Punjab and Haryana HC Cancels Summer Vacations for Itself and the Lower Courts

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The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ordered to cancel the summer vacations. Chief Justice Ravi Shanker Jha gave the order as mentioned above. In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, Punjab and Haryana High Court entered into a restrictive mode of functioning.
 
Consequently, this hindered the speed at which the Court was able to adjudicate urgent cases, which resulted in many backlogs. Therefore, in order to deal with the backlog, the HC decided to cancel vacations for itself and the subordinate courts.

Facts 

As the Virus continues to wreak havoc in the country, many Courts had decided to alter their methods of delivering justice. The result of the same was the creation of a massive backlog. Thus, it has decided to cancel the summer vacations for itself and the subordinate courts in Punjab, Haryana, and Chandigarh to deal with the same. The hearing of cases cases would continue via video conferencing during the period.

Reasoning and Arguments

This is the first time in recallable past that the vacations stand cancelled. Even though the High Court has been taking a break from the summer holidays to a limited extent for adjudicating appeals pending in criminal matters only. The order comes at a time when the total pending cases in Haryana is 8,92,041, while no less than 6,46,342 cases are awaiting adjudication in Punjab. Even a small Union Territory like Chandigarh has 49,268 cases pending.
National, Judicial Data Grid figures reveal more than 5.6 lakh cases are pending in the High Court alone. It is suspected that many of the petitioners in these cases are no more there to pursue their grievances. Even though the High Court has made concerted efforts to bring down pending cases, the number continues to increase. With the lockdown and shortage of Judges, the piles are unlikely to shrink quickly. The High Court, as of now, has 55 Judges against the sanctioned strength of 85. There are Three Judges scheduled to retire this year upon attaining the age of superannuation.

Court’s Observation 

The order added that the Court would continue to function with the present arrangement of filing, listing, cancellation and hearing of cases through video conferencing, subject to the roster prepared by the Chief Justice. Furthermore, the ensuing summer vacations in the subordinate courts in the states of Punjab, Haryana, and Chandigarh from June 1 to June 26 both days inclusive, stood cancelled as per the order.

Decision and Order passed 

Chief Justice Ravi Shanker Jha passed this order. The order highlighted that the ensuing summer vacations in the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh from June 1 to June 26, both days inclusive stood cancelled.

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