New Delhi: A study commissioned by the Union Law ministry has thrown up some interesting findings with regard to the functioning and efficiency of the judiciary and the judges. In the latest bit of information trickling out, the report has found that stays on proceedings ordered by India’s top courts – High Courts and the Supreme Court – leads to delays in trial of up to 6.5 years.
The report, which found no relation between the judges - population ratio on the pendency of cases in courts, has also said that the average time a case takes to reach its conclusion in India’s top courts ranges between 10 to 15 years, spending half its life span in limbo on account of stays granted by the higher judiciary.
A study of annual reports of the Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Odisha HCs found that trial proceedings had been stayed by superior courts in more than 15,300 civil and criminal cases.
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While the number is significant in itself, what makes the situation even more grave is the fact that this is only a fraction of the complete data. There are 24 HCs in the country, and not all HCs publish their annual reports, making it difficult to ascertain the "accurate and complete picture".
"There is no uniformity in the manner in which the judicial statistics are being provided in the annual reports, making it difficult to compare data," a TOI report said today, quoting the report.
The report contends that the grant of the high number of stays affects both civil and criminal cases. Additionally, the high number of adjournments granted by courts also translate into an increase in the average life cycle of cases.
The Law ministry report has analysed the number of adjournments granted on an average during the life cycle of a case in two states of Odisha and Rajasthan. Only these two high courts are believed to have provided such data in their annual reports — that too only for their subordinate courts.
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In Odisha, on an average 51 adjournments are granted in civil cases and 33 in criminal cases. For Rajasthan, the adjournments are on average up to 42 in civil cases and 34 in criminal. The report notes that high number of adjournments also pose hurdles in the reduction of pendency in cases.
The total pendency of cases remained static at around 10.59 lakh in case of subordinate courts in Odisha, and in case of Rajasthan it went up from 14.54 lakh to 14.78 lakh between January and December 2015.
The law ministry had recently also asked all HCs to provide data on their longest reserved judgments. The Calcutta high court reported its longest reserved judgment was for over seven years. It was not known if this was the longest reserved judgment as some of the HCs chose not to respond to the government query .
The oldest reserved judgment in the Allahabad HC is pending for three years. The Jharkhand HC has reported its longest pending judgment is for two years while two other HCs of Kerala and Gujarat have reported judgments reserved for more than a year.