Monday, July 13, 2009

Decline in Civil Litigation

The CJI is concerned (see here) over the decline in civil litigation in India. Another article in the TOI some months back hinted at this decine in the District Courts of UP.

How does the litigation rate in India compare with western democracies? How much is the decline? Where - which states - is the decine happening? What is the average time taken to settle a civil case? What is the backlog of civil cases? Is there a relation between declining litigation and the backlog in the courts? If people are not comming to the courts, are they taking law into their own hands? Many questions arise.

I had come across some papers earlier by Prof Marc Galanter (see here) where he indicated to a) generally low rates of civil litigation in India and b) a possible long term decline in civil litigation starting from the 1930's. Is there new data that establishes the trend of falling litigation that has caused the CJI to comment?

I attempt some answers in this India Together piece based on the readily available data sources - the Supreme Court website and answers provided by the Law Ministry to questions in Parliament. The chart at the begining of this post is explained there.

Is data available over a longer term? I don't have an answer. This piece by Rajeev Dhavan 5 years ago talks about the non-availability of data and a bill proposed by Fali Nariman that would enable collection of data. What happened to this bill?

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