Court Data

May 2024: Supreme Court records lowest disposal rate of the year so far, as it breaks for summer vacation

Yet, May was the month when the Court recorded the highest daily average of disposal this year—278 cases a day

In May 2024, the Supreme Court recorded its lowest disposal rate of this year. This was largely down to the fact that the Court broke for vacation on the 20th of the month, and because institution wasn’t significantly less than April. The Court was busy as ever, as the daily disposal average of 278 cases will testify—it was the highest in the last four months.

Institution means 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 dismissal.

5418 instituted, 3610 disposed

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

Note: The data for May was collected from the National Judicial Data Grid on 11 June 2024 at 3.12pm.

As seen in Figure 1, the court cleared more cases than it received in the first two months of the year. Since the one week Holi vacation in March, the Court has been playing catch up—the institution numbers are outstripping the disposal numbers, leading to an increase in pendency. 

In January, with 20 working days, the Court received 4964 cases and disposed of 5453 cases. Both these numbers saw a slight drop 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, the Court worked for 15 days. During this time, both institution and disposal of cases saw a dip. The Court received 4656 cases and disposed of only 3926 cases. April saw a slight recovery with the Court working for 19 days. It received 5613 cases and disposed of 4813 cases. 

In May, the top court received 5418 cases (195 less than April) and cleared 3610 cases (1203 less than April). The disposal rate in May was the lowest in the year so far, at 66.63 percent. 

This figure needs to be viewed in context. The Court worked only for 13 days in May—the lowest of any month this year, owing to the Court’s annual summer vacation commencing from 20 May. This means that the top court cleared an average of 278 cases per day. This is higher than the daily average in January (273), February (257), March (262) and April (253).

In May, pendency increased by 1607 cases, bringing it to a total of 82,308 cases. 

Highest institution of the last five Mays

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

As with other months, the Covid years saw the lowest institution and disposal of cases in May. In 2020, the top court received 906 cases and disposed of 1161 cases. In 2021, institution increased to 1229 cases and disposal dropped to 721 cases. 

In 2022, the Court received 3146 cases in May and disposed of 2866 cases. In May 2023 the Court received 4984 cases and disposed of 3977 cases. 

This year, 5418 cases were instituted in May—that’s 434 cases more than in May 2023 and the highest in the last five years. Disposal, however, reduced to 3610 (367 less than 2023). 

Note: In our monthly posts tracking the institution and disposal of cases at the top court, we’ve been checking for discrepancies in the data available from the National Judicial Data Grid and the Justice Clock on the Supreme Court’s website. 

We noticed discrepancies in January and April. The numbers matched up for the months of February and March.  

For May, as mentioned above, we collected the data on 11 June 2024 and there appears to be a slight discrepancy of numbers on both platforms. While the NJDG shows an institution of 5418 cases, the Justice Clock shows an institution of 5459 cases (41 cases more than the NJDG). Disposal on the NJDG stood at 3610 cases while the Justice Clock showed 3944 cases (334 cases more than the NJDG). 

The Justice Clock is hosted on the web page of the Supreme Court registry. The NJDG, on the other hand, contains data from the Supreme Court, High Courts, and district and taluka courts and is managed by the Department of Justice. We’ve noticed that the migration of data from the Supreme Court to the NJDG is delayed sometimes.