Home >Opinion >Quick Edit >The case for brevity

It’s never too late to reform. A Supreme Court bench directed lawyers representing a case to limit their oral arguments to 30 minutes each and restrict submissions on law to three pages. The bench also wondered aloud if any court in the world permits advocates to argue for days on end. “Time has come to change habits," it observed. Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Arvind Datar, who were defending a fellow lawyer who had been stripped of his ‘senior advocate’ title after the Gujarat high court initiated contempt proceedings against him, will now have to keep their exertions brief.

Limits should apply to everybody who conducts legal and judicial proceedings in India, judges included. In a country where delayed justice is a perpetual problem, with a truly appalling number of under-trials in prison, we can’t afford precious court time lost to rhetorical flourishes, long-winded declamations and filibuster-type tactical hold-ups. At the start of this month, our apex court alone had more than 69,000 cases pending. Without expeditious processes, we have no hope of clearing the backlog. Due deliberation is needed, but not verbosity. Brevity is the soul of wit. Can it inhabit justice too?

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