Pendency in court due to lack of vacancies is a major problem in India’s legal system. The number of judges in India is significantly lower than what is required to handle the large number of cases that are filed every year. As a result, cases can take years, and sometimes even decades, to be resolved. This leads to a backlog of cases, which is commonly referred to as pendency in India. This backlog of cases has resulted in delays in justice delivery and has a negative impact on the country’s justice system.

As of 2021, there are a total of 1079 sanctioned judge positions in the 25 High Courts of India. However, the actual number of judges serving in these courts may be lower due to vacancies or other factors. The larger High Courts like the Allahabad High Court, the Calcutta High Court, and the Bombay High Court have a larger number of judges, while the smaller High Courts like the Sikkim High Court and the Manipur High Court have fewer judges. The number of judges in the High Courts must be constantly changing as new judges are appointed and retirements or resignations occur. A judge hears a lot of cases in a day and due to this workload, it’s on increase.

Reasons for lack of appointment 

There are several reasons for the lack of appointment of judges in courts in India, which have contributed to a backlog of cases and delays in justice delivery. Some of the main reasons are:

  1. Slow pace of appointments

    The process of appointing judges in India is a lengthy one, and it can take months or even years for a vacancy to be filled. The appointment process involves several stages, including scrutiny by the collegium, clearance by the government, and final approval by the President of India.

  2. Lack of political will

    There is often a lack of political will to appoint judges, particularly in cases where the government may have a vested interest in delaying or preventing the appointment of certain judges.

  3. High workload

    The workload of judges in India is very high, and many judges are overburdened with cases. This can discourage talented lawyers from accepting judgeships, which in turn can exacerbate the shortage of judges.

  4. Low pay and poor working conditions

    The pay and working conditions of judges in India are often poor compared to other professions, which can make it difficult to attract and retain talented lawyers to become judges.

  5. Lack of infrastructure

    Many courts in India lack basic facilities like proper courtrooms, computers, and staff. This results in a slow pace of hearings and delays in the disposal of cases.

  6. Litigation culture

    There is a culture of litigation in India, and many people file frivolous cases that clog up the judicial system. This, in turn, puts pressure on judges and contributes to delays in justice delivery.

The lack of appointment of judges in courts in India is a complex issue that has several underlying factors. Addressing this issue will require a concerted effort by the government, the judiciary, and civil society to improve the appointment process, attract and retain talented lawyers to become judges, and invest in the infrastructure and resources of the judicial system.

Role of the collegium in appointing judges  

The Collegium system is a method of appointment and transfer of judges in India’s higher judiciary. It was introduced in 1993 by the Supreme Court of India in the case of Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association v. Union of India. The Collegium system replaced the earlier system of appointments, where the executive had a greater role in the selection of judges.

In 2014, the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act was passed by the Indian Parliament to replace the Collegium system. The NJAC was intended to be a body consisting of six members, including the Chief Justice of India, two senior-most judges of the Supreme Court, the Union Minister of Law and Justice, and two eminent persons nominated by a committee comprising the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India, and the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.

However, the NJAC Act was challenged in the Supreme Court of India because it violated the independence of the judiciary. The Court held that the NJAC Act was unconstitutional and struck it down in October 2015.

The Supreme Court upheld the Collegium system, stating that it is necessary to maintain the independence of the judiciary. The Court also held that the appointments to the judiciary must be made by the judiciary itself and not by the executive.

The Collegium system was adopted over the NJAC because the Supreme Court of India believed that the independence of the judiciary was at stake. The Collegium system allows the judiciary to have a greater say in the selection of judges, ensuring that the appointments are made purely on merit and without any interference from the executive.


The Indian government has taken several steps to address this issue. The government has increased the number of vacancies for judges, introduced e-courts, and fill vacant positions. However, there is still a long way to go before the problem of pendency in court due to the lack of vacancies is fully resolved and steps have been taken to streamline the appointment process. The government has also initiated measures to modernize the judicial system by introducing technology and improving infrastructure.

The problem of pending cases in courts due to a lack of vacancies is a significant issue in India’s judicial system. The government must take concrete steps to address this problem and ensure that justice is delivered promptly.


Written by Priyanka Sharma

Third Year Law Student 

JECRC University, Jaipur  


The following disclaimer governs the use of this website (“Website”) and the services provided by the Law offices of Kr. Vivek Tanwar Advocate & Associates in accordance with the laws of India. By accessing or using this Website, you acknowledge and agree to the terms and conditions stated in this disclaimer.

The information provided on this Website is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice or relied upon as such. The content of this Website is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between you and the Law Firm. Any reliance on the information provided on this Website is done at your own risk.

The Law Firm makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, completeness, reliability, or suitability of the information contained on this Website.

The Law Firm disclaims all liability for any errors or omissions in the content of this Website or for any actions taken in reliance on the information provided herein. The information contained in this website, should not be construed as an act of solicitation of work or advertisement in any manner.