Chief Justice of India TS Thakur on Friday said that clearing the huge backlog of pending cases across the country was a national challenge for the judiciary.

“It was an inexorable process as studies shows that instance of cases were directly related to literacy and prosperity. People now were quite literate and conscious of their rights and due to high rate of literacy, they seek shelter of the courts even for their petty grievances,” the Chief Justice said, speaking after laying the foundation stone of the National Law University at Gandhal in Shimla.

Pointing out that "eighty per cent of the backlog is mostly in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka,” he praised the high courts of Himachal and Kerala for reduced pendency of cases.

The pendency in the HP High Court had reduced by 50 per cent which was commendable, Thakur said, adding that he had not heard of such reduction in other high courts. He said the reason was the less number of judicial vacancies in these two states compared with other high courts in the country. He said that against a sanctioned strength of 13 judges in the Himachal Pradesh High Court, only two posts were vacant and this helped in the speedy delivery of justice.

"But in high courts where the vacancies are more, it has become a national challenge for the judiciary to clear the backlog at the earliest," Thakur added.

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, addressing the gathering, said that “law should be able to adopt the dynamics of the ever-evolving society”.

“It had been our persistent effort to provide all possible assistance to judiciary,” he said, urging the CJI to take up the matter with the Center for financial assistance of around Rs.100 crore for completion of the National Law University as it will involve more than Rs.150 crore.

“In the changing socio-economic scenario in the country, the nation at large was forging ahead in field of development and Himachal Pradesh had also not lagged behind.  With progress and prosperity,  new type of litigations were  coming to the courts as accident cases which were occupying lots of time of courts and other constitutional issues were arising thereby it becomes imperative that the courts were strengthened with staff and fully equipped,” he said.

The chief minister also said that despite big expansion in  judicial setup  in the state, the pendency of cases had increased and added that it was the duty of the high court to clear the pendency immediately.

“People can’t be denied justice for a long time,” he said, adding that “for the very reason the state government had reconstituted the Administrative Tribunal so as to lessen the burden of the high court as far as service cases were concerned”. 

Singh said that there had been a marked improvement in functioning of courts disposal of cases despite the number of cases that keep on increasing. He said people cannot be denied justice for long time and for this purpose the government fully supports the Judiciary.

“With  the joint effort of the government and judiciary,  our judicial system had come of age,” he said.

The chief minister then expressed gratitude to the CJI for inaugurating the new Judicial Academy campus and laying the foundation stone of the National Law University.