Tribunals: Road to Increased Litigation?

One of the concerns with setting up of Tribunals for specific areas is that they will lead to increased litigation. This is because there is a natural expectation that dedicated bodies will deliver faster justice and hence litigants may be encouraged to approach the tribunals more often.

In the report prepared by the Rajya Sabha Standing Committee for Ministry of Human Resources Development on the 2010 Educational Tribunal Bill, this same concern was expressed.

“The Committee is also apprehensive that due to the complex structure of the tribunals, a greater level of litigation may be encouraged…”

While various tribunals do exist in India today, it is quite difficult to obtain data on the volume of litigation they handle to arrive at a definite conclusion about this apprehension.

However, in the specific case of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), a fair amount of data is available in the public domain that can help us arrive at some conclusions.

Over the past 3 years, in the Lok Sabha, questions about the total cases filed in NGT and their disposal rates have been asked multiple times.

  • Unstarred question no 906, dated 16/07/2014
  • Unstarred question no 646, dated 26/11/2014
  • Unstarred question no 1205 dated 03/03/2015
  • Unstarred question no 6132 dated 11/04/2017

Based on the numbers provided in the above cited documents, we can gather some data on the total number of cases with the NGT at various times, and also the total cases disposed during the same time periods. Using this, we can calculate the rate of incoming cases during various years. A table capturing this data is given below.

Year Total aggregate of cases from 07/2011 Aggregate of disposed cases from 07/2011 Months (preceding) used for delta calculation Rate of incoming cases/month
2011 168 163
2012 716 601
2013 3832 2186 12 259
31/03/2014 4741 2678 3 303
26/11/2014 6613 4047 8 234
31/01/2015 7768 5167 2 578
31/01/2017 23626 19066 24 660

In the table, the rate of incoming cases has been purposely left out for the initial 2, formative, years of NGT.

As we can see from above, during 2013 and 2014, the rate of incoming cases was roughly 250 per month. However in the past 3 years, it is showing a steep climb reaching up to 660 per month in the last 2 years.

Points to ponder

  • The increase in litigation could well be because the regular courts could have gotten more particular in transferring cases to NGT.
  • However, one cannot rule out the possibility of litigation going up, encouraged by increased awareness of the existence of NGT.
  • It is also interesting to note the spurt in litigation coinciding with the formation of the Modi Government 🙂
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