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365-day work? No, Your Honour

New Delhi, June 7: The apex bar association of the country has opposed Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha’s proposal for making the courts functional on all days of the year to reduce the backlog of cases.

The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) has suggested that the Supreme Court collegium 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”.

The association suggested that there should be some action to prevent strikes by lawyers and adjournments, and to reduce the litigation filed by governments and public sector units.

The Chief Justice had recently written a confidential letter to all chief justices of high courts, seeking their views on making the courts work on all 365 days to reduce the pile-up. Over 3 crore cases are estimated to be pending in the country. Justice Lodha had suggested that the judges take leave to meet their requirements instead of having fixed holidays.

But Pravin H. Parekh, the president of the SCBA, said in a letter addressed to the Chief Justice: “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.”

(Segments such as the media that work on most days of the year follow the shift system under which employees take a break in turns.)

“In fact, 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,” the letter added.

Parekh pointed out that the Supreme Court had vacancies for five judges while 252 such posts were unoccupied in high courts across the country.

The situation is no better in the district and subordinate judiciary, which faces more than 3,300 vacancies.

“The solution is exclusively in the hands of hon’ble judges, because all judicial appointments are in the hands of hon’ble judges,” the letter said. “We suggest that two or three months before the vacancy arises, the collegium’s exercise should be completed.”


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