The Bombay High Court on Tuesday said the present high court complex was the most “ill-equipped” to render services to all litigants, lawyers, staff members and judges.
The court passed an order in a Public Interest Litigation filed by Ahmad Abdi, a lawyer, seeking direction to provide a new building for the Bombay High Court with fixtures, furniture and other infrastructure on priority basis.
A division bench of Justice A S Oka and Justice M S Sonak directed the state government to take a decision on offering a large and convenient plot of land for the construction of the high court complex and also consider whether an area of 11.68 hectare can be offered in addition to the 6.02 hectare at Bandra East.
The bench said the state government should take decision on providing land within six months, which shall be immediately communicated to the high court administration. “Till the date of the communication of the decision to the high court and for a period of three months from that date, the state government shall not transfer or encumber the aforesaid plots at Bandra (East) admeasuring 6.02 Hectare (earmarked for High Court complex) and 11.68 Hectare (earmarked for sale) respectively,” the court said.
The bench said, “…the present court complex is now most ill-equipped to render services to all stakeholders such as litigants, lawyers, members of staff and the judges. Moreover, there is a need to think about future requirements for 100 and more years. If the persons who are now in the helm of affairs ignore the same, the future generation will blame them.”
The court further said, “Considering the increase in the strength of judges of this court, manifold increase in the number of staff members and members of the bar and a huge rise in institution and pendency of cases, it is necessary to construct a modern high court complex, which will cater to the need of the high court for at least 100 years more.”
Abdi’s petition stated that the current high court building was originally constructed for six to seven courts, which were located on the second floor. Now, the sanctioned strength of the judges of the Bombay High Court is 94. In the annex building, which runs parallel to the main building, small court rooms and chambers had been set up during the last few years by converting offices of Registry.
The bench said many important facilities were not available in the present high court complex, such as parking lot for lawyers, litigants and judges, sitting space for litigants, proper canteen for lawyers and litigants, adequate space for litigants to stand in corridors, common rooms for high court staff, video conference room and even the clinic was of bare minimum size with inadequate requirements.