Proposal on Dharwad, Gulbarga Benches gets President’s nod
President Pranab Mukherjee approved the proposal to convert the Circuit Benches of the Karnataka High Court in Gulbarga and Dharwad into permanent Benches, ending the uncertainty surrounding their continuation.
After a long struggle, which at times turned violent, a notification was issued in 2001 to establish Circuit Benches in Gulbarga and Dharwad districts. However, there was uncertainty over the continuation of the Bench in Gulbarga owing to low pendency of cases.
Union Labour and Employment Minister M. Mallikarjun Kharge, who played a crucial role in persuading the Union Cabinet to get Article 371 of the Constitution , also contributed to Circuit Benches getting the permanent status.
Permanent status would mean that judges, who visited Gulbarga and Dharwad by turns for six weeks to dispose of cases, would now have to be posted there permanently.
At present, there are three High Court judges handling cases in the Gulbarga Circuit Bench, and taking into account the pendency of cases there, at least four more judges would be required, according to senior advocates in the Gulbarga Bar.
The credit for launching the first serious agitation for a permanent Bench of the High Court in 1979 should go to the Dharwad Bar Association, and the Gulbarga Bar Association joined the call in 1983.
The advocates’ agitation got noticed first in 1992 when the S. Bangarappa Cabinet recommended setting up of permanent Benchs in Gulbarga and Dharwad.
After much dilly dallying, the High Court decided to approve the establishment of Circuit Benches in Gulbarga and Dharwad in 2001 and they started functioning in 2008.
While Gulbarga, Bidar, Raichur, Bijapur, and Yadgir districts were brought under the Gulbarga Circuit Bench, Dharwad, Haveri, Uttara Kannada, Belgaum, Bagalkot, Bellary, Gadag, and Koppal came under the Dharwad Circuit Bench.
The demand of the Gulbarga Bar Association to bring Bellary and Koppal districts under the jurisdiction of the Gulbarga Bench has not been accepted by the Karnataka High Court.