India’s subordinate courts have a backlog of over 22 million cases while the 21 high courts and the Supreme Court have 3.5 million and 32,000 pending cases (2006). In subordinate courts, over 15 million cases are filed and an equal number disposed of annually by about 14,000 judges! Every year a million or more cases are added to the arrears. At the current speed, the lower courts may take 124 years for clearing the backlog. There were only 13 judges for every million people.
A 2005 countrywide survey done by Centre for Media Studies for Transparencey International finds that a very high 77 percent of respondents believe the Indian judiciary is corrupt. The survey found that bribe around 580 million US$ was paid during 12 months. Money was paid to the officials in the following proportions: 61 percent to lawyers; 29 percent to court officials; 5 percent to middlemen.”
Recently a parliamentary committee blamed the judiciary for keeping out competent persons of downtrodden communities from “through a shrewd process of manipulation”. Between 1950 to 2000, 47% of Chief Justices and 40% of Judges were of Brahmin origin!. Dalits and Indian aborigines are lesser than 20 out of 610 judges working in Supreme Court and state high Courts. “This nexus and manipulative judicial appointments have to be broken, it urged”. [Parliamentary standing committee report on Constitutional Review, Sudarshan Nachiappan]. Among 12 states with high-Muslim population, Muslim representation in judicial sector is limited to 7.8%. (Justice Sachar Report).
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, only 31 per cent criminal trials are completed in less than a year. Some take even more than 10 years. According to its study, Crime in India 2002, nearly 220,000 cases took more than 3 years to reach court, and about 25,600 exhausted 10 years before they were completed. The term of the Liberhan Commission, formed 14 years ago to probe the demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya and originally given a mandate of three months, has been extended again!
The average disposal per judge is about 1300 cases in subordinate courts if calculated on the basis of disposal and working strength of judges in 2006. The average disposal of all Indian high courts is about 2400 cases per year. The national average of disposal of cases per judge per year in major high courts is: Kerala, 3,103; Madras, 2,979; Calcutta, 2,919; Punjab and Haryana, 2,900; Karnataka 2,817 and Andhra Pradesh, 2,625.
Of the 2,733 officially admitted murders of Sikh minority in 1984, only nine cases have so far led to the conviction of 20 people in 25 years; a conviction rate of less than 1%. [ENSAF]