The Economic Survey on Thursday suggested reducing the number of holidays of courts, and appointing more judges to enhance productivity in the judicial system, stating that delays in contract enforcement and disposal resolution are the biggest hurdle to the ease of doing business in India.
As per the Economic Survey for 2018-19, tabled in Parliament by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, 3.5 crore cases are pending in the judicial system, much of which are concentrated in the district and subordinate courts.
“In spite of a number of actions to expedite and improve the contract enforcement regime, economic activity is being affected by the long shadow of delays and pendency across the legal landscape. Contract enforcement remains the single biggest constraint to improve our Ease of Doing Business (EODB) ranking,” the survey highlighted.
It said India continued to lag on the indicator for enforcing contracts, climbing only one rank from 164 to 163 in the latest EODB report, 2018.
Delays in contract enforcement and disposal resolution are arguably the single biggest hurdle to the Ease of Doing Business in India and higher GDP growth, it added.
However, the problem is not insurmountable, it said adding “a case clearance rate of 100% (zero accumulation) can be achieved with the addition of merely 2,279 judges in the lower courts and 93 in High Courts even without efficiency gains.”
The survey further said this is already within sanctioned strength and only needs filling vacancies.
“Scenario analysis of efficiency gains needed to clear the backlog in five years suggest that the required productivity gains are ambitious, but achievable. Given the potential economic and social multipliers of a well-functioning legal system, this may well be the best investment India can make,” it said.
Suggesting measures to enhance productivity in the judiciary, the survey listed increasing number of working days of courts, establishment of Indian Courts and Tribunal Services (ICTS) that focuses on the administrative aspects of the legal system and technology deployment.
For instance, the survey said,”the Supreme Court’s official calendar for 2019 suggests that it would close for 49 days for summer vacations, 14 days for winter break, and a further 18 days for Holi, Diwali and Dussehra.” After accounting for weekends and public holidays, it leaves 190 working days for the Supreme Court. In contrast, the average is 232 working days for High Courts and 244 days for Subordinate courts, it pointed out.
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