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The number of pending cases in the Supreme Court and the 24 high courts has gone down in the past three years but the pendency has seen an upward swing in the lower judiciary, says law ministry data. According to figures compiled by the ministry, the apex court had 62,791 pending cases at the end of 2014. The figures went down to 59,272 in December 2015. But at the end of 2016, the pendency in the Supreme Court went up to 62,537. The ministry said according to latest data provided by the SC, as on July 17, 2017, the pending cases have been pegged at 58,438. These include 48,772 civil and 9,666 criminal cases. Similar is the case with the 24 high courts of the country where pending cases were pegged at 41.52 lakh at the end of 2014.
In December 2015, the pendency went down to 38.70 lakh. But at the end of 2016, the cases went up to 40.15 lakh but were less than the pendency in 2014.But in the subordinate courts -- considered the backbone of the country's justice delivery system -- the pendency of cases has gone up in the last three years. While the pending cases in 2014 were recorded at 2.64 crore, they went up to 2.70 crore in 2015. In December 2016, the pending cases went up to 2.74 crore. The high courts have a shortage of 413 judges as on September 1. While the approved strength is 1,079, these are working with 666 judges. The lower courts with an approved strength of nearly 20,000 judicial officers is short of 4,937 judicial officers.