The Court of Judicial Magistrate,First Class,Pune,referred to as the Cantonment Court,has almost 21,000 cases pending since 1978. Court officials say almost 5,000 cases are filed every year. The court lacks space and there is alleged inaction by PCB to provide infrastructure. The court has two judges,as of now.
Cantonment Court,located at 35,MG Road,shared the Pune Cantonment Board (PCB) office premises till 1989 when the latter moved to Golibar Maidan. Till 2006,there was only one courtroom and a pendency of 22,457. In 2007,the number increased to 25,000. The Bombay High Court approved five courtrooms for the Cantonment court in 2007-08. Six years after the proposal,the court has been functioning with only two judges. Despite an additional courtroom,pending cases remain high,9,000 in court 1 and about 12,000 in court 2, said a court official on the condition of anonymity. Today,the court has four police stations under its jurisdiction,Wanowrie,Kondhwa,Mundhwa and Hadapsar.
In 2006,the then principal district and sessions judge R P Sondur Baldota had asked PCB to provide additional space for the court. PCB wants to exploit this space for a commercial complex under pressure from elected political members, said Advocate Ibrahim Shaikh.
The space tussle between PCB and the court is older than 2006. Between 1999 and 2001,the PCB mulled over constructing the court building at 394 Lloyd Road next to Bombay Garage at a cost of Rs 24.40 lakh. Yet another proposal included,Temporarily shifting the court to Sholapur Bazaar Community Hall to facilitate construction of a commercial complex at 35,MG Road.
Veer Sawarkar building in Bhimpura was another location. All were rejected by the court citing inconvenience. The court pays only Rs 50 as license fee for occupying 2,410 sq ft the board has to generate its own income by bringing up remunerative projects on available land resources, the PCB had in October 1999 told the district judge who sought additional space for the court.
While PCB has been keen on relocating the courtroom to create a commercial complex to serve as a source of income for the board,judges have been seeking increased and livable space within the premises. Repeated letters to GOC-in-Cs,and PCB presidents have hardly brought any respite. The top floor can ideally accommodate additional sitting rooms and an empty room in the backyard can be the record room. But cantonment board does not want to respond despite repeated appeals, said Advocate N K Bhog.
A cantonment official said,The court has occupied space vacated by PCB in 1989. As far as additional space is concerned,the court should give us a proposal and the board will consider it. For that,the court will have to agree to the temporary site we offer for relocation. Whenever the board has offered an alternative location,the court has rejected it.