20% of Karnataka high court judges’ posts vacant | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: Nearly a fifth of judges’ posts in the Karnataka high court and subordinate courts are vacant, and the state has a shortfall of more than 300 judges, including 13 at the high court, against the sanctioned 1,419 posts.
With the state’s judges staring at a backlog of 22 lakh cases, experts favour sanctioning of more posts to deal with pending and a growing number of cases. Interestingly, data from previous years shows that the number of sanctioned posts in lower courts has dropped 48% from 2,614 in 2018 to 1,357 as of December 2020.
According to the National Judicial Data Grid, at least 19.2 lakh cases are pending in lower courts as on March 22, 2021, and 2.8 lakh in the high court.
93,000 cases pending for over a decade
Some 93,000 cases have been pending for more than a decade, and 158 for over 30 years. Of the 22 lakh pending cases, criminal and civil cases are in near-equal numbers, with lower courts accounting for more criminal cases.
Data on judges shows Karnataka has 1,071 judges against 1,357 in lower courts, and 49 against the sanctioned 62 in the high court. On average, each lower court judge has a backlog of 1,797 cases, and each HC judge has to handle 6,000 cases.
Former Supreme Court judge Santosh Hegde said India must look at reforms that promote alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, reduce the number of appeals a litigant is allowed — as is the case in some countries — and curb frivolous litigation.
“Increasing judges’ numbers won’t solve the problem. It has been done multiple times in the past, but look at the number of pending cases. We must look at reducing the number of appeals in all cases to just one. There must be penalties for frivolous litigation. These may not be the only solution, but a debate must begin on reforms,” Hegde said.
BC Thiruvengadam, international arbitrator and mediator, said: “Prelitigation mediation must be made mandatory in all civil cases. At present, only commercial disputes have this option. Section 90 of the CrPC gives litigants an option to seek a neutral opinion by filing an application before the court, but this provision is never used because of lack of awareness.”

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Sagar Biswas

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