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Judges vaccation

My morning walk companion is a civil engineer who has returned home after working in the gulf for over twenty years. During the hour long walk we discuss on many subjects, I must admit that despite holding divergent political values we arrive at consensus on many contentious issues. But this morning he was worked up, really furious on some-thing he read in the news- paper. What made him so edgy was vacation, the judges enjoy every year. He claimed that high court and supreme court judges enjoy nearly 180 days of paid vacation in a year leading to cases piling in higher courts; Whereas the rest of government officers have to slog long hours in their offices with only a fraction of leave days.
Without belittling civil services contribution, when I said the quality and sensitivity of judges work is entirely different, my friend immediately pounced with all cylinders firing in unison claiming the work judges do is not much different from us. I tried explaining that the judge has to listen to evidence from both parties, arguments of lawyers spread over a long period, in the end when arguments for and against the cases are finished they sit down to write judgment. I said this is an unending process requiring countless hours of reading law books, journals and case files several times with immense concentration. This is not possible in office environment hence the files are taken home to prevent disturbance. It is here at home they write judgments themselves or get a steno to take dictation. Once completed the judgment is checked and rechecked before delivering.
The judge while officially may be on leave but remains occupied for long hours, not forgetting the enormous responsibility both moral and bureaucratic, the judges have to scrupulously maintain accountability, fairness strictly according to law. Judgment at times may be momentous changing popular perception, even going against the government but strictly within the confines of the constitution.
It is true that vacation is a legacy from colonial days, India has copied judicial and civil service systems from British, some of them are good while few others need to change. But en mass condemnation of our judges for the vacation is not only unfair but also short sighted, smacks of deliberate misconception brought in by immature politicians supported by media. Naive
The most common criticism of judiciary is that thousands of cases are pending in the courts. It is unwise to even think that piling of cases in higher judiciary is due to Judges Vacation. Variety of other factors, notable amongst them are lawyers requesting for postponement and shortage of judges; with increasing population court cases are also on the rise. Government is the biggest litigant (nearly 60%) when they lose the case in lower judiciary, approach higher judiciary for getting favorable judgments. They remain pending on an average for seven years. The Bihar blast in which a minister died took over thirty years, in the same way the chara ghotala in Bihar is still continuing for decades. In quite a few cases the appeal is frivolous filed because of ego of an officer or politician or outright vindictive.
Before announcing verdict on judges vacation one must know the trying conditions in which the judiciary works. It is one of the three pillars of our democracy responsible for maintaining necessary checks and balances. The public is neither equipped intellectually nor possesses the moral authority to pass judgment. We must remember that mistakes done by parliament or executive can be corrected but mistakes done by judiciary can neither be corrected nor amended in majority of cases by any other authority. They may review themselves in a full bench and modify if necessary, but UN warranted criticism and meddling in their style of working is unacceptable, unjustified and uncalled for, especially by the media driven ill-conceived individuals.


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Surendra Mohan Shukla

Media/Journalist/Author

Madhya Pradesh ,  INDIA

Surendra Mohan Shukla M.B.B.S. Jabalpur University December 1962 Master of Surgery (M.S.) in ophthalmology, Jabalpur University April 1966. Joined as Lecturer at MGM medical college Indore in June 1968, Proceeded to Lusaka, Zambia in southern Africa. Joined the Ministry of health as consultant and honorary senior lecturer in the school of medicine, University of Zambia. Elected, fellow of Society of eye surgeons, Maryland USA 1983. Visiting professor and examiner in the university of Zimbabwe and Malawi school of ophthalmic clinical officer. Involved as trustee and later as chairman of an NGO called Human Service Trust in Lusaka Zambia-to bring immigrant Indians together-on India return, correspondent Hindustan Times, Bhopal

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