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Nitish flags off HC annexe

- Building to seat more judges

Chief minister Nitish Kumar laid the foundation stone of the extension building of Patna High Court on Tuesday.

Christened centenary building, it would be developed at an estimated outlay of Rs 116 crore within 2016, the hundredth year of the existing high court edifice.

Speaking on the occasion, Nitish said: “The original building of Patna High Court was constructed around 100 years ago. Initially, only seven judges used to sit here but the scope of work increased manifold with time. Thus, a shortage of space, both for administrative purposes and record keeping, was felt here lately. Accordingly, this new centenary building is being constructed at an outlay of Rs 116 crore and I would ask the executing agencies to complete the construction by the centenary year of the existing building, as both would complement each other.”

The foundation stone of the existing building of Patna High Court was laid on December 1, 1913, by then Viceroy and Governor-General of India, Sir Charles Hardinge of Penshurst.

Upon completion of construction work, Viceroy Hardinge formally inaugurated the building on February 3, 1916. Sir Justice Edward Maynard Des Champs Chamier was the first Chief Justice of Patna High Court.

The plans for the extension were conceptualised in 2010, following acute shortage of courtrooms in the existing building. “The existing strength of judges at the high court is 43 but it is insufficient to accommodate all. The judges’ strength is proposed to be raised to 53, making it impossible for the existing building to accommodate them. Hence, we would like the new building to be ready by 2016,” said Chief Justice Rekha M. Doshit.

The Chief Justice also seemed concerned about the loss of green cover at the high court owing to the upcoming centenary building.

“We wanted to save this (eastern) side of the high court premises due to the presence of ample green space (trees) here. However, that could not be done and we had to sacrifice a lot of green space. We have, however, asked the architect to ensure compensation for the green cover,” said Doshit.

Apparently, the state building construction, while applying for a prior environmental clearance from the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) for construction of the centenary building, had sought permission for felling of 12 trees at the project site.

“The building construction department initially proposed to cut 12 trees for construction of the extension building but we allowed felling of only six trees,” said Ashok Ghosh, the member of the state-level expert appraisal committee, a technical committee of SEIAA.

Proposals have been made in the long-term expansion plan of the high court premises to develop a block on the southern side of the existing building for accommodation of lawyers as well. It is under consideration of the state government.