The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Judges fail to finalise bench site

Calcutta, Jan. 24: A full-court meeting of the judges of Calcutta High Court today failed to finalise the location of its temporary circuit bench in Jalpaiguri. The meeting was adjourned till January 27, when the judges will resume deliberations.

The Supreme Court and the Centre had urged the state government in October to set up the bench at the earliest. At the last full-court meeting, Chief Justice A.K. Mathur had asked three high court judges to visit European Club in Jalpaiguri and two other sites, which the state had shortlisted as possible locations of the temporary bench.

The judges saw the sites early this month. They placed a report before the full bench today. At the meeting, the problems of judges’ and court officials’ accommodation, the location of the judges’ library and the bar library, the record room and other facilities needed in the proposed premises were discussed in detail.

The government has decided to set up the permanent circuit bench at Nawab Bari in Jalpaiguri. But the historic building needs a thorough renovation to be fit enough to house the bench. Hence the decision to put in place a temporary bench.

Setting up of a circuit bench of the high court in north Bengal has been a long-pending demand. The Supreme Court had ordered the establishment of the bench at a central location following sustained demands from the five districts in the north.

But, immediately after the decision, the bar associations of the Jalpaiguri and Siliguri courts launched movements demanding the setting up of the bench in their areas.

The state government had requested the high court to decide on a suitable district for the bench. After a visit to the region in 1997, a committee of high court judges opined the bench should be set up in Jalpaiguri .

Following the green signal from the high court, the government started looking out for a suitable place for the bench and zeroed in on Nawab Bari.

Though the high court judges arrived at a decision on setting up the bench in Jalpaiguri, there is resentment among the lawyers in Malda and Siliguri. The bar associations there have stuck to a line of protest.

The state bar council, however, had taken a neutral stance, saying it was up to the high court to give the final verdict.

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