CJI DY Chandrachud Responds to Criticism of Court Vacations and Judicial Workload

Mainstream
12-Jun-2024
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Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud recently addressed criticism regarding the long vacations taken by courts in India, emphasizing the demanding nature of judicial work and the necessity for judges to have time for reflection and deeper engagement with complex cases.

Heavy Workload of Judges

CJI Chandrachud highlighted the intense workload of Supreme Court judges, who handle a substantial number of cases each week. He noted that judges often deal with 40-50 cases daily, with numbers sometimes reaching as high as 87 cases in a single day. This workload extends beyond weekdays, as Saturdays are often used for hearing smaller cases, and Sundays are dedicated to reading case files.

Time for Reflection and Broader Judicial Roles

Beyond the daily case management, CJI Chandrachud stressed the importance of allowing judges time to reflect and think critically about significant cases that can transform society and polity. He pointed out that, despite the Supreme Court's summer break, he and his colleagues were preparing to deliver judgments on six constitutionally important cases. These cases, he said, could redefine various aspects of social and political life in India.

Judicial Vacations and Lawyers' Needs

Addressing the idea of staggered vacations for judges, CJI Chandrachud explained that while this might benefit judges, it could adversely affect lawyers who also need breaks to manage their professional and personal lives. He emphasized the need for a balanced approach that considers the well-being of both judges and lawyers.

Lecture on Constitutional Interpretation and Judicial Roles

In a lecture at Cambridge University on June 6, CJI Chandrachud discussed the role of judges in constitutional interpretation and the shift towards viewing the Constitution as a transformative document. He argued against the simplistic categorization of judicial actions as either activism or restraint, highlighting the nuanced interpretative approaches courts take.

Constitutional Morality and Evolution

CJI Chandrachud defended the use of constitutional "morality" in judicial decisions, stating that fundamental values like dignity, equality, fraternity, liberty, and freedom of expression guide judicial interpretations. He noted that the Constitution has evolved over time and that judicial doctrines reflect this evolution.

Amendments and Self-Correction

He also defended the numerous amendments to the Constitution, viewing them as indicative of the Constitution's capacity for self-correction and adaptability. CJI Chandrachud emphasized that no single generation can claim to have a monopoly on truth, and the ability to amend the Constitution ensures its relevance and stability.

Public Trust in the Judiciary

Addressing concerns about public trust in the judiciary, CJI Chandrachud asserted that the ongoing engagement of people with the courts is a sign of their faith in the judiciary's ability to deliver impartial justice. He welcomed the increasing scrutiny of constitutional institutions, viewing it as a positive development that fosters accountability and transparency.

Conclusion

CJI Chandrachud's comments underscore the complex and multifaceted nature of judicial responsibilities, the necessity for thoughtful and reflective adjudication, and the importance of maintaining public trust in the judicial system. His remarks highlight the delicate balance between managing an immense workload, ensuring fairness, and allowing for the personal and professional well-being of judges and lawyers alike.