Agartala, March 21 (IANS) Three separate high courts in northeastern states of Tripura, Manipur and Meghalaya will start functioning from next week, an official said Thursday.
With this, the total number of high courts in the country will increase from 21 to 24.
Currently, the six northeastern states of Tripura, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh have benches of the Gauhati High Court which is in Assam.
“Union Law and Justice Minister Ashwani Kumar, along with Chief Justice (of India) Altamas Kabir, would inaugurate the Manipur and Meghalaya High Courts March 25 and the Tripura High Court the next day,” Tripura law department secretary Datamohan Jamatia told IANS.
He said: “President Pranab Mukherjee has already appointed the respective chief justices of the Tripura, Manipur and Meghalaya high courts.”
The respective state governors would administer the oaths of office to these three chief justices. The process would be completed before the inauguration of the courts.
As per the suggestions of the Supreme Court collegium, Justice T. Meena Kumari, a judge of the Patna High Court, who hails from Andhra Pradesh, has been appointed by the president as the chief justice of Meghalaya.
Justice Deepak Gupta, who hails from Himachal Pradesh, would be the chief justice of Tripura and Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre, a judge of the Chhattisgarh High Court, would be the chief justice of Manipur.
“The law and justice ministry has issued the necessary notification of the President of India Tuesday about the establishment of the separate high courts,” Jamatia added.
The obligatory amendment to the North-Eastern Areas (Re-organisation) Act, 1971 — the North-Eastern Areas (Re-organisation) and Other Related Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2012 — was passed by the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha in May 2012, paving the way for the creation of separate high courts in the three states.
According to another official of the Tripura law department, the strength of judges in the Tripura High Court would be four, including the chief justice, followed by Meghalaya and Manipur three each, including the chief justice.
“Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, in a recent letter to the union law and justice minister, has requested the appointment of at least five judges in the new high courts so that divisional benches can function besides single benches,” the official added.
Jamatia said the Tripura has already made the necessary infrastructure to set up a separate high court in Agartala.
Presently, the seven northeastern states — Assam, Tripura, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh — have been under the Gauhati High Court. Sikkim has a separate high court.
It was called Assam High Court when constituted on April 5, 1948, and initially had its sittings in Shillong, now the Meghalaya capital.
It was shifted to Guwahati Aug 14, 1948.
Under the North-Eastern Areas (Re-organisation) Act, 1971, Tripura, Manipur and Meghalaya became full-fledged states on Jan 21, 1972.
“In Tripura alone, over 52,000 cases had been pending in different lower courts and 5,000 cases are awaiting disposal in the Agartala bench of the Gauhati High Court,” Jamatia said, adding that the necessary infrastructure was ready in all the three states for the full-fledged high courts.
Lok Sabha member from Tripura, Khagen Das, who had moved a private member’s bill earlier for amending the necessary act to set up the high courts, said: “The 30-year-long struggle for a separate high court in Tripura has finally yielded expected results.”
Politicians, lawyers, intellectuals and social activists have struggled for decades for the separate high courts in these northeastern states to give relief to the litigants and people.