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Judges work even during holidays

Rajesh Choudhary
It was the marriage of the son of Senior Advocate ML Lahouti. He went to invite the then Chief Justice RC Lahouti to attend the wedding. Then Chief Justice Lahouti told ML Lahouti that we will definitely come to the party, but the condition is that the wedding party should be at such a place, which is 10 minutes away from my official residence. Justice Lahouti said that every minute of his as a justice is judicial time and that time cannot be wasted. Then ML Lahouti changed the venue and kept the party at Ashoka Hotel and then the Chief Justice came there.

how many holidays
It is a common misconception that courts have a lot of holidays. But in reality a holiday only means that the judge does not sit for hearing in the court on that day. Actually, the Indian Judiciary and Justice system is never completely on leave. But is there really more court holidays in India? let’s watch:

  • The Supreme Court in India is open 190 days out of 365 days a year.
    There are about 210 working days in the High Court here.
  • Talking about the Supreme Court of America, there is only five-six days of hearing in a month, that is, about 60 to 70 days in a year.
  • Whereas in Australia, there are two weeks of hearing in a month.

Advocate ML Lahouti of the Supreme Court says that if we talk about the judges of the Supreme Court and High Court in India, then they are busy even during the hearing in the court and the time before and after the hearing is also used. When the case is heard, before that they read the case file according to the case list till late night. Since every case is different and the facts of the case are different in their thick file, the judges come to read them in advance to understand them.

Keep in mind, when new cases are before the court on Monday, then 50 to 60 cases are in the list before each bench. When the hearing takes place, orders have to be made in many cases during that time. These orders are written by the judge in his chamber in the evening and this work continues till the night. Then those orders are uploaded late at night. If it is assumed that even in 40 out of 60 cases the interim order was passed in a routine manner, then that order has to be dictated by the judge sitting in the chamber in the evening and then reading every page before signing its copy so that no one Don’t get wrong order. The same is the case with the judges of the lower court. There are more than 100 case lists in a day.

Retired Justice RS Sodhi of Delhi High Court explains that his work can be seen like a handpump, in which the handpump is many times below what you see. So is the work of justice. The hearing time is from 10 am to 1 pm and again from 2 pm to 4 pm, but after that the judges have to write orders on the basis of noting the arguments related to the case daily. Four-five hours are spent in this work and then after sleeping at night, the judge wakes up early in the morning because all the files have to be read to prepare for the next day.

Justices of the High Court and the Supreme Court, during the long holidays of Holi, Diwali and summer, get the judgments written in all the cases sitting in the chamber or home office. Before writing all those judgments, he has to go through the entire case file and all the arguments and read all the old judgments related to the case. In cases where the judgment is reserved, he reads the arguments and facts given in the cases after the court holidays or goes through those files on Saturday and Sunday holidays. Since every decision has far-reaching implications, it is preceded by contemplation and after it has been written down, the justices revisit each line with a sharp eye so that there is no technical, human or legal error.

administrative responsibilities
The judges of the High Court and Supreme Court also have all the administrative work. For example, from transfer-posting of judges to supervision, training and disciplinary work. The question is, in view of this burden of responsibilities, how many judges are needed in the country and how many judges are actually there:

  • The Law Commission had recommended in 1987 that by the year 2000, there should be 107 judges for every one million population.
  • In the US, this benchmark was achieved in 1981.
  • In India, the Malimath Committee had recommended about increasing the number of judges. It was also suggested that the vacancies of the sanctioned posts should be filled within 21 days.
  • Many of the sanctioned posts of judges are lying vacant. In 2002, the Supreme Court had directed that the number of judges per 10 lakh should be increased from 13 to 50. But in 2018 there were only 18 judges per 10 lakh.

Overall, there is a thinking that the holiday is more in the court and the judge gets a lot of rest, but this thinking is not correct. The truth is to the contrary. Justice Sodhi says that he was a High Court Justice for eight and a half years and during this time he had no social life, far from leave.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are those of the author.

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