Six Property Disputes that Show Snail’s Pace of Justice in India

Millions of cases in India remain pending in our justice system for decades because of our inefficient judicial system. There are many cases in which the judgment comes after the death of the litigant.

According to Daksh, a Bangalore based think-tank, an average litigant spends about ₹ 500 per day on court hearings. Another study conducted by Daksh revealed that most of the civil litigants belongs to the lower-castes background and earn an annual income of less than ₹ 3 lakh.  Here are some examples of property-disputes that took decades to get resolved –

1. The Delhi High Court was unable to find a solution regarding a property dispute even after deliberating on it for 30 years and passing it through as many as 75 judges. By the time the case was finally disposed of in 2016, the petitioner who filed the appeal in 1985 had already died.

2. The Delhi Development Authority filed a petition before the local court seeking the ownership of a wasteland on which residential properties already existed. After 54 years of legal battle, the judgment was finally announced in 2015 in favour of the residents.

3. Ten acres of prime land worth ₹ 800 crore in North Delhi was subjected to a four-decade-long legal battle before the judgment could be delivered.

4. In 2017, a woman sarpanch in rural Bihar solved a property dispute among a family within six days. The case had been pending in the local civil court for 20 years.

5. The longest property dispute before the Bombay High Court has remained pending since 1969. According to reports, the documents related to the case are missing and the CBI is conducting an inquiry into the matter.

6. In January 2018, the Rajasthan High Court finally disposed of a 59 years old land dispute. The case was considered to be the longest unsolved civil matter of the country. Three generations of the litigating family passed away during the proceedings in the case.

Property cases account for two-thirds of total pending cases in the courts. Currently, more than 2.2 crore property-related cases are pending before all courts in India. The average time taken by the Hon’ble Supreme Court to resolve land acquisition disputes is 20 years.

These delays in resolving disputes have far-reaching consequences. The excessive pendency of property cases in courts has created an artificial scarcity of land in the country and invariably increase the cost of housing and business. It also hampers the creation of jobs in the country as industries find it hard to get land near major cities. The judicial system should be urgently reformed so that all cases filed before the courts could be quickly resolved. Justice delayed is justice denied. We cannot take away the right of citizens to seek timely justice, particularly in cases involving a limited resource.

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