New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the presence of West Bengal Chief Secretary as it expressed “shock and surprise” over the stand taken by him and the Finance Secretary over providing judicial infrastructure, including court halls and residential accommodation, to judges of the subordinate courts.
Unhappy over the position taken by the Chief Secretary and the Finance Secretary, a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice K.M. Joseph directed the Chief Secretary to file a fresh affidavit stating when the ongoing construction of 75 court halls and 39 residential units would be completed.
The court asked the Chief Secretary to provide a precise date when the projects under construction will ber completed.
The court said that none of the two affidavits filed y the Chief Secretary and the Finance Secretary answers the questions they were asked in the last hearing on November 15.
By its November 15 order, the court had asked the Chief Secretary and the Finance Secretary to file separate affidavits, indicating as to when the court halls and residential units under construction would be completed and such constructions which are yet to commence, will be taken up.
The court asked the Chief Secretary to be present on December 5 – the next date of hearing.
The court also sought information on the timelines for the commencement and completion of the remaining 342 court rooms and 591 residential units for the existing judges and those who are in the process of being appointed.
The court appeared satisfied with the “push” that Delhi High Court has given to the appointment of judges in the lower judiciary after the November 15 hearing.
The court was also appreciative that earlier the entire process of appointment starting with placing of advertisements, and actual appointment took 13 months but now the High Court intends to complete it in six-and-a half months.
However, the bottleneck is that by June 2020 when the judges who are sought to be recruited would be available, there would not be court rooms to accommodate them.
Noting that the plans for constructing court halls were not even on the drawing board and it can’t happen overnight, the court directed the Delhi government to take steps to hire or lease places for housing courts and also providing accommodation to judges who would be available in 2020.