Haryana builds a case for a separate high court
By Jaideep Sarin
Chandigarh, April 8 (IANS) Haryana is demanding a separate high court for itself, saying even smaller northeastern states have their own high courts.
Haryana, which shares its high court with Punjab (Punjab and Haryana High Court), has been seeking a high court for itself in Chandigarh. It wants the present joint high court of the two states to be bifurcated and a separate Haryana High Court to be set up.
“In 2013, separate high courts were set up for Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura,” Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Kattar has pointed out to the central government, making a strong pitch for a separate high court.
Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura were until then served by the Guwahati High Court.
“This (bifurcation) was done though out of the total pendency before the Guwahati High Court of 52,897 cases, those from Meghalaya were only 812, from Manipur 3,794 and from Tripura 6,393,” the chief minister said in a written communication.
“But out of the total pendency before the Punjab and Haryana High Court of 279,699 cases, cases from Haryana aggregate 140,359. This is more than the 124,575 cases from Punjab,” Khattar pointed out.
Though Haryana has been demanding a separate high court since 2002 and its assembly unanimously passed a resolution to this effect in March 2002 and December 2005, the central government has not given its nod.
Now Haryana wants the central government to move an appropriate bill for carrying out suitable amendments in the relevant statutes.
“We are of the view that a separate high court for Haryana can very conveniently be set up on the premises of the Punjab and Haryana High Court by bifurcating the building, staff and other infrastructure on the same lines as was done in the case of the legislative assembly and civil secretariat,” Khattar said.
What irks Haryana is that it gets only 40 percent representation on the bench of judges under the 60:40 ratio agreed upon in 1966 when Haryana was created out of Punjab.
Haryana has termed the ratio “discriminatory”. It has sought an equal representation in the existing high court.
“The practice in Chandigarh is that 60 percent officers are taken from Punjab and 40 percent from Haryana. The same principle is followed while recommending the names of lawyers and judicial officers for elevation as judges of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
“But the Punjab Reorganization Act nowhere prescribes any such distribution in the ratio of 60:40,” Khattar said.
“After more than 48 years of creation of the state, the ground realities have completely changed,” he said.
Haryana has 21 session divisions and 30 session judges, whereas Punjab has 19 session divisions and 28 session judges. We have 485 serving judges as compared to 432 in Punjab. The financial contribution of Haryana to the high court is almost on a par with Punjab, officials say.
Haryana not only wants a separate high court for itself but also an additional bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in southern-western Haryana.
People from this region, covering Gurgaon, Mewat, Palwal, Jhajjar, Mahendergarh and other areas, have to travel a long distance to Chandigarh for matters related to the high court.