Doing away with the 92-year-old practice of having different timings during summer and winter season, all courts in Jammu and Kashmir will now have fixed work schedule all through the year.
Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, Gita Mittal on Saturday fixed a five hour work time for all the courts beginning 10 am – 4 pm in Jammu and 10.30 am – 4.30 pm in Kashmir division throughout the year from June 1.
She also ordered that the High Court registry and judicial staff in district and subordinate courts will, however, have six-hour work timing beginning 9.30 am – 4.30 pm in Jammu division and 10 am – 5 pm in Kashmir and Ladakh. In between, the courts and their office staff will observe an hour break between 1 pm to 2 pm.
So far the high court and district courts in summer zones of Jammu division used to observe “summer’’ office timings from 8 am to 1.30 pm from May to September end. Similarly in Srinagar wing and in winter zone, these used to follow court timing of 11 am to 4 pm from November to April end.
Pointing out that timings of courts all over the county remain uniform from 10.30 am to 4.30 pm throughout the year except for Rajasthan High Court which observes court timings from 8 am to 1 pm for only three months between April to June when temperature swells to over 50 degree Celsius, the court said that this has not been so in any part of Jammu and Kashmir.
The High Court of Bombay has court sittings from 11 am to 5 pm which is attributed to the time involved and difficulties involved in commuting in the city, she pointed out, adding that the other three benches in Nagpur, Aurangabad and Goa and all other courts in Maharashtra, despite temperatures again way above that experienced in Jammu, sit from 10.30 am to 4.30 pm round the year.
“Information from relevant meteorological sources disclose that temperatures in Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana and Delhi amongst other states and Union Territories are much higher than the maximum in the hottest part of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir’’.
“Yet all courts in these States/Union Territories follow the same timing all year round,’’ she pointed out, adding “many of these courts have much larger litigation loads than the courts in Jammu and Kashmir and work efficiently round the year without change of timings’’.
The J&K High Court’s Chief Justice also pointed out that “given the proximity of the summer zone districts to the winter zone districts in Jammu and Kashmir with high mountainous features, the temperatures anywhere the Union Territory do not reach the high levels as are reached in several other parts of the country. Even if they rise, the summer zone districts have an added advantage of expeditious lowering of temperatures on account of their proximity to the mountains, she added.
Pointing out that summer timings adopted by courts in the past from May to September end had been reducing the court working to four and a half hours instead of the mandatory five hours for six months at a stretch every year, she said the subordinate courts in Kashmir province and those located in winter zones of Jammu division, besides Ladakh used to hold sitting from 10 am to 4.30 pm with half an hour break during the period.
The court also referred to the information received from judges that litigants rarely reach courts early in the mornings in districts predominantly comprising rural areas compelling them to ordinarily pass over the cases till after 9.30 am awaiting appearance of parties/lawyers. As a result, two hours of judicial time on each working day was completely wasted, she pointed out.
A full-fledged High Court of Judicature comprising Chief Justice and two Judges was established in Jammu and Kashmir in 1928. Prior to it, the ruler of the state (Maharaja) was the final authority in the administration of justice.
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