number of judges and judicial officers, supporting court staff and physical infrastructure, complexity of facts involved, nature of evidence, co-operation of stake holders viz. bar, investigation agencies, witnesses and litigants and proper application of rules and procedures. There are several other factors which may lead to delay in disposal of cases. These, interalia, include vacancies of judges, frequent adjournments and lack of adequate arrangement to monitor, track and bunch cases for hearing. The Union government is fully committed to speedy disposal of cases in accordance with Article 21 of the Constitution and reducing pendency."
The government has taken several initiatives to provide an ecosystem for faster disposal of cases by the judiciary, the minister says.
Responding to another question on the number of judges appointed in the Supreme Court and various high courts in 2021, Mr Rijiju informed the Rajya Sabha that during 2021, nine judges have been appointed in the Supreme Court and 118 judges have been appointed in various high courts up to 29 November 2021.
John Brittas, an MP from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has asked about appointment of judges and number of proposals sent by the collegium and accepted or rejected by the Union government.
The law minister says, "Government appoints only those persons as judges of high courts who are recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium. The total number of high court collegium proposals which are at various stages of consideration between the Government and the Supreme Court collegium as of 29 November 2021, is 164. The number of proposals which have been remitted or returned by the government to the high courts on the advice of the Supreme Court Collegium is 55 during the current year."
"While every effort is made to fill up the existing vacancies expeditiously, vacancies of judges in high courts do keep on arising on account of retirement, resignation or elevation of judges and also due to increase in the strength of judges," Mr Rijiju says.