The backlog and pendency of cases in Indian judiciary, which is one of the biggest constraints to ease of doing business and enforcement of contracts in the country, is not an insurmountable problem, the Economic Survey of 2018-2019 has noted. In fact, a case clearance rate of 100 per cent can be achieved by addition of just 2,279 judges at the lower court and 93 at the high court level, the survey has noted.
In his first economic survey as the Chief Economic Advisor, Krishnamurthy Subramanian has said that said that though laws such as the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, passed in 2016, had improved India’s ease of doing business rank in the World Bank’s report, enforcement of business and legal contracts remained a major hurdle.
“This is already within sanctioned strength and only needs filling vacancies. Scenario analysis of efficiency gains needed to clear the backlog in five years suggest that the required productivity gains are ambitions, but achievable,” the survey has noted.
One of the first suggestions to clear the pendency in India courts, apart from increasing the working strength of judges in lower and high courts is to increase the number of working days, the Economic Survey says. The Supreme Court on India, for instance, closed for 49 days during the summer vacations which started on May 10 and ended on June 30.
The top court will further close down for vacations for two weeks during winters, and take an additional 18 days of leave during the various festivals.
“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. There is a great deal of variation between states, and many courts make up for vacations by working on Saturdays,” the survey notes.
Comparing this with the working days for the central government employees at 244 days, the CEA has suggested that increasing the number of working days may improve productivity of the Supreme Court and in some High Courts, but is unlikely to impact lower courts significantly.
The establishment of Indian Courts and Tribunal Services (ICTS) that focuses on the administrative aspects of the legal system would also go a long way in improving the backlog of courts, the survey has said. The ICTS would provide required administrative support to the Indian judiciary, thereby improving the quality. Laying emphasis on the deployment of technology for judiciary, the CEA has said that applications of Artificial Intelligence to help clear the backlog should be among top priority of policy makers of the country.