Mumbai: HC reminds state of its obligations towards judiciary after "heavy showers" in courtroom obstruct administration of justice

The Bombay High Court bench of Justices Sunil Shukre and Anil Kilor at the Nagpur seat recently reminded the Maharashtra government of its constitutional obligation to provide "effective, workable infrastructure and adequate funds" for the judiciary. This comes after the bench noted the "heavy showers" inside a court hall at the Nagpur seat owing to the leakage of the ceiling.

"We find that a porous roof of court hall letting in rain water, not in drops or trickles, but heavy showers is much more than a disability, it is an obstruction, for a justice-seeker and justice-dispenser," the bench observed in its orders of June 19.

The bench was hearing a PIL filed in 2015 by the HC's bar association regarding the poor infrastructure of the court.

On June 19, when the hearing was held, the judges were informed of a video of heavy rainfall both outside and inside a court hall.

"If the Court rooms are leaking in this fashion, we ask a question to ourselves - Would it be possible for the HC to dispense justice in performance of its sovereign function? The question does not beg any answer and the answer is too manifest to be expressly stated here," Justice Shukre said.

The counsel for the bar association submitted that because of the civil work which was going on in the court stopped due to non-payment of fees worth Rs 1 crore to the contractor, the roof has leaked. The counsel further said that the state often drags its feet over paying funds for the infrastructure of the judiciary.

At this, the judges said, "We would like to remind the state of its constitutional duty towards providing workable and effective infrastructure and adequate funds to the third pillar of our democracy which is judiciary so that judiciary is able to perform its sovereign function and discharge its constitutional duty in an effective manner."

"We, therefore, request the state authorities to consider urgent infrastructural and financial needs of this court and make adequate provisions and also release the funds immediately so that the opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any litigant," the bench said, adding, "After all, a leaking court hall, rather water pouring court hall, lack of adequate space in courts, absence of court buildings etc. are some of the physical obstacles in dispensing as well as securing justice, and it is the constitutional duty of the state to remove them without any delay."

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