Three million cases pending

Courts must be better equipped

A colossal backlog of around 3 million cases is pending with the courts across the country, including the Appellate Division and High Court Division of the Supreme Court (SC), causing immeasurable suffering to the litigants. With only 1200 judges to arbitrate the cases, it is difficult for the courts, despite their best intentions, to adjudicate the cases expeditiously. Under the circumstances, litigants are left to suffer, with many of the accused, especially those from impoverished backgrounds who cannot afford bail, undergoing long sentences in prisons before they are even found guilty and sentenced. Others, having to wait for years on end for justice to be served, become disillusioned with the system; some cannot afford to fight the cases in court over such a protracted period.

With the utmost respect for the judiciary, we urge them to expedite the resolution of so many hundreds of thousands of cases in public interest. The Law Commission has recommended the appointment of at least 200 judges each year, a suggestion we wholeheartedly support, as currently the courts are understaffed to deal with the whopping number of cases. The Chief Justice (CJ) had earlier in the year proposed curtailing the six month long annual vacation of the SC (including weekends) to reduce the gridlock. The judiciary may find, it in its best wisdom, to adjust the timetables of respective courts to accommodate the huge backlog and address the inordinate delays in hearing and concluding cases. The judiciary should also identify and address additional underlying causes which are augmenting the backlog.