New Delhi, June 6: The country’s top court is set to get a spanking new office, just across the road. And just to make sure that lawyers and court officials don’t get caught up in traffic jams, they can drive or walk across through an underground tunnel.
While that means more space and less sweat, especially during Delhi’s sizzling summer, here’s the comfort bill: a cool Rs 900 crore.
That’s the amount it would take to build the tunnel and the Supreme Court’s new eight-floor administrative wing. A cabinet note seeking sanction for the expenditure has been moved by the law ministry.
It marks the culmination of a long battle with the developers of Appu Ghar, India’s first amusement park. The court complex will come up on the same plot where the park was opened to commemorate the 1982 Asian Games.
The 1,83,000sqm complex will have library facilities, administrative and judicial offices, lawyers’ chambers, a sub-station and a three-level basement parking. The courts, however, will not be shifted to the new complex. The tunnel will be the underground bridge between courtroom battles and the paperwork behind them.
Officials said the tunnel, which will be 100m long and about 30m wide, would be open to both vehicles and pedestrians. “The cost of building the tunnel would be close to Rs 100 crore,” said an official of the public works department. “But it is essential to prevent traffic jams as a huge number of vehicles will commute between the main building and the annexe.”
The tunnel will also connect two corporations. While the Supreme Court comes under the jurisdiction of the New Delhi Municipal Corporation, the new offices will fall under the jurisdiction of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.
The court, which operated out of Parliament House for the first eight years before the construction of the existing structure was completed in 1958, has been facing a space crunch. Over a thousand lawyers are registered with the court’s bar association, but have to make do with 299 chambers.
Additional constructions were carried out twice — in 1979 and 1994. In 2006, the Delhi Development Authority finally mutated the land-use policy. Appu Ghar’s lease was cancelled and a notice to vacate was served on the owners, who shut shop in 2008.