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High court defers shifting of district courts in Himachal Pradesh
November, 22nd 2011

The Himachal Pradesh high court has once again deferred the shifting of district courts to newly constructed complex at Chakkar. The decision has come despite the government having placed on record that, barring additional parking, the complex has sufficient space for the functioning of 21 court rooms.

A division bench presided over by Chief Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice V K Ahuja on Monday directed that the stay order for transferring the district court complex from city centre to Chakkar will continue. It also directed the government to take a decision on approval of a multistoried parking and ensure that the facilities are made available within six months. The plans for the parking complex were submitted in 2009, the judges observed.

The court has also directed that the revenue courts be shifted to the new complex to facilitate all judicial activity under one roof. It further directed allotting of a site, originally earmarked for a judicial academy, for setting up chambers for lawyers. The judicial academy will now be constructed at some other place.

The court directed the government to include chief secretary, secretary home, district judge Shimla, president and secretary of the Shimla district bar association as members in the permanent standing committee headed by a high court judge.

The committee has the principal secretary the engineer-in-chief and the chief architect of PWD along with the high court registrar general as members. It has been asked to hold a meeting within a month for proper assessment of arrangements for litigating public, lawyers and judicial officers.

The government let the court know that 21 rooms for judicial officers with sufficient space for staff are part of the new complex. Adequate provision has also been made for litigating public, bar room with facility of separate canteens for staff, members of bar and public, bank, post office, stamp vendors and typists among others -- all those who are required to be present in a judicial court complex.

There is provision for parking of vehicles for judicial officers and others to facilitate the smooth functioning of courts. Besides, adequate public transport facilities can be provided to the new complex.

To decongest the city centre, a decision to shift the district courts was taken in May 2007. Over Rs 30 crores, including Rs 2.2 crore for laying down an approach road, have already been spent. It cost 484 trees, which had to be axed.

Although the new district court complex has been constructed under the express orders and direct supervision of high court, the Shimla district bar association has opposed the move to shift into the new complex and petitioned the court.

A year ago, when plans were afoot to move the courts into the new complex, lawyers had resorted to a long drawn agitation and gone on strike.

At present, the district courts are housed in the DC complex, which is close to The Mall, and has 13 court rooms.

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