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Vadodara: At new court building, protesting lawyers seated on mats ‘miss home’

As their battle for space goes on, the protesting lawyers say they “miss home” — the Nyaymandir, which earlier housed the district courtrooms.

Written by Aishwarya Mohanty | Vadodara |
April 2, 2018 5:02:32 am
Vadodara: At new court building, protesting lawyers seated on mats ‘miss home’ Protesting lawyers outside the new district court building in Vadodara.

A five-minute walk from the main entrance gate of the new, sprawling court premise in Diwalipura takes you to the main court building of Vadodara. Inside, the wide lobbies are occupied by advocates who resumed work on March 26 after a seven-day strike over “lack of exclusive space” allocated to them in the new premises. They, however, continued their protest by spreading out mattresses and doormat on the floor of the lobby, making it their temporary work space.

Broken window panes, doors and furniture remind of the commotion that the new building witnessed from the very first day — March 19 — when over 2,500 lawyers began their protest. The stalemate continued for a week, and was resolved only after a committee of senior lawyers met the Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court. The agitating advocates finally agreed to resume work, but they continue to protest in their unique way.

Two weeks later, as their battle for space goes on, the protesting lawyers say they “miss home” — the Nyaymandir, which earlier housed the district courtrooms.

Located six kilometre away from Nyaymandir, on the opposite end of the city, the new district court building is spread over an area of 55,000 square metre. It houses 76 courts, including junior court, senior court, appellant court, family court amongst others. Despite its huge structure, built at a cost of Rs 141 crore, the seating arrangement has always been bone of contention for the lawyers. But they were assured that the issue would be resolved immediately after they shift to the new court building.

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“The building was going to be inaugurated anyway, even if we had resisted. So, we just hoped that everything would fall into place about the seating arrangements as promised and we moved to the new building. But it did not, and therefore we had to protest,” says Ritesh Thakkar, joint secretary, Baroda Bar Association,

Hitesh Pandya, who practised law at Nyaymandir for the last 15 years, remembers the heritage building as one that emanated “positive vibes to work hard and to work only on the right path”. “The whole atmosphere there was so positive. Not only emotionally, we miss the building also for its beautiful architecture. Even during the peak of summer, you did not feel the heat because the height of every room was at least 20 feet. The building was so well constructed. Here, undoubtedly the new building is huge, but there is no logic behind the construction. There are no trees around. Nyaymandir also had the beautiful statue of Maharani Chimnabai, the wife of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III, which was an inspiration in itself,” says Pandya, seated among a group of lawyers, who have spread mats on the floor of the new court building lobby.

Sheetal Upadhaya, library secretary of Baroda Bar Association, claims that Nyaymandir was easily accessible for the rich as well as the poor as it was located at the centre of the city with ample connectivity. “It has always been a centre of law, a centre for everybody. The place meant justice. We not only miss the building but we also miss the tea stall, the shoe polish man and everybody else around the building who had become family. The best part of Nyaymandir was that it even though it was huge and even if we kept walking the entire day, we never felt tired, it was never stressful,” says Upadhayay who practised at Nyaymandir for the last eight years.

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Senior advocate Hitesh Gupta who was among the 12 lawyers on hungerstrike, turns nostalgic as he remembers about Nyaymandir. “There was a space famously known as ‘Bodhi Vruksh corner’. Under the tree we sat and discussed cases, law, politics. For every person who would come to the court, the court building made sure that he or she became a part of it,” he adds.

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First published on: 02-04-2018 at 05:02:32 am

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