The Supreme Court on Monday sought to know from the central government the progress made towards constructing a new high court complex at Jammu.
AdvertisementOn June 28, Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud had laid the foundation stone of a new high court complex in the city.
A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia passed the order while hearing a petition highlighting the vacancies at the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) benches in Jammu and Srinagar and pendency of cases there. Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for the Centre, placed before the bench an updated note indicating the position regarding vacancies and pendency of cases in CAT benches in the two cities.
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AdvertisementThe state’s counsel said some progress has been made so far as Srinagar was concerned but in Jammu, the identification of land was an issue. ”My instructions are that there is now an agreement that once the existing high court building is vacated, the tribunal, Jammu bench, will shift there,” Bhati told the bench. Justice Kaul told Bhati the construction of the proposed building had not even started yet. ”Nothing is being constructed. It has not even started. Only thing which has happened is we had all joined there for laying of the foundation stone. That is all that has happened there. Nothing else has happened. Not an inch of movement there,” he said, adding ”There seems to be a fund problem”. Bhati requested the bench to permit her to place an affidavit on the issue. ”We have perused the updated status report but a lot remains to be done,” the bench noted in its order. It noted the ASG has submitted that there was a tentative proposal that once the Jammu bench of the high court shifts to the new complex, the high court building may be utilised by the tribunal. ”It may also be placed on record as to what is the progress being made on the high court Jammu bench as the two aspects are inter-linked,” the bench said, while posting the matter for hearing on February 20 next year. During the hearing, the ASG referred to the September 25 order passed by the apex court in the matter and said it was noted that over 16,000 cases were pending before the two benches of the tribunal. She said the current status report indicates that the pendency has come down marginally to around 15,000. ”On the issue of the sanctioned strength and position of the staff at CAT, Jammu and Srinagar benches, also much remains to be desired as stop gap arrangements have been made. It is stated that the Staff Selection Commission has been asked to complete the task which is expected to be filled up by March, 2024,” the bench had noted in its September 25 order. ”On the issue of infrastructure, some progress has been made for Srinagar but none for Jammu,” it had said.