Report No. 245
B. Analysis of Data
Annexure III provides the data on institution, disposal, pendency and judge strength for the period 2002-2012 for the higher judicial service category. The data shows that overall, institution, disposal and pendency have all been on the rise in this category in the last decade. The following chart illustrates this trend:
Figure 1: Institution, Disposal, Pendency in the Higher Judicial Service, 2002-2012.
Annexure IV provides data on institution, disposal, pendency and judge strength for the period 2002-2012 for the Subordinate Judicial Service category. The data shows that while the annual rate of institution, disposal and pendency has increased overall in the 2002-2012 period, in the last few years, pendency has been on a decline whereas institution and disposal are largely constant. The following chart maps this data:
Figure 2: Institution, Disposal, Pendency in the Subordinate Judicial Service, 2002-2012.
The data for the Higher Judicial Service also indicates that in the 2002-2012 period, by and large, more cases have been instituted than have been disposed of in any given year. As a result, a backlog is being created in the system.
The following figures 3 and 4 show the Backlog Creation Rate for the period 2002-12. Backlog Creation Rate is the ratio of institution to disposal in any given year. If the ratio is greater than 1, this implies that more cases are being instituted than are being disposed of. If the ratio is less than one, then more cases are being disposed of, than are being instituted. A number less than 1, therefore, indicates that the judicial system is being able to handle new institutions.
Figure 3: Backlog Creation Rate (Institution/Disposal) for the Higher Judicial Service, 2002-2012.
Figure 4: Backlog Creation Rate (Institution/Disposal) for the Subordinate Judicial Service, 2002-2012.
As the figures above indicate, the Higher Judicial Service is disposing of fewer cases than are being instituted. As such, it is adding to the backlog of cases in the system. On the other hand, in the Subordinate Judicial Service, the disposal rate is higher than the institution, implying that the backlog is being reduced.
It should be pointed out here that the backlog creation analysis does not indicate whether the same cases that were filed in a given year were disposed of in that year. Rather, it takes a systemic perspective and looks at how many new cases are coming in, in relation to how many cases are going out. A low backlog creation rate, therefore, indicates that the system as a whole is incapable of dealing with the recurring annual demand for Judicial Services, and is, therefore, in need of additional resources.
As mentioned earlier, the Backlog Creation Rate focuses on the number of cases going in and out of the system in a given year and does not take into account the already backlogged cases that carry forward from year to year.
To understand how well Courts are handling the already backlogged cases, the Pendency Clearance Time is useful. This figure is arrived at by dividing the pendency at the end of the year by the disposal that year, and indicates the amount of time it would take to dispose of all pending cases if no new cases were filed. The following figures indicate the annual pendency clearance time in the 2002-2012 period for the Higher Judicial Service and the Subordinate Judiciary, respectively.
Figure 5: Pendency Clearance Time for the Higher Judicial Service, 2002-2012.
Figure 6: Pendency Clearance Time for the Subordinate Judicial Service, 2002-2012.
Figures 5 and 6 indicate that overall, for both the Higher Judicial Service and the Subordinate Judicial Service, the time it would take to clear pendency has declined in the 2002-2012 period. This implies that overall, the system is processing cases faster at the end of 2012 than it was in 2002. While these figures do not indicate the types of cases that are being processed through the system, the figures do provide an overall picture of the system and indicate the broad trajectory of the system in the past decade.
The data also indicates that in the High Courts under consideration, in the last three years 38.7% of institutions and 37.4% of all pending cases before the Subordinate Judicial Services were traffic and police challans.19 An additional 6.5% and 7.8% cases account for institution and pendency respectively of Section 138 Negotiable Instruments Act, matters.20 Annexure V provides the numerical data and the following figures provide State-wise breakup of institution and pendency including data on traffic/police challans and Negotiable Instrument Act matters.
19. See Annexure 5. It is to be noted that Karnataka does not include traffic and police challan figures in their overall data on institution, disposal and pendency.
20. Id. Bombay High Court did not provide information on the number of Negotiable Instruments Act matters pending before the subordinate Courts of that High Court. In addition, Kerala High Court provided Negotiable Instrument Act figures only for the cadre of Civil Judge Junior Division. Therefore, the percentage institution and pendency of Negotiable Instrument Act matters has been calculated on the overall institution and pendency figures for the civil judge junior division cadre.
Figure 7: Percentage of traffic/police challans and Negotiable Instrument Act matters in State-wise institution figures for the Subordinate Judicial Service, 2010-2012.
Figure 8: Percentage of traffic/police challans and Negotiable Instrument Act matters in State-wise pendency figures for the Subordinate Judicial Service, end-2012.
Cases of traffic and police challans generally do not require much judicial involvement. However, given the high volume of such cases, they cumulatively take up a significant amount of judicial time. The bulk of these cases deal with the payment of fines and are usually uncontested by parties. For such cases, automation of the system through the ability to pay fines online or at a designated counter in the Court complex, can significantly free up valuable Court time.
For the remainder, the Commission considers that the creation of separate Special Traffic Courts, over and above the regular Courts, may significantly reduce the burden on regular Courts. These Special Courts can sit in two shifts (morning and evening). Since most such cases are not contested and do not involve lawyers, the shift system is not likely to inconvenience other stakeholders.
In fact, the evening Court shift is likely to assist parties to come to Court after work hours and pay their fines. Recent law graduates can be recruited on a temporary basis (e.g., for 3 year periods) to preside over these Courts.21 However, cases in which there is a possibility of imprisonment, should be tried by regular Courts.
21. An additional benefit of hiring recent law graduates for these posts is that presiding over the traffic Court will give these law graduates experience and insight into the working of the judicial system are is likely to be a valuable stepping stone for careers in litigation or the judicial services.
Thus, a simple analysis of data supplied shows that there is a large amount of double counting of institution, disposal and pendency figures in the Subordinate Judiciary, such that the total volume of cases being processed through the system is significantly less than the figures supplied by the High Courts.
It is also evident from the data that a high proportion of cases before the Subordinate Judicial Service comprises of petty matters like traffic and police challans. As already suggested, it is reiterated that these petty matters can better be dealt with by special morning and evening Courts over and above the regular Courts. The burden on the regular Courts will be significantly reduced as a result.