Tharoor Repeats Plea for HC Bench in Capital City
Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor has once again made a strong plea for a High Court Bench in Thiruvananthapuram even as jurist and former Supreme Court judge V R Krishna Iyer said he was against “slicing” of the High Court.
They were speaking at a conference in Kochi on ‘Future of Law, Justice and Governance in India’, organised as part of the 99th birthday celebrations of Justice Krishna Iyer, on Friday.
According to Tharoor, the decision of the Bar Association to boycott the conference and issuing directive to lawyers to stay away from it was “a new low in the history of public life”.
He said: “Those behind such things should be ashamed to call themselves lawyers and are disgrace to the profession and show a shocking lack of openness to the basic tenets of the legal system.”
More number of Benches of the High Court will enable impart of justice to more people and most of the states have multiple Benches, he said. He said he had looked forward to engaging in talks with some leading members of the Bar Association on the question of High Court Bench in the state capital.
He said the volume of cases in Kerala had grown so much that today, there are at least 20,000 pending cases, 50 per cent of which involve state government as the litigant. The state government is spending over `3 crore by way of TA/DA for officials to testify in the High Court, he said.
This is not the only expenditure for the government, as officials have to be away from their work for at least two days to appear for a few minutes before the High Court here. There was a Bench in Thiruvananthapuram in 1956, and through the present demand, an attempt is being made to revive it, Tharoor said, adding that several states had multiple Benches. The only exceptions are Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala.
Tharoor, who represents Thiruvananthapuram in Parliament, said successive Chief Justices of the High Court had not stated the reason for turning down the plea for a Bench in the state capital. However, Justice Krishna Iyer said he stood for the integrity of the High Court.
There might be requirement for Benches as decentralisation is essential in a democracy, but the integrity of the High Court is essential in its entirety and wholeness, he said, adding that he had written to the Chief Justice in October seeking ‘not to slice’ the High Court.