Punjab & Haryana High Court to start work early; Kerala lawyers refuses to follow suit.CJI says increasing working hours possible

Punjab & Haryana High Court to start work early; Kerala lawyers refuses to follow suit.CJI says increasing working hours possible

The Punjab & Haryana High Court recently came up with a circular regarding change in the Court timings with effect from 16th July 2014. As per the revised timings, all subordinate Courts in the State of Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh will now sit from 9.30 a.m to 4.30 p.m and the office timings in the aforementioned Courts would be from 9.30 a.m to 5.00 p.m.

A similar move was contemplated recently by the Kerala High Court Advocates’ Association wherein it had demanded a revamp in the working hours of the Kerala High Court from 8 am to 2 pm as opposed to the current working hours of the Court i.e. from 10.15 am to 4.30 pm. However, due to protests from several advocates who opposed the change in timings, the Association felt it appropriate to reconsider the decision. A resolution in this regard was passed through a secret ballot at the High Court Advocates Association hall and the said decision to change the working hours of the High Court was comprehensively voted down. A whopping number of 326 votes favored the earlier existing timings as merely 157 advocates opted for the time change.

The genesis behind the idea of having longer working hours for Courts may have presented itself when Chief Justice of India RM Lodha proposed the 365-days working Courts’ model to the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) which rejected the proposition. Speaking at a function to bid farewell to Justice Chandermouli Prasad, Justice Lodha said that ‘the proposal to increase court's working hours to reduce pendency of cases had been successfully first tried in Patna High Court when he was heading it and how after getting Bar Associations of Patna High Court into confidence, he had increased working hours of the High Court by half an hour and for subordinate courts by 45 minutes to one hour which led to the disposal of a large number of cases.’

The CJI, who had served in the Patna High Court from May 13 to December 17, 2008, however regretted the practice being scrapped subsequent to his elevation to the Apex Court. Showering effusive praise on Justice Prasad over his co-operation with the idea of making increased working hours successful, Justice Lodha said, “During my stint as Chief Justice of Patna High Court, I had found that there were more than 30,000 bail applications pending before the court. I had then asked my fellow Judge Justice Chandermouli Prasad to talk to the Bar Associations for increasing the working hours of court.”

"I was surprised, when the very next day Justice Prasad came up to me with three letters saying that Bar Associations have agreed to increasing the working hours of court," added Justice Lodha.