More than 90% of Calcutta High Court’s Bar Association members reportedly took their “extended summer vacation” on Tuesday in view of the “sweltering heat”. The Judges, however, kept their doors open for litigants and lawyers willing to work, taking up all the cases listed in the 20 courts, and passing orders in three.
Earlier, in a letter addressed to the Acting Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court, Mr. Suranjan Dasgupta, the Secretary of the High Court Bar Association had demanded an extension of their summer vacations by a week, claiming that the heat is making it difficult for them to discharge their functions.
“The General Body of the Association considering what has been stated above unanimously decided ‘that due to the sweltering heat the Advocates would not participate in any judicial proceeding from 06/06/2017 to 12/06/2017, during which period the Bar Association will also remain closed and to this effect the Hon’ble Chief Justice and His companion Justices may be requested not to pass any adverse order or orders subject to the discretion of Your Lordships, not to dismiss any matter, not to take up any matter ex parte and not to delist any listed matter in absence of the Ld. Advocates appearing for the respective parties without taking amiss of the request made above,” the letter had stated. This decision, it had said, would be reviewed by the Association on June 12.
In view of the resolution, most lawyers have been skipping work. The ones who appeared though were lauded by Justice Dipankar Datta, who heard the crucial East-West Metro case. He expressed his “surprise” at “so many lawyers appearing in court braving the sweltering heat”.
Subsequently, Justice Datta told Senior Advocates Bikash Bhattacharya and Jayanta Mitra (the former State Advocate General): “Delhi, perhaps, feels that we do not work at all. This could be a reason why the pending vacancies of HC judges are not being filled up. This adds to the tremendous pressure on the sitting judges.”
Acting Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre, however, suggested that proceedings be conducted in morning Courts to beat the heat. “Not only does Rajasthan high court have morning courts but, even in Bengal, several district courts have a morning work schedule,” she was quoted as saying.
According to figures available on the Calcutta High Court website, as on January, 2017, the High Court had a pendency of 2.19 lakh cases (both appellate and original side). In January, while 5,312 cases were disposed of, another 5,312 cases were added. It was this huge pendency of cases that had prompted the Acting Chief Justice to hold special sittings of the Court on five days during the summer break to hear pre-2000 cases.
The Bar Association had, however opposed the special sittings too, and passed a resolution against it. The Association had, instead, sought filling up of vacancies in the Court, which is currently functioning at less than 50% of its sanctioned strength.
Read the Resolution here.