Litigants suffer as more than 21 lakh cases pile up in Karnataka courts
Bengaluru: Data from the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) shows Karnataka courts have 21,17,138 pending cases. More than half of these cases have been pending for more than 3 years leading to litigants suffering.
“It (court case) has been running for two generations. My grandfather was the plaintiff. So it is really taking a toll on our finances,” said Archita Nandy, a litigant.
One of the reasons behind the backlog is the number of judges in the state. Out of the sanctioned strength of 62 judges in the High Court, it currently has 45 sitting judges and 2,79,013 pending cases. As per news reports, lower courts have a working strength of 962 judges out of 1357 and more than 18 lakh pending cases.
Advocates say filling all sanctioned posts isn’t enough and that more measures are needed.
“Sanctioned posts have been sanctioned long back. If you see the present position, more judges are needed. So far as the High Court is concerned, it is advisable to appoint ad-hoc judges,” said B.V. Acharya, Senior Advocate at the Karnataka High Court.
Ad-hoc judges appointed under Article 224A of the Indian Constitution are retired judges who have shown great efficiency in disposing of cases in the past to help courts deal with the existing caseload. Senior Advocate Acharya added that such competent judges must be appointed and should specifically focus on tackling older cases.
The Supreme Court collegium headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, recently recommended the elevation of four advocates as high court judges, which, if approved, will still have 13 vacant posts
The shortage of judges is a national problem. Data from the Union Law Ministry shows the total number of sanctioned judges in all high courts is 1098, while the working strength is 627, leaving 427 vacancies to be filled.
Experts say pending cases in courts create a trust problem for the people outside the system.
“According to some studies, the average pendency in some high courts is even more than 3 years. What happens when you are constantly reading such literature is, your trust in the system starts decreasing. It is very bad for the justice system because it is there to ensure people approach it,” said Sandhya PR, Senior Research Fellow, DAKSH India.