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365 Working Days for the Judiciary – Debate Frenzies

In the beginning of this year, soon after assuming the highly regarded post of the Chief Justice of India, Justice R.M. Lodha stunned the country with his revolutionary vision of a speedy and free justice delivery system, which works “365 days a year”. While addressing the legal fraternity in Jodhpur at the foundation-stone laying ceremony of a Bar Council of Rajasthan building, he drew parallels between the justice delivery system and other requisite services like the medical & health facilities. He added that, “Law and justice field has its dignity and it must be maintained in order to keep the trust of the people in judicial system”.

The Courts today are plagued with huge number of pending cases. In such a situation, this proposal seems like the ultimate refuge. However, oppositions have started budding. The legal fraternity in Mumbai reportedly opposed the proposal.  Bombay High Court Advocate Anand Jodhale was quoted as saying, ‘Already the courts are open 365 days of the year. Even if there is vacation in the courts, the vacation bench is always there to hear matters. There is no full closure of courts anywhere in the country. Also, we have night courts for hearing matters which are taken up after the evening hours. Moreover, the Metropolitan Magistrates work 24 hours as they hear emergency cases if the matter is brought to his house on a holiday or during vacations. So I think the present mechanism is sufficient to run the judiciary.’

The debate has frenzied, with the Bar Council of India proposing the same 365 day work mechanism and sounding its state entities on the issue. The proposal has already been rejected by the Kerala High Court Advocates Association at its extraordinary meeting on May 28. Its stand will be clear with the meeting planned to be conducted today.

Senior advocates, G Sreekumar, V P Seemanthini, M P Ashok Kumarm and A Abdul Hassan along with high court practicing advocates, S U Nasar, T K Koshy, Sunny Mathew and Lekha Suresh among others, reportedly supported the existing mechanism. Association President S.P. Chaly has been assigned the task to represent the non-consenting members in Delhi.

Bar Council of Kerala share like views on the matter. A Deccan Chronicle report quotes Council chairman, T Abdul Azeez as describing the idea to be absurd. While both the Bar Council chairman and vice chairman will contribute to the June 4 meeting, the council is meeting on June 8 in Kochi to discuss the issue in depth.

Even the legal fraternity in Jodhpur has opposed Rajasthan High Court’s approval of the Supreme Court’s proposal. A meeting organized by the Bar Council of Rajasthan yesterday, reportedly termed the proposal as “impractical and unwarranted”, requesting the High Court to withdraw it by June 30. The proposal had been accepted by the full court of the Rajasthan High Court. The members were distressed over the fact that their opinion wasn’t sought before taking such a huge decision. Work has been suspended on Friday, as a mark of protest against the decision.

This clearly portrays that a better understanding of the proposal is necessary. Justice Lodha had explained TOI, “It is not such a difficult task. There is not going to be any increase in the number of working days or working hours of any of the judges. At the beginning of the year, the judges would be required to tell the desk managing court sittings when they would like to avail vacations and holidays. Accordingly, a calendar would be prepared for arranging the benches in the Supreme Court and high courts to ensure that judiciary functions throughout the year.”

At present, the Supreme Court has 193 working days, HCs 210 days and trial courts 245 days a year. As far as productivity goes, the proposal could actually prove helpful to clear the log jam of cases. If 15 benches hear cases for 193 days a year, it comes to 2,895 benches a year. But if 10 benches sit for 365 days a year, it would result in working of 3,650 benches, leading to an increase of 26%. The Chief Justice had also seen this as an opportunity for young advocates to test and sharpen their skills. Hence, there needs to be a dialogue between the accepting and the non-consenting parties in order to address all the concerns and consider this haven to clear the backlog of cases plaguing the judiciary for years now.

Legal News India, Supreme Court News, Indian Legal News, Indian Judiciary, Working Days of Judiciary. 

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  • rajan says:

    In hours of working are not increased and holidays not reduced, the 365 day working would not make any noticeable difference. The trick is to make everything [ deciding bails, appeals, revisions and all stages – time bound ]. I still don’t realize exactly what the Senior Counsel argues so that he manages to change the mind of the judge when all the points are already covered in the appeal/ application/petition. Obviously he cannot go beyond the pleadings which even the junior had argued. No adjournments should be granted for flimsy reasons. Application for adjournment in lower courts ought to be Rs 100/- , in Sessions Court Rs 500/- , in High Court Rs 1000/- and in Supreme Court Rs 5000/-. Bear in mind…. a judge as a government employee, apart from government holidays has no. of holidays like sick leave, casual leave etc.. If one Judge suddenly avails leave, the whole board collapses. A time table decided at the starting of the year/ month should strictly be adhered to. Costs to be imposed on government also for adjournments, non availability of witnesses, no lab/forensic report. No of P.P’s to be increased. Not more than 15 cases at a time to each P.P.

  • NTPCCC says:

    instead of enhancing the days of working for quick delivery of judgments, our government must start considering how to bring down the rate of uncontrolled growth of population in the country. all the problems are due to excessive growth of population in India. instead of organising a debate on whether the summer and winter vacations of the court to be curtailed, a nation wide and open debate on most important and burning issue of population explosion in India can better help to check the cause of all problems of our nation.

    I think old system is enough to work on. lawyers and judges are humans and not machines…..if they don’t get some rest in the entire year the efficiency of work and quality of work is definitely to be adversely affected.

  • bangaluru shivashankaran manjunath says:

    In a democracy imparting justice always at all times is the apparent need to be expressive in the context of natural justice, fair play, equality. Opportunity to serve democracy is the apparent opportunity in democracy. To accept that in a democratic set up the process of imparting justice can be given holiday is an antithesis to very democracy itself. The only variable that sustains the spirit of democracy is the experience of being dealt equally by law, at all times any where. Therefore it is not the number of cases pending, not the inconvenience of individuals, it is sustaining democracy and for that time is no barrier. The process of imparting justice should be alive, available at all times and every where. It is time to merge with principles of water, that it finds its own level, but water should be available. Similarly, democracy will finds its own level, but democracy should always be available. The process of imparting justice in the form of judiciary and its infrastructure should never take holiday in democracy and we have the population to lavishly cater to the need of democracy.

  • lawyer says:

    In my humble opinion, efficiency is bound to fall with a 365 days working schedule. Justice delivery system is not pure science. As such, the judges and lawyers work even on days when Courts are official not working. The official non-working days, in fact, help clear a lot of backlog. This applies to Judges as well as lawyers. If these non-working days are excluded, efficiency will reduce though on paper, the system will be functioning round the clock. The proposal requires widespread debate within the bench as well as the bar before arriving at a final decision.

  • Sudesh Sharma says:

    365 not possible. but we can reduced the numbers of holidays.
    like summer vaction 30 day to nil, winter vacation . six days week. and numbers of hrs .