Guwahati: The Gauhati High Court Bar Association (GHCBA) has decided to hold a protest on June 27 against the Assam government’s decision to shift the Gauhati High Court from Guwahati to Rangmahal in Amingaon under Kamrup (rural) district on the northern bank of the river Brahmaputra.
The GHCBA has also submitted a memorandum to the President of India demanding revocation of the decision to shift the High Court.
A meeting held in Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on May 23, 2023, resulted in the decision to constitute a high-level committee to inspect land comprising 240 bighas in the Rangmahal area of Amingaon, out of which around 100 bighas will be required for setting up the proposed High Court complex.
The committee would comprise the Justice of Gauhati High Court; Advocate General of Assam; Chief Secretary of Assam; Legal Remembrancer (LR) and Secretary, Judicial Department; Kamrup Deputy Commissioner and Special Secretary of Public Works Department (building and national highways).
The meeting further decided that the new complex will accommodate not only the Gauhati High Court but also other judicial courts of Kamrup Metropolitan and other Kamrup districts, including residential accommodation for judges and other staff.
“The GHCBA is categorical in its opposition to the move to shift the Gauhati High Court and other courts to Rangmahal as proposed in the meeting dated May 23, 2023,” the association stated in the memorandum to President Droupadi Murmu.
GHCBA said members of the Bar unanimously agreed to oppose the move as it undermines their role in the justice dispensation system and neglects the convenience of the litigant public in general.
It further said the proposal to shift the High Court, if implemented, would cause a great deal of hardship to lawyers of Guwahati as they have built their establishments and chambers in the city. It added that travelling time to Amingaon from different parts of the city would impact the lawyers’ productivity.
“Under the present setup, lawyers travelling from different parts of the city have to negotiate bad roads and water-logging during the rainy season apart from heavy traffic,” the memorandum stated. It further stated that going to Rangmahal amid traffic congestion even after the new bridge is commissioned would increase the travel time considerably, affecting both lawyers and litigants.
GHCBA also said that young lawyers, especially lady lawyers, would be seriously affected if they have to travel all the way to Rangmahal.
“Assuming that the new bridge would shorten the distance between Guwahati and Rangmahal, the fact remains that, lawyers and litigants will have to converge at one or two points and finally cross the bridge from a particular point over the river or its bank. Valuable time, fuel and energy would be wasted in the process, adversely impacting the system and even the environment,” the memorandum explained.
Having highlighted lawyers’ concerns and the frequency and impact of traffic congestion in the city, the memorandum stated, “The GHCBA therefore demands that the decision to shift the Gauhati High Court and other courts from Guwahati to Rangmahal be revoked.”
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“Further, the building learnt to be a convention centre in the making (near the existing High Court complex) be handed over to the High Court for its expansion and housing the other courts, tribunals within the Kamrup Metropolitan district in the interest of better dispensation of justice, befitting the concerns for development of the judicial infrastructure,” the association stated.
GHCBA further said the newly constructed High Court building was reportedly constructed at a cost of about Rs 100 crore in 2013. Noting that better premises for the court complex were available within the city, it stated that it was unclear what necessitated the shifting of the court complex to Rangmahal in Amingaon within a span of 10 years of its inauguration.
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