Court Data

March 2024: A week-long Holi vacation slowed down Supreme Court’s disposal rates

Institution and disposal rates dip at the top court in the end of first quarter

According to the National Judicial Data Grid, in the months of January and February 2024, the Supreme Court disposed of more cases than it received. The Court cleared cases at a rate of 109.85 percent in January and 112 percent in February 2024. As February 2024 closed, the number of pending cases at the top court had dropped below the 80,000 mark for the first time since October 2023. March however, saw a break in this momentum with institution exceeding disposal numbers. As the month closed, 80,194 cases remained pending at the Supreme Court.

Institution indicates the number of cases filed in the Court. Disposal indicates the number of cases cleared by the Court either by dismissing it or by completing hearings and delivering a judgement.

4656 cases instituted, only 3926 disposed

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

Note: The data was collected from the NJDG on 15 March 2024 at 4:00 pm.

As seen in the figure above, during the first quarter of 2024, the number of cases disposed of by the Court surpassed the number of cases instituted in the months, except in March. 

In January, the Court worked for 20 days during which it received 4964 cases and disposed of 5453 cases. Both these numbers saw a slight drip in February with 4821 cases instituted and 5409 cases disposed of. The Court had worked for 21 days in February at full strength. 

In March, both institution and disposal of cases saw a dip. The Court received 4656 cases (165 less than February) and disposed of only 3926 cases (1483 less than February)—an all time low compared to the first quarter of this year. But these numbers have to be evaluated in the light of the Court's week-long Holi vacation commencing from 25 March 2024 due to which the Court worked only for 15 days. 

In addition, for five days in March, nine-judges of the court—26 percent of the sitting strength— were occupied in the Constitution Bench hearings to determine the nature of royalty paid by mine leaseholders. 

Last month, the Court disposed of cases at a rate of 84 percent (28 percent less than February 2024) at an average of approximately 261 cases per day. 

Institution lowest in five years

Figure 2 maps the number of cases instituted at and disposed of by the Supreme Court in the month of March 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 NJDG.

In the last five years, more cases were instituted at the Supreme Court than it was able to dispose of in the month of March. 2021 saw the lowest numbers with 1649 cases instituted and only 976 cases disposed of by the top court. The next two years saw a gradual increase in both institution and disposal despite being Covid years. 

March 2023, was the first month of last year that the Supreme Court functioned at full sanctioned strength of 34 judges with seven new appointments in February 2023. During this period, the Court received 4526 cases and disposed of 4086. 

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. We theorised that there was a lag in the migration of data between the two platforms. For February, we collected the February data deep into March—on the 25th, to be exact and there seemed to be no discrepancy between the NDJG and the Justice Clock data. For March, we collected the data on 15 April 2024 and again, there seems to be no disparity between the data on the NJDG and the Justice Clock.