A public interest litigation petition questioning the closure of the Madras High Court for a month during summer every year will now be heard after the vacation.
A Vacation Bench, comprising Justices B.Rajendran and K.Ravichandra Baabu, posted the matter for hearing after the court reopens on June 3. The summer vacation for the court is from May 1 to June 2.
An advocate has raised the question in which he has said that when lakhs of cases are pending, closure of the court for a month during summer will deprive citizens of their right to speedy justice.
The petitioner K. Shyam Sunder of Mandaveli said it was the usual practice to close the High Court for a month from May 1.
This was apart from the declared holidays for 22 days, the Dasara and Christmas vacations which were for nearly a week each. Summer vacation did not have the sanction of law.
Mr. Shyam Sunder cited the circular issued by the Registrar-General announcing the summer holidays for this year from May 1 to June 2 and the Vacation Judges. The court offices were not closed. The colonial practice of continuing the summer vacation even after the country became Independent was without any legal authority. This assumed importance in the light of docket explosion. The pendency in the High Court was five lakh cases. It was difficult to dispose of all the cases even if the courts worked throughout the year.
The petitioner quoted an article in The Hindu by K.Chandru (since retired as a Judge) that the colonial practice of having a summer vacation and working just 210 days in a year was clearly a huge waste of human resources. Being sentinels of justice, the doors of the courts should never remain closed. They could be operated in such a way that leave could be granted on a rotational basis to judges.
The petitioner said the concept of summer vacation was introduced when English judges were adorning the seats and they could not bear the summer heat. It should have been reviewed after the establishment of the High Court in each State. Today, most of the higher courts, chambers and cars of Judges were air-conditioned. In view of this, the practice of having summer vacation had lost its relevance today.
Litigants were interested in the early disposal of their cases. Vacations and holidays for courts were some of the causes for delay in disposal.