Vacation Bench of Supreme Court

  • There won’t be any Vacation Benches accessible at the supreme court during the winter break, according to Chief Justice of India D. Y. Chandrachud.
  • A special Supreme Court bench appointed by the Chief Justice of India is known as a vacation bench.
  • The summer and winter recesses, which the court takes twice a year, are technically not closed to the public.
  • The Supreme Court is still a venue for litigants, and the Vacation Bench hears the case on the merits if the court determines that the plea is a “urgent matter.”
  • While the term “urgent matter” lacks a precise definition.
  • The court typically accepts writs pertaining to habeas corpus, certiorari, prohibition, and quo warranto proceedings for the enforcement of any fundamental right while it is off on holiday.

Legal Provisions

  • According to Rule 6 of Order II of The Supreme Court Rules, 2013, the Chief Justice has designated the Division Benches for the consideration of urgent unrelated cases as well as regular hearing matters during the summer break.
  • The rule states that the CJI may appoint one or more judges to hear all urgent cases that, under these rules, may be heard by a judge sitting alone during the summer or winter holidays.
  • Additionally, when required, he may name a Division Court to hear urgent cases that must be heard by a bench of judges while the court is off.

Who else may serve as a vacation bench?

  • There are Vacation Benches available for both the High Courts and trial courts to consider urgent cases that fall under their purview.

Has anyone ever judged history from a bench on vacation?

  • The Supreme Court’s vacation benches have also penned illustrious judgments.
  • One of the most well-known instances is when, in June 1975, a Vacation Bench Judge rejected PM Indira Gandhi’s request to suspend an Allahabad High Court judgement invalidating her election—a decision that led to the Emergency.
  • A Constitution Bench of the court had heard the triple talaq case during vacation days.

Issues with court vacations

  • Huge backlog of cases: Taking long, frequent vacations does not seem good, especially in view of the backlog of cases and the slow pace of the court process.
  • Adding to existing delays: For the average litigant, the holiday will result in additional, inescapable delays in listing cases.

Arguments in favour

  • Judges’ rejuvenation: Lawyers have frequently claimed that vacations are essential for judges’ regeneration because their employment requires intellectual rigour and lengthy hours.
  • Judges often put in more than 10 hours a day at their jobs. They work in court from 10.30 am to 4 pm, but they also spend some time the night before getting ready.
  • Getting ready for judgments: The claim that judges use their time off to draught decisions is one that is regularly expressed.
  • When the court is in session, judges do not take leave of absence like other employed individuals do, according to another argument.
  • Socialization: Judges hardly ever take the day off for social events; the only exceptions are family tragedies and serious health issues.
  • The tenancy is unaffected: According to data, the Supreme Court typically decides the same number of cases that are brought before it in a given year.

Changing the vacation provision

  • The Justice Malimath Committee, established in 2000 to make recommendations for changes to the criminal justice system, requested that the vacation period be shortened by 21 days.
  • It was proposed that the Supreme Court sit for 206 days a year and the High Courts for 231 days.
  • The Law Commission of India, presided over by Justice A R Lakshmanan, urged for reform of this system in its 230nd report in 2009.
  • Given the staggering backlog, it was said that vacations in the higher courts must be reduced by at least 10 to 15 days and that court hours must be increased by at least 30 minutes.
  • The Supreme Court’s new rules, which were announced in 2014, said that the summer vacation duration could no longer exceed seven weeks, down from the previous 10-week limit.
And get notified everytime we publish a new blog post.