Fill up vacancy in district, high courts: Econ Survey

The Economic Survey 2018-19 made a strong case for filling up vacancies in district and high courts to clear 3.5 crore pending cases at a faster rate and improve ease of doing business.

A case clearance rate of 100% (i.e. zero accumulation) can be achieved with the addition of merely 2,279 judges in the lower courts and 93 in high courts even without efficiency gains, the survey authored by Chief Economic Advisor K V Subramanian said Thursday.

This is already within sanctioned strength and only needs filling vacancies, the CEA said.

“Arguably the single biggest constraint to ease of doing business in India is now the ability to enforce contracts and resolve disputes. This is not surprising given the 3.5 crore cases pending in the judicial system. Much of the problem is concentrated in the district and subordinate courts,” the survey said.

There are two key issues at hand that need to be dealt with in order to make the judiciary more efficient. Firstly, to achieve a 100% clearance rate must be achieved so that there is zero accumulation to the existing pendency.

Secondly, the backlog of cases already present in the system must be removed, the survey insisted.

To increase efficiency in courts, it also suggested increasing the number of working days, especially for Supreme Court staff.

“It has often been pointed out that Indian courts close down for significant periods due to vacations. The length of these vacations varies a great deal from court-to-court but appears to have a palpable impact on the number of working days.

For instance, the Supreme Court’s official calendar for 2019 suggests that it would close for 49 days for summer vacations, 14 days for winter break, and a further 18 days for Holi, Diwali and Dussehra.

After accounting for weekends and public holidays, it leaves 190 working days for the Supreme Court. In contrast, the average is 232 working days for High Courts and 244 days for Subordinate courts.

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