February 28, 2024

Judicial Pendency

Syllabus- General Studies 2 (Polity)

Parliament and State legislatures, Structure, Organization and functioning of the Union and State Executive and the Judiciary


Recently, a senior judge of the Supreme Court of India stated that frivolous cases have been making the Court dysfunctional.

  • In 2014, the then Chief Justice of India, H L Dattu, said the courts of the country are struggling with a negative perception about their efficiency.
  • The huge pendency of cases, he said, strikes at the very root of democracy and erodes respect for law among citizens.

Frivolous litigations are indeed a problem, but it is not the most serious problem confronting the judicial system.

Reasons behind pendency of cases:

  • The government is a major litigant in the High Courts and the Supreme Court. The Ministry of Law and Justice in the Action Plan to Reduce Government Litigation (2017) stated that approximately 46 per cent pending cases before the courts pertain to the government.
    • The 230th Law Commission report on reforms in the judiciary (2009) stated that the responsibility of unclogging the judiciary was with the central and state governments since they are the biggest litigants in the courts.
    • The report suggested that governments should approach the courts only if necessary, and not just to pass the buck.
    • Government authorities have ignored the National Litigation Policy of 2010 to follow an unwritten rule that all orders against the government must be challenged till the last court.
  • In Pirthwi Singh (2018), the Supreme Court said the Union of India must appreciate that by pursuing frivolous or infructuous cases, it was “adding to the burden of the Supreme Court.
  • The core issue is the non-appointment of judges: Many high courts have 40 to 50 per cent vacancies at times.
    • According to a government statement in the Lok Sabha, there were 5,135 vacancies in district and subordinate courts as on June 30, 2018.
  • Other issues that lead to clogging of the system include the refusal to increase the number of sanctioned posts, lack of infrastructure in the district courts, absence of training of judges, stalling of police reforms etc.


When a litigant comes with a frivolous case, the court can exercise inherent jurisdiction to deal with many related issues. Special courts are created for specific disputes giving the impression of expedited hearing and disposal. But judges for these courts have to be provided by the High Courts from the existing common pool of judges. All these issues need effective resolution, preferably by joint effort of the Supreme Court and the High Courts.


 Question- List out the major reasons for the pendency of cases in all three tiers of courts.

Article- https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/courts-india-judiciary-cases-7375948/

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