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Thursday, February 9, 2023

No SC bench will be available from Dec 17 to Jan 1 winter vacations: CJI Chandrachud

Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud said on Friday that there will be no Supreme Court bench available from December 17 to January 1 during the coming winter vacation.

The CJI’s announcement in the apex court assumes significance in the wake of Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju’s statement in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, in which he said there is a feeling among people that long judicial holidays are not very convenient for justice seekers.

“There will be no benches available from tomorrow till January 1,” Justice Chandrachud informed the lawyers present in the courtroom at the outset.

Friday is the Supreme Court’s last business day before the two-week winter break. The Supreme Court will reopen on January 2.

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The question of judicial vacations has been raised earlier, but judges, including former CJI N V Raman, said there is a misconception that judges stay in maximum comfort and enjoy vacations.

Delivering the inaugural Justice SB Sinha Memorial Lecture on ‘Life of a Judge’ in Ranchi in July, the then CJI Ramana had said that judges spend sleepless nights reviewing their decisions.

“There is a misconception in people’s minds that judges stay in maximum comfort, work only from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and enjoy holidays. Such a story is false… when false stories are created about the supposed easy life of judges it is difficult swallow it,” he said.

Justice Ramana said the responsibility of judging is extremely onerous because of the human impact of the judgments.

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“We continue to work even during weekends and court holidays to conduct research and produce judgments. In the process, we miss out on many joys of our lives,” he said.

Similarly, former Delhi High Court judge Justice Jayant Nath had said in November last year that the public perception of courts going on vacation like schools was not correct and that a suitable machinery needed to be put in place to translate their hard work into “change image”.

“It is a well-known fact that the courts are overloaded with long pending cases. Unfortunately, the common man’s perception is that the court is to blame for the delays in processing cases. There is a lot of talk about the courts going on holidays, comparing them to school holidays.” I can say with full conviction that this public image is not correct,” Justice Nath said in his farewell speech organized by the high court on November 9 last year.

Rijiju informed Parliament on Thursday that as of December 9, against the 1,108 sanctioned judges, 777 were working in the 25 High Courts, leaving 331 (30 percent) vacant.

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“Against 331 vacancies at present, 147 petitions received from various High Courts were in various stages of processing between the government and the Supreme Court collegium,” he said in reply to a written question in the Rajya Sabha.

Further recommendations of the High Court Collegiums regarding the 184 vacant posts are yet to be received, the Minister pointed out.

Rijiju said that in 2022, by December 9, the government had appointed a “record number” of 165 judges to various high courts, the “highest in a calendar year so far”.

Recently, the collegium system has become a major flashpoint between the Supreme Court and the central government, with the mechanism of judges appointing judges attracting criticism from various quarters.

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Rijiju launched a fresh attack on November 25, saying the collegium system was “alien” to the constitution.

On the judiciary, a bench of the apex court headed by Justice S K Kaul was highly critical of the delay by the Center in clearing the names recommended by the collegium for the appointment of constitutional court judges, saying that the collegiate system is the law of the land. and the comments against it are not “well biased”.

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