In a major setback to CJI R.M. Lodha’s proposal of a speedy and free justice delivery system, which works “365 days a year”, the suggestion has been rejected by the Supreme Court Bar Association as well. It has reportedly suggested that the Supreme Court collegium must fill the large number of vacant judicial posts. But the association added that “if necessary, working hours of all courts may be increased by one hour on all working days for sometime as an experiment in order to see if disposal of matters increases and, if it does, then this may be done for a year or so till the arrears are reduced”.
Oppositions had been brewing throughout the country against CJI Lodha’s proposal that the justice delivery system should function round-the-year, with minimum adjournments during the hearings. The proposal had already been rejected by the lawyer community in a meeting of the heads of various state bar councils. The suggestion was rejected with the Chairman stating, “It is not possible for advocates to attend court for all 365 days. It is neither practical nor feasible for an advocate to work throughout the year without rest.” The committee started getting critical of the CJI, who has a very short tenure of five months. The BCI instead suggested extension of the working days and hours of the courts to maybe 210 days instead of 365 and stated that this will also be enough to reduce the backlog of cases. Live Law had reported that the legal fraternity in Mumbai and Kerala had opposed the idea since its inception. However, with this verdict by the state bar councils, the implementation seems far from execution.
According to the report, in a letter to CJI Lodha, Pravin H. Parekh, the president of the SCBA, said: “Primarily, the view of most of the members of the Supreme Court Bar Association whom I had the occasion of speaking to… is that the members of the bar cannot possibly work for 365 days as no human being can or should work 365 days. The members of the bar are already working very hard under the existing system.” Adding that, “the new scheme may perhaps result in increase in the arrears because on Saturdays, Sundays and other holidays, the stakeholders in administration of justice may not take the judicial work as seriously as they do it on working days,”
Justice Lodha had put forward the proposal keeping in mind the 60,000 cases pending in the Supreme Court and 42-lakh cases pending in the High Courts of the country. The increase in the number of days could’ve increased the efficiency of the judicial system by 26%. However, the discourse now seems to have reached a dead end, with no one keen on accepting Lodha’s viewpoint.