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Judges Burn Midnight Oil Even During Vacations: Supreme Court On Work Comments

The court said those who say all these things “are part of governance”.

New Delhi:

The Supreme Court on Wednesday lamented that despite the effort put in by judges, who burn the midnight oil even during vacations, they have to stomach comments about working very little.

A vacation bench of Justices Dipankar Datta and Satish Chandra Sharma made the remark while hearing a plea of former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren challenging his arrest in a money laundering case and seeking interim bail to campaign in the Lok Sabha elections.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Mr Soren, complained about a Jharkhand High Court bench having taken two months to pronounce the verdict on the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader’s plea against his arrest.

“Unfortunate part, Mr Sibal, is that despite the efforts we put in as judges, we have to hear that judges work for very few hours,” Justice Datta said, adding judges also have to do their homework.

“Judges are not before us. They can’t explain what prevented them from pronouncing the verdict. So, benefit (of doubt) has to be given to them,” the Supreme Court said.

Mr Sibal said the delays in passing judgements have an impact on the citizens. “That you allow cognisance (of ED’s prosecution complaint) be taken and my petition gets infructuous. It’s a matter of personal liberty. That’s very sad and these are all high court judges,” he said.

The bench said it can only hope and trust that courts dispose of cases expeditiously.

“This is happening day in and day out in the high courts. Nobody hears our matter and nobody decides our matter. People go begging in matters of personal liberty. You may say anything but it is a fact,” Mr Sibal said.

Referring to a newspaper article, Justice Datta said, “During vacation also we are burning the midnight oil. Those who say all these things are part of governance.”

He said not a single appeal of the Centre or a state lands in the top court within the prescribed time limit of 60 or 90 days and they all file applications for condonation of the delay.

“Let those who castigate the judiciary think of these things. A simple appeal for which 90 days or 60 days period is given, the authorities don’t come on time. And they say we work less,” Justice Datta said.

Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, appearing for the Enforcement Directorate, said he was in favour of court vacations.

“In a recent matter, I was justifying the vacation. I said that the court is entitled for vacation because they are virtually working in two shifts,” Mr Raju said.

Mr Sibal acknowledged the workload of the judges in India. “This is the country where judges are most overworked. In no other country do judges have so much workload. We all know that,” he said.

The bench said matters involving personal liberty must be decided expeditiously and there is no quarrel about that.

“This court has itself laid down the guidelines that if a case is not decided in three months, a party can go to the chief justice of the high court and seek assignment of the matter before another judge,” it said.

Justice Sharma said he has been in four high courts and such matters are decided on top priority.

“I don’t want to say anything more,” Mr Sibal said, adding “the proof of the pudding is in eating and we eat it every day”.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)