Process for building court complex at Idukki shows sorry state of affairs due to red tape: Kerala HC

PTI | Kochi | Updated: 16-11-2021 18:04 IST | Created: 16-11-2021 17:33 IST
Process for building court complex at Idukki shows sorry state of affairs due to red tape: Kerala HC
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A proposal initiated in 1997 to construct a court complex for trial courts in Idukki district indicates the ''sorry state of affairs'' in the state due to ''red tape rules'', the Kerala High Court said on Tuesday.

The court's observation came while directing the state government to ensure that land is allocated within six months, from receipt of the instant order, for construction of the court complex at Idukki.

It also ordered that once the land is allotted, the competent authority ''will take immediate necessary steps to see that the dream of the litigant public, including the lawyers, advocate clerks, etc are fulfilled and a new court complex is constructed at least within one year from the date on which the land is allotted''.

The directions by Justice P V Kunhikrishnan came while disposing of a plea moved by the Bar Association of Idukki, challenging the order canceling allotment of the two acres of land earmarked for construction of the judicial complex.

''The issue involved in this case is the construction of a court complex for functioning the trial courts in the Idukki district. The trial courts are the backbone of the Indian Judiciary. If there is no proper infrastructure and proper atmosphere for the decision-makers in the trial courts, that will be a threat to the justice delivery system itself. ''The present case is one such case, which will show the sorry state of affairs as far as the infrastructure of a court and the attempt to solve the issue is sabotaged because of red tape rules,'' the high court said.

The association, represented by advocate George Mathew, had said in its plea that the Special Court under POCSO Act, the Judicial First Class Magistrate's Court and the Munsiff Court, and the respective offices of the government pleaders and prosecutors attached to these courts, were functioning out of the District Headquarters at Idukki.

''All the above-mentioned offices are functioning under limited facilities provided in the Civil Station at Kuyilimala in Idukki. There arose a need for more facilities and also an independent need of buildings for courts at District Headquarters,'' the plea had said and added that as a result the matter was taken up before Idukki Development Authority (IDA) in 1997.

The IDA had allotted two acres for construction of the complex and the entire procedure, including taking possession of the land, was completed by September 2019 and ''steps were on the anvil to develop the property and start construction''.

However, in June this year, the government canceled the allotment of the land and sought a fresh revised proposal about the construction of the complex, the plea had said.

The allotment was canceled as according to the state government, the Revenue department was the ultimate authority to assign or allocate government land and not the Local Self Government Institutions (LSGIs).

In this case, after the IDA was dissolved in 2007, the Local Self Government Department had said that ownership of the land allocated for the complex would be vested in the District Panchayat.

The Revenue Department had contended that LSGIs have no authority to retain land.

It also said that while the government has no objection to allocating land for the construction of a judicial complex at Idukki, it can be done only following the law and after following the procedural formalities. The department also said that the government will do the needful to see that the properties are handed over for the construction of the judicial complex after following the procedures.

The high court's Registry submitted that as per the Kerala Panchayat Raj (acquisition and disposal of property) Rules, 2005, prior government permission is required only when there is a transfer of its property by the Panchayat through a sale. In the present case, the title was retained by the Panchayat, and hence no sanction from the government was necessary, it had told the high court.

''As I observed earlier, the proposal to construct a court complex at Idukki was initiated in 1997. Now we are in 2021. Almost 24 years over. The government may be right in saying that the orders so far passed are not following the law or not as per the government orders in vogue. ''But, whatever that may be, the government must rectify the illegalities or any procedure irregularities committed by the departments of the government itself,'' Justice Kunhikrishnan said.

The high court also said that it cannot endorse the stand of the government to cancel the Local Self Government Department's August 2019 order granting possession of the land in June this year.

''..without proper judicial infrastructure and a proper atmosphere to administer justice, the judiciary can not function. I am sure that the government will cooperate with the fifth respondent (high court registry) and will see that the dream of the Idukki people to get a new court complex is fulfilled soon,'' Justice Kunhikrishnan said.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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