SC reveals nationwide backlog: Over 150,000 cases pending at courts

Published On: February 23, 2024 09:00 AM NPT By: Bhasa Sharma

KATHMANDU, Feb 23: The Supreme Court (SC) has stated that the rise in the number of cases in the courts across the country poses a challenge to timely clearance of the cases. Comparing data of the past one decade indicates a threefold increase in court cases.

The dilly-dallying in appointing judges has led to postponed hearings in courts and tribunals across the country, including the Supreme Court. The failure to appoint judges at SC, high courts and district courts on time has resulted in a painfully slow case clearance. According to the statistics, as many as 158,147 cases are pending at the courts across the country.

The  SC released its annual report for the fiscal year 2079/80 BS on Wednesday. According to the constitutional provision, Chief Justice Bishowambhar Prasad Shrestha submitted the annual report to President Ram Chandra Paudel. The report identifies failure to appoint judges on time as one reason for the rising number of pending cases in the courts across the country.

Last year, all the courts and tribunals handled 325,702 cases. In the fiscal year 2079/80 BS, this number rose to 360,576 marking a 10.71 percent increase. The workload ratio for the High Court has increased by 89.36 percent over the past decade due to delays in judge appointments. It is estimated that more cases are registered and the decision cannot be made in time, so the pressure to decide the cases has increased.

In the year 2070/71 BS, all the courts and tribunals had an annual record of 180,000 cases. Coming to the year 2079/80 BS, the annual record of the cases reached 360,000. Looking at the data, it seems that the number of the pending cases has increased by 100 percent.

Looking at the court-wise activity in the past one decade, it seems that cases have increased in all the courts and tribunals. The SC said, “Despite efforts, the ratio of pending cases continues to rise due to increased case registrations and insufficient management  of manpower.”

The district court’s overall workload has increased by 197.40 percent over the last 10 fiscal years. Despite registering 198,910 new cases last fiscal year, 82.62 percent of cases were cleared according to annual targets.  

The SC faces a challenging task of disposing of about 1,954 cases per bench even after dividing the available justices into 10 benches. Around 29,654 cases were carried over from the last fiscal year and 9,279 cases were newly registered. About 27,860 cases remain pending, with 28.44 percent of cases dismissed.

It is said that the SC is working for extra two hours in addition to the office hours every Friday to deal with the pending cases. Due to the ever-increasing workload in the courts, the pending cases have been observed to increase. It is also mentioned that strategic activities to reduce the number of pending cases have not been implemented effectively. The SC has said that a special strategy should be adopted to dispose of the cases on time.

In 18 high court benches, 25,854 cases were carried over from the last fiscal year. With about 37,000 newly registered cases in this fiscal year, the total number of cases and petitions recorded is 62,854. Of them, 38,868 i.e. 61.84 percent of cases and petitions have been dismissed. While 23,986 cases are yet to be decided.

Most of the cases are pending in the district courts across the country. So far, 104,430 cases are pending in the district courts. About 102,369 cases were carried over from the previous fiscal years. About 132,468 cases were registered last year. Of the 234,837 cases and petitions, 55.53 percent have been dismissed.

The implementation of case judgments is also becoming complicated. Looking at the data, the total cost of fines to be recovered by all district courts is Rs 19.39 billion yet to be recovered.

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