Days after the Punjab and Haryana high court set up a committee to look into the demand for establishment of a separate bench of the high court in southern or western Haryana, a fresh order was issued on Tuesday.
Tuesday's order, issued by joint registrar (budget and salary) Renu Kalia, states that the four-judge committee had been constituted to "consider" the letter of Union law minister DV Sadananda Gowda, written following a communication from the Haryana chief minister for the establishment of a separate HC bench in western or southern Haryana. The earlier order of July 9, whereby the committee was constituted, stated that it had been constituted for the "establishment of a separate bench" in Haryana. Both orders have been passed by the same officer.
The July 9 order was being interpreted by many as the high court giving its consent to the demand. The fresh order came on the day when the Punjab and Haryana high court Bar Association members met acting chief justice SJ Vazifdar and the judges who are part of the committee formed, to oppose any move for a separate bench.
"We have been assured by the acting chief justice that the committee will have consultations with all stakeholders before any final conclusion," Bar president Harpreet Singh Brar said after the meeting.
A top official contacted by Hindustan Times said the July 9 order was being interpreted "wrongly" by the media. "The committee had been set up to examine the demand. It is in pursuance of the letter from the law minister. The committee will examine the demand," said the official, who refused to be quoted.
The four-judge committee included two judges from Haryana, justice SK Mittal and justice Hemant Gupta, and two from Punjab, justice SS Saron and justice Rajive Bhalla. The committee is headed by justice SK Mittal, who is at present the second seniormost judge in the high court.
In May, the Union law minister had forwarded a communication from Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar to the acting chief justice of the high court to examine the matter. The CM's letter, written to the law minister on April 17, had sought the setting up of a separate bench of the Punjab and Haryana high court in southern or western Haryana.