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Judge recce for bench seat

Calcutta, Dec. 25: A three-member team of Calcutta High Court judges will visit the East European Club premises in Jalpaiguri, the site selected by the government to temporarily house the north Bengal circuit bench.

The decision was taken at a recent full-bench meeting of the judges.

The committee, comprising Justice Dilip Seth, Justice Pinaki Ghosh and Justice Ashok Ganguly, will visit the club premises during the Christmas vacation and submit a report before the full bench after the court reopens in the first week of January, sources said.

The high court decision follows a request from the state government, asking it to give necessary approval for starting the circuit bench on the East European Club premises.

An old “Rajbari” campus is being renovated in Jalpaiguri to house a permanent circuit bench.

The setting up of a circuit bench of Calcutta High Court is a long-pending issue. The Supreme Court and the Union government had decided in the early eighties to set up the bench for the sake of litigants of north Bengal. The people of the north Bengal districts have been demanding a circuit bench in the area for more than three decades.

After the Centre’s decision, a tussle began between the lawyers of Siliguri and Jalpaiguri over where the circuit bench should be located.

While the Siliguri lawyers were demanding setting up of the court in their own area, Jalpaiguri residents said it would be wise for the government to constitute the court building in their town in the interest of the people living in remote border areas.

In 1997, the full bench of the high court had assigned three judges to settle the issue. In their report, the judges had suggested that Jalpaiguri would be the proper place for setting up of the circuit bench. Accordingly, the high court asked the state government to select a place for setting up the court.

Many protests and counter-agitations were organised by both Siliguri and Jalpaiguri lawyers to press their demands.

Recently, the government had selected a place in Jalpaiguri. But renovation of the building will take some time.

The Centre and the apex court have repeatedly asked the state as well as Calcutta High Court to set up the circuit bench as early as possible.

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