Case pending per judge

From Justice Definitions Project

What is Case Pending Per Judge?

The cases pending per judge is one of the simplest methods to calculate the stress on the courts, the higher the average case burden per judge, the more stressed the court[1]. The metric “cases pending per judge" refers to the number of cases that remain pending at the conclusion of the year out of the total cases assigned to a judge, and thus reflects the workload of the judge and the proportion of cases awaiting disposition.  

Additionally, the ratio of pending cases to judges in High Courts has been used as a metric to determine the number of judges in India needed to resolve or eliminate the pendency. This ratio signifies the average number of pending cases per judge at the High Court level[2].

The term pendency as defined in the 245th Law Commission report refers to “all cases instituted but not disposed of, regardless of when the case was instituted”.

The metric of Cases Pending Per Judge, as an indicator, does not consider additional factors such as case type and case complexity. Its relevance lies primarily in understanding the trend of the pendency concerning the strength of judges, particularly when compared to previous years.

Formula as used by the India Justice Report, 2022

Case Pending Per Judge:

The formula to calculate cases pending per judges in percentage as used by the Indian Justice report of 2022 the formula is as follows:

Let the number of cases allocated in 2017 as X1 and in 2018 as X2, then the Case pending per judge for 2018 will be  (( X2/X1))-1)*100.

Average Case Pending Per Judge:

However, the report takes into account the data of five consecutive years, the average of these five years is computed which is then referred as the Average Case pending per judge. The formula for the same is as follows:

Let the number of cases allotted in the year 2017 as X1, in 2018 as X2, 2019 as X3, in 2020 as X4, in 2021 as X5 and in 2022 as X6.

Then the cases pending per judge for 2018 will be - (( X2/X1))-1)*100, for 2019 will be (( X3/X2))-1)*100, similarly for all the following years. After calculating the cases pending per judge for all five years, average will be calculated giving the final result[3]. Average Case Pending Per Judge is utilized by the IJR for the purpose of ranking the states.

Figure 1 - Pendency of Cases per Judge & Average Case Pending Per Judge[4]

Figure 1 - Pendency of Cases per Judge & Average Case Pending Per Judge

Furthermore, the average time taken for disposal of cases depends on factors such as the type of case (civil or criminal), the complexity of the circumstances and facts involved, the type and accessibility of evidence, the cooperation of various stakeholders such as the bar, investigation agencies, witnesses and litigants besides the availability of physical infrastructure, supporting court staff and relevant rules and procedures[5], and these are the factors that lead to the pendency of cases per judge.

Slight nuances in the concept

Coram Wise Pendency

Another similar metric is there, wherein the pendency is calculated on the basis of Coram. The Coram-wise pendency signifies the measurement of pending cases based on the composition of the bench or the coram assigned to hear those cases.

Figure 2 - Coram-wise pendency of cases in the Supreme Court of India[6]

Coram wise pendency (3,5 and 7 judges bench)
Coram Wise Pendency(9, 11 and more than 11 judge bench)

Average Rate of Disposal per judge

The rate of disposal was provided by the Law Commission’s 245th report, wherein they addressed the concern of a large backlog of cases. This method was defined as a number of additional judges required (to clear the existing backlog of cases and ensure that a new backlog is not created) based on the average number of cases disposed of per judge[7].

The formula used for calculating the Average Rate of Disposal per judge in a cadre is Disposals for one cadre of judges divided by the working strength of judges in that cadre. (Working strength refers to sanctioned strength minus vacancies and deputations). This division gave the annual Rate of Disposal per judge in a cadre[8].

The formula for the rate of disposal by taking the illustration of the Andhra Pradesh Subordinate Courts.

In 2010 Andhra Pradesh had 129 judges of the Higher Judicial Service who disposed of 109085 cases, at an average of 109085/129 = 845.6 cases per judge.

Similarly, in 2011, 139 judges disposed of 111892 cases at an average of 111892/139 = 805 cases per judge;

In 2012, 136 judges disposed of 106997 cases at an average of 106997/136 = 786.7 cases per judge.

On average, therefore, judges of the Higher Judicial Service disposed of (845.6+805+786.7)/3=812.4 cases per judge per year in this time period. This is the Average Rate of disposal per judge.

Cases pending per Judge in a particular category of law

The European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ), including the 47 member states of the Council of Europe and a number of non-member countries (e.g., Kenya), defined the number of cases of a particular type per judge in the given period as Cases per Judge[9]. In the Indian Scenario, the metric does not consider different types of cases while calculating the cases pending per judge  

This report also provides workload indicators, wherein the indicator measures the caseload of a judicial system, the new cases indicate the demand for justice, resolved cases are the system's responses, and pending proceedings represent the cases yet to be addressed. The measurement unit can be a specific legal area, court division, entire court, or the entire judicial system, using a defined formula[10]. That is:

PE = PS + N – R

(PS = Pending cases  on 1 January of the calendar year, N = New cases initiated in the calendar year, PE= Pending cases on 31/12 of the calendar year)

There are Structural and organizational indicators as well, for measuring the quality of justice as identified by the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice[11]:

  • Number of judges in relation to the population,
  • Judges’ workload,
  • Number of lawyers in comparison with the number of judges,
  • Administrative staff in comparison with judges,
  • The ratio between the number of judges  working on a specific category of cases and the number of resolved cases per category;

Moreover, the Pending cases are defined almost similarly to Indian understanding, as “the number of cases that still have to be dealt with by a court, or by a judge, in a certain time (e.g. Pending cases by January 1)[12]


  1. Haphazard appointment of judges worsening the high court judicial delays, India Spend, Available at:
  2. Kshitiz Verma , Anshu Musaddi , Ansh Mittal , Anshul Jain, Estimating Time to Clear Pendency of Cases in High Courts in India using Linear Regression, Available at: file:///C:/Users/Scnhr/Downloads/paper_lawarxiv.pdf
  3. Data source: National Judicial Data Grid; Court News, Supreme Court; Lok Sabha, Unstarred Question No. 2116
  4. Data source - India Justice Report 2022, Available at:
  6. National Judicial Data Grid, Supreme Court of India Available at:
  7. Omir Kumar, Shubham Dutt, Understanding vacancies in the Indian Judiciary, The PRS Blog (2021), Available at:
  8. Subordinate Courts of India: A Report on Access to Justice 2016, Available at:
  9. Available at:
  10. GLOBAL MEASURES OF COURT PERFORMANCE, International Framework for Court Excellence, (Third Edition) 2020, Available at:
  11. EUROPEAN COMMISSION FOR THE EFFICIENCY OF JUSTICE (CEPEJ), Measuring the quality of justice, As adopted on 7 December 2016, at the 28th plenary meeting of the CEPEJ, Available at:
  12. EUROPEAN COMMISSION FOR THE EFFICIENCY OF JUSTICE (CEPEJ), Towards European Timeframes for Judicial Proceedings Implementation Guide, As adopted at the 28th plenary meeting of the CEPEJ on 7 December 2016, Available at:,A%20for%20all%20its%20cases.
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