<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Come summer vacation, and there is an air of stillness on the Supreme Court premises. The usual synchronised chaos, the hustle-bustle of lawyers jostling along the corridors, rushing from one courtroom to another, is missing. No urgency of time, and one no longer waits under the display board, waiting for the red digits to announce your upcoming matter.The sweltering heat that gripped the national capital in the past few days brought its lazy wave in the corridors of the top court with Justice Deepak Gupta, the lone judge holding fort in the apex court on Monday. His brother judge Justice M Shantanagouder failed to make an appearance for reasons, as yet, unknown.The benches at the SC are usually chaired by a minimum of two judges. If even one judge is absent, the bench is cancelled and all matters listed before the bench concerned is adjourned. However, a lone wolf during the summer is an occasion that was termed “rarest of the rare” by the court masters present.Many of the court masters, who have ably aided the judges uphold the law, could not remember the last time a single judge chaired the bench. “Perhaps 20 years ago… or is it 25?,” one reminisced.After much thought, consultation and a brief discussion, a few old-timers suggested that Justice Kuldeep Singh was perhaps the last judge who chaired a single bench during the vacations in 1992, or 1993, a court master offered.However, another parallel discussion with those in the listing branch threw up Justice Arun Misra’s name, who had sat alone one day during the summer as recent as last year, or may be the year before.A SC official, however, offered that initially, summer vacation benches were meant for single judges only. Though, when cases started piling up and pendency increased, the system of hearing regular matters during the summer was introduced. With that, a division bench was also constituted.On Monday, Justice Gupta’s docket was not that busy. He had 33 matters in all along with at least 10 mentionings. A matter pertaining to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Ashish Khetan who had approached the top court when he started receiving death threats from right wing extremist organisations, came up. A matter pertaining to Irom Chitra, whose son was killed in a road rage case in 2011 by Ajay Meetai, the son of present Chief Minister N Biren Singh, also came up.However, almost all matters were adjourned for listing on another day.It is significant to note, that the slow pace of the SC this summer is the opposite from what was envisioned by the Chief Justice of India in the months preceding May.Chief Justice of India (CJI) JS Khehar had promised a short summer break for the law officers of the country. CJI Khehar had constituted three constitutional benches — five judges each, who would sit along with two regular vacation benches. More than 5,000 regular matters were also listed during the month and a half long summer break. Perhaps, for the first time in judicial history, almost 19 judges were asked to curtail their vacation and alter their plans to decide on matters.The judges’ efforts was lauded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he spoke at an event on May 10 where the CJI inaugurated an integrated software aimed at digitising the judiciary to cut down on time and bring about transparency in the system.Though, like all best laid plans, this too went awry.Triple talaq, one of the most burning issues, was the first to be taken up on May 11, the first day of summer break. On March 30, the top court pushed for an expeditious hearing of the triple talaq case rebuffing attempts by the Union and other senior counsels to defer it.Of the two other matters, the WhatsApp privacy case to be heard by a bench led by Justice Dipak Misra made a brief appearance. The bench, headed by Justice Madan B Lokur, which was supposed to hear the issue of providing citizenship to Bangaldeshi immigrants never saw the light of the day.The resistance offered by lawyers, and a few judges as well was one of the main factors for the no shows during the break.
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