Shocking state of subordinate judiciary: 2.81 crore cases pending, 5000 judges short

A whopping 2.8 crore cases are pending in district courts across the country which are short of nearly 5,000 judicial officers.

Shocking state of subordinate judiciary: 2.81 crore cases pending, 5000 judges short

A whopping 2.8 crore cases are pending in district courts across the country which are short of nearly 5,000 judicial officers.

The situation has led to suggestions in two Supreme Court reports to increase the judicial manpower "manifold" – at least seven times -- to overcome the crisis by appointing about 15,000 more judges in the coming few years.

The suggestions and some sharp remarks came out in two reports issued by the Supreme Court -- 'Indian Judiciary Annual Report 2015-2016' and 'Subordinate Courts of India: A Report on Access to Justice 2016'-- which also highlighted that nearly 15,000 more judges would be required in next three year to overcome this critical situation.


Data showed that district courts across the country are grappling with a backlog of 2,81,25,066 civil and criminal cases in the period between July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016. But a large number of matters, 1,89,04,222, were also disposed off during the period.

One of the key reasons for the huge figure of pending litigation is the shortage of judges in subordinate courts which is "a cause of concern", as there are 4,954 judges' posts vacant when the sanctioned strength of judicial officers was 21,324, the report on subordinate courts said.

"Based on the study and keeping in mind the future growth in institution of cases, it is found that the present judge strength is insufficient to deal with a huge figure of pendency of cases, which is a cause of concern.

"Additional judicial manpower and support staff, as well as infrastructure is required immediately to handle the situation," the report said.

In the backdrop of the tussle between the judiciary and the executive over appointments of judges and infrastructure, the report came out with sharp remarks over the failure of the government in dealing with these issues.

"The immediate requirement itself shows that enough has not been done to increase the judges strength of the subordinate judiciary. The State is obliged to carry out the decisions of the Apex Court and increase the Judge-Population Ratio to 50 per million as held in the All India Judges Association case.

"The present judge strength is sufficient just to handle the fresh cases filed each year which ensures constancy of pendency figures. It is necessary to understand and predict that case filing patterns would change in future and device methods to keep pendency in manageable limits," it said.