State treating requirements of judiciary as non-sovereign private requirements rather than institutional essentials; Bombay HC

State treating requirements of judiciary as non-sovereign private requirements rather than institutional essentials; Bombay HC


Courts cannot function in buildings meant for municipal markets: Bombay HC warns to stay Shivaji statue project if Mazgaon court building construction is not expedited. The buildings in which the Courts are housed are old and dilapidated. One cannot expect the Courts of law to function in buildings meant for municipal markets, the Bench said. 


Bombay High Court, expressed its displeasure about the slow pace of reconstruction of Court building at Mazgaon, which was evacuated overnight in 2013. The Bench comprising of Justices S. C. Dharmadhikari and G. S. Patel said that the State treats the requirements of Judiciary as if they are non-sovereign private requirements rather than institutional essentials.

The Bench, referring to the mid-sea memorial of Shivaji Maharaj, reportedly said: "We recently read that a Rs 1,900 Crore budget provision is being made for the offshore project. If you release funds in phases, we will stay that project. The government should stop looking at courts as a separate entity.”

Context

The Bench was hearing a petition of an association of advocates practicing in the Metropolitan Magistrates’ Courts at Mazgaon who had requested High Court’s intervention so that the new building, meant to house all these Courts at Mazgaon at the same site as the earlier building, now to be demolished, is re-constructed as expeditiously as possible.

State treating requirements of judiciary as non-sovereign private requirements

The Court in its interim order says “The impression distinctly conveyed to us in matter after matter is that, in its administrative capacity of supervising the judiciary of the State, whenever this Court specifies the financial outlay required for essential judicial infrastructure and establishments, the response is to treat these requests as if they are non-sovereign private requirements rather than institutional essentials.”

State promises remain only on paper

The Bench further said “so long as the mind-set does not change and importance is not accorded to Court buildings, their construction and their attendant infrastructure exactly on par with defence establishments, police stations and the buildings for civic administrations such as those meant for use by Collectors, Commissioners and high ranking executive officers, this Court would be forced to entertain such litigations. The State makes huge and tall promises and approvals but these remain firmly on paper: when it comes to releasing funds for actual construction work; that is not actually being done.”

Courts cannot function in buildings meant for municipal markets

The Court also said that it is a sad day and a virtually travesty of justice when, in a time of such fantastic technical know-how and incredible technological advances, people residing in Mumbai have to travel from far off places to get justice. The State seems to feel nothing about the shortage of Court buildings within this city though its population is touching crores. The buildings in which the Courts are housed are old and dilapidated. One cannot expect the Courts of law to function in buildings meant for municipal markets, the Bench said.

The Court has posted the matter to March 31st and said that it “hope and trust that like all other buildings and of the State, this construction would be given a priority by the State.”

Read the Judgment here.