Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, July 30
The problem of plenty is getting worse in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, with the pendency of cases almost touching 7-lakh mark, up by more than 60,000 since the beginning of the year.
National Judicial Data Grid — the monitoring tool to identify, manage and reduce pendency of cases — indicates the pendency of 6,99,268 cases in the High Court as against 6,37,188 in January this year and 5,28,340 in January 2020.
The only other High Court with pendency more than the Punjab and Haryana High Court is Allahabad with 7,98,976 matters awaiting adjudication. Out of the total pendency cases in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, 304447 are criminal matters, predominantly involving life and liberty.
Otherwise, 158570 or 22.68 per cent of the total pending cases are up to a year old; 231637 or 33.13 per cent are pending between one and three years; 92551or 13.24 per cent are pending between 10 and 20 years, and 10519 or 1.5 per cases are awaiting adjudication for last 20 to 30 years.
To make the matters worse, the High Court is expected to witness an unmanageable flood of litigation once it reopens for normal “physical” operations. Available information suggests a substantial number of cases, filed but yet to be numbered, are lying in the High Court Registry to be taken up upon the resumption of physical hearing.
The situation is expected to further worsen because of the impending retirement of Judges. The High Court is currently functioning at almost half the sanctioned strength with just 46 Judges against the sanctioned strength of 85. No less than two Judges are retiring this year, including one in August. Another five Judges are retiring next year.
The last time the collegium made recommendations for elevation was in August 2020. The names of five advocates — Jasjit Singh Bedi, Pankaj Jain, Vikas Suri, Sandeep Moudgil and Vinod Bhardwaj — were finalised and forwarded. These were further forwarded by the Centre to the Supreme Court as late as in April this year and are believed to be pending. On the other hand, the last time the collegium recommended the names of judicial officers for elevation as High Court Judges was more than two years back.
The process of appointing judges is lengthy and time consuming. Once cleared by the States and the governors, the file containing the names with intelligence bureau reports is placed before the Supreme Court when it meets. The names cleared for elevation are then sent to Union law ministry before their warrants of appointment are signed by the President. The process could take several months, if not taken up on priority basis.
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