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State of courts in Gujarat: One of the highest pending cases, highest vacancies in district, subordinate courts

By Rajiv Shah
A recent analysis by a non-profit institute, IndiaSpend, has suggested that Gujarat has one of the highest number of pending cases in the district and subordinate courts. With 2,251,122 pending cases, Gujarat's pending cases are higher than all other states except for Uttar Pradesh (5,714,695), Maharashtra 2,937,846, and West Bengal (2,583,685). The figures are as of April 1, 2014.
Alongside the pending cases, the analysis says, Gujarat has the highest number of vacancies of judges in its lower courts compared all other states -- 728. It comments, India needs "more judges", pointing out, "India has 15 judges for every million people, one of the world’s lowest ratios."
Titled "Indians Under Trial Exceed Dutch Population", carried out by policy researcher with IndiaSpend, Prachi Salve, with the help of two other researchers, Aadya Sharma and Pratiksha Wadekar, the analysis says, "For the 13 years the Salman Khan hit-and-run case was in trial, it was one of 18.5 million criminal cases pending in India’s district and lower courts, and the 50-year-old Bollywood star was one of 22.2 million people under trial."
"Driven by a shortage of prosecutors, judges and courts and — among other reasons — slow procedures, there are more people under trial in India than there are people in the Netherlands or Kazakhstan", the analysis points out. 
Pointing out that in 2013, the cases of as many as 85 per cent of people put on trial were pending, quoting according to the data obtained from the Supreme Court sources, the researchers say, as on April 1, 2014, 75.9 per cent cases are pending in the Supreme Court, followed by 90.2 per cent in High Courts, and 86.3 per cent cases in district and subordinate cases.
"Criminal cases form 19 per cent of the Supreme Court’s pending cases and 25 per cent of the settled cases", the researchers, who base their analysis on Supreme Court data as well, say. "In high courts, 23 per cent of pending cases (a million of them) are criminal cases, while 6.9% of those settled are criminal cases." 
But things get worse in in district and subordinate courts, where "67 per cent of pending cases are criminal."
"New cases flood in, and together with the backlog, they outnumber settled cases and increase the caseload. For instance, in the first quarter of 2014, the Supreme Court had 5,466 new criminal cases and 12,211 cases carried over from the previous year, but only 5,267 of those cases were settled", the researchers point out.
They conclude, "Delays tend to be higher in lower courts and correspond with the number of judicial vacancies. High courts with the most pending cases are also those with the most vacancies, the data show."

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