The number of pending cases under different laws, Acts and tribunals in Bombay High Court and its Nagpur, Aurangabad and Goa benches have gone up from 3,51,297 in 2010 to 3,76,604 in 2015, revealed an RTI query, filed by Pune-based activist Vihar Durve.
Total 8,19,184 (fresh) cases were instituted from January 2010 to June 2015 while 7,80,763 cases were disposed of by all benches of Bombay HC, it revealed.
As regards the district judiciary (districts and subordinate courts), the overall number of pending cases went down over the years, but 2015 witnessed a considerable rise.
While in 2010, a total 39.05 lakh cases were pending in districts and subordinate courts, the number decreased over the years and it came down to 28.69 lakhs in 2014. However, the figure went up this year and total 29.51 lakhs cases were pending by June this year in districts and subordinate courts, as per the RTI.
From 2010 to June 2015, total 98.16 lakh fresh civil and criminal cases were instituted while 1.30 crore cases were disposed by all districts and subordinate courts.
The RTI query has also revealed that actual strength of judges in Bombay High Court has gone significantly down as there were 61 judges working out of sanctioned 75 judges in 2010. In 2015, there were only 65 judges working with the Bombay High Court as against the sanctioning strength of 94.
The number of judicial officers in Maharashtra has also seen a significant decline.
According to the RTI reply, the actual working strength of judicial officers was 1,786 in 2010 against the sanctioned strength of 2,057. This actual working strength came down to 1,784 in 2015 while the sanctioned strength went up to 2,072.
Replying to a query on what the High Court has done to meet the demands of additional courts, the HC's Public Information Officer said, "High Court vide its letter dated 3rd November 2012 has furnished the detailed information in respect of additional 867 courts of various cadre of Judges in the state of Maharashtra considering the Judge-Case Ratio 1:1000/1200."
Commenting over the rising cases of pendency and declining number of judiciary staff, Durve said, "Of course, it's the prime responsibility of state to provide infrastructure and judiciary staff to the fullest, but courts should also consider that the judicial process is causing delay which needs to be improvised.
"Bombay High Court's former judge Justice Suresh Hosbet said, 'Law Commission recommended that there should be at least 200 judges for every 10 lakh population, but today this figure staggers at around 16.8 judges per million of population.'
"Hence, recruiting the judges is the first and foremost step to start with, to deliver quick justice and the age of retirement for judges also needs to be increased," he said.
Another RTI activist Krishnaraj Rao, who has launched a campaign to highlight the delayed justice system in India, said, "This can only happen in India where judges enjoy month long vacations every year despite knowing the staggering figures of pendency of cases."
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