Court Data

Pendency increases by almost 2000 cases during the Supreme Court’s summer vacation in June 2024

Even as it is normal for the pendency figure to rise during the vacation, the Court has its task cut-out in the second half after June 2024

The month of June 2024 began with 82,308 pending cases in the Supreme Court and ended with 84,280 cases—an increase of 1972. 

This rise was anticipated, as the top court was mostly inactive during June due to its seven-week summer vacation. Historically, the pendency chart sees a spike around this time of year. In June 2023, for instance, pendency stood at 81,509 cases, marking an increase of approximately 1,873 cases from May to June.

Previously, we reported that the increase in pendency this year was the highest at the end of May—1,600 cases. That figure has been surpassed by June.

We expect this trend to reverse once the Court returns from its summer break on 8 July.

Figure 1 shows that the number of pending cases hovered around 80,000 in the first four months of the year. The marked increase in May (by 1607 cases) can likely be attributed to the Court closing for summer vacations from 20 May. We reported that the Court had only 13 working days in May, leading to fewer disposals. An increase in pendency was inevitable because the Court’s registry continues to accept cases for filing during the break. 

June saw even lesser activity, given that the Court was on vacation for the whole month. Vacation Benches did hear a few urgent cases on a daily basis. But Vacation Bench activity is unlikely to make a significant difference in the pending cases, as disposals are significantly fewer compared to the regular months. For instance, in June 2023, the Court disposed of only 481 cases compared to 7,770 cases when the Court reopened after the vacation in July 2023.  As of 5 July 2024, data from the National Judicial Data Grid suggests that only 611 cases were disposed of in June 2024. Disposals in April 2024—the last fully functioning month before the court vacation—stood at 4813. 

On a typical day, the Supreme Court has 16 courtrooms functioning. In contrast, vacation benches are constituted in only two to three courtrooms, handling fewer cases.

Constitution Bench pendency in June 2024

The donut chart on the left side in Figure 2 shows the total number of pending Constitution Bench cases. These are five-, seven-, and nine-judge bench cases. The donut chart on the right hand side shows the number of tagged cases pending. Tagged cases are cases dealing with the same substantial question of law. Once a main case is decided, it will automatically clear the tagged cases from the docket as well. 

From Figure 2, there are 36 five-judge bench cases pending before the Supreme Court. Since the Supreme Court was on vacation, there were no Constitution Bench decisions in June. Similarly, April and May saw no Constitution Bench decisions either.

The seven- and nine-judge bench pendency has remained stagnant at eight and seven cases, respectively.

As the Court returns in July, we expect multiple decisions across five-, seven-, and nine-judge bench cases, which will make a significant difference to the above numbers.