Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor has said that it was high time that the basic issues involved in the decades-long demand for the setting up of a High Court bench in the state capital were addressed by all concerned and swiftly acted upon.
Tharoor was reacting to the reported demand made by the Kerala High Court Senior Advocates’ Association for the closing down of the recently-constituted Kerala Administrative Tribunal at Thiruvananthapuram. The Association had said that the Kerala Administrative Tribunal was not an effective alternative mechanism to the High Court bench.
The Association’s justification for the demand was based on its view that since the orders passed by the Tribunal could be challenged before the High Court, the Tribunal did not serve the objective for which it had been established. The Association was of the view that the objective of reducing the workload of the High Court could not be achieved.
It did not serve the interests of the litigants or lawyers, claimed the Association. It served only the interests of retired judges and retired civil servants. Besides, the Tribunal entailed a heavy financial burden on the litigants and the state, the Association alleged.
Tharoor said that the statement of the Association was in bad taste and uncalled for. The Association should not have made such a sweeping statement, he said.
Tharoor opined that, further, this was only indicative of a larger negative mind-set about institutions in Thiruvananthapuram among certain sections which had stymied for so long the setting up of a bench of the High Court in the state capital.
If the argument of financial loss is carried to its logical conclusion, the solution to the problem is not to close down the Tribunal, but to set up a bench of the High Court at Thiruvananthapuram alongside the Tribunal.
The bulk of the litigation in the High Court is related to the government and it would be financial prudence and administrative convenience that these cases are dealt with by the Court through a bench in the state capital where the state government is located. At present, the geographical disconnect between the highest seat of justice in the state and the state administration, which has to reply to a major portion of the litigation, is leading to unnecessary delays and avoidable expenditure in the dispensation of justice.
It is not without reason that resolutions for the setting up of the bench have been considered and passed twice in the past by previous Legislative Assemblies. It is indeed deeply unfortunate that a decision arrived at twice by the Legislative Assembly and endorsed by the executive could not be acted upon even after decades.
The issue of the setting up of a bench of High Court at Thiruvananthapuram is one which should not and cannot be put off any longer. It is high time that the basic issues involved are considered once and for all by all the stake-holders involved and acted upon in the best interests of justice and welfare of the people, Tharoor said.