Plea in Bombay HC: Long Court Vacations Infringe on Litigants’ Fundamental Rights, Must be Abandoned

Bombay High Court Law Insider

Savvy Thakur

Published on: October 20, 2022 at 23:07 IST

The Bombay High Court’s lengthy vacations have been the subject of a writ petition, which asserts that they violate litigants’ fundamental rights. According to the complaint, there are insufficient judges in the courts during vacations to hear urgent cases.

Sabina Lakdawala, the petitioner, has asked for a declaration that the court vacations that last for more than 70 days during Diwali, Christmas, and summer violate fundamental rights and should end.

The petition also asks for instructions to make the Bombay High Court work during the Diwali holidays by naming enough judges and telling the registry to accept all petitions without the vacation bench’s permission.

“The long vacations that are a relic of the colonial era [and] have to a greater extent contributed to the further collapse of the justice delivery system that is already on the ventilation. The long vacation suits the convenience of elite lawyers, a microscopic minority,” the petition contends.

The petition’s respondents include the Union of India, the State of Maharashtra, and the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court, among others.

The petition claims that the petitioner was forced from her house on July 3, 2021, by her in-laws, stepchildren, and stepgrandchildren. She was booked under Section 326 of the IPC after being taken into custody on “false charges.”

She has since filed numerous writ petitions and suits to seek relief with the lower courts and the High Court.

According to the petition, she has been to the court for 158 days without receiving any relief.

Despite moving several requests for an urgent hearing during the COVID pandemic, her attorney sought audience with the judge in his chambers before her case for quashing the FIR was heard.

The petition claims that during the Diwali holidays in 2021, the petitioner sought urgent relief from the High Court after the magistrate who was hearing her case under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, went on a lengthy leave of absence.

Additionally, she was unable to obtain relief from the High Court during the Christmas break.

According to the petition, the justice system is in poor condition.

The practice of closing courts for vacation is a vestige of colonial times and ought to be abandoned.

According to the petition, the court vacation was “justified at a time when the majority of judges were Englishmen who were not adjusted to the extreme summers of India, and they needed long vacations to travel by sea to England,” as the petition states.

While it was a necessity at the time, it is now a luxury that the nation cannot afford.

According to the petition, the necessary break for lawyers and judges can be provided without closing the entire institution.

The petition also claims that the Supreme Court has a vacation officer who can be contacted to request a hearing while it is closed. However, there is no such officer in the Bombay High Court.

Additionally, the registry is closed, and the vacation judge must grant permission before accepting any petitions.

According to the petition, a petition is only listed in the Bombay High Court when the lawyer moves the petition to convince the court of its urgency. And even if the case is listed, it must be mentioned and allowed to be listed again if the roster changes.

The petition suggests that the court should remain open with half the usual strength rather than shutting down entirely during the vacations.

The plea explicitly mentions that the petitioner is not attempting to prevent judges and lawyers from taking vacation. But the vacation shouldn’t lead to the total shut down of courts.

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