The Telegraph
Saturday , January 4 , 2014
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Museum to showcase high court history

- Two-member panel to supervise work on new attraction in Guwahati: the first HC in the Northeast

Jorhat, Jan. 3: Gauhati High Court will set up a museum to showcase the glorious history of the first high court in the Northeast. The museum will come up at the old building of the high court.

High court sources told The Telegraph that a decision to set up a museum had been taken by the court recently after the court’s premises were expanded with the addition of a new building.

In August this year, Chief Justice of India P. Sathasivam inaugurated the new additional building of Gauhati High Court to enable the court to better its services and reduce pendency of cases.

Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court Abhay Manohar Sapre has constituted a two-member committee of judges to supervise the setting up of the museum. An order issued by the registrar-general of the high court, M.K. Bhattacharjee, on December 19 states that the chief justice has constituted a committee comprising two judges — Justice A.K. Goswami and Justice M.R. Pathak — to look into all matters pertaining to establishment of the museum.

Sources said Gauhati High Court, which was established on April 5, 1948 as Assam High Court, had rendered service to the entire northeastern region and has enough “historic material” in its 65-year journey.

Now Gauhati High Court has jurisdiction over Assam, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram only as new high courts for Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura were opened in March this year.

According to sources, the museum will have an archive where the records of judgments of important cases and paraphernalia of the court will be displayed. Robes, wooden gavels used by judges during hearing of cases, furniture, pens, pen-stands, typewriters, calendars, ceiling or stand fans will be kept in the proposed museum.

Sources said the then Chief Justice of India, Harilal Kania, came to preside over the inauguration of the high court on the invitation of governor of Assam Akbar Hydari and premier of the province Gopinath Bordoloi.

R.F. Lodge was sworn in as the first Chief Justice of Assam High Court on April 5, 1948. The court initially had its sittings in Shillong, but shifted to Gauhati on August 14, 1948.

Welcoming the decision, the additional advocate-general of Assam, Satyen Sarmah, told this correspondent from Guwahati that the museum would provide an opportunity to know the unfolding of historical developments of the high court. “We and especially the younger generation would be enlightened by the history of this court which will shed light on shaping of the legal history of the Northeast,” Sarmah said.

He said divergent laws govern people of the region. The laws applicable to different areas may vary, but the entire area administered by a common high court is something remarkable. Sources said many high courts in the country have museums. Notable among them is Punjab and Haryana High Court, which has records of Bhagat Singh’s trial in Lahore and documents on the arrest of Jawaharlal Nehru, among others.