The Saket district court complex in south Delhi, which with 80 courts and 666 lawyers’ chambers will become India’s largest, has missed another deadline for completion. What’s more, authorities still can’t say when it will become operational.
When operational, the seven-storey court complex will take on a major part of the burden of the Patiala House district court complex in central Delhi which lacks facilities for both litigants and lawyers.
The Saket complex, under construction since 2007, has missed at least three deadlines for completion. As per initial plans, it was supposed to be ready in December last year. The deadline was later extended to February this year and then to June-end.
Delhi government officials now shy away from saying what the new deadline is.
‘The construction is still on,’ said a senior official from the Delhi government’s department of law and justice and legislative affairs, adding there was no word yet on when the new complex will become operational.
An official overseeing the construction work at the site told IANS: ‘We were hoping it would be over by June-end, but there is still some work to be finished.’
When one enters the main gate of the complex, the first impression is that the construction work is far from being completed.
A path that leads to the utility complex, which according to the officials present there will have a canteen and a bank among other things, is littered with rubble and construction material.
‘There are problems which arise during such a process and construction gets delayed. Out of the planned seven floors of the main court building, four floors are complete. Electricity supply has also been made available. The lifts are also working in these four floors,’ added the official, who occupies a makeshift office in the utility complex.
‘The Saket court complex will consist of 666 advocate chambers, 80 courts, 92 chambers for judges and 128 houses for judicial officers. The construction of the advocate chambers and houses is complete,’ said the official.
The Patiala House court complex, situated on a circular road around the India Gate, houses a total of 5,000 lawyers and over 40 courts. Some of the courts here operate from the building of the palace of the erstwhile Maharaja of Patiala. The complex takes up cases from the south district, southeast district and New Delhi district.
After the Saket complex becomes operational, the Patiala House complex will only take up matters related to the New Delhi district. Cases from the other two districts will be shifted to the Saket complex, close to the malls.
Lawyers at Patiala House complex are aware of the proposed relocation of some courts from the complex to Saket but claim they are clueless about when exactly it will happen.
‘We have so far not got any intimation about the exact date of the shift to Saket,’ said a New Delhi Bar Association member who did not wish to be named.
Some lawyers at Patiala House are unhappy about the proposed shift.
‘If we have cases in three different courts, for example, one at Rohini, another at Patiala House and a third at Saket in one day, it will become very time-consuming and strenuous for us. Already the five district courts are in different directions,’ said a lawyer.
He added that the lawyers will have to shift their chambers either to Saket or Dwarka district courts when the relocation notification comes.
‘We are praying that this relocation does not take place soon. We will lose out on a lot of cases and clients because of this,’ the lawyer added.
Litigants have mixed views on the proposed relocation. For Amar Chandra (name changed), the shift to the new complex in Saket will add to his woes.
‘I have a civil case going on in Tis Hazari court complex and another one in Patiala House court. If the shift takes place, then one of my cases will go to the Saket court complex. Sometimes I have my cases on one day; with both the courts being on opposite sides, it will get very difficult for me,’ said Chandra.
But Sanket Agarwal, another litigant, has a different take on this. He feels it will become a lot easier for him to pursue his court case as he stays in Mehrauli.
‘I hope this relocation happens soon,’ said Agarwal.
The city has various district court complexes-Tis Hazari, Patiala House, Rohini, Dwarka Court and Karkardooma.