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Report No. 245

1. Judge to Population Ratio & Judge to Filing Ratio

One method commonly advocated for determining how many judges are required in the judicial system is the judge to population ratio, i.e., the number of judges per million persons in the population.22 The Commission finds this method very wanting because there is no objective number by reference to which we can determine whether the judge to population ratio of any State is adequate.

It is known that filings per capita vary substantially across geographic units. Filings per capita are associated with economic and social conditions and can vary across India's States by as much as a factor of 50.23 The justice needs of different societies thus vary, and no universal standard can be prescribed in this regard. Therefore, while population might be the appropriate metric to measure the availability of other essential services like health care and nutrition, it is not an appropriate standard for measuring the requirement for Judicial Services.

22. All India Judges' Association v. Union of India, (2002) 4 SCC 247 ("Apart from the steps which may be necessary for increasing the efficiency of the judicial officers, we are of the opinion that time has now come for protecting one of the pillars of the Constitution, namely, the judicial system, by directing increase, in the first instance, in the Judge strength from the existing ratio of 10.5 or 13 per 10 lakh people to 50 Judges per 10 lakh people); P. Ramchandra Rao v. State of Karnataka, (2002) 4 SCC 578("The root cause for delay in dispensation of justice in our country is poor judge population ratio"); More Judges Needed, states should take initiative, Manmohan Singh says, TIMES OF INDIA, April 7, 2013 (Prime Minister Manmohan Singh terming the current judge-to-population rate "grossly inadequate");

Law Commission of India, One Hundred Twentieth Report on Manpower Planning in Judiciary: A Blueprint (1987) (recommending a five-fold increase in the population-to-judge ratio and that India should have the same judge-to-population ratio by 2000 as the United States had in 1981).

23. See Theodore Eisenberg, Sital Kalantry, and Nick Robinson, Litigation as a Measure of Well-Being, 62(2) Depaul Law Review 247 (2013) (describing the relative civil filing rate for different Indian states and showing that the civil filing rate was higher in states with higher GDP per capita and a higher score on the Human Development Index).

Another similar method oftenly referred to on various discussions is to look at the Judge to Institution Ratio.24 This would tell how many judges a State has relative to the existing pattern of demand for judicial services within that state. Here, again, however, there is no ideal number of judges per 1000 instituted cases, by reference to which one can determine whether or not a State needs more judges and by how much.

Further, institution figures often vary depending upon the issue area and the social identity of those instituting cases. Socially marginalized groups are likely to have lower institution rates for reasons of lack of access to Courts.25 Institution figures may also vary depending upon the geography. Far-flung areas, where physical access to Courts is a problem, may have low institution figures compared to the population. No doubt, while these are not by themselves reasons to discard the judge to institution ratio method but they do caution that merely meeting some ideal ratio will not necessarily fulfill the justice needs of a society.

24. See, e.g., Flango, Ostram & Flango, How Do States Determine the Need for Judges?, 17 State Court Journal 3 (1993) (explaining various methods, including the judge to institution/filing ratio as a method that is used in some states in the United States for calculating how many judges need to be appointed in a particular Court).

25. Id.

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