Srinagar, Mar 13: Of the 62,040 cases pending in J&K High Court, 4,674 have been undecided for the last more than 10 years.
Official data, as of January 31, shows the long-term pendency has been 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 stakeholders, investigation agencies, witnesses and litigants associated with the cases.
The situation remains grim in High Courts across India, with over 10 lakh cases pending with them for a decade or more.
Asked about the pendency in J&K High Court, Senior Advocate Zaffar Shah said it was majorly because of the lesser number of judges.
The present sanctioned strength of the judges in J&K High Court is 14, while, at present, there are only 11 of them, including the Chief Justice.
“Chief Justice (Badar Durrez Ahmed) is retiring on Mar 15. Then, Justice MK Hanjura is also retiring, I think, in October. And I think, Justice Kotwal too is retiring in August. So, that further decreases the already less number of judges,” said Shah.
He said the delay was also due to two different wings of J&K High Court functioning from Kashmir and Jammu regions.
“The sanctioned strength (in J&K High Court) shall at least be 20. 10 judges each for both the wings,” he said.
Asked if he had come across any case that stretched for over a decade, Shah mentioned about a case that was decided after 150 years.
“A case was decided after 150 years. The case was ‘Aarawala versus Kolawala’. It was a water dispute going back to the Maharaja’s times. Some decisions made then were challenged in civil courts. Then from civil courts, it had reached the High Court in 1975 and the case finally received a decision in, I think, 2003 or 2004,” he said.
The parties, Shah said, were dead.
“Their legal representatives were leading the case. It was between two villages,” he said.
Shah said there was also a good number of “contempt” cases as government had not implemented several orders of the High Court.
“Non-implementation of the orders of the court breeds further litigation,” he said.