Judicial Vacations Are Necessary!
Everyone has something to say about judicial holidays and vacations. Most do not know how courts work, but have an opinion. At one time, I, too, had unsound impressions. Some others may have never been inside a court. Many ask why courts should have vacations when the police stations work 365 days a year. The simple answer to that would be that crooks do not take a vacation.
 
School and Court; Similarities
The best comparison, for understanding the anti-court-vacation view, is to compare courts with schools. Suppose, for an instant, that schools gave up their annual holidays. One convenient month, a teacher would take leave, another the principal. Next on vacation would be a student, or many of them. It would then be the turn of the office clerks, followed by the peons, the chowkidars, the school bus drivers, or the cleaning staff. Chaos would reign. The solution? To our all-knowing gentry, it would be to ban vacations all together! Baby-and-bathwater, out. One worthy actually did suggest something similar!
 
That courts take vacations is only partly true. Those that deal only in civil litigation, as opposed to crime matters, do take specified time off. Then, again, there are many types of civil courts, known by names as varied as tribunals, law boards and authorities that work round the year; supposedly. And therein lies the rub. And another truth.
 
Coordinated Working
No court can function without the minimum set of personnel. The judge and the two (or more) advocates form the visible triumvirate. Next is the court staff, the court clerk, the stenographer, the liveried attendant, the registrar. Take one out for a few days and the structure collapses; just like the example of the school. The stool needs all its legs. The tapestry needs to be complete and those courts functioning throughout the year face this disturbing uncertainty, ending in more time being lost. Better that all the actors take time off together. Co-functioning is of the essence. One cannot have a tug-of-war with only one team.
 
One may argue that a replacement should be brought in. That is a possibility; but not a solution. The sick and needy would understand this conundrum better; being told that the doctor, or surgeon, on whom they are depending, is holidaying abroad. It is not that matters do not get transferred from one judge to another, they do; but that is planned in permanence, not month-to-month as stop-gap shuttle-cocking. 
 
Beside the in-court staff, there is the office battalion to carry out the ancillary functions. They do rotate their vacations, but that, too, within the main vacation itself. This leaves skeleton staff, on stand-by, at all times.
 
Never Ever Locked Up
Even then, no court, even the civil ones, is totally shut. A couple of judges man a court room or two for urgent matters. Life does go on, unlike schools or colleges which wear a deserted look. Our omniscient worthies never seem to mention THAT truth. Maybe, like everything else, they are armchair visionaries.  
 
Courts that deal in crime matters must, and do, remain on a year-round vigil, barring public holidays. Arrested persons must be produced to seek bail within 24 hours of detention; the magistrate then decides their fate. True, under-trials languish for years after that; but the fault lies elsewhere, not with the judiciary. If stories are to be believed, corrupt cops decide the visits, from jail or lock-up, to the courts, based on remuneration offered. The poor here suffer the most.
 
It may solve a major problem, both in terms of justice and time spent, if some courts could function from the jail premises itself. Transportation of prisoners, to and from the courts, is a big hassle. Want of vehicles, lack of adequate personnel, the health of the under-trials, all add to a logistical nightmare. If the mountain does not come to Mohammed, Mohammed can go to the mountain.
 
Love a Lawyer
Spare a thought for the lawyers, too. Litigants and the public see no more than a well-dressed, or over-dressed, person mouth a few sentences, in emphatic fashion, in the few minutes that it takes to argue. But prior to that volubility lie hours of poring over papers, books, magazines, records, judgements, documents, proceedings, evidence, junk, wheat-and-chaff. Usually, a small army is at work behind the scenes, studying cases and briefs. Unfortunately, ‘briefs’ is a misnomer. They are anything but short. However, the point here is that lawyers too need rest.
 
It is better, by far, that all of them go on vacation at the same time. Stand-ins may create more problems. No litigant would, or should, want to change horses in mid-stream. Tell them that a replacement would fill in for a day or two and see the panic on their faces. 
 
Adjournments are a fact of life. It is true that, at times, that facility is misused, but a firm stand by the opponent’s side can quell the mischief. It has been done, even in the Supreme Court, with astounding results. All it needs is the will. Having said that, the search for the truth, that all-important primary function of every court, often does require the ‘tariq’ routine. Public clamour has brought in some changes, but, to this author’s perception, the cure seems worse than the disease, at least in the subordinate courts, the ones that are still not wired to the Internet.
 
 
Add Judges
Another idea that agitates the common man is the call for more judges. If wishes were horses, law would fly. Unfortunately, it is easier said than done. How many of the hollering masses would be satisfied with simply more doctors, even those not up to the mark? Quality must be placed higher than quantity, or else justice will go for a toss. Judgements would be overturned, matters remanded, ping-pong litigation would be the order of the day; one court to the next and back again. 
 
Infrastructure is another want in the ‘extra judges’ demands. Court buildings, within easy reach of the litigating public, come first. New courts cannot sprout up in the far-away suburbs or towns. They need be easily reachable. 
 
A very wise judge recently expressed his mind about the shifting of the Bombay High Court to the suburbs; he said that accessibility must be taken into account. The location presently thought of, though in the city, can be reached from two railway stations, both quite distant, both exiting on chaotic slums and the fiefdom of unscrupulous rickshaw-drivers. The rich may start litigation, arrive and depart in cars, but the poor are left to defend themselves and to the tender mercies of the mercenaries. Trudging to unreachable courts is not a solution for the aam aadmi.
 
Infrastructure also calls for spaces to accommodate the public, rest-rooms, canteens, security, maintenance, lawyers’ rooms and libraries, storage spaces, support staff offices and equipment, judges’ chambers, parking lots. It’s a big ask. Not that it should not be done, or that it cannot be done. Just that it’s not as easy as saying 1, 2, 3.
 
The thought of vacations has raised many a hackle, and over-burdened courts are bearing the brunt of popular ire. Fanned by politicians looking for sympathetic support, the problems may need solutions found outside the box. We always believe that one such roadblock is frivolous litigation and malicious prosecution, a root cause. Judges are coming down rather heavily on such ‘playground’ mentality. 
 
Raising court filing fees to deter litigation, is definitely not the answer. The poor need the courts more than the wealthy. The former have more to lose.
 
Returning to the question of vacations, the system may be tweaked, but abandonment will not work. It is good to recall that even God rested on the seventh day. And no one has ever grudged Him that. 
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    COMMENTS

    Bapoo Malcolm

    3 years ago

    Am repeating the question that I asked weeks back. "Shall reply to all the mail at one time. It will be the last. Please also let me know how many of the writers have had court experiences and won or lost cases. It will help me reply.". Have not heard from any of you. Please respond as that will help me address my views to a targetted audience. Thanks.

    Abhishek Singh

    3 years ago

    "Quality must be placed higher than quantity, or else justice will go for a toss"
    The quality is not up to the mark now and it won't be after we have more number of judges but at least the wait time will be lesser and time is one big factor in delivery of justice. A small case going on for years will not deliver justice no matter who wins.

    REPLY

    Pradeep Kumar M Sreedharan

    In Reply to Abhishek Singh 3 years ago

    It is quality of the whole Justice SYSTEM , that is under question.
    IT IS JURASSIC AND EVEN WORSE ALIEN.
    It is highly unsymmetrical

    And what not

    Bapoo Malcolm

    3 years ago

    Shall reply to all the mail at one time. It will be the last. Please also let me know how many of the writers have had court experiences and won or lost cases. It will help me reply.

    REPLY

    Pradeep Kumar M Sreedharan

    In Reply to Bapoo Malcolm 3 years ago

    I have seen the dark side of the court, myself.
    (it is upon the Insider to expose the darks identity, than from outside)
    As I walked along dark alleys, I saw many other cases too.
    Then in niece's case, which she won hands down (after promising a shylocks shave to her advocate) she had to walk away with pittance after the case went to the High Court and mediation, because her life had come to a dead stand still. So courts have become the tools of serving injustice too.

    A few cases of justice, highly publicised adds to the injury.

    I am talking purely from personal litigation.

    By the way, pray, tell me, are you going to dwell on the sour grapes theory.
    In which case please spare me from that.

    In any litigation, only the lawyers win. And they always win.
    After all, still the platform for redressal is the Bar council. Even a school child knows that a thief cannot judge on a robbery case.


    If all my words are naught, tell me how many advocates pay income tax?

    Gupta

    3 years ago

    With due respects to the legal society (lest I be accused of "contempt of court", a joke by itself in a democratic country), I would like to ask the writer how many countries in the world practice the concept of vacation? Fair to assume that courts round the world should face the same challenges. A lawyer can argue any case both ways very convincingly, so I believe the proof of the pudding lies un data. If over 50% of countries have this practice, maybe it makes sense. But not being a lawyer and thankfully not having visited court as you say about many of us, our understanding as a layman is that the courts started vacations in British era because they couldnt tolerate Indian summer as there were no ACs back then. And we have slavishly chosen to remain British by the culture of "contempt of court", "my lord", etc etc.

    Pradeep Kumar M Sreedharan

    3 years ago

    Every single working day the courts engage in a funny activity that is akin to school attendance call.
    Advocates earn a fat amount for saying yes sir, no sir or some other equally funny things
    Only after this, the game starts.

    Anyone who knows about Aravind eye Hospital understands how stupid the courts are, or
    How to system, expands its rituals, just to extract, juice out of the hapless public and shed crocodile tears in public functions.
    God, these guys make me sick.

    Chinmaya Amte

    3 years ago

    I think we can increase number of judges easily.
    100 % written exam {multiple levels} (like IAS) with "maths & reasoning skills" being tested followed by 2 year training, internships (like UPSC IAS). Interviews in selection process should be banned. (Interview gives scope for nepotism & corruption)
    What are your views on Well Designed JURY System..?? (it ensures fast trail, creating fear in minds of criminals). Difficult to manipulate JURY especially for career criminals as different case have different jury. Jury is not worried about promotions and will hardly be involved in bribe.
    Also What are your views on Well Drafted "Right to Recall Judge" Law. It will have a good control over authorities as they know public has power if they are dishonest or inefficient.
    Improving INFRASTRUCTURE is cake walk only if present political, administrative and judicial authorities are willing to do so ? Judiciary is backbone for any country. Having Efficient & Honest Judiciary is absolutely necessary!!

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