Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Sunday demanded a separate high court for Haryana, an equal representation on the existing bench of the Punjab and Haryana high court and an additional bench for the southern-western districts.
Speaking at the joint conference of chief ministers and Chief Justices of the high courts in New Delhi on Sunday, Khattar argued that Article 214 of the Constitution provided for a high court for each state. The Haryana assembly had passed resolutions on March 14, 2002 and December 15, 2005 for bifurcation of the Punjab and Haryana high court and creation of a separate high court for Haryana and requested the Central government to move an appropriate Bill for carrying out suitable amendments in the relevant statutes.
“We are of the view that a separate high court for Haryana can very conveniently be set up on the premises of the Punjab and Haryana high court by bifurcating the building, staff and other infrastructure on the same lines as was done in the case of legislative assembly and Civil Secretariat,” he said.
He contended that separate high courts have been set up for Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura which were earlier common with the Guwahati high court. This was done even though out of the total pendency of about 52,000 cases before the Guwahati high court, there were only 812 from Meghalaya, about 3,700 from Manipur and from about 6,300 from Tripura. But out of the total pendency of about 2.79 lakh cases before the Punjab and Haryana high court, there were about 1.40 lakh cases from Haryana, Khattar said.
Raising the issue of insufficient representation given to Haryana on the high court bench, he said the practice in Chandigarh administration was that 60 % officers were taken from Punjab and 40 % from Haryana. The same principle is followed while recommending the names of lawyers and judicial officers for elevation as judges of the Punjab and Haryana high court. But the Punjab Reorganization Act nowhere prescribes for any such distribution in the 60:40 ratio, the chief minister said.
"After more than 48 years of creation of the state, the ground realities have completely changed. Haryana has 21 session divisions and 30 sessions judges whereas Punjab has 19 session divisions and 28 sessions judges. We have 485 serving judges as compared to 432 in Punjab. The financial contribution of Haryana to the high court is almost on par with Punjab. Hence, we are of the view that the practice of fixing 60:40 ratio is discriminatory and against the mandate of the Constitution. Therefore, we legitimately feel that Haryana should be given equal representation in all deputation posts and equal representation in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. I would like to take the opportunity to request the Chief Justice of India and Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court to support this just demand of our state”, Khattar said.
Seeking an additional High court bench in southern-western Haryana, the chief minister said because of the long distance, poor litigants from far-off southern and western Haryana found it difficult to pursue cases in the high court at Chandigarh. States like Rajasthan, UP and Maharashtra have additional high court benches away from the principal bench.