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Lawyers on warpath seeking construction of court complex

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UNUTILISED: Damaged vehicles lying at the site acquired for construction of court complex at Sampathnagar in Erode. PHOTO: M. GOVARTHAN
UNUTILISED: Damaged vehicles lying at the site acquired for construction of court complex at Sampathnagar in Erode. PHOTO: M. GOVARTHAN

R. Sundaram

ERODE: The lawyers of Erode are on strike for the past one week demanding the construction of a criminal court on a site acquired 30 years ago for the construction of an integrated court complex at Sampathnagar.

A senior lawyer, P.C. Palanisamy, told The Hindu , "The Erode district was bifurcated from Coimbatore district on September 17, 1979. Prior to it when the DMK came to power, some leading advocates met the then Chief Minister, C.N. Annadurai, and the then Law Minister, Madhavan, to grant them a district sessions court to try criminal cases. Following this, the District and Sessions Judge Court, Coimbatore East at Erode was started in a building at Court Street near Karaivaikkal, Erode."

He said that after formation of Erode district, a reception was accorded by the Bar Association to the then Chief Minister, M.G. Ramachandran, who visited the court and announced that a criminal court complex would be built at the site at Sampathnagar and granted Rs. 95 lakh for construction. But the Public Works Departments officials stating various reasons, built Civil Court complex first. But due to non-allotment of furniture, the building was kept idle for two years.

In 1987, the then Governor of Tamil Nadu, P.C. Alexander, inaugurated the Civil Court complex, where the District Principal District Court, Additional District Court, Fast Track Court, Chief Judicial Magistrate Court and three subordinate courts are now functioning.

The lawyers said that the two-acre site allotted for the criminal court was lying idle. Thorny bushes and garbage have given the plot a shabby look. The site could be utilised by constructing pucca buildings for criminal court.

Mr. Palanisamy said that already some years ago a revised plan had been drawn and approved by the Government and it was decided to build the complex at a cost of Rs. 5 crore. But due to some reason or the other, for the past few years the Government had failed to grant funds for the same and the place is kept vacant.

He said "there was a Supreme Court ruling that if the acquired place is not used for the purpose within a certain period, the land may be returned to the person, from whom the land was acquired." So, to avoid such a possibility, he wanted the government to grant money and start construction work to accommodate the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court, three Judicial Magistrate Courts and the offices of the four courts.

He said if such a complex was built it would be useful to the public to meet the lawyers in one place and this will be helpful to the lawyers to attend two or three courts in a day.

Now if a lawyer wants to go to Judicial Magistrate Court from Principal District Court, he will have to cover 3 km in his vehicle through traffic congestion.

It is also stated by the striking lawyers that the government has now decided to construct buildings at a total cost of Rs. 275 crore, which was mentioned in the current budget proposal. Of this, a sum of Rs. 5 crore may be granted for construction of the Integrated Court Complex to house the criminal courts.

To press their demand, the lawyers are on relay fast on Tuesday and would continue the agitation till March-end.

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