Court Data

Pendency: Civil/Criminal Breakdown

Comparative ratio of criminal and civil cases pending before the Supreme Court.

In 2018, the number of cases pending before the Supreme Court increased by roughly 4%. More cases were instituted (filed), than the Court disposed of. Was this rise in pendency primarily due to a rise in civil cases or a rise in criminal cases?


As we only have the monthly civil/criminal data for January through October 2018, our analysis will be limited to these months. From January to October, total pendency increased from 55,163 to 56,320 cases. Pendency increased by 1157 cases, roughly a 2% increase.


Initially it would appear that the increase in pendency was equally caused by civil and criminal increases. Civil went up by 561 cases, whereas criminal by 596 cases. However, this does not capture the full picture.


It is worth noting that in proportional terms, criminal matters underwent a much larger increase. On average, in a given month there were 46,250 civil and 9,206 criminal cases pending. Hence, proportional to their respective averages, civil matters only went up by 1.2%, whereas criminal matters by 6.5% (roughly 5.5x more!).


That being said, our question was what caused the increase in total pendency. In proportion to total pendency, rather than themselves, civil and criminal matters increased a similar amount.


Data source: Supreme Court of India, Annual Report 2017-18.