India’s Pending Court Cases On The Rise: In Charts
Birds fly over the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi, India. (Photographer: T. Narayan/Bloomberg)

India’s Pending Court Cases On The Rise: In Charts

Pending court cases in India have continued to rise gradually over the past year, straining the country’s already overburdened judicial system.

India now has almost 4 crore pending cases spanning the Supreme Court, various high courts and the numerous district and subordinate courts, according to written replies submitted by the Ministry of Law and Justice in Parliament.

That compares with 3.65 crore total pending cases in India as of Feb. 1, 2020. The number of unresolved litigations in the country stood at 3.59 crore in November 2019.

Between Feb. 1 and Aug. 31, 2020, the Supreme Court has seen a 3.6% rise in pending cases to 62,054. Between Jan. 29 and Sept. 20, the pending cases in high courts has risen 12.4% to 51.5 lakh. District and subordinate courts, too, saw a 6.6% increase to 3.4 crore cases in the same period.

To be sure, the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted court proceedings in India and moved hearings from physical to virtual courtrooms.

Among high courts, the Allahabad High Court has the highest number of pending cases at 7.46 lakh, followed by the High Court of Punjab & Haryana and Madras High Court. The High Court of Sikkim, on the other hand, has only 240 cases yet in need of a resolution, the lowest in the country. Other northeastern states such as Meghalaya, Tripura and Manipur, too, have pending cases below the 5,000-mark.

Over 70% of the unresolved high court files were civil cases, while the remaining one-third were criminal, the reply to a query in Lok Sabha showed. The trend was opposite for district and subordinate courts, where nearly 2.5 crore of the 3.4 crore impending cases were criminal.

At district levels, lower courts in Uttar Pradesh top the list with 81.86 lakh pending cases, followed by Maharashtra, Bihar and West Bengal. At 681, Ladakh has the least number of cases, half of which are criminal. Again, the northeastern states stand at the lower end of the list.

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