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Waiting for Justice: 1.5 lakh cases pending in JK courts

Srinagar, Dec 17: Over 1.5 lakh cases are pending in different courts across Jammu and Kashmir including 10488 in High Court alone.

The long-term pendency, the data shows, is majorly because of weak physical infrastructure, lack of supporting court staff and applicable rules of procedure, and, most importantly, less number of judges.

Other factors for cases stretching beyond a decade, the data says, include the nature and complexity of the facts, nature of evidence beside cooperation of the stake-holders, investigation agencies, witnesses and litigants associated with the cases.

As per the documents available with The Kashmir Monitor, these 1, 57,261 pending cases include 69,696 civil and 87,565 criminal cases.

The state, as per the documents, is in need of at least 86 more judges and subordinates to deal with the cases pending for years together.

Documents reveal that Srinagar district alone has 26,146 cases pending, including 10757 civil and 15389 criminal.

Of them 4048 cases are pending for the last 5 to 10 years.

Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora in north Kashmir have 11252, 8272, 3702 pending cases respectively which include a huge chunk of cases witnessing no progress for nearly a decade.

Similarly, in Ganderbal and Budgam in central Kashmir, 2729 and 5542 cases respectively are pending due to the lack of concerned workforce.

South Kashmir’s Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam districts have 7727, 5003, 3590 and 2935 cases pending respectively, and the number of cases, which witnessed no results for nearly a decade in these districts, is 595.

Courts in Jammu region have 79,816 pending cases including 42937 in Jammu,  Kathua (5133), Reasi (2379), Poonch (3681), Kishtwar (1835), Doda (4280), Rajouri (6346), Ramban(2076), Samba(5503) and Udhampur (5646) cases.

Atleast 8,237 cases in Jammu region have been reported pending for nearly a decade now in the courts due to the lack of manpower.

Leh and Kargil have 311 and 236 pending cases respectively.

A research by New Delhi-based think tank, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy in its report based of regal research revealed that Jammu and Kashmir takes 742 days compared to the benchmark of 153 days needed to complete its two-tier recruitment cycle for civil judge posts.

The report claims most states and their high courts do not adhere to the schedule laid down by the Supreme Court for filling up the judicial vacancies.

The report ranks states based on average time taken to complete one recruitment cycle and the percentage of vacancies potentially filled. It collated data for a 10-year period, from 2007 to 2017.

As per the constitutional framework, the selection and appointment of judges in subordinate courts is the purview of the High Courts and state governments concerned.

In case of recruitment of judicial officers in the states, recruitment is done by the High Courts, whereas in other States, the recruitment is done by High Courts in consultation with State Public Service Commission.

As per the SC order, the two-tier process should take 153 days whereas the three-tier examination procedure should take around 273 days, the report reads.