Varun Chirumamilla.A Division Bench of the Bombay High Court reserved orders in the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking for the establishment of new premises to house the High Court. The PIL also seeks a mandamus directing the Maharashtra government to provide lawyers’ chambers..The Bench of Justices AS Oka and MS Sonak reserved orders on Wednesday on the PIL filed by advocate Ahmed Abdi in 2012..Besides Abdi, the Court also heard arguments by Milind Sathe for the Bombay Bar Association, original side, VS Thorat for the Bombay Bar Association, appellate side and Darius Kambhata for the Incorporated Law Society..Advocate Anil Sakhre, appeared for the Maharashtra government and ASG Anil Singh made submissions for the Central Government..Abdi has pointed out that it was the admitted position of all sides – the Bar, the Bench and the Government included – that the over 150-year-old colonial structure that currently houses the High Court was woefully inadequate for current times..Whereas the Bombay High Court had a strength of seven judges at its inception, it now has a sitting strength of 94 judges, and litigation has grown exponentially and will only continue to grow..Abdi said that the government could not simply argue that land was not available, because a functional High Court operating at optimal levels was a Constitutional obligation that was binding upon the State. This position had been reiterated by the Supreme Court on numerous occasions..He added that the Bar, on both the appellate and original sides, supported the view that should the government argue that land is not available, a mandamus directing it to acquire land for this purpose should be issued..In fact, earlier Justice Oka had also agreed that the present structure could not be expected to support the mounting litigation before the Bombay High Court. In a detailed order passed in 2016, he had noted,.“This building was constructed to accommodate only 4-5 courts. Today the sanctioned strength of judges for the Bombay High Court is 94, the actual strength is 64. A total of 35 judges are currently functioning from the principal seat..This court does not have adequate facilities, space, toilets etc. There is no designated parking for litigants and members of the bar. There is no proper record room available in the main court complex. Historically important court records have been shifted to the small causes court building.”.Dismissing the “heritage” argument made by intervenors in the PIL, the Court had also then observed,.“The heritage status issue is irrelevant, courts of law are established for litigants. Our primary concern is for them, their interest has to be given primacy over the inconvenience of judges and lawyers.”.Following the Abdi’s petition, in 2016 the state had submitted before the Court that the court complex could perhaps be shifted to Bandra, where a certain area had been earmarked for the inclusion of the court complex in the government colony redevelopment project..However, on Wednesday, Sakhre told the Court that only 15 acres of land was available in the upscale Bandra suburb and that this was not sufficient for the setting up a Court as well as advocates chambers..ASG Anil Singh offered an alternate site for the new premises at Goregaon. He submitted that if the Court complex is to come up in Bandra, it may take longer – about three years – in order to complete the demolition and rehabilitation activities required for the project. On the other hand, around 25 acres is more readily available to house the High Court if Goregaon is chosen for the same..A predominant concern which came up during the course of the hearing is regarding the provision lawyer’s chambers in the High Court premises. The Court was told that it would be difficult to accommodate lawyers’ chambers in Bandra for want of space, in addition to issues of funding..However, it was argued that unless lawyers’ chambers are provided for in the vicinity of the High Court premises, the very purpose of the Court would be defeated..The Bench observed that they would make no suggestions regarding the location of the premises being contemplated, but that they would lay down certain fixed criteria. Further, the government would also be asked to study other newer High Court premises and come to an objective understanding of what today’s requirements are..As far as the provision of lawyers chambers is concerned, Sakhre informed the court that a cabinet decision is yet to be taken.