Historic and innovative decision

In an era of bringing in necessary changes in the system wherever it impliedly calls for and when obsolete practices, stale and weary procedures , time consuming and not so pro people ‘conventions’ are being replaced by such changes which are required in tune with the demand for the same all over, a historic and momentous decision has accordingly been taken in respect of timings of operation of all courts in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir and in the UT of Ladakh. It may be specifically noted that a practice in vogue for 92 years in a row, had thus finally to be consigned to the pages of history. Uniformity, consistency, homogeneity and what is called as ‘sameness’ are seemingly now heading towards getting a niche in the existing system hence all courts in Jammu division shall open at 10 am with one hour break and close at 4 pm while in Kashmir division these shall open half an hour late , ie; at 10.30 am with one hour break and close at 4.30 pm.
We feel that the decision is a giant step taken towards protecting and rather respecting the rights of the litigants and, therefore, deserve all praises. The practice of change in court timing has become a sort of an obstacle in ensuring equal access to courts to all litigants as litigants from far flung and mountainous terrains find it quite difficult and trying to reach courts by 8 am in summers . These litigants , willy-nilly , could claim that they felt deprived of their fundamental right to seek relief and redressing of their grievances from courts and ultimately in the dispensation of justice . Therefore, if bringing in uniformity in court timing with courts across the country is termed as litigant friendly and a sincere effort in dispensation of justice, it would be only a correct and fair assessment.
In fact , more or less, court timings across the country are uniform and similar except in Rajasthan and that too, for three months of April, May and June only when the mercury shoots up to as high as above 50 degrees Celsius. Even the Supreme Court located in Delhi, which sees temperatures from April almost till November which are much higher than those in Jammu, functions from 10.30 am to 4.30 pm through out the year without any change. The timing of the courts different for summer and winter seasons respectively , therefore, was not in congruence with all other courts in the country. Chief Justice of High Court has, therefore, ordered that all the courts in both the UTs will follow uniform timings round the year irrespective of weather conditions terming more than 9 decades practice as “negatively impacting valuable constitutional rights of the litigants.” Rhetoric of ‘harsh weather ‘ conditions could not have any impact on the decision to follow uniform timings as temperatures in Orissa, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana etc were higher , if not harsher, than in the UTs of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
The beauty of the manner in which the critical decision and breaking a hitherto considered as irreversible practice was all arranged, is on the basis of a detailed discussion with all the stake holders including Judges of the High Court, Judicial Officers and representatives of the Bar Association. Hence with acquiesce of everyone in respect of and also directly related to the change , an innovative decision was taken which was set to be implemented right from June 1 or a few days from now.
Uniform timings have more advantages and could be helpful in disposal of cases with greater ease. Calling for documents and papers required for hearing the cases from offices and institutions which generally open at 10 am would be quite helpful for litigants especially the Government departments, as the timings between the courts and the UT departments were not coinciding which resulted in hardships to litigants as also caused delays in hearing and disposal of cases.