Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Pendency of cases: Response from PRS

Readers responding to this previous post wanted to know the methodology employed by the PRS in their study. The following is their response:

The estimate for time required to clear cases is computed by dividing (Number of pending cases) by (number of cases resolved in a year), both using data for calendar year 2008. We have aggregated these across all HCs (and across all subordinate courts), so these are averages and there will be variations within these groups. Though the methodology could be refined, these figures give an order-of-magnitude estimate to solve the problem. [We are assuming that courts will resolve cases using a first-in-first-out approach; so all new cases will be addressed only after all pending cases are resolved. Also that all cases take the same amount of time to resolve.]

Importantly, these numbers are way below some other estimates that talk of a few centuries to clear pending cases. For example, see this Indian Express article. I am unable to work out the methodology for these estimates. If you take into account fresh cases, the pendency rises every year – as new cases every year are higher than those resolved in a year. Delhi High Court is an exception – in 2008, it resolved more cases than fresh ones; if it maintains the same run rates for both institution and resolution of cases, pendency will be zero in 9 years (much lower than 466 years mentioned in the Express story).

Madhavan (madhavan at prsindia dot org)
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