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Status of Indian Judiciary

Indian Judicial System is facing massive shortage of Judges creating unprecedented delay in disposal of cases and undermining the capability of the system to impart justice in an efficient and effective manner. There is no doubt that at times the delay in justice delivery has serious consequences for the litigants.

With about 27 million cases pending in various Indian courts across the country judiciary is struggling to clear a huge backlog. Bulk of these cases is pending in subordinate courts accessed mostly by poor litigants. There is unprecedented increase in judicial vacancies across the tiers of Indian judiciary. Official figures show the Supreme Court is short of 5 judges, 24 high courts have 464 vacant judges post and 4,166 at the subordinate courts. It is known that the appointment to the Supreme Court and High Courts are done by a collegium of the top court. But the judges in the subordinate courts are appointed by the state high court. According to a former justice, it would take 320 years for the Indian Judiciary to clear the millions of pending cases. This is due to poor-judge-population ratio. With a sanctioned strength of 21,000 odd judges, subordinate courts are under tremendous pressure, as almost a quarter of the posts remain vacant due to lack of advance planning and poor recruitment policy. Despite the Law Commission and the Supreme Court recommending that India should have 50 judges per one million people the ration continues to be low at 17 judges per one million people. Although the number of judges increased six- fold in the last three decades the number of cases too shot up 12 fold according to the report of the National Court Management Systems. Even by conservative estimates the number of cases reaching courts will touch 15 crores requiring at least 75,000 judges in the next three decades. With growing literacy and income more people are likely to approach courts.