Eight judges short, SC has 60,938 cases pending

The Judiciary Annual Report 2015-2016 issued by the Supreme Court shows that as on September 30, 2016, a total of 60,938 cases are pending.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court, which is eight short of the sanctioned strength of 31 judges, is reeling under pendency of over 60,500 cases, even as several steps are being taken to deal with the backlog of matters.

The 'Indian Judiciary Annual Report 2015-2016' issued by the Supreme Court shows that as on September 30, 2016, a total of 60,938 cases, including 50,205 civil and 10,733 criminal, are pending.

In the period between January 1 and September 30, 2016, 45,415 civil and 13,973 criminal cases were filed in the apex court which disposed of a total of 57,722 cases in nine months.

The data said that as on January 1, 2016, a total of 59,272 cases were pending in the Supreme Court, of which there were 48,181 civil matters and 11,091 criminal cases.

Thus, there has been a rise of little less than three per cent in pendency in the 2016 compared to 2015.

In 2015, a total of 78,444 matters were filed in the apex court which had disposed 82,092 cases, including previous ones.

Giving details of the steps taken by the Supreme Court in clearing the backlog and pendency of cases, the 298-page report said for the first time, two five-judge constitution benches were constituted to hear matters on Mondays and Fridays post lunch every week.

"10 constitution bench matters eventually came to be decided till August 30, 2016. This exercise has been conducted for the first time in this court," the report said, adding, "six special benches were constituted on miscellaneous days ie Mondays and Fridays for deciding important matters post lunch. Hundred in total were the three-judge bench matters disposed of between January and August 2016".

It said that a "special drive" was initiated to hear after-notice matters "which had literally clogged the entire system" and about 5,000 after-notice matters had accumulated and were decided.

The report also said that two special benches were set up to hear bail matters, besides one special tax bench which sat post lunch on Mondays and Fridays.

It said about 104 bail matters and 112 tax cases were disposed of by August 30, 2016.

As per the report, steps were also taken to expedite the disposal of old cases and special benches were constituted for hearing regular matters during the summer vacation from May 16, 2016 to June 28, 2016.

"It resulted in 301 old regular matters being listed before the vacation bench and out of them a total of 123 were disposed of. About 250 miscellaneous hearing matters were also decided during this period. As such, about 370 cases came to be disposed of during the summer vacation itself," it said.

For the first time, special benches were constituted during the winter vacations in the apex court to deal with the huge pendency of cases.

Besides these, special dedicated benches were set up to dispose of old criminal appeals, taxation matters and commercial matters.

"To save the precious time of the court, a novel and effective mechanism was conceptualised and started, whereby remarks relating to incomplete matters were highlighted in the cause-list itself, which certainly helped the court to dispose of incomplete matters expeditiously," the report said, adding, "despite heavy institution of cases, the court has been able to arrest the arrears successfully".

The report also gave data of cases instituted and disposed along with number of pending cases since 1950 when the apex court came into existence.

In the first year of its inception in 1950, a total of 1,215 cases were filed in the Supreme Court which disposed of 525 matters during that year.

The apex court has also emphasised on digitisation of court records and all civil appeals pertaining to the period up to 2002 have completely been scanned and are available on the Supreme Court's internal network.

"A total of one crore five lakh pages have been digitised which are available just a click away. A process to enhance the output of digitised paper to one lakh per day is under way," the report said.

( Source : PTI )
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