Amid growing clamour for setting up High Court benches in various states, the Government has decided to form a one—man committee to look into the issue.
“We have decided to form a one—man committee to look into demands for setting up High Court benches,” Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily said here.
A former Chief Justice of India would be entrusted with the task and the Law Ministry would move the Union Cabinet shortly for its nod to set up the committee.
Sources said former CJI Justice A. M. Ahmadi is a frontrunner for the post. But Mr. Moily said no name has been decided so far. “It is too early to comment,” he said.
Mr. Moily said as of now, unless the Chief Justice of the High Court agrees, the government cannot consider any request to set up a high court bench in any state.
He was referring to a Supreme Court judgement which said any decision on establishing new benches in any state has to be approved by the Chief Justice of particular High Court.
There has been a demand from several quarters to set up benches of high courts in various states so that the cases pending before the respective high courts can be heard at a faster rate.
In the 1980s, Justice Jaswant Singh Commission was set up to fix the yardsticks for setting up new High Court benches.
The yardsticks included population of the area and the distance of the proposed bench from the principal bench.
Kerala has been demanding setting up a bench of the High Court in capital Thiruvananthapuram. The state government has insisted that the capital should have a bench as sending officials to Kochi was a costly affair.
Similar demands have been aired by lawyers from western Uttar Pradesh who want benches of the Allahabad High Court to come up at Agra and Muzzaffarnagar.
Lawyers from Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court have opposed creation of a new bench fearing loss of clientele.
Lawyers and politicians have demanded benches of the Rajasthan High Court in Bikaner. Similar demands have come from Orissa for a Sambalpur bench.
“It is also necessary that the work of the High Courts is decentralised, that is, more benches are established in all states. If there is manifold increase in the strength of the judges and the staff, all cannot be housed in one campus.
Therefore, establishment of new benches is necessary....” an August, 2009 Law Commission report on judicial reforms had said.
The report had said new benches would also help save time of litigants who have to travel to other cities.