“Please don’t declare a holiday as a mark of respect to me when I die...of course, I will.” This is what Justice A K Ganguly – who was one of the two judges on the 2G bench - underlined in February 2012. The judge while lamenting that the vacation system was a very serious issue affecting the higher judiciary, had said: “I have a strong feeling that the number of holidays should be curtailed and the court days must be increased. Court days are very precious public time, because it is grievance of the people which is decided in the court. Every minute, every moment is important. Therefore, wasting existing court time is something absolutely not acceptable to me. Those who do it, they are absolutely irresponsible.”
Given that there are hundreds of thousands of cases pending alone in the Supreme Court and High Courts of the states, Justice Ganguly had also strongly advocated scrapping the vacation time if not its complete abolition. “Judges work under tremendous pressure, the number of court days must be increased, and the hours available to them should not be wasted.” Then he went on to say that the Supreme Court and the High Courts where he had been posted must not declare a holiday to pay respect to him upon his death. “My desire is that they should work little more.”
As this sincere confession about the needless wastage of precious court time came from one of the noted legal luminaries – it was normal to expect that something would follow up on his suggestions. Indeed this is what common people have been crying about for too long now – that the justice system is subverted by the very people and the institutions who/which are vested with the responsibility of upholding its image and integrity. Indeed if one goes on counting the issues that plague the judicial system as of today, it goes without saying that a general overhaul of the entire system is long overdue. It is not only the vacations and holidays that are an unnecessary drain on public exchequer and litigants’ time, there are countless other issues as well that are a cause and source of constant headache for all those unfortunate souls who are for one or the other reason caught up in legal wrangles.
Take, for instance, the case of Jammu and Kashmir High Court. Here besides the routine vacations another extra burden on court time is exacted by the turbulent political situation around –like the months-long civil agitations. Then there are lawyers’ strikes as well. Now as if all this is not enough, there another and yet very tactical way of subversion at play – wherein money, mind and other influences are discreetly used to delay and finally deny justice to those who have, reposing all faith in the courts, chosen to approach them in seeking their rights. Here the cases are listed for hearing in such a manner that it is only the proverbial ‘bold and the beautiful’, the ‘rich and the powerful’ whose interests get prioritized. For example, it’s very common that those who can, manage listing of cases in such a manner that it’s ‘heads I win and tails you lose’ kind of situation for their adversary.
It’s a humble plea to the Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir that he takes cue from Justice Ganguly’s confessions, and fixes some of these loopholes which are behind the delay and consequently denial of justice to the justice-seekers. Courts are too precious and pious to be left to become into the fiefdoms of the rich and the powerful.
Kashmir Images is an English language daily newspaper published from Srinagar (J&K), India. The newspaper is one of the largest circulated English dailies of Kashmir and its hard copies reach every nook and corner of Kashmir Valley besides Jammu and Ladakh region.