Court Data

April 2024: Top court received 800 more cases than it cleared

Even though a fourth of the Court was occupied in Constitution Bench hearings for 10 days in April, the Court disposed of 4813 cases

In March, for the first time this year, the number of cases instituted at the Supreme Court surpassed the number of cases it disposed of. It’s likely that the week-long Holi vacation at the end of March 2024 slowed down its disposal rates. In April, the trend continued, but there was an increase in both institution and disposal of cases. 

Institution refers to the number of cases filed in the Court at any given point. Disposal refers to the number of cases cleared by the Court either by delivering the judgement or final Order or by dismissing them.

5613 cases instituted, 4813 cases disposed

Figure 1 maps the number of cases instituted and disposed of by the Supreme Court in the months of January, February, March and April 2024. 

Note: The data for April was collected from the National Judicial Data Grid on 14 May 2024 at 4:00 pm.

As seen in Figure 1, for both the months of January and February 2024, the Supreme Court disposed of more cases than it received. In January, the Court returned from a two-week Christmas break  to dispose of 5453 cases (489 cases more than the instituted 4964 cases) at a rate of 109.85 percent. In February, a full-strength Supreme Court continued the healthy disposal streak by disposing of 5409 cases (588 cases more than it received) at a rate of 112 percent. 

Following a week-long Holi vacation, March saw a break in this momentum with the disposal rate dropping to 84 percent. With the Court disposing of only 3926 cases, it was the first month of the year where the number of cases disposed fell below the 4000 mark. Pendency also increased by over 400 cases and once again hit the 80,000 mark. 

April saw an increase in both cases instituted and disposed of. The Court received 5613 cases (957 more than March) and cleared 4813 cases (887 more than March) at a rate of 85.73 percent. With 19 working days in April, the Court on average, cleared about 253 cases per day. 

Compared to March, the Court’s disposal rate improved very slightly i.e. by 1.73 percent. While it does not match the healthy streaks of January and February, the month must be viewed in perspective. During this time, nine judges of the top court —26 percent of the sanctioned strength—were engaged in Constitution Bench proceedings which took place over a collective period of 10 working days. For six days, a bench led by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud heard arguments and reserved judgement in a case pertaining to the regulation of industrial alcohol. Then, another Bench led by the Chief commenced hearing arguments on the nature of private property for another four days. (The Bench reserved judgement in the case on May 1 2024). 

April also saw the retirement of Justice Aniruddha Bose who served a tenure of four years, bringing the sitting strength of the Court to 33 judges. 

Highest institution and disposal in the last five Aprils

Figure 2 maps the number of cases instituted at and disposed of by the Supreme Court in the month of April since 2020. This data for the years 2020-2023 is from the Annual Reports of the Supreme Court, because a month-wise split for previous years is unavailable on the National Judicial Data Grid.

The Covid years saw the lowest numbers. In April 2020, only 176 cases were instituted and 435 cases were disposed of. In April 2021, we started seeing a recovery with 2007 cases instituted and 1388 disposed of. 

Since 2022, both institution and disposal of cases have seen gradual increase in the month of April, with the highest being in 2024. 

Note: In our story on institution and disposal figures from January 2024, we had highlighted a discrepancy in the data available from the NJDG and the Justice Clock on the Supreme Court’s website. However, for the months of February and March, we noted that there was no discrepancy between the two websites. We collected the data for February in late March and the data for March in mid-April. 

For April, as mentioned above, we collected data from the NJDG on 14 May 2024. There is a slight discrepancy between this and the figures on the Justice Clock. As of 15 May 2024, the Justice Clock has recorded the institution of 5609 cases (four cases less than the NJDG) and the disposal of 4839 cases (80 cases more than NJDG) for the month of April 2024.