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Delhi’s lower courts need 43 more judges in addition to the existing 143 in order to clear over one lakh thirty thousand cases that are pending before them within one year, according to findings of the Delhi High Court’s pilot project titled Zero Pendency Courts.
The Zero Pendency Courts project was kickstarted by the High Court’s State Court Management Systems Committee in January 2017, in collaboration with DAKSH.
The primary goal of the project was to study the flow of cases in the absence of backlog and to identify the variables responsible for delays in disposal of cases.
The Committee was initially headed by then Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed, and later by Justice S Ravindra Bhat. Other members of the Committee were Justices Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and RK Gauba.
As a part of the project, 11 pilot courts (those with zero pendency) and 11 reference courts were chosen from different areas of Delhi. Each of the 11 pilot courts was then tagged with a reference court of similar jurisdiction and regular workload to enable scientific comparison.
The report sets out findings based on the data that was recorded and collected on a day-to-day basis between January 2017 and December 2018.
After studying the functioning of the pilot courts, the report arrived at the following numbers as the ‘Ideal judge strength‘ for those courts:
|Ideal judge strength||Ideal number of judges required to dispose pending cases in one year||Cases pending in the reference courts as of 9th April 2019|
|Special Fast Track Courts (Rape Cases)||1||275|
|Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal||2||1,315|
|Rent Controller Court||2||1,590|
The numbers were arrived at after analyzing several factors such as average days taken to dispose of cases and average minutes required to dispose of cases.
As per the study, the data on average days taken to dispose of cases and the disposal rate in the pilot and reference courts handling criminal cases is as follows:
|Categories Case Types||Case Types||Average disposal days (Pilot)||Average disposal days (Reference)||Disposal rate (pilot)||Disposal rate (reference)||No. of days for 100% disposals|
|Sessions Courts||Sessions Cases||147 days||131 days||62%||39%||275|
|Criminal Appeal||50 days||102 days||86%||28%||133|
|Criminal Revision||26 days||58 days||95%||65%||53|
|Sessions Courts (Murder cases)||Sessions Cases||197 days||204 days||43%||44%||461|
|Special Fast Track Court (Rape cases)||Sessions Cases||90 days||122 days||47%||25%||294|
Similarly, the average days to dispose of cases and disposal rate in the pilot and reference courts handling civil cases in district courts were noted as below:
|Case Types||Average disposal days (Pilot)||Average disposal days (Reference)||Disposal rate (pilot)||Disposal rate (reference)||No. of days for 100% disposal|
|Civil Suit for ADJ||149 days||169 days||66%||41%||297|
|Execution||63 days||109 days||54%||66%||143|
|Misc. Cases for ADJ||42 days||58 days||91%||86%||56|
|Probate Cases||128 days||212 days||48%||65%||301|
|Arbitration||139 days*||110 days||68%||90%||158|
|Regular Civil Appeal for ADJ||69 days||122 days||89%||63%||126|
|Trade Mark||127 days||84 days||74%||53%||166|
*Due to paucity of data only a few arbitration cases in the pilot could be taken into consideration.
Additionally, the report has concluded that the Sessions Courts in the national capital need an ideal strength of 82 judges as opposed to the current number of 60 to clear its backlog of 32,378 cases.
Similarly, the District Courts need an ideal strength of 62 as opposed to the current strength of 49 to successfully dispose of 7,1962 pending cases.
The ideal strength for all courts across Delhi was thus concluded as follows:
|Category||Ideal judge strength to clear all the pending cases in one year||Number of current judges||Number of pending cases as of 9th April 2019 across Delhi|
|Fast Track Courts||5||6||1,610|
|Motor Accidents Claims Courts||7||12||13,340|
|Rent Controller Courts||4||5||5,214|
The report has also quantified the average days taken by the pilot courts to complete stages in criminal cases, which is as follows:
Similarly, the average days taken to complete stages in pilot courts handling civil cases were identified as follows:
The report has also identified “certain bottlenecks” that are faced by the criminal courts in Delhi. Some of these are as follows:
Some of the issues identified in the Civil Courts are as follows:
Issues faced by other subordinate courts, such as Labour Courts and their possible solution are also discussed.
Apart from listing the specific issues faced by the subordinate courts and their solutions, the study also details “overall best practices for all courts”.
These practices are:
Read the full Report below: