Pendency of cases in courts across the country has turned out to be a "gigantic problem" with about three crore cases waiting for redressal and the undue delay making people to shy away from justice delivery system, Supreme Court Judge justice SB Sinha said on Saturday.
"Pendency of cases is a gigantic problem which requires immediate attention... due to the undue delay in justice delivery system, people by and large shy away from litigation," he told a a day-long awareness programme for judicial officers of Tirunelveli, Tuticorin, Virudhunagar and Kanyakumari districts on 'alternate dispute redressal system for solving legal problems'.
"We should uphold the maintenance of law and Constitutional values and do not forget that access to justice to everyone should be given utmost preference," justice Sinha, who is the chairman of Mediation and conciliation project committee, said.
Highlighting the importance of alternative dispute redressal system for speedy disposal of cases, he said there were three crore cases pending in courts as of 2008 and this could multiply to 24 crores by 2030.
On judicial reforms for speedy disposal of cases, he said the power of bringing reforms vested with legislators and parliamentarians. While structural reforms required amendment to existing acts, operational reforms can be brought about by judicial officers by change in mindset, he added.
While presenting an overview of the Indian Judicial system, justice Balakrishnan said it consisted of about sanctioned strength of 16,685 judges in the subordinate courts, 886 judges in the High courts and 31 judges in the Supreme Court. "The foremost problem is the immense backlog of cases pending before our courts at all levels," he said, adding "this increase in the volume of litigation can be attributed to improvements in education, socio-economic progress and better awareness of legal rights."
However, "despite the increasing incidence of reliance on the courts, there is a large section of the population which is unable to approach the judicial system on account of factors such as poverty, lack of awareness and entrenched social discrimination," he said.
He noted that the size of the Indian judicial system has not kept up with the massive increase in population.
Studies by bodies such as the Law Commission of India have indicated that there is a need for expanding the size of the lower judiciary by at least five times, in order to match the 'judge-to-population' ratio of the developed countries.
The Chief Justice said there could be so many administrative reforms that could prevent the number of litigation coming to courts.
"In a large number of cases pending in Courts, especially in higher courts, Government is one of the parties either as defendant or as appellant. These litigations are on account of lack of proper governmental administration. If the decision making authorities take firm, independent and impartial decisions, the citizens would not normally be driven to litigations.
"Lack of proper and good governance largely contributes to the number of cases in subordinate courts."
Citing an example, he said weak and inefficient revenue administration, which resulted in poor land rights recording system, was the main reason for the large number of civil litigations.
"If the revenue administration is streamlined and everyone in the country is given proper title deeds with computerised diagrams, a large number of land disputes could be avoided.
"In States where the revenue administration is poor, there are large number of civil cases and these disputes relate either to title or boundaries of their properties and these cases could be avoided, if proper re-survey operations are done and proper revenue records are maintained by the authorities."
Though the country has achieved advancement in science and technology, the fruits of such scientific developments are not being tapped by the police to have investigation in a scientific manner.