Court Data

Pendency increases by over 1,600 cases in May 2024 as the Supreme Court commences its summer break

The month of May 2024 ended with 82,308 pending cases—the highest pendency figure for this year

Pending cases in the Supreme Court stood at 82,308 cases by the end of May 2024. In May 2022 and May 2023, the figures were, 70,852 and 79,636 respectively. 

April 2024 ended with 80,701 cases, making the net increase by 1,607 cases the highest increase in pendency this year. 

Figure one shows that the number of pending cases increased gradually in the first half of the year, except February 2024 where we saw a marginal decline. 

In May 2024, the Supreme Court worked for 13 days, owing to the summer vacation, which commenced on 20 May 2024. This month, the Court disposed of 3,610 cases, averaging 278 cases per day. However, due to the lower number of working days, overall disposals were fewer compared to previous months. 

Out of these 13 days, nine judges were occupied for two days in a Constitution Bench determining the nature of private property. This means that for two out of the 13 days, the Court’s Division Benches operated with 24 out of 33 judges. 

The Court’s sanctioned strength is 34 but Justice Aniruddha Bose retired in April 2024. Further, Justice A.S. Bopanna retired a day before the Supreme Court closed for vacation. The Collegium is yet to recommend any judges to fill the vacancies. 

Pendency is likely to increase further with the Court on vacation for seven weeks. It returns to action on 8 July 2024. The activity of vacation benches is unlikely to make a significant impact on the disposal of cases.

Constitution Bench pendency in May 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 35 five-judge cases, eight seven-judge cases, and seven nine-judge bench cases pending in the Supreme Court. As in April, there were no Constitution Bench decisions in May. 

In 2024 so far, the Court has heard two seven-judge and three nine-judge Constitution Bench cases. These judgements, which will likely make a dent in the Constitution Bench pendency numbers, are expected soon after the Supreme Court reopens in July 2024.