Three northeastearn states soon to have high courts

New Delhi/Agartala, May 12: Three northeastern Indian states of Tripura, Manipur and Meghalaya would soon get their own high courts as a necessary amendment bill was passed by the Lok Sabha amid cheers from lawyers, politicians and commoners of the states.

Tripura’s law department secretary Datamohan Jamatia Saturday said that establishment of separate high courts would help in quicker disposal of cases, save litigants’ time and money, and fulfil a long-standing demand of these states.

By amending the North-Eastern Areas (Re-organisation) Act, 1971, the North-Eastern Areas (Re-organisation) and Other Related Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2012, was passed by the lower house of parliament Friday, paving the way for creation of full-fledged high courts in the three states.

Now the amendment bill will be presented in the Rajya Sabha before it is sent to the president for her assent.

Currently, the six northeastern states – Tripura, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh – have benches of the Guahati High Court. Sikkim has a separate high court.

Under the North-Eastern Areas (Re-organisation) Act, 1971, Tripura, Manipur and Meghalaya became full-fledged states on Jan 21, 1972.

‘In Tripura alone over 52,000 cases had been pending in different lower courts and 5,000 cases are awaiting disposal in the Agartala bench of the Gauhati High Court,’ Jamatia told reporters.

He said the necessary infrastructures were ready for the functioning of full-fledged high courts.

Khagen Das, MP from Tripura, who had moved a private member’s bill in the Lok Sabha for amending the necessary act to set up the high courts, said that he had met union Home Minister P. Chidambaram and union law minister in New Delhi a number of times to expedite the process.

‘The demand for a separate high court in Tripura has been vigorously pursued from 1987. The Tripura assembly had passed unanimous resolutions requesting the central government to set up a separate high court,’ Das, a member of the central committee of the Communist Party of India-Marxist, told IANS by phone from New Delhi.

An all-party team from Tripura also had met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other central ministers over the issue.

The All India Democratic Lawyers Association’s Tripura state secretary Pankaj Bhattacharjee and opposition Congress’ Tripura legal cell president Pijush Biswas hailed the long awaited approval of the amendment bill by the lower house.

‘A decade old demand is going to be fulfilled. This is a victory in a long struggle,’ said Bhattacharjee, a senior lawyer.

The Congress has also demanded that after setting up of the high courts, a circuit bench of the Supreme Court be established in Tripura to help the litigants of the northeastern states.

For quick disposal of pending cases, the Guahati High Court had introduced in May last year video conference systems in its benches spread across six northeastern states.

The high court, which was constituted April 5, 1948, initially had its sittings in Meghalaya’s capital Shillong but shifted to Guahati Aug 14, 1948. It came to be known as the High Court of Assam and Nagaland on the constitution of the state of Nagaland Dec 1, 1963.

On the re-organisation of the northeastern region by the North-Eastern Area (Re-organisation) Act, 1971, a common high court was established for five northeastern states – Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura – and the two erstwhile union territories (now full-fledged states) – Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh – and named as the Guahati High Court.

IANS