In view of the demand of the Haryana government, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has constituted a four-member judges’ committee for the establishment of a separate bench of the High Court in southern/western Haryana.
The decision was taken by the Acting Chief Justice Shiavax Jal Vazifdar in response to Union Law and Justice Minister DV Sadananda Gowda’s recent letter requesting him to look into the matter.
The judges’ committee comprises Justices Satish Kumar Mittal, Hemant Gupta, S S Saron and Rajive Bhalla. The orders for constituting the committee were issued on July 6.
The order reads, “Hon’ble the Acting Chief Justice, in exercise of powers conferred by Article 229 of the Constitution of India and all other powers enabling him in this behalf, has been pleased to constitute Hon’ble committee for establishment of a separate Bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court at Southern/Western Haryana.”
Gowda had written to the Acting Chief Justice after a DO letter was addressed to him by Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on April 17, raising the demand for establishment of a separate bench of the High Court at Southern/Western Haryana. Khattar had raised two demands related to establishment of a separate High Court for Haryana and also a separate bench at Southern/Western Haryana.
Later, Gowda in a DO letter informed the Haryana Chief Minister on May 25, that establishment of a separate bench of the High Court in Haryana should also have the consent of the Acting Chief Justice.
“In this regard, I would like to inform you that considering the recommendations made by the Jaswant Singh Commission and judgment pronounced by the Apex Court in W.P.(C) No. 379 of 2000, Bench(es) of the High Court are established after due consideration of a complete proposal from the state government which should also have the consent of the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court.” The Law and Justice Minister further informed Khattar, “I am forwarding your letter to the Acting Chief Justice, Punjab and Haryana High Court, to examine the case.”
The need for a separate High Court bench in southern/western Haryana was felt as litigants from these districts find it difficult to pursue cases in the High Court, owing to the long distance from Chandigarh. At present, there are separate High Court benches, apart from the principal High Court benches, in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan.
Haryana has 21 districts and Punjab 22. Both states have a common High Court. But when it comes to filling up of judges’ vacancies, Haryana has 40 per cent quota as against 60 per cent of Punjab. The Haryana government has been demanding 50:50 ratio in judges’ recruitment. Also, the state government has raised the argument that when much smaller states as compared to it such as Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura now have separated from the earlier common Gauhati High Court, Haryana should also have a separate High Court bench. After studying the infrastructure of the existing High Court, the state government has said a separate High Court bench could be established by bifurcation of the existing building.