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TN Bar Council criticises Sanjeev Sanyal after he questioned long vacations and efficiency of judicial system: Here is what Sanyal said about the ‘fatwa’ issued

Sanjeev Sanyal also countered the argument that 73% of pending cases are related to govt departments, saying there is no data to prove it, and asked Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry to provide the data

Sanjeev Sanyal, member of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, has responded to the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry condemning his comments on the workings of the judiciary. Advocating for reforms in judiciary, Sanyal in a podcast had criticised the courts for long delay in resolving court cases, saying that long vacations taken by the courts was one of the reasons.

Sanyal has pointed out that the courts take long summer vacations and then Dussehra vacations, saying that they work only for a few hours. “All these old systems will have to be changed, and modernise it. The government can contribute to this to some extent. But in the end, the justice system will have to do it on its own,” he had said.

His comments were rejected by the Supreme Court, with Justice Dipankar Datta saying that the judges ‘burn midnight oil even during vacations’. The court said that the govt should file appeals within prescribed deadlines if it was concerned about judicial delays, blaming the govt for the delays.

Yesterday he Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry (BCTN) joined the debate, claiming that judges work for long hours and are burdened with cumbersome tasks which require them to stay in courts beyond regular hours. “Contrary to public perception, weekends and vacations are spent writing and correcting the judgments and orders,” said P S Amalraj, president of BCTN.

Amalraj further claimed that 73% of the pending cases are related to government departments, thereby blaming the government for delay in resolving court cases. Sanyal’s vision of the modern judiciary would be pointless if ‘medieval’ executive governments continue to exhibit tardiness, red tapism and bureaucratic inefficiency which push our citizens to turn to the courts for redressal, he added.

Now, Sanjeev Sanyal has come up with responses to these arguments on 𝕏, formerly Twitter. “Looks like the TN Bar Council has issued a fatwa against me for questioning the efficiency and vacations of the judicial system,” responding to the bar council point by point.

He agreed that the bureaucracy is also very inefficient, and that is why there have efforts to reform the system. Similarly, the judiciary also needs reforms, he argued. “Clearly no one in the bar council has bothered to read anything I write about government systems (or economists for that matter). This is no justification for keeping legal processes inefficient,” Sanyal added.

Responding to argument that judges need long vacations and holidays to write judgements and orders, Sanyal said that even if that is true, it does not require the whole judicial system to be shut down. “Vacations and holidays are evidently spent writing judgements. Very well, the judges are welcome to take leave like everyone else. There is no reason for the whole system to shut down for weeks on end,” he said.

Sanjeev Sanyal added that other members of society also work hard – corporate managers, scientists, politicians, journalists and even civil servants – but they don’t take such long vacations. “We are all participants in building India. No one asks for the system to shut down when they go on vacation,” he said, suggesting that judges who need vacations can take them, but the whole courts should not be shut down for a month for that.

He also countered the argument that 73% of pending cases are related to govt departments, saying there is no data to prove it. He asked the bar council to give definite data to back this claim, “so that we, as a country, can do something about it.”

Sanjeev Sanyal added that he is not the only person to arguing for a reform in the legal system, pointing out an article by Bibek Debroy, where the Chairman of Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister said that no major country has their top court going on long holidays, neither should the Supreme Court of India. He also posted an article by renowned economist Vijay Kelkar & Pradeep Mehta making the same arguments. Sanyal further posted a research paper by Economist and EAC member Shamika Ravi, which analysed the performance of the Supreme Court.

The matter of Supreme Court holidays has been a hot debate for a time now, with the judiciary rejecting any suggestion to reform the system. This year, the summer vacation started on 20 May and the court will reopen on 8th July, totally 49 days including weekends and holidays. The court than will have 6-day Dusshera holidays, 5-day Diwali holidays and 10-day Christmas & New Year Holidays. This means, the court will be closed for 70 days, apart from other regular holidays and Sundays.

During these vacations, a few judges are available to hear urgent matters, known as ‘vacation benches’.

Those who argue for continuation of this system say that judges and lawyers need the long vacations to read judgements and other references which are crucial in arguing cases and delivering judgements. It is also claimed that lawyers and judges need the vacations for rejuvenation. But those who favour a reform say that individual judges can take similar vacations for such study at different points of time throughout the year, and the entire courts should not be shut down.

Even former Chief Justice of India RM Lodha had suggested a similar system. He had suggested keeping the Supreme Court, High Courts, and trial courts open round the year. CJI Lodha had suggested that schedules of individual judges should be sought at the beginning of the year, and the calendar should be planned accordingly. However, this proposal was not implemented as CJI Lodha’s term didn’t last long.

Notably, former law minister Kiren Rijiju had criticised the current vacation system of the courts several times, before his portfolio was changed.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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