Justice On Leave
By Ravi Nitesh
17 March, 2013
Two years ago, during his views on E-governance, Andhra Pradesh High Court Justice VV Rao told, Indian judiciary would take 320 years to clear the backlog of 31.28 million cases pending in various courts including High courts in the country.
With the upcoming vacation of holi, many faces have smile, smile to meet friends and families and to relax but there are some faces who are not so happy. They are not happy because this means a delay in justice. Justice is our right and it is meant for everyone , without any discrimination (and delay). Justice delayed is justice denied but India is all set to make delay in providing justice.
Yes, we are talking about the Indian judiciary. One of the pillars of our democracy and about which few questions can be raised but here is one thing that certainly questions the judiciary and these are the pending cases in courts. Several suggestions and alternatives have been implemented, some of them have also proved to be quite useful but still when we see the working hours or effective man hours on quantitative basis, we find that there is something that need to be addressed.
When you know the list of holidays in our courts and the purpose of it, probably you cannot justify the same. Our judicial system is very old and many of its working structure and system that were made during British reign still continue. British were quite fond of leisure and thus they found it useful to sanction leaves for the ‘majesty' and ‘lords'. And this has been continued, like several other traditions, in the post-independent India.
While all the public and private sector employees are sanctioned leaves as per the public holiday list and a few allocated casual, sick and earned leaves, in the case of judiciary, in addition to these a judge is entitled to a vacation of more than a month every year. This is the duration when the courts are ‘closed'. And even for the category of public holidays, they enjoy extra holidays.
For example, the Apex court will be closed from 24 March to 31 March during holi vacation, from 9 to 15 October during Dussehra vacation, from 2 to 8 Nov during Diwali vacation and for 18 December to 1 Jan during Christmas and New Year.
Apart from these long public holidays, the honorable apex court will not work during 13 May to 30 June 2013. These holidays are given to them for rest and as a time to ‘study', as some advocates claim.
This is when we all know the situation of the legal system in our country, the massive backlog of cases and the much required concept of a ‘speedy justice'. We know the situation in the Indian courts where even a small and simple case will take years. We know that this delay can be dangerous to the victim or the victim's party.
In our country which is too diversified on the basis of religion, region, caste etc and which is too lagged on the basis of education, literacy, economic equality etc, conflicts are numerous and too serious to be left pending for ages. So can we justify the closing of courts and say that during this shutdown, conflicts will also be on leave? Absolutely not, (speedy) justice is the need of a common person of this country, it is like supply of water that is necessary for life and must not stop.
Leaves are our right but we must think that facilities must not be over enjoyed. Even 230 th Law commission report (report on reforms in the judiciary) emphasized to keep check on vacations in higher judiciary by atleast 10-15 days. At present more than 60,000 cases are pending in Apex court, more than 42 lakhs in high courts and more than 2.7 crores in lower courts across the country.
Indian judiciary must take steps to rejuvenate itself through amendment in colonial tradition of summer vacation for judges, and must realize the importance of being available all the time. In fact, in view of the pending cases in courts, government and judiciary must take steps to look all such neglected points. These points may attack the luxury of a few, but it will certainly give back the smiles to millions awaiting justice.
Ravi Nitesh is founder of Mission Bharatiyam. New Delhi (INDIA) www.twitter.com/ravinitesh | www.ravinitesh.blogspot.com
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