May 21,2019 | 12 min read

What Are Vacation Courts?

Author - Associate Nupur Mehrotra

Vacation of court can be defined as the time between the end of one year of court and the beginning of another year and also during this vacation time period there is no function performed by the court. In common law vacation is defined as ‘‘That period of time between the end of one term of court and the beginning of another’’. Also, the judge is left with no power to give any judgement in regard to any pending or new case and it can to only done if it is grant to time by any statue.

‘Court vacations’ have played a very significant role in history and still continues to play an important role in any lawyer’s life. The concept of vacation court came into existence during the time of British rule. It all started as the British people could not bear the heat during the summer days and it became unbearable and impossible to work in the exhausting heat. This, in turn, made the Gora judges go to their motherland and they returned back only when the summer ended and that monsoon used to begin. This introduced the concept of ‘Vacation Court’ in India. With the changing time, the Supreme Court has brought many changes in the concept of court vacation. Usually, there are two long breaks taken by the court but the court is not fully closed. Old matters that are pending in the court for a long time are being heard during the vacations. There is a supreme’s court vacation bench which is formed by the Chief Justice of India.  A bench of judges is appointed for the vacation bench who would be hearing the pending cases and urgent matters during the vacation period. It is the responsibility of the Supreme Court to decide if the matter is ‘urgent’ or not and for this, the lawyer can approach the court during the vacation. The term ‘urgent’ which plays a very import role in deciding as to ‘if’ the case will be heard, has not been defined but it can be observed that the cases related to writs that is habeas corpus, prohibition, quo-warranto and certiorari for the enforcement of fundament right are often taken by the court.

Under rule 6 of Order ii of The Supreme Court rules, 2013 it is clearly mentioned ‘‘The Chief Justice may appoint one or more Judges to hear during the summer vacation or winter holidays all matters of urgent nature which under these rules may be heard by a Judge sitting singly, and, whenever necessary, he may likewise appoint a Division Court for the hearing of urgent cases during the vacation which requires to be heard by a Bench of Judges.’’.

Not just the Supreme Court but also, the High courts, as well as trial courts, hear the matters of urgent nature under their jurisdiction forming a ‘vacation bench’. The concept of ‘vacation bench’ has proved to be very significant and useful. For example in 2018 after the announcement of Karnataka Assembly results the Governor of Karnataka has invited BJP and this was challenged before the ‘Vacation Bench’ by the Congress and was then heard on 18th, May 2018.  The order that was passed by the bench had resulted in establishing a standard in relation to the formation of the government.

Vacations are very necessary to ensure that the judicial system is working properly. Afterall every human being needs a break from a hectic schedule to calm once and start off again with the same cool and enthusiasm. The break during the vacation court is the only time when the judges can finish the dictation of the Judgements which are pending from a long time or are reserved for later. Also, there are judges who have other commitments to fulfill like public and training meetings. During this period the lawyers get time for drafting and researching.

Judges are usually overburdened with a lot of cases and are working for long tiring hours regularly and if no breaks are given to them the efficiency level will surely come down which will have a direct impact on the judgements leading to justice. A judge is responsible for justice and he/she cannot be burdened and pressured with work. If a vacation is given to judges, they can think about the case proper which needs a lot of attention and then give the judgement.
But on the other hand, we can see thousands of pending cases and denied timely justice. If courts continue to take such a long vacation will ever these problems find a solution? The concept that was introduced in the time to British rule of going and coming back from home still exist. But as time has changed the court needs to bring new reforms in the working process of Indian courts. So it becomes the responsibility and duty of the judiciary system to understand the problems and need of the hour and find a solution which will benefit both the public as well the working lawyers and judges because it is said that’ justice delayed is justice denied’ and  ‘‘ Justice is the sum of all moral duty’’.


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