According to the Law Ministry each high court judge is saddled with nearly 4,500 pending cases, however, at the same time, each judge of the subordinate judiciary has nearly 1,300 cases pending. Going by the number of cases pending in high courts and the lower courts, the ministry came up with the average cases pending per judge based on the sanctioned strength.
From January 1, Telangana has its own high court, taking the number of high courts in the country to 25. The data states that while 4,419 cases are pending per judge in the high courts, 1,288 are pending with each lower court judge. It also says that while the sanctioned strength of the subordinate courts is 22,644, the working strength is 17,509, a shortage of 5,135 judicial officers. Similarly, in the high courts, the sanctioned strength is 1,079, the working strength is 695, a shortfall of 384 judges.
The data was collated for parliamentary use. Successive law ministers have been writing to chief justices of high courts urging them to fill up vacancies in the lower courts. Incumbent Ravi Shankar Prasad recently urged the chief justices of high courts to speed up the recruitment of judicial officers for the lower judiciary, as according to him, one of the main reasons for high pendency was the inordinate delay in filling up the vacancies of judicial officers.
According to the National Judicial Data Grid, at the end of 2018, 2.91 crore cases were pending with the district and subordinate courts. In the 24 high courts, 47.68 lakh cases were pending. However, the minister has urged the chief justices to hold timely examination and interviews to recruit judges for the lower courts.