Monday, October 2, 2023

Karnataka High Court rejects challenge to conversion of Circuit Benches at Dharwad, Kalaburagi into permanent Benches

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The High Court of Karnataka has rejected a public interest litigation that challenged the Presidential Order of 2008, which converted the Circuit Benches of High Court at Dharwad and Kalaburagi into permanent benches.

The Division Bench of Justice B. Veerappa and Justice K.S. Hemalekha dismissed the petition on Tuesday on the grounds that the petition served absolutely no public interest as the Benches had rendered ‘distributive justice’ to all the regions.

The High Court observed that the plea was against the public interest and people starving for justice, which ignored the dictums of this Court as well as the Supreme Court.

Noting that the idea of speedy and quality justice dispensation system could not be treated with a status quo approach, the Division Bench observed that the establishment of these two benches was the need of the hour.

It ruled that a court complex is not just a building, but it was a building of justice, which breathed and infused life into the exalted and sublime ideals of justice. 

The High Court said the widening gap between the ideal and the real, as well as between the vision and the pragmatic realisation of justice had to be bridged by proper access to justice for all.

Filed by Advocate N.P. Amrutesh, the petition challenged the setting up of permanent benches on the ground that under Article 214 of the Constitution, only one seat of a High Court was provided. It further argued that the establishment of circuit benches was in violation of provisions of the States Reorganisation Act as well as the Mysuru High Court Act.

The petitioner argued that converting Circuit Benches into permanent benches before reviewing performance and financial sustainability was a matter of public interest as huge public money was involved in the exercise.

However, the High Court observed that these benches would certainly tend to the public’s convenience, while pointing out that pendency of cases from northern districts made up almost one-third of the High Court’s total pendency.

It asserted that the establishment of permanent benches of the High Court at Dharwad and Kalaburagi ensured speedy and qualitative justice to the needy citizens of North Karnataka to their door steps.

The Division bench said that the Benches would further substantially reduce the overall cost of litigation and inconvenience to the litigant public belonging to the area.

Noting that access to justice was a fundamental right, the High Court observed that it was the state’s duty to ensure that the justice delivery system reached every nook and corner of its territory.

The High Court pointed out that the circuit benches were constituted in June 2008 and this plea was only filed in May 2014, noting that no explanation was provided by the petitioner for the inordinate delay of six years in filing the plea.

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