With more than 20 Million pending cases (civil/ criminal) where is India headed?

Yes, you heard that right, there are more than 20 Million pending civil/ criminal cases in district courts as of yesterday.

Data Source: http://njdg.ecourts.gov.in/njdg_public/main.php

If you see the Info graphic on your left side you can see that not only India has a huge number of cases to dispose but also that the number of criminal cases pending in district courts is roughly 2 times that of civil cases, so much for fast track courts *sigh*

These pending cases not only just comprise of recent cases but cases going way back till 10 years old too, according to stats more than 10 year old cases across India constitute about 10.04%, 5–10 year old cases of 16.69%, 2–5 year old cases of 29.14% and less than 2 year old 44.13%.

Let’s see if we can dig deeper into this:

Data for some states wasn’t available hence are not included

Taking a look at Total pending cases by state in India, Uttar Pradesh takes the lead with more than 52 lakh pending cases, Maharashtra comes second with more than 30 Lakh cases followed by Gujarat and Bihar.

Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have been in news recently due to a lot of criminal activities or some bizarre incident happening.

Though Gujarat has recently started 3 new commercial courts to cater to these needs but these will only deal with matters which involve finances over a crore only this wouldn’t directly effect this but can be a contributing factor.

Can this be a contributing factor for crimes in these states?

Is our judicial infrastructure so weak that even fast track courts haven’t been able to cover this backlog

or Is it the typical “Sab chalta hai” attitude that is taking our judicial system down?

White spaces represent Data not Available

Let’s go one notch deep and see how many cases are filed to that of disposed by Indian Courts:

On your right you can see a Geo chart which points something really interesting that more than 65% of the states have a ratio more than 1, that is, The number of cases filed in the previous month are more than the number of cases disposed by the court.

Which clearly points out that our courts are not even able to deal with the current filed cases that they have, then how can we expect them to clear the huge 20 Mil backlog.

Towards the end let’s see how much time will these courts take to finish dispose all the cases pending (not considering future cases):

In this graph we are assuming that the courts will function as they are functioning right now, given that the previous month was more or less normal.

We can see that the average number of years that courts will take is greater than 6 years!

With states like West Bengal, Orissa taking more than 8 years to do the same.

Starting NJDG (National Judicial Data Grid) is a good step in bringing transparency and accountability towards the judicial system in India, but we’re still miles away in making this mess make sense.


  1. Fast track courts: We have a lot of them but these aren’t optimised to their right potential, if implemented properly and in an organised fashion will help in decreasing the pendency of cases, these will be more focused and a district level implementation could also be something that can be looked into.
  2. Strict norms against stalled cases: A number of times it’s the offender/ defender who stall the case intentionally, either by not showing or by faking a serious medical issue, etc, these should be taken seriously and strict penalties should be imposed on them.
  3. Penalties on judges taking frequent leaves: This is one of the major reasons why courts postpone hearings and hearing as judges themselves are not available most of the times.

While all this being said, with right amends in legislation and redundant policies coupled with reinforced infrastructure would go a long way in reducing this number.

Have more suggestions? Let’s hear it in the comments sections.

Have an Idea or want to engage in a conversation? hit me up at vaibhavs10[at]gmail.com