Recently, Chief Justice of India (CJI) Mr T. S. Thakur showed his emotions in public and exhorted and beseeched upon the executive head of the country Mr. Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister, to get filled the vacancy of twenty-two thousand judges as recommended by the Law Commission in 1987.
Mr. Thakur opined that with judicial fleet of only 18,000 judges across the country, it is but impossible to tackle and dispose off over three crore pending courts cases. Law Commission had sought 40,000 judges then. While CJI commitments and sincerity in minimizing the mounting court cases are well appreciated, there is a flip side of the picture which he wisely didn't touch upon.
The Supreme Court and High Courts are closed for long summer vacation (45 days or so) and there is no record available regarding reason for this long vacation. Without doubt, the British style of judicial aristocracy is being perpetuated upon merrily at the cost of hapless litigants and other affected parties. That apart, the Supreme Court calendar (which is applicable to other courts too) shows week-long vacation each for Holi, Dussehra, Muharram and Diwali apart from fortnight-long winter vacation for Christmas Day and New Year.
In Christian country of USA there are only two days vacations, i.e., one each for Christmas and New Year. Is there any rationale for this long vacation in secular country of ours? Is it again the continuation of British judicial aristocracy? This has been the tradition since India got its independence. But is there a rule for this?
A reply received for a query filed under the Right to Information (RTI ) Act has revealed that there is no formal record with the Supreme Court, which has formed this system about this long vacation. On Jan 10, 2016 during a hearing, the representative of the apex court stated that the Supreme Court has 193 working days and that they "do not have record as to how the tradition of summer leave started." Law Commission has recommended long ago for scrapping long court vacations but they are being blissfully ignored continuously.
It is high time that Union Ministry of Law and Justice should immediately scrap any privileged vacations for courts ensuring a common pattern of holidays from Supreme Court to lower courts. CJI should dispassionately amend the vacation system so that eighty two days of working are further added to bring the total working days to (82+193=275 days). Divided by 30, the Supreme Court and High Courts will get nine months and seventeen days of working days which will definitely go a long way in minimizing the mounting court cases and without expecting to get appointment of judges in the immediate future. Of course, there will be still two weeks of summer vacation and one each for six festivals and one for the New Year. This will not curtail much vacation time and privileges for the judges and they should most willingly accept the additional working days if they are serious about reducing the pending cases.
Needless to say that justice delayed is justice denied and in reality it is murder of the Rule of Law. We have Law of Limitation for filing court cases, why can't there should be a Law of Limitation for delivery of judgements?
Rule of Law is Dead, Long Live Supreme Court and High Courts!
Purnendu B. Prasad, M.A., B.L., MBA