It is welcome that four states and one Union territory — Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and Chandigarh — have reduced cases pending for over 10 years in the subordinate courts to near zero. Other states with greater pendency must follow suit.
The National Judicial Data Grid shows there are 2.54 crore cases pending in subordinate courts. About 9% have been pending for more than 10 years and 46.3% for less than two years. Even if states improve lower courts, disputes could end up with the higher judiciary. Besides the backlog, the system is simply unable to keep pace with new cases being instituted in our increasingly complex and diverse economy. The judicial and legal fraternity must develop the expertise to draw up new kinds of contracts.
The country ranks poorly on enforcement of contracts in the World Bank’s Doing Business report. We need judicial reforms: more judges, streamlining procedures using information technology, to reduce delays and cut costs.