Shimla: The Himachal High court has once again deferred the contentious issue of shifting the district courts to a newly built up complex at Chakkar even though the government has placed on record that barring additional parking, sufficient space has been made for functioning of 21 court rooms.
A division bench presided over by Chief Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice VK Ahuja directed continuance of the stay order for transferring the district court complex from city center to Chakkar.
The bench directed the government to take a decision about approving of a multi-storied parking and ensure that the facilities are made available with 6 months. The plans for the parking space were submitted in 2009, the judges observed.
The court also directed shifting of revenue courts to the new complex so as to bring all judicial activity under one roof.
The Court further directed allotting of a site originally earmarked for setting up a judicial academy for the construction of lawyersâ€™ chambers. The judicial academy is now proposed to be constructed at some other place.
The court also directed the government to include the chief secretary, secretary home, district judge Shimla, president and secretary of the Shimla district bar Association as members of the permanent standing committee headed by a High Court judge that has principal secretary engineer-in-chief and chief architect of PWD along with registrar general of the High Court as members.
The committee has been asked to hold a meeting within a month for proper assessment of the arrangements for litigating public, lawyers and judicial officers.
On its part the government let the court know that 21 court rooms for judicial officers with sufficient space for court staff are part of the new complex.
Adequate provision has also been made for litigating public, bar room with facilities of separate canteens for the staff, member of bar and public, bank, post office, stamp vendors, typists etc, all of whom are required to be present in a judicial court complex.
Provision for parking of vehicles for judicial officers and other has also been kept and to facilitate functioning of the courts adequate public transport facilities to the new complex can be provided for.
To de-congest the city center and at the behest of the High Court itself, a decision to shift the district courts from the crowded city center was taken in May, 2007 and over Rs 30 crores, which includes Rs 2.2 crore for laying an approach road that involved felling of 484 trees, has already been spent.
Though the new district court complex has been constructed under express orders and direct supervision of the High Court, it is the Shimla district bar association who are opposed to moving into the new complex and did petition the High Court.
The High Court had stayed shifting of the district courts till proper facilities for functioning of judicial complex were ready
A year ago, when plans were afoot to shift the courts to the new complex, lawyers had resorted to a long drawn agitation that turned aggressive. They went on a hartal and even burnt an effigy of a former chief justice.
The district courts presently are located at the DC complex, close to The Mall, has 13 court rooms that function under crowded conditions.
Photo: Ravinder Makhaik