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After long delays, courts set to move from Patiala House

After long delays, courts set to move from Patiala House
Patiala House Courts complex. Photo: Anil Shakya
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By Rajesh Kumar

Finally, the historic and heritage building of the Patiala House, designed by British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, is set to be vacated. All the legal paraphernalia that it accommodated as it housed the New Delhi district courts at Tilak Marg near India Gate in Central Delhi, will be removed.

The courts will move to a new eight-storey building being constructed at a cost of Rs 306 crore on the Deen Dayal Upadhayay Marg (Rouse Avenue). The new building will have 41 court rooms, spread over 7.5 lakh square feet.

The decision to move was taken when Sheila Dikshit was the chief minister of Delhi. The idea was to keep the heritage structure, a former palace of the Maharajah of Patiala, free of unauthorized construction.

Right in the middle of prime Delhi property area, the Patiala House complex covers about 31,872 square metres. The court complex as of now is divided into five parts: Main Building, Publication Building, Annexe Building, Lock-up Building and the MEA Building. It now has 32 courts, one Family Court, Delhi Legal Services Authorities Office and various other branches and lawyers’ chambers, etc.

When the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi abolished the Privy Purses in 1970, the royal family gave the palace to the government. It became the home of the Delhi High Court before its own, new building came up on Sher Shah Road.

A few years ago, PWD, Delhi government, had started constructing the eight-storey building at Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg for the new court.

The lawyers of District Courts of Delhi and Bar Association of Patiala House Court & District Courts opposed the shifting on the grounds that no chambers were constructed for lawyers.

The Coordination Committee of all District Bar Associations of Delhi went on strikes at all district courts to protest the shifting. The committee raised the issue of jurisdiction vis-à-vis the location of the new complex. As per the committee, the proposed complex does not fall within the territory of the New Delhi District. It falls in the jurisdiction of IP Estate police station, in the Central District. The committee asserted that setting up a court complex outside its own jurisdiction was “improper” and would “defeat the purpose of justice at doorstep.”

These issues have now been resolved, and the court is set to move, leaving the grand structure of the palace to be renovated.

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