HC raps the state again for not allotting enough funds for the construction of the Mazgaon court building
The Bombay High Court came down heavily on the state on Monday for not releasing enough funds for the Mazgaon Court building. The budget for the building is Rs 387 crore, but the Assembly released Rs 29 crore for it. The bench of justices SC Dharmadhikari and GS Kulkarni observed, “Ministers renew their bungalows at breakneck speeds, no secretary (IAS) wants to occupy an office unless it’s high-tech. It’s abdication of duty on the part of the state to not release funds for renovation of courts.”
The Bombay High Court is hearing a petition filed by the Mazgaon Bar Association, demanding early release of funds to build the Mazgaon court that was vacated by the state in July 2013. The court, which could hear around 2,500 cases annually, was closed and shifted to Sewri.
The state now plans to construct a 17-storey building for the court with a budget of Rs 387 crore. But the Assembly only released Rs 29 crore for 2016-2017 for it, the court was told by public prosecutor Hiten Vinegaonkar, who was accompanied by the state’s Finance Secretary, who had been summoned by the court.
The court was upset with the minimal amount released. “It’s a pittance. We will not be satisfied with such small amounts of Rs 2 crore, Rs 5 crore or Rs 7 crore. Do you want to build the court by 2035?” said Justice Dharmadhikari.
The court further compared the funds released for court buildings with the renovations carried at Mantralaya. “Opposite Mantralaya, bungalows of ministers are renewed at breakneck speeds. No secretary wants to occupy an office unless it’s high-tech. If you are helpless, tell us so boldly. You have money for Mantralaya renovation and don’t care if the budget is increased. Why should then a litigant who comes to court suffer?” observed the bench.
The court also said, “We don’t want money of the poor farmers that you will be releasing for Marathwada and Vidarbha, but don’t you want us to work?” The Finance Secretary was so upset with the bench’s firm talk to him, that he was seen outside the court room telling the government pleader, “This is what you call me to court for? I have been an IAS officer for past 35 years.”
The court has asked the secretary of Law and Judiciary department and the Finance Secretary to file an affidavit in next two weeks regarding the progress, and if they fail to do so the court is likely to summon the Chief Secretary of state. “In this matter, the court had last time reprimanded the state saying it will stay the Shiv Smarak that is likely to be built in Arabian Sea, but still no money was released by the state,” said Uday Warunjikar, the petitioner’s lawyer.
The state is yet to demolish the old court building and start the construction of the new building. “We don’t have environmental clearances in place,” said Vinegaonkar.