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CJI for 365-day court calendar

New Delhi, June 5: If the new Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha has his way, courts will remain open on every day of the year.

Amid growing criticism that courts in India, particularly the Supreme Court and high courts, have long summer holidays, The Telegraph has learnt that Justice Lodha has written to chief justices of all the high courts for their views on a 365-day work calendar.

Every year, the Supreme Court goes on vacation for 45 days in summer and again for a fortnight during Christmas. This means the country’s highest court is on vacation for two months in a year, leading to a huge backlog of cases. It’s the same with the high courts.

Although the courts have vacation judges, they deal only with urgent issues and not regular matters.

The CJI has suggested that judges can take leave according to their convenience, rather than courts closing for holidays. He recalled the observation of Justice Warren Berger, former Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, that “people with legal problems, like people with pain, want relief and they want it as quickly and as expeditiously as possible”.

Justice Lodha said a 365-day work calendar should not be construed as curtailing holidays of judges. In his letter to the high court chief justices, Justice Lodha said: “They (judges) should be permitted as many days of holidays and vacations as they are presently entitled, but it should be whenever they choose rather than on fixed days and at fixed periods in the year.

“In other words, the courts should function all year round, giving individual judges the choice of holidays and vacations.

“For working of this idea, I had suggested that by the end of September, each judge should indicate holidays and vacations he or she wants to avail of in the succeeding year. The registry will then finalise the sittings having regard to the options given by the respective judges,” the CJI said.

He also said the chairman of the Bar Council of India had been requested to discuss the proposal with state bar associations.