The Madras High Court has decided to renovate the heritage structures of Egmore, George Town and Saidapet metropolitan magistrate courts.

This will involve shifting the three court premises temporarily to rented premises.

“Funds have been allocated under the 13th Finance Commission plan to meet the expenses of renovation works in these courts. We are going to undertake the renovation shortly after shifting to rental space,” a High Court registry official said.

The renovation is estimated to cost Rs. 22 crore.

The high court’s registrar-general issued a notification on Sunday that said: “For accommodating courts, about 20,000-sq. ft. built-up area is required at Egmore, George Town and Saidapet with parking space, water supply and electricity for about two years.”

“We are open to either a single building to accommodate the three complexes or individual buildings nearby wherever the heritage courts are located. Only after finding such premises, these courts can be shifted,” the official said, adding they were open even to considering government buildings, if authorities came forward to offer their premises.

The renovation work will be executed by the Public Works Department (PWD) in consultation with the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach), Delhi chapter.

Divay Gupta, principal director of Intach, Delhi chapter, told The Hindu: “We are shortly going to sign a memorandum of understanding with PWD. Our role will be that of an expert agency to advise PWD on restoration and conservation of these heritage buildings. The purpose is to restore the buildings to retain their heritage characteristics and prolong the life of the buildings for long term stability and conservation.”

Apart from structural conservation, the expert agency proposed the removal of later additions that detract from the heritage value of the buildings. It would also involve restoration of architectural features that have either vanished or are deteriorating, and also finishing, decoration and water-proofing of the structures.

“The main purpose of these exercises will be to preserve heritage and prolong the life of the heritage structure. We have conducted a preliminary study on the structural stability of these buildings and found them structurally good,” Mr. Gupta said.

The 19th century Egmore magistrate court complex is believed to be the oldest court building in the city where the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM), two additional CMMs and 10 magistrates sit.

There are different versions among historians on the date of establishment of the court. The Indo-Saracenic building has a grand structure, but its condition has deteriorated over time.

The George Town court complex too dates back to the 19 century and is another example of Indo-Saracenic architecture, but its drawbacks are its poor condition and cramped court rooms.

Built in 1921, the red-brick Saidapet courts have developed cracks in the structure and suffered damage due to water seepage.