Pendency in lakhs

We do not have at hand world statistics of pending cases, civil as well as criminal, in courts of law. But one can imagine the magnitude of task lying before our judiciary when we are told that nearly six lakh cases are pending for a decade or more in various High Courts of the country. This mammoth of cases rubbishes the old saying that justice delayed is justice denied because we do not think that most of the cases from this mountain high lot will be taken up for hearing during the life time of the petitioners. The Supreme Court of India and all the 24 High Courts are deeply concerned with this horrendous number of penances. At every level, ideas are exchanged about the way through which pendency could be reduced.
The Chief Justice of India has, more than once, impressed upon the Chief Justices of State High Courts to devise means which would help in reducing pendency. Similarly the State High Court Chief Justices in turn, and at their respective levels made some solid suggestions and conveyed it to the subordinate courts aiming at reducing pendency. In our State the High Court insisted that the number of special courts should be increased and also the number of judges keeping in mind the huge number of militancy related cases pending in the courts of law. Thus we see that efforts are on at all levels to meet this challenge. A total of 40.15 lakh cases were pending in the 24 High Courts of the country at the end of 2016 and the cases which are 10 years old or more constitute 19.45 per cent of the total pendency. According to data available on the national judicial data grid, as on December 7, as many as 5, 97,650 cases were pending disposal in 20 high courts for a decade or more.
We are told that one of the important purposes of introducing Panchayat Raj in the country is to provide alternative to the rural litigants the option of cheap legal advisory so that the temptation of going to Sessions Courts or the High Court would be reduced. We think that this mechanism very right in its place needs to be strengthened and streamlined in a way that the Panchyats are able to settle most of the cases of their Panchayat Halqas without the need for the litigants to go to a court of law. A mechanism has to be evolved in which legal advice to the Panchayats in complicated cases is easily available. At the same time more funds should be made available to the Panchayats to run the business of processing disputes and finding an acceptable solution. Even setting up of village tribunals could be considered for speedy disposal of long pending cases.