Court Queues And States: South India The Shortest?

by Subhash Chandra - Feb 18, 2016 07:12 PM +05:30 IST
Court Queues And States: South India The Shortest?

The legal machinery is proverbially slow in India but there are wide variations across the states. Gujaratis litigate the most, while the southern states dispose of cases the quickest, UP has the highest number of cases per judge while Bihar of all cases has the highest percent of criminal ones filed.

As one more sedition case gets filed in India, an analysis of the data available on the National Judicial Data grid throws up some interesting findings.

a. Cases per 100 population

Gujarat is the most litigated State in the country with nearly 4 cases per 100 population (2011 pop), Delhi is the least litigated with 3 per 1000 population. These figures are overstated or understated by the speed of disposal of cases. States in which people get justice relatively slowly will tend to show higher number of cases per 100 population (Gujarat, Maharashtra and Odisha are three such examples)

Court Queues And States: South India The Shortest?

b. Estimated time by when all cases in the State are likely to be disposed

Using last month data of outstanding cases, new cases added and cases disposed of, it was possible to estimate the likely time (in months) by when all cases in the state are likely to be disposed of. This metric is not necessarily an indication of the average time to dispose of a case but rather can be used as a relative comparison between the various states.

The southern Indian states are all stacked one after the other in terms of speed of cases being disposed of, they are the best states for a case to be disposed of quickly. In Gujarat, Odisha, Delhi, Maharashtra, Bihar and Jharkhand, it was impossible to estimate time because the number of new cases added last month was higher than the number of cases disposed of last month. In fact, Hardik Patel and Kanhaiya Kumar must consider themselves unlucky that their Sedition cases are tried in Gujarat and Delhi respectively, both States currently have slow net disposal records

The biggest takeaway is that the pace of disposing of legal cases is not the same across the country, there are incredibly wide variations across the country.

Court Queues And States: South India The Shortest?

c. Cases per judge

One of the simplest reason for this uneven performance one can find is to look at how many cases are there per judge in each of the states. Odisha, Gujarat and Delhi have one of the worst cases per judge ratio. However, Jharkhand with the best judge to case ratio is also doing poorly because the number of cases per judge disposed of last month was lower than the number of cases added per judge last month. So, productivity per judge is also important.

Court Queues And States: South India The Shortest?

d. Percentage of Cases that are criminal

One of the reasons that states like Bihar and Jharkhand do poorly is because the percent of cases listed as criminal in nature is the highest in the country. Both Karnataka and Kerala have fewer criminal cases when compared to the rest of the States and therefore are able to dispose of more cases in a typical month. States like AP, Telangana and TN are able to do well because the number of new cases listed is much lower than current productivity.

Court Queues And States: South India The Shortest?

In Sum

A variety of issues lead to such differences across states – availability of judges, productivity per judge per month (a function of both law enforcement and judge quality), infrastructure, the number of new cases being registered and the nature of cases per se (criminal versus civil). The huge variance in likely time to dispose of cases across states is not at all a healthy sign in a democracy. It is time for both the executive and judiciary to work together to reduce the time taken to mete justice to Indians across the country.

PS: Estimates were based on last month’s disposal and new cases data and therefore may or may not be an accurate performance of the State through the year.

Secondly, Conviction rates have not been covered in this analysis given the lack of availability of recent data.

The article was first published here.

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