Subordinate Judiciary: “If Chief Secretary is unable to provide us answers, what will we do”, Supreme Court to West Bengal
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Subordinate Judiciary: “If Chief Secretary is unable to provide us answers, what will we do”, Supreme Court to West Bengal

Murali Krishnan

The State of West  Bengal came under fire once again in the Supreme Court in the case concerning infrastructure of and appointments to the subordinate judiciary.

The Chief Secretary was unable to provide accurate answers to the questions posed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.

After a stern order was passed during the last hearing, the Chief Secretary and Finance Secretary of the State were present in Court for today’s hearing.

The State had also submitted details of the progress made with regard to the construction of court buildings and residential units for judges.

While there is a requirement for 422 court buildings, the State averred on affidavit that construction was underway with respect to 75 court buildings. Further, 39 residential units were also being constructed. However, out of the 75 buildings, only 23 have been granted administrative approval.

CJI queried as to how many court halls would be housed in the 23 buildings. The Chief Secretary was, however, not able to provide an accurate figure with regard to the same.

The Bench was disappointed.

We are only at the tip of the iceberg. We require 422 buildings but only 75 are being constructed. Out of that, approvals have come only for 23.

Is it not the Constitutional duty of the State to provide court halls and residences for judges?“, he asked.

Justice Gogoi was also unimpressed by the fact that the Chief Secretary could not provide a full picture of the progress made.

We have called the highest authority of the State – the Chief Secretary. If the Chief Secretary is unable to provide us answers, then what will we do?“, he said.

Gogoi J. was also critical of the High Court for not informing the State about the judiciary’s requirements on time.

How are we to blame them when you have not given proposals to them? This requirement of 422 did not happen overnight“, said Gogoi J.

The Bench then sought a concrete proposal from the State to address the issue of infrastructure.

Once these buildings are completed, requirement for another 422 will arise. So do you have a plan?“, asked Gogoi J.

He then asked the Chief Secretary, the Finance Secretary and the Registrar General to discuss for an hour and come up with a concrete proposal. The matter will be heard after that.

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