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Last Updated : Jul 04, 2019 07:30 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Economic Survey 2019: To improve ease of doing business, resolve legal logjam in lower courts

This is perhaps the biggest constraint to the ease of doing business in the country and a higher GDP growth.

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With nearly 3.5 crore cases pending in the judicial system by the end of last year, India continues to lag on the indicator for enforcing contracts and resolving disputes. This is perhaps the biggest constraint to the ease of doing business in the country and higher GDP growth, according to the Economic Survey 2018-19.

A major chunk of the problem lies in the legal logjam at the level of District and Subordinate courts in the country, with around 87.5 percent of pending cases concentrated here. Hence, reforms must be focused on this segment, the document states.

While the pendency figures seem very large, an addition of merely 2,279 judges in the lower courts and 93 in the country’s High Courts was the prerequisite to achieve a 100 percent case clearance rate in 2018, the Survey added. This number is within the sanctioned strength.

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However, the Survey states that to clear the backlog in the next five years, the lower courts need 8,152 additional judges while High Courts require 361 more judges. A relatively small investment in the legal system can go a long way in stabilising economic growth and social well-being, the Survey added.

According to the data presented in the Survey, criminal cases contribute around 72 percent to the total pendency as opposed to the 28 percent contribution of civil cases. Charting out a roadmap for the reforms in the judiciary, it emphasises the need for a greater number of judges specialised in criminal litigation, seeing how the situation is especially worsening in that area, to speed up disposal of such cases.

Also, an analysis of state-wise case clearance data sheds light on the states which need special attention. Eastern states like Bihar, West Bengal, and Orissa have low clearance rates and hence additional judges should be appointed on a priority basis here.

Faster disposal of cases and thereby a higher case clearance rate also requires an efficiency gain, i.e. enhancing productivity in the judiciary. Suggestions for achieving the same have been put forward by experts and official committees over the years.

These include increasing the number of working days in courts, a technological overhaul and a proposal for creation of a specialised service called the Indian Courts and Tribunals Services to deal with the administrative aspects of the legal system.

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First Published on Jul 4, 2019 02:24 pm
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