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Believe it or not, there is no height of pending cases in India today. If data revealed by the Minister on the floor of the Rajya Sabha are of any indication, as many as 58,669 cases were pending in the Supreme Court as of June 1,2019. How about the High Courts?

In all, 43.55 lakh cases have been pending in various High Courts in the country as of the same date. Worse, out of these High Court pending cases,8.35 lakh cases were struck for more than 10 years and another 8.44 lakh were pending for long- 5 to 10 years.

This information is on the record made public after Union Minister of Law and Justice, Communications and Electronics & Information Technology  Ravi Shankar Prasad replied to questions asked by RS MP from Jharkhand Parimal Nathwani.

Minister’s reply says that as per the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG), out of total cases pending in the various High Courts of the country, 18.75 lakh are civil cases, 12.15 lakh are criminal cases and 12.65 are writ petitions. 

Also, the data show that while 26.76 lakh cases were pending in the HCs for less than 5 years;8.44 lakh cases pending for more than 5 years but less than 10 years;8.35 lakh cases were pending for more than 10 years, according to the Minister.

The Arrears Committees have been set up in High Courts to clear cases pending for more than five years. Arrears Committee has been constituted in the Supreme Court to formulate steps to reduce pendency of cases in High Courts and District Courts. At present, 581 such Fast Track Courts are functioning across the country and to fast track criminal cases involving elected MPs / MLAs 12 Special Courts were set up in 11 States.

In fact, Nathwani had sought to know about the number of cases, both civil and criminal, pending in the top court, High Courts, pending cases and their periods as well as measures taken by Government to expedite the process of disposal of cases.

The Minister stated that the "National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms established by the Government has adopted a coordinated approach for phased liquidation of arrears and pendency in judicial administration through various strategic initiatives, including improving infrastructure for courts, leveraging Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for better justice delivery, and filling up of vacant positions of judges in High Courts and Supreme Court."

He said that Rs.6,986.50 crores have been released since the inception of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) for Development of Infrastructure Facilities for Judiciary in 1993-94. 

Out of this, 3,542.20 crores have been released to the States and UTs since April 2014. The number of court halls has increased from 15,818 to 19,101 and number of residential units has increased from 10,211 to 16,777 in the last five years. 

In addition, 2,879 court halls and 1,886 residential units are under construction. The Central Government has approved the continuation of the Scheme beyond the 12th Five Year Plan period i.e. from 01.04.2017 to 31.03.2020 with an estimated additional outlay of Rs.3,320 crore.

Minister stated that there have been measures leveraging Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for improved justice delivery, and the Government has been implementing the e-Courts Mission Mode Project throughout the country for Information and Communication Technology enablement of the district and subordinate courts. 

The number of computerized District & Subordinate courts has increased from 13,672 to 16,845 registering an increase of 3,173 from 2014 till date. Notably,Minister pointed out,e-Courts services such as details of case registration, cause list, case status, daily orders & final judgments are available to litigants and advocates through eCourts web portal, Judicial Service Centres (JSC) in all computerized courts, eCourts Mobile App, email service, SMS push & pull services.

Information Kiosks have been set up at all computerized court complexes for disseminating judicial information related to cause lists and another case-related information to the lawyers and litigants. eCourts Project has been consistently amongst the top 5 Mission Mode Projects of country, said the statement.

With a view to filling up of vacant positions in Supreme Court, High Courts and District and Subordinate Courts,31 Judges were appointed in Supreme Court, 454 new Judges were appointed and 366 Additional Judges were made permanent in the High Courts in the last five years, said the Minister. 

He also said that sanctioned strength of Judges of High Courts has been increased from 906 to 1079 and Judicial Officers in District and Subordinate Courts from 19,518 to 21,340 and working strength has been increased from 15,115 to 17,757 in the last five years.

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