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Judicial reforms: Why lower courts should be the first in the line

India has over 600 district courts

Shobhit Mathur & Ram Prasath VR | IndiaSpend 

A judge hitting gavel with paper at wooden table. (Photo: Shutterstock)
Photo: Shutterstock

Of the 30 million pending court cases in India as of December 2014, over 80% are in district and subordinate courts, which are short of about 5,000 (23%) judges. But filling vacancies may not be the universal answer, according to our analysis, which found only a weak direct correlation between shortage of judges and performance of

India’s delays are legendary, and its shortage of judges well-known, as IndiaSpend has reported (here, here and here). Yet, despite the constraints, some manage to perform better than others, sometimes significantly so. Data can help identify such courts, as well as their innovations and best practices, so that these can be replicated in other

has over 600 district Identifying the high performers and replicating their best practices in other can make an immediate impact.

Here’s an example from

illustrates India’s problem

Without standardisation in data across courts, their performance cannot be compared directly. So, we studied Tamil Nadu, whose average duration of pendency of approximates the average.

 

Source: National Judicial Data Grid

 

Also, the Madras High Court is one of the few in the country whose latest annual report, for 2015, provides a detailed analysis of the under its jurisdiction.

Civil case takes, on average, three years to conclude

Within Tamil Nadu, let’s identify the laggard

 

Source: Madras High Court

 

The state average for pendency duration of civil is 2.95 years–a civil case takes about three years to reach a conclusion. Ariyalur is the worst performing district in this regard–a civil case takes 4.65 years on average, that is, 50% slower than the state average.

Thiruvarur performs the best with an average pendency duration of just two years.

 

Source: Madras High Court

 

For criminal cases, average pendency duration is 3.23 years for all of Madurai performs exceedingly well with an average pendency duration of 1.75 years, while Perambalur is the slowest with an average pendency duration of 5.29 years. Kancheepuram performs poorly in both civil and criminal cases, being significantly slower than the state average–it takes four years to resolve civil as against the state average of three, and takes 4.3 years to resolve criminal cases, as opposed to the state average of 3.2 years.

accumulate when the rate of disposal is than the rate at which new are instituted. accumulated 43,973 in 2015. Of these, 36,945 were civil and 7,028 criminal

Here’s a look at the best and worst performing district with respect to case accumulation.

 

Source: Madras High Court

 

First, the civil cases: Of the 32 districts in Tamil Nadu, only five are disposing of more than the number of instituted, with Ariyalur performing the best and Chennai the worst.

Chennai accumulate more than 6,000 civil each year, while Ariyalur dispose of 1,000 from its pile each year. If this continues, Ariyalur will dispose of all their in nine years, after accounting for new that will be instituted each year.

The top three cities of Tamil Nadu–Chennai, Coimbatore and Madurai–have the highest case accumulation rate.

 

Source: Madras High Court

 

Next, the criminal cases: Chennai perform the best in disposing of criminal cases–they conclude 7,700 criminal more than instituted each year. At this rate, Chennai will dispose of all its in 5.4 years. This is far better than any other district in the state.

Coimbatore’s are the slowest in disposing of criminal too.

What vacancies have to do with efficiency

We also analysed the number of vacancies across all in There are no significant differences in the number of vacancies between various courts, so the huge difference in their performances cannot be explained solely by shortage of judges.

The answer would seem to lie in procedural innovations, which needs to be analysed and documented at the high performing

Our key point is: District can learn from each other’s successes and failures. For example, Chennai may learn from Ariyalur how to better dispose of civil cases, and may learn from their own experience with disposing of criminal

A nationwide analysis is possible if we have standardised data to compare across the country. There is an urgent need for collecting case data in a structured and standardised format across the various in This will enable deeper insights and precise policy prescriptions.

While long-term issues such as shortage of judges grab policymakers’ attention, they must also tackle the immediate problems. In the near term, immediate improvements are possible by horizontally replicating proven procedural innovations.


(Mathur is the Executive Director at Vision Foundation, a non-profit policy research and training organisation based in New Delhi. Prasath is a Research Intern with Vision Foundation.)


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Judicial reforms: Why lower courts should be the first in the line

India has over 600 district courts

India has over 600 district courts

Of the 30 million pending court cases in India as of December 2014, over 80% are in district and subordinate courts, which are short of about 5,000 (23%) judges. But filling vacancies may not be the universal answer, according to our analysis, which found only a weak direct correlation between shortage of judges and performance of

India’s delays are legendary, and its shortage of judges well-known, as IndiaSpend has reported (here, here and here). Yet, despite the constraints, some manage to perform better than others, sometimes significantly so. Data can help identify such courts, as well as their innovations and best practices, so that these can be replicated in other

has over 600 district Identifying the high performers and replicating their best practices in other can make an immediate impact.

Here’s an example from

illustrates India’s problem

Without standardisation in data across courts, their performance cannot be compared directly. So, we studied Tamil Nadu, whose average duration of pendency of approximates the average.

 

Source: National Judicial Data Grid

 

Also, the Madras High Court is one of the few in the country whose latest annual report, for 2015, provides a detailed analysis of the under its jurisdiction.

Civil case takes, on average, three years to conclude

Within Tamil Nadu, let’s identify the laggard

 

Source: Madras High Court

 

The state average for pendency duration of civil is 2.95 years–a civil case takes about three years to reach a conclusion. Ariyalur is the worst performing district in this regard–a civil case takes 4.65 years on average, that is, 50% slower than the state average.

Thiruvarur performs the best with an average pendency duration of just two years.

 

Source: Madras High Court

 

For criminal cases, average pendency duration is 3.23 years for all of Madurai performs exceedingly well with an average pendency duration of 1.75 years, while Perambalur is the slowest with an average pendency duration of 5.29 years. Kancheepuram performs poorly in both civil and criminal cases, being significantly slower than the state average–it takes four years to resolve civil as against the state average of three, and takes 4.3 years to resolve criminal cases, as opposed to the state average of 3.2 years.

accumulate when the rate of disposal is than the rate at which new are instituted. accumulated 43,973 in 2015. Of these, 36,945 were civil and 7,028 criminal

Here’s a look at the best and worst performing district with respect to case accumulation.

 

Source: Madras High Court

 

First, the civil cases: Of the 32 districts in Tamil Nadu, only five are disposing of more than the number of instituted, with Ariyalur performing the best and Chennai the worst.

Chennai accumulate more than 6,000 civil each year, while Ariyalur dispose of 1,000 from its pile each year. If this continues, Ariyalur will dispose of all their in nine years, after accounting for new that will be instituted each year.

The top three cities of Tamil Nadu–Chennai, Coimbatore and Madurai–have the highest case accumulation rate.

 

Source: Madras High Court

 

Next, the criminal cases: Chennai perform the best in disposing of criminal cases–they conclude 7,700 criminal more than instituted each year. At this rate, Chennai will dispose of all its in 5.4 years. This is far better than any other district in the state.

Coimbatore’s are the slowest in disposing of criminal too.

What vacancies have to do with efficiency

We also analysed the number of vacancies across all in There are no significant differences in the number of vacancies between various courts, so the huge difference in their performances cannot be explained solely by shortage of judges.

The answer would seem to lie in procedural innovations, which needs to be analysed and documented at the high performing

Our key point is: District can learn from each other’s successes and failures. For example, Chennai may learn from Ariyalur how to better dispose of civil cases, and may learn from their own experience with disposing of criminal

A nationwide analysis is possible if we have standardised data to compare across the country. There is an urgent need for collecting case data in a structured and standardised format across the various in This will enable deeper insights and precise policy prescriptions.

While long-term issues such as shortage of judges grab policymakers’ attention, they must also tackle the immediate problems. In the near term, immediate improvements are possible by horizontally replicating proven procedural innovations.


(Mathur is the Executive Director at Vision Foundation, a non-profit policy research and training organisation based in New Delhi. Prasath is a Research Intern with Vision Foundation.)


image
Business Standard
177 22

Judicial reforms: Why lower courts should be the first in the line

India has over 600 district courts

Of the 30 million pending court cases in India as of December 2014, over 80% are in district and subordinate courts, which are short of about 5,000 (23%) judges. But filling vacancies may not be the universal answer, according to our analysis, which found only a weak direct correlation between shortage of judges and performance of

India’s delays are legendary, and its shortage of judges well-known, as IndiaSpend has reported (here, here and here). Yet, despite the constraints, some manage to perform better than others, sometimes significantly so. Data can help identify such courts, as well as their innovations and best practices, so that these can be replicated in other

has over 600 district Identifying the high performers and replicating their best practices in other can make an immediate impact.

Here’s an example from

illustrates India’s problem

Without standardisation in data across courts, their performance cannot be compared directly. So, we studied Tamil Nadu, whose average duration of pendency of approximates the average.

 

Source: National Judicial Data Grid

 

Also, the Madras High Court is one of the few in the country whose latest annual report, for 2015, provides a detailed analysis of the under its jurisdiction.

Civil case takes, on average, three years to conclude

Within Tamil Nadu, let’s identify the laggard

 

Source: Madras High Court

 

The state average for pendency duration of civil is 2.95 years–a civil case takes about three years to reach a conclusion. Ariyalur is the worst performing district in this regard–a civil case takes 4.65 years on average, that is, 50% slower than the state average.

Thiruvarur performs the best with an average pendency duration of just two years.

 

Source: Madras High Court

 

For criminal cases, average pendency duration is 3.23 years for all of Madurai performs exceedingly well with an average pendency duration of 1.75 years, while Perambalur is the slowest with an average pendency duration of 5.29 years. Kancheepuram performs poorly in both civil and criminal cases, being significantly slower than the state average–it takes four years to resolve civil as against the state average of three, and takes 4.3 years to resolve criminal cases, as opposed to the state average of 3.2 years.

accumulate when the rate of disposal is than the rate at which new are instituted. accumulated 43,973 in 2015. Of these, 36,945 were civil and 7,028 criminal

Here’s a look at the best and worst performing district with respect to case accumulation.

 

Source: Madras High Court

 

First, the civil cases: Of the 32 districts in Tamil Nadu, only five are disposing of more than the number of instituted, with Ariyalur performing the best and Chennai the worst.

Chennai accumulate more than 6,000 civil each year, while Ariyalur dispose of 1,000 from its pile each year. If this continues, Ariyalur will dispose of all their in nine years, after accounting for new that will be instituted each year.

The top three cities of Tamil Nadu–Chennai, Coimbatore and Madurai–have the highest case accumulation rate.

 

Source: Madras High Court

 

Next, the criminal cases: Chennai perform the best in disposing of criminal cases–they conclude 7,700 criminal more than instituted each year. At this rate, Chennai will dispose of all its in 5.4 years. This is far better than any other district in the state.

Coimbatore’s are the slowest in disposing of criminal too.

What vacancies have to do with efficiency

We also analysed the number of vacancies across all in There are no significant differences in the number of vacancies between various courts, so the huge difference in their performances cannot be explained solely by shortage of judges.

The answer would seem to lie in procedural innovations, which needs to be analysed and documented at the high performing

Our key point is: District can learn from each other’s successes and failures. For example, Chennai may learn from Ariyalur how to better dispose of civil cases, and may learn from their own experience with disposing of criminal

A nationwide analysis is possible if we have standardised data to compare across the country. There is an urgent need for collecting case data in a structured and standardised format across the various in This will enable deeper insights and precise policy prescriptions.

While long-term issues such as shortage of judges grab policymakers’ attention, they must also tackle the immediate problems. In the near term, immediate improvements are possible by horizontally replicating proven procedural innovations.


(Mathur is the Executive Director at Vision Foundation, a non-profit policy research and training organisation based in New Delhi. Prasath is a Research Intern with Vision Foundation.)


image
Business Standard
177 22