Petition In Bombay HC Against Courts Taking Too Many Holidays Will Be Heard After Diwali Break
A public interest litigation in the Bombay High Court against the practice of courts taking long vacations will come up for hearing after the Diwali holidays.
The PIL was filed by Sabina Lakdawala against the vacations taken by the high court, claiming it violated the fundamental rights of litigants whose rights to seek justice will be affected.
What the petitioner said
Lakdawala in her petition said the long court vacations are a relic of the colonial era and have contributed to a collapse of the judicial delivery system.
The plea has sought for a declaration that closing courts for more than 70 days for any kind of vacation is a violation of fundamental rights of litigants because it leads to courts becoming unable to hear cases for lack of time.
“Such practice of long vacations is liable to be brought to an end,” the plea said.
The petition sought for making the high court fully functional during the upcoming Diwali vacation by appointing an adequate number of judges to hear and adjudicate all cases and directions to the registry to receive all petitions without insisting on permission from the vacation bench.
“Requisite break for lawyers and judges can be provided without the entire institution being shut down,” Lakdawala said.
She also said her contention was not that vacation be denied to judges and lawyers and their workload be increased.
It was only that judges could be encouraged to take leave at different times of the year, the petitioner said.
We will hear after Diwali break
The plea was mentioned before a division bench of Justices SV Gangapurwala and RN Laddha seeking urgent hearing on Thursday.
The bench asked the lawyer why the petition was filed now when the high court calendar for 2022 was made available in November last year itself.
The high court said it would hear the plea on November 15.
Bombay HC’s Diwali vacation
Bombay High Court’s Diwali vacation is from October 22 and it would reopen on November 9.
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The high court takes three breaks every year – summer vacation (one month), Diwali vacation (two weeks) and Christmas break (one week). During the holidays, special vacation benches are available for urgent judicial work.
Not against judges taking vacation
Lakdawala’s lawyer Mathews Nedumpara said the petitioner was not against judges taking holidays but members of the judiciary should not take leave at the same time so that the courts remain functional throughout the year.
Debate over vacation by courts
Vacation for courts has been a long-debated topic in India and many have pointed out that it was Colonial-era practice when the judges were British and called it to be done away with, citing the volume of pending cases in the country.
In 2017 a PIL was filed in the Supreme Court demanding that court vacations, be cut short to reduce the number of pending cases.
The SC has 193 working days annually, high courts 210 days and trial courts 245 days a year. Even the apex court rules specify that there has to be a minimum of 225 working days, the PIL had said.
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