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Circuit bench a stunt, says Youth Congress

Siliguri, Aug. 30: Youth Congress leaders of Jalpaiguri today said the proposed high court circuit bench was a “political stunt” by the Mamata Banerjee-led government.

The chief minister is scheduled to lay the foundation stone for the circuit bench in Jalpaiguri on Saturday.

“On Saturday, only the foundation stone of the circuit bench building would be laid in Jalpaiguri. This does not fulfil the aspirations of Jalpaiguri residents because their longstanding demand is to make the circuit bench functional. We feel that Saturday’s programme is nothing but another political stunt by the chief minister,” Saikat Chatterjee, the Jalpaiguri district Youth Congress president, said today.

“We have spoken to experts and engineers in the government departments concerned and they have said it would take at least four years for the building to come up,” he said.

Earlier, Calcutta High Court judges had said that the process of getting permission from the President to start a circuit bench would take a year and a half.

“The chief justice of the high court will have to communicate the matter to the Supreme Court, which will inform the Union law ministry. The law ministry will place the matter before the President. The President will then issue a notification on starting the circuit bench,” a Calcutta High Court source said. The entire process would take at least one and a half years, he said.

A plot at the SJDA complex in Rajbaripara in Jalpaiguri town has been earmarked for the construction.

“The present government has a tenure of another three-and-a-half years. So far, the government has not been too involved taking any initiative to facilitate the opening of the circuit bench and has instead focused on construction of the permanent building,” Chatterjee said.

State law minister Malay Ghatak, who visited Jalpaiguri today, said funds have been sanctioned for the construction.

“The state has sanctioned Rs 57 crore for the permanent building of the circuit bench out of which Rs 20 crore has already been paid for the construction. The tendering process is complete and soon tenders would be opened to finalise the firm that do the construction work. Our plan is to finish the work as early as possible,” he said.

The law minister added that the issue of functioning of the circuit bench has been taken up with the high court.