Summer break over: SC gears up for action-packed week of judgments and hearings | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Summer break over: SC gears up for action-packed week of judgments and hearings

ByAbraham Thomas
Jul 08, 2024 09:20 AM IST

On Monday, 19 judgments will be pronounced by various benches of the top court, which had reserved orders before the court closed for vacations on May 17

The Supreme Court will reopen today to an exciting week after its summer vacation, as crucial verdicts are expected on significant cases. Among these are Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s plea challenging his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate in the Delhi excise policy case, the West Bengal government’s lawsuit questioning the Centre over alleged misuse of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), and the fate of yoga guru Baba Ramdev in a contempt case against him and Patanjali Ayurved over misleading advertisements.

The Supreme Court of India. (PTI File Photo)
The Supreme Court of India. (PTI File Photo)

On Monday, 19 judgments will be pronounced by various benches of the top court, which had reserved orders before the court closed for vacations on May 17. More judgments are expected in the coming days as several constitution benches of the top court, sitting in combinations of 5, 7, and 9 judges, had concluded hearings earlier this year on significant issues impacting the political, social, and economic landscape of the country.

During the 50-day vacation, which serves as an opportunity for judges to introspect, research, and write judgments, many crucial decisions were prepared. These include judgments on constitution bench cases involving the validity of citizenship rights for illegal migrants from Bangladesh, the minority status of Aligarh Muslim University, sub-classification of scheduled castes and tribes for reservation, Centre-state disputes over taxing mineral rights and regulating industrial alcohol, and the state’s power to take over private property under Article 39(b) of the Constitution of India.

There are 899 cases listed before the top court on Monday, with a key hearing on the NEET-UG examination listed before a bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, along with justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra. The Centre and the National Testing Agency (NTA) have been asked to explain allegations of paper leaks, malpractices, and the award of grace marks, with demands for the cancellation of NEET results and a stay on counselling.

Another crucial hearing involves the Nithari killings that took place between 2005 and 2007 in Uttar Pradesh. The CBI has questioned the Allahabad high court’s verdict acquitting Surender Koli and Moninder Singh Pandher of rape and murder charges. This case will be taken up by a bench of justices BR Gavai and KV Viswanathan.

Significant verdicts expected this week include the petition filed by Arvind Kejriwal questioning his arrest by the ED in the Delhi liquor policy case and the West Bengal government’s suit against the Centre for alleged misuse of the CBI. Additionally, the top court will decide on a contempt petition against Baba Ramdev and Patanjali Ayurved’s Balkrishna for misleading advertisements.

The Supreme Court is also scheduled to hear two contempt petitions against the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) for the felling of nearly 1,100 trees in Delhi ridge area without prior court permission. The court will also review petitions against its decision refusing to allow same-sex marriages.

As the court resumes regular operations, it is worth noting the significant work done during the summer break. The colonial legacy of long summer vacations continues, but for the first time, a record 20 benches were set up during the nearly two-month break this year, exhausting the list of cases with the consent of counsel for parties.

During the summer vacations of 2023 and 2024, 2,261 and 4,160 cases, respectively, were listed before the vacation benches, showing a near three-fold increase in case disposal compared to data from 2017.

In the 2023 summer break, the SC disposed of 751 cases, which increased to 1,170 in 2024. The vacation benches also issued notices in 1,157 matters during the summer break this year, reflecting the Supreme Court’s continuous effort to address pending cases and deliver timely justice.

Chief Justice of India Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud has consistently highlighted the rigorous work schedule of SC judges, who handle between 40 and 60 cases daily from 10.30am to 4pm, with additional work required to prepare for the next day’s hearings.

At an event in Prayagraj in February, the CJI had addressed the criticism surrounding the summer break saying people don’t understand that judges work all seven days of the week, including weekends that are used for research and writing judgments, legal aid camps and administrative work.

During his address at Cambridge University last month, justice Chandrachud explained how it was important for Supreme Court judges to take time and reflect on larger constitutional issues posed to them.

On May 1, justice BR Gavai had said: “People who criticise us for having long vacations do not know that we do not have a holiday on Saturdays and Sundays. These days are filled with conferences and other assignments... We also get the time to write long judgments during vacations.”

Presiding over a vacation bench, justice Dipankar Datta too addressed criticism about the top court’s schedule and work hours, turning the spotlight back on the Centre, highlighting that those in governance who question the judiciary’s efficiency and vacations should first ensure that the Union government’s appeals are filed in a timely manner.

“It is unfortunate that despite judges putting in so much, it is said that we work for a few hours and have long vacations. There was a recent article about us... What are we doing here, burning the midnight oil even during vacations,” justices Datta said on May 22.

The judge was apparently referencing a recent article by Sanjeev Sanyal, a member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s economic advisory council. Sanyal had called for judicial reforms, arguing that judges work fewer hours and enjoy long vacations.

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