New Delhi: In claims countering Chief Justice of India T S Thakur’s contention holding the large number of vacancies across courts responsible for the high pendency in courts, a study commissioned by the central government has found that it was the efficiency of judges and not the judges-population ratio that was primarily responsible for the state of affairs.
According to the study commissioned by the Law ministry, which compiled data between 2005 and 2015, states with a higher judge-population ratio have not necessarily been able to display higher disposal of cases.
Several states with higher judge-population ratio - such as Delhi (47 judges per million population) and Gujarat (32 judges) - are still struggling to dispose of cases, the study has found.
On the other hand, states such as Tamil Nadu (14 judges per million population) and Punjab (24 judges) have among the lowest pendency rates, according to the study.
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Notably, the CJI had sought 70,000 more judges to clear the backlog. As per recent estimates, the pendency of cases has remained high at 3.10 crore.
"There is no direct relation between judge-population ratio and the pending cases," said the study, pointing out how states such as Tamil Nadu and Punjab which ranked lower in terms of judge-population ratio also ranked lower in terms of the number of pending cases.
To drive home its point of efficiency of judges playing a huge role in the number of pending cases in respective courts, the findings show huge variations in the average number of cases disposed by a judge in a year in different states.
In Kerala and Tripura, for instance, the rate of disposal per judge is as high as over 3,000 and 2,800 cases respectively per year. On the other hand, states such as Jharkhand and Bihar dispose of just 255 and 274 cases respectively as per the working strength.
India’s national average of judges per million population stands at 17 judges, though there are over 44 per cent vacancies in 24 high courts and 23 per cent in subordinate judiciary.
The current sanctioned strength of the subordinate judiciary is 20,214 judges while that of the 24 high courts is 1,056.
The states with the highest pendency of cases per million population are Delhi, Gujarat, Chandigarh, Tripura, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Jharkhand and Bihar. As per the study, all these states have a judge-population ratio above the national average of 17.
The top five states have a judge-population ratio in the range of 20 to 47 judges per million population, but still have one of the highest pendency of cases per million population.
Quoting from a previous Law Commission report, the Law ministry study said the judge-population ratio was a poor substitute for sound scientific analysis to arrive at the real reasons behind huge pendency.