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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: It seems the justice delivery in Odisha takes its own time. In the indicator of average age of criminal cases pending, the State topped the country. Not only criminal cases, the average years of pendency in civil cases is also highest in the country.

Such an embarrassing fact was brought to the fore by the Eco-Survey 2018-19 tabled in Parliament on Thursday.

A detailed analysis of data available with the National Judicial data grid brings to fore more harsh home-truths.

While the average years a criminal case keeps pending in Odisha has been estimated at 4.5 years, the bigger grim reality is the State is figured among the top-10 in the indicator of number of criminal cases pending, which has a direct bearing on State’s law and order.

Precisely said, Odisha figured at 6th in the country when it comes to pendency of criminal cases for over 10-years in subordinate courts.

However, the Orissa High Court posts a better show as in pendency of criminal cases of over 10-years, State stood at 9th in country.

The 2018 data available with the Orissa HC reveals some significant facts. Of the total criminal cases pending in the Orissa High Court, 21 per cent are pending since 10 years.

And of the total pendency of criminal cases in subordinate courts, around 19 per cent have been pending since last 10 years.

The data revealed that as of June end 2019, the State’s subordinate courts have over 9 lakh criminal cases pending. Pending criminal cases pertaining to women are over 4 per cent. Also, around 1.5 per cent pending criminal cases pertains to senior citizens.

Similarly, of over 43, 000 criminal cases pending in Orissa High Court, around 2 per cent were filed by women vis-a-vis around 0.5 per cent national average of the High Courts.

The Eco-survey 18-19 has ranked Odisha 3rd in average time taken to dispose of the cases. A look at a sample of justice delivery system in state’s subordinate courts tells a tale.

On an average in a month, State’s subordinate courts saw institution of over 13, 240 criminal cases, disposal rate of criminal cases in the State stood at around 8, 296. Of this, a mere around 600 decade-old cases could see disposal.

The sub-State data details the devil. When Khurda district in State has the largest criminal cases (98, 858) filed in District and Sessions courts, the average disposal rate per month stood at mere 350.

The Cuttack district has the State’s 2nd highest criminal cases (76, 444) filed in subordinate courts. And the average disposal rate here stood at around 840 criminal cases.

Angul, Odisha’s industrial nerve-centre, has seen disposal of a mere 62 criminal cases; when the criminal cases load in the district stood at a whopping 42, 406.

Moreover, of total cases (civil plus criminal) instituted in districts, Gajapati tops with around 90 per cent of criminal cases and is followed by Kalahandi, Koraput, Nuapada, Kandhamal, Sambalpur.

Jharsuguda, Sundargarh, Subarnapur, Rayagada, Malkangiri, Ganjam and Nabarangpur are the districts where criminal cases filed stood at more than 80 per cent of total cases filed.

The vacancies of judicial officers at district level zoomed to over 200 in 2017 from 81 in 2015.The result is a dip in judge to population ratio to 11.8 per 1 million.

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