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Pendency of cases in Supreme Court:

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered: Important Constitutional Bodies.



The Supreme Court is set to witness many vacant posts in 2022 with many current judges retiring this year.


The concern:

The retirements come at a time when the court is in the process of steadying itself after particularly brutal waves of the pandemic. There is a huge pendency of cases.

  • India’s legal system has the largest backlog of pending cases in the world – as many as 30 million pending cases.
  • This number is continuously increasing and this itself shows the inadequacy of the legal system.
  • And also due to this backlog, most of the prisoners in India’s prisons are detainees awaiting trial.


Pendency in Supreme Court:

  1. The Supreme Court’s statistics show that 70,362 cases are pending with it as of April 1, 2022.
  2. Over 19% of them are not ready to be placed before a Bench for judicial hearing as they have not completed the required preliminaries.
  3. While 52,110 are admission matters, 18,522 are regular hearing cases.
  4. The number of Constitution Bench cases (both main and connected matters) totals 422.
  5. The Supreme Court has only recently resumed full physical hearings after two years of virtual systems.


Various steps taken by the Government to reduce Pendency:

  1. Adoption of “National Litigation Policy 2010” to transform government into an Efficient and Responsible litigant.
  2. All states formulated state litigation policies after National Litigation Policy 2010.
  3. Legal Information Management and Briefing System (LIMBS) was created in 2015 with the objective of tracking cases to which the government is a party.
  4. The Supreme Court had advised the centre that criminals sentenced to imprisonment for 6 months or a year should be allocated social service duties rather than be sent to further choke the already overflowing prisons.


Need of the hour:

  • Revise national litigation policy.
  • Promotion of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to encourage mediation.
  • Coordinated action between government and judiciary.
  • Judicial capacity should be strengthened in the lower courts to reduce the burden on higher courts.
  • Increase expenditure on the judiciary.
  • Improve courts case management and court automation system.
  • Create subject-specific benches.
  • Robust internal dispute resolution mechanisms.
  • Judges should write Shorter and more Pointed judgments.


Insta Curious:

Did you know that When there is a lack of quorum, the CJI can appoint a judge of high court to the SC bench?

  • Such a step can be taken only with the prior permission of the President and consultation with the CJ of the concerned high court.



Prelims Link:

  1. What is collegium?
  2. How are Judges of the Supreme Court and high courts appointed?
  3. Appointment of retired judges.
  4. Related constitutional provisions.
  5. Powers and functions.

Mains Link:

Discuss the issues associated with the collegium system for the appointment of judges.

Sources: the Hindu.