Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Patna High Court does Bihar proud

This might come as a pleasant surprise. Bihar, which has one of the highest crime rates in India, can boast of a high court with relatively one of the fewest number of pending cases - 97,354. This is in sharp contrast to many other states where the backlog in the high courts runs into hundreds of thousands.

According to latest official statistics from various high courts at the end of March this year, the figure of 97,354 for the Patna High Court compares very favourably with those at the high courts of Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh.

While the Allahabad High Court tops the list of courts with a high backlog - at 815,602 cases, the Orissa High Court has 224,382 cases.

Three other high courts - in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh - have 209,095, 188,796 and 148,512 cases respectively pending with them.

What's worse, other economically well off states too have a surfeit of cases at their high courts.

For example, the Madras High Court and the Bombay High Court respectively occupy the second and third positions in the list of high courts with a huge build-up of cases awaiting adjudication. The Madras High Court has 418,110 cases pending with it, while the backlog of cases at Bombay High Court stands at 366,495.

The high courts of West Bengal, Punjab and Haryana, and Gujarat had 272,643, 244,875, and 112,045 cases pending with them respectively at the end of March this year.

What's surprising is that the Patna High Court has been able to keep the backlog of cases low despite having a massive vacancy - 32.5 percent - of judges. Against a sanctioned strength of 43 judges, it has just 29 judges.

In contrast, the Allahabad High Court has merely 19 percent judicial vacancy, having 77 judges against a sanctioned strength of 95 judges. Only the Orissa as well as Punjab and Haryana high courts have judicial vacancies higher than that of the Patna High Court.

The Orissa High Court, which tops the list of courts with 36 percent of judicial vacancy, has only 14 judges against a sanctioned strength of 22. The vacancy at the Punjab and Haryana High Court is to the tune of 34 percent (35 judges working against a sanctioned strength of 53).

The vacancy of judges in other high courts is in the range of 20 percent with Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan having 20 percent vacancy each, Gujarat 26 percent, Bombay 17 percent and Madras 10 percent.

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