New Delhi: The government on Monday said as many as 56,383 cases were pending in the Supreme Court at the end of October this year.

 "On these, 20,334 matters are less than one year old and are, thus, not arrears. The balance 36,049 are arrears," Law and Justice Minister Salman Khurshid said during Question Hour in Rajya Sabha.

The number of cases pending in the High Courts was 42,17,903 as on September 30, 2010.

Khurshid said efforts are on to reduce pendency of cases. He also sought suggestions from state governments for speeding up the process of appointment of judges.

While increasing number of institution of cases is one of the causes of pendency in courts, the minister said there are other reasons for piling up cases like granting of excessive adjournments, lack of priority to disposal of old cases and inadequacy of staff.

He said while the time taken in disposal of pending cases is "exclusively within the domain of the judiciary", the government has taken number of measures, including setting up of a 'National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms' to facilitate expeditious disposal of cases.

Replying to supplementary questions, Khurshid said Rs 1,325.9 crore, out of Rs 5,000 crore recommended by the 13th Finance Commission for improving justice delivery system, has already been released to the states.

With these grants states can set up special magistrates' courts and appoint court managers. The grants can also be utilised for training of judicial officers and strengthening of state judicial academies, he said.

In order to computerise the justice delivery system, the government is implementing e-Courts Project for the District and Subordinate Courts and up-gradation of ICT infrastructure in superior courts at an estimated cost of Rs 935 crore.

"The target is to compurterise 12,000 courts by March 31, 2012 and 14,249 courts by March 2014," Khurshid said.

He also said that a pendency reduction drive has been launched (July-December 2011 period) by the Department of Justice.

The minister said Chief Justices have been requested to initiate a campaign mode approach towards clearing petty and long pending cases. During the campaign cases relating to women, senior citizens and other marginalised groups will be given priority of disposal.

Replying to another query, Khurshid said that consequent upon increase in filing, disposal and pendency of matters in the Supreme Court, there has been increase in the work-load at all levels.

He said the competent authority has sanctioned creation/revival of about 284 posts in different categories since January 2009. Further, a committee of three senior officers has been constituted to study the working of the Registry of the Supreme Court.

(Agencies)