Over three million cases are pending in India's 21 high courts, and an astounding 26.3 million cases are pending in subordinate courts across the country.
At the same time, there are almost a quarter million under-trials languishing in jails across the country. Of these, some 2,069 have been in jail for more than five years, even as their guilt or innocence is yet to be ascertained.
This has been revealed by official figures emerging from the home ministry's department of justice, under a Right to Information Act application placed by a citizen.
It has also been found that over a quarter of all pending high court cases are at Allahabad.
The Allahabad High Court had some 1.09 million pending cases, with over eight out of every 10 cases being civil cases at the end of 2006. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of India had a total of 39,780 civil and criminal pending cases at the end of last year.
Madras High Court (406,958 pending cases) and Bombay High Court (362,949) were the others with a large number of pending cases. Sikkim is the lowest with just 51 pending cases.
Of the pending cases in high courts, 704,214 were criminal and 3.2 million were civil cases.
In subordinate courts, Uttar Pradesh again topped the number of pending cases (4.6 million), followed by Maharashtra (4.1 million), Gujarat (3.9 million), West Bengal (1.9 million), Bihar (1.2 million), Karnataka (1.06 million), Rajasthan (1.05 million), Orissa (1 million), Andhra Pradesh (900,000).
In another query, the National Crime Records Bureau that functions under the home ministry told Hari Kumar P. of Kasargod in a Right to Information Act reply that the number of under-trials in India was highest in Maharashtra (15,784) and Madhya Pradesh (15,777).
Bihar (with 628 prisoners) topped the number of states with the maximum number of under-trials kept for over five years. Punjab also had 334 under-trials for over five years and Uttar Pradesh had 212. Delhi itself had 344 under-trials languishing in jails for over five years.
On the positive side, some states had no under-trials in jail for this long a period without their trials being completed. These states included Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Manipur, Mizoram, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, and Tripura, apart from some smaller states and union territories.
The large number of pendency caused by the arrears and backlog existing in courts always point to the dissapointing state of affairs of the Indian Judicial system with 14 judges per million and 1 advocate for 1467 Indians. The courts and the executive are more focussed in increasing the number of judges, staffs and their salaries instead of finding out way and means to ameliorate the present maladies. It is the best opportune time for encouraging Alternative Dispute Resolutions (ADR). According Justice V.R Krishna Iyer, while inaugurating ADR Centre in Kochi, he graciously conveyed that a legislation should be made wherein lawyers shall try to settle cases rather than take the parties to the court. the Courts should be the last resort and ADR the first resort. He said that there should be "a National Movement for ADR in India through Centres like ADR Centre". We need some one to negotiate with the Courts!!