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The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday granted one month’s time to the Chandigarh Administration to suggest any piece of land in the High Court’s vicinity which could be used for construction of advocates’ chambers for members of the High Court Bar Association.
During the arguments, a division bench comprising Justices S K Mittal and H S Sidhu was informed by the Chandigarh Administration’s counsel Shekhar Verma that Adviser to the UT Administrator, Vijay Kumar Dev, had made it clear that it would be inappropriate to convert the green spaces of the city into construction zone. Hence the land in front of the high court museum cannot be allotted for construction of the high court advocates’ chambers as it is green area as per the notified master plan.
However, appearing for the Bar Association, senior advocate Rupinder Singh Khosla argued that over a period of time the Chandigarh Administration had converted green belt for other purposes and in this case too, it could be done. He also suggested that around 20-acre land proposed by the Bar Association could also be handed over to the High Court out of which the association could take some portion for chambers which would be constructed in an environment-friendly manner by keeping in view the heritage status. But the court did not seem in favour of the land being handed over to the High Court.
In his reply, the adviser had also informed the court that Justice (retd) S S Sodhi was also associated with the exercise of the Mater Plan-2031, which has been notified now, as a member of the Administrator’s Advisory Council and had objected to the use of green belt for construction purpose.
But the court questioned the UT’s counsel, “We had asked you to make provision for advocates in the master plan. Now you say it is complete.” The court added, “Advocates are an important part of the justice delivery system and without them we cannot decide cases.”
Bar Association’s president Harpreet Singh Brar submitted that the association just wanted land from the Chandigarh Administration and it would do the construction on its own and arrange the funds for the project.
As per the Chandigarh Administration’s plan, a total of 125 chambers are to be constructed in which around 1,000 advocates would be accommodated. But the Bar Association’s strength has reached around 10,000, and there are only 131 chambers for advocates on the high court premises at present.
The case will now come up for hearing on August 21.