Court Data

Pendency in 2020 Increases by 10%

The average pendency at the Supreme Court increased in 2020.

In 2020, the Supreme Court has seen a marginal increase in the number of pending cases. Between 2 January and 4 December, pendency has increased by 4,567 cases, from 58,859 to 64,426 cases.

When we plot the 2020 numbers against the 2019 ones, we notice that the change in pendency followed a very different pattern last year. From January to June, pendency followed roughly an exponential curve, hitting a maximum of 59,695 cases in June. Then with the end of the annual summer vacation, pendency decreased in July. Pendency continued to increase for the rest of 2019, approaching 60,000 cases.

The average pendency in 2019 was at 58,984 and in 2020 it sits at 61,479.

In mid-March 2020, the Supreme Court began to shut down physical operations to prevent the spread of coronavirus. This partial shutdown corresponded with a hike in pendency. Post-October 2020 the pendency has been consistently on a rise. One could attribute this pattern to court vacations.

Change in Percentage Patterns

The above graph plots the percentage increase in pendency per month in the past three years. The blue line traces the percentage increase by comparing pendency in 2018 and 2019 in the corresponding months. The brown line plots the same for 2019 and 2020.

The percentage increase in June (2018-19) was one of the highest in that year – hitting 7.14%. This correlates with the summer vacation of the Supreme Court and might explain the surge in pendency percentages. When we look at 2019-2020, the first spike is in April. The COVID-19 lockdown in March might explain the surge in April where the Court heard only urgent matters and functioned in a very limited capacity. The percentage increase in 2020 post-October is considerably higher than in 2019. COVID induced limited functioning plus a series of Court vacations might explain this pattern.

Despite the Court functioning with very limited capacity and hearing only severely urgent matters, the quantum of increase seems steady and not as drastic as one would have expected. Perhaps a further investigation into the filing and administrative practices of the Supreme Court Registry during the pandemic might explain the insignificant increase in pendency.