Apex court judge defends vacation schedule for courts | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Apex court judge defends vacation schedule for courts

ByAbraham Thomas
May 02, 2024 06:36 AM IST

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for West Bengal agreed: “Judgeship is the toughest job in the country”

Amid the debate whether judges of the top court should enjoy long vacations, Supreme Court judge BR Gavai on Wednesday said that those who criticise the judiciary on this count are unaware that judges do not even get weekends off.

People who criticise us (for having long vacations) do not know that we do not have a holiday on Saturdays and Sundays, said justice BR Gavai (HT)
People who criticise us (for having long vacations) do not know that we do not have a holiday on Saturdays and Sundays, said justice BR Gavai (HT)

His comment came while hearing a suit filed by West Bengal government against the Centre opposing the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) power to probe cases in the state without its consent. Solicitor general Tushar Mehta made a request on behalf of the Centre to postpone the hearing for Thursday as his presence was required before a constitution bench.

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The bench of justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta told him to see to it that the matter is heard before vacations so that they get time to write the judgment during the upcoming summer recess from May 20 to July 7.

Mehta said: “Judges deserve a vacation as you hear 50-60 matters daily. I would want that your Lords enjoy the vacation and not write judgments.”

Justice Gavai remarked, “People who criticise us (for having long vacations) do not know that we do not have a holiday on Saturdays and Sundays. On these days, there are conferences and other assignments.”

Mehta said, “Those who criticise that judges take long vacations do not know how Supreme Court judges function.”

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for West Bengal agreed: “Judgeship is the toughest job in the country.”

The court returned the compliment by commenting on how busy lawyers have become these days. “Even lawyers work seven days a week now. Earlier during our days as lawyers, we used to look forward to Friday,” the bench said, while posting the West Bengal matter for hearing on Thursday.

The issue whether judges should have a long vacation has been a matter of debate. A Parliamentary panel in August last year recommended doing away with long Court vacations. The panel, headed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Sushil Kumar Modi said, “A common man holds a perception that despite having such huge pendency of cases their judges go on long vacations. Further during the vacations, the litigants have to suffer a lot despite having a handful of vacation courts/benches.”

Although the panel realised that vacations are not the only factor for pendency, it felt that vacations in the judiciary are a ‘colonial legacy’ that causes inconvenience to litigants.

At an event in January this year marking the 75 years of the Supreme Court, Chief justice of India (CJI) Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud took this criticism head on and said, “Let us begin the conversation on long vacations and whether alternatives such as flexitime for lawyers and judges is possible. Our ability to remain relevant as an institution requires us to recognise challenges and begin difficult conversations.”

During the long summer recess, vacation benches sit to hear urgent matters and dispose old, pending matters. Often, these cases are not heard as lawyers are not available or they seek an adjournment.

Besides the summer vacation, the top court takes a winter break of about 11 days and remains closed for a one-week duration for Holi, Diwali and Dusshera, besides remaining shut on public holidays.

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