Inadequate number of judges and delay in filling vacancies were among the various reasons responsible for the large number of pending cases in courts, including 56,383 cases in the Supreme Court, law and justice minister Salman Khurshid said Monday.
The minister told the Rajya Sabha in reply to a written question that till Oct 31, 2011, a total of 56,383 cases were pending in the Supreme Court. As on Sep 30, 2010, the number of cases pending in high courts was 4,217,903.
The minister identified granting of excessive adjournments, indiscriminate closure of courts and the lack of priority to disposal of old cases as other reasons for the case backlog.
Other factors preventing quick disposal of cases included disproportionate concentration of work among some members of the bar and long arguments by counsel, he said, adding that staff attached to courts was also inadequate.
The minister said the time taken for the disposal of pending cases was exclusively within the domain of the judiciary.
He said the government had taken a number of measures under the National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms to reduce the backlog. A drive launched by the department of justice for the purpose in July was continuing in December.
Chief justices of high courts had been asked to initiate a "campaign mode" approach towards clearing petty and long pending cases, he said.
During the campaign, cases related to women, senior citizens and other marginalised groups would be given priority for disposal, the minister said.