President nod comes for Jalpaiguri circuit bench

Calcutta, Feb. 20: The proposed Calcutta High Court circuit bench in Jalpaiguri has got the President's nod.

A January 24 letter saying the President has given his assent has reached Calcutta High Court. The bench has to start functioning in three months from the day of issue of the assent.

"In August last year, the Mamata Banerjee government had requested the Union government to send a notification to the President requesting him to approve the functioning of a temporary circuit bench of Calcutta High Court at Jalpaiguri," a senior official of the high court said.

On January 24, the President gave his assent.

"The functioning of the bench will have to be started within the stipulated period of three months," a senior official in the state law department said today.

According to him, if the high court fails to start the functioning of the court by April 24, the Union government would have to send a fresh notification to the president seeking his assent.

Some senior officials of Calcutta High Court said the process for starting the temporary circuit bench in Jalpaiguri had already started and Chief Justice A.K Mishra had made all his colleague aware about the President's assent.

A Jalpaiguri zilla pari-shad Dak Bungalow has been made ready for the bench to function from there.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had said in Siliguri on January 31 that she had heard the presidential nod for the bench had been given. "Jalpaiguri circuit bench notification hoye geche (the notification for the Jalpaiguri circuit bench is done)," she had said. She had laid the foundation stone for the circuit bench in September 2012.

A high court official said today: "The process for opening the circuit bench has already been started and the chief justice will soon convene an all-judge meeting to select the judges who would go to the circuit bench first. It has been decided that initially four judges will be sent to the circuit bench against a sanction for six posts."

According to high court sources, the judges have requested the chief justice to tell the chief minister to arrange for enough infrastructure at the temporary bench in Jalpaiguri.

The move to set up the bench had got rolling in 1990.

The lawyers' fraternity in Jalpaiguri said the circuit bench would help the people of north Bengal who have to come to Calcutta to fight cases in the high court.

"The decision has been pending for years. We had appealed before the Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court and also the chief minister during their visits in Jalpaiguri last year," said Kamal Krishna Banerjee, secretary of the Jalpaiguri Circuit Bench Dabi Aday Sarbik Unnayan Samannoy Committee.

"We have learnt it (about the presidential nod for the bench) from you and if it is true, it is great news for the residents of Jalpaiguri and north Bengal," Banerjee said.

Abhinandan Choudhury, secretary of Jalpaiguri Bar Association, said: "We appreciate and welcome the move taken by the Centre."

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