Court Data

How has the Pandemic Affected Pendency at the Supreme Court?

The second wave of the pandemic has resulted in a rapid rise in the pendency of cases at the Supreme Court.

The second wave of the pandemic has shaped the pendency of cases at the Supreme Court. Two aspects of the Court’s functioning that were affected by the pandemic have had an impact on pendency as well. First, the Court did not sit physically. Second, a new ‘e-filing’ system was introduced at the Court that made it easier for persons to file cases.

Prior to the second wave, the Court was opening gradually and hearing cases both in person and virtually. However, the second wave forced the SC to revert to virtual hearing for urgent cases.

In this post, we look at pendency in the first half of 2021.

Pendency has historically been on a steady rise at the Supreme Court. However, the first half of 2021 has seen a steep increase of 6.3%. The data on pendency for each month is reported in the first 3 days of the month. So, we have included July to account for the pendency at the end of June.

This increase is especially significant when we compare it to pendency in the same period over the past five years. We have taken the same period because pendency has yearly fluctuations based on when the Court is on vacation.

In the first half of 2017, pendency had decreased by 5% and in 2018, it had decreased by 0.3%. This changed as pendency increased in the equivalent period of 2.2% (2019) and 0.9% (2020). This sets apart the 6.3% increase in 2021 as especially high.