The wait for justice in India is indeed very long, results of a first of its kind in-depth study on pendency of cases in the Indian courts show. A whopping 82 per cent of the cases in the 21 high courts fall in the 10-15 year bracket.
The study, carried out by Bengaluru-based NGO Daksh and compiled in the form of a book The State of Indian Judiciary, which was released recently, found that four per cent of the cases were less than five years old.
A case filed in the Allahabad High Court can be expected to take the longest time in being disposed of, with the average pendency of cases in the court being around three years and nine months. The Bombay High Court has an average pendency of three years and six months, and the Gujarat High Court three years and three months. The northeastern state of Sikkim fares the best, with a pendency of ten months.
Giving an idea of the kind of cases that have the longest pendency, the study found that in the Karnataka High Court, company petitions (constituting a mere one per cent of the total cases) were pending on an average for 2,179 days, which is nearly six years. Civil petitions had an average pendency of 782 days, and criminal petitions were pending on an average for 775 days.
On the matter of judges' workload, the study found that high court judges hear 20 to 150 cases a day, averaging 70 hearings. A judge in the Patna High Court, for example, would hear 149 cases in a day on an average, and the time devoted to each case would be two minutes. In Calcutta High Court, a judge hears 148 cases on an average, and the time given to each case works out to 2.1 minutes.
"The question of numerous hearings is one that needs to be dealt with swiftly, as it is a significant contributor to delay. Putting a cap on the number of hearings will allow reduction in judicial workload and may improve efficiency and also reduce the number of times litigants have to visit courts," the report stated.