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India court faces debilitating docket backlog: Delhi CJ

[JURIST] The backlog of cases pending in the Delhi High Court [official website] would take more than 460 years to clear, according to the court's annual report [materials]. Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah [official profile] released the report at a press conference Tuesday. According to the report, the Delhi High Court typically hears a case in less than five minutes [Hindu report], but the court has close to 10,000 cases still remaining on the docket. This is only the court's second annual report, although it was founded in 1966.

The ratio of judges in India to the population is believed to be around 11 judges per one million citizens. The judiciary in India has long been plagued by what India Supreme Court Chief Justice K. G. Balahrishnan termed an "enormous backlog" of cases in that court's annual report [text, PDF]. The report stated that the High Courts throughout the country disposed of 1,505,073 cases in 2007, but gained 805,350 new cases in the first six months of 2008. Many observers blame the problems in the judiciary on widespread corruption of the judicial system. In April 2008, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [official website] called for the establishment of special courts [JURIST report] to deal specifically with judicial corruption issues. In October 2008, Indian Supreme Court justice Justice B. N. Agrawal [official profile] withdrew from a corruption hearing [JURIST report] after lawyers publicly condemned the court for protecting other corrupt judges.

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