Centre playing truant over high court bench: Kerala minister

Thiruvananthapuram, March 2 (Calcutta Tube) The central government is playing truant over setting up a high court bench in the state’s capital city, Kerala Law Minister M. Vijayakumar told the assembly Tuesday.

In response to a submission by a ruling front legislator V. Surendran Pillai, the state law minister said that the chief minister has received a letter from the union law minister stating that the bench can come up only if the Kerala High Court gives the nod.

‘This attitude of the centre is not acceptable. If the centre asks for this, the president can come out with orders to this effect and for that to happen, a political decision has to be taken by the centre,’ Vijayakumar said.

Successive governments in the state have for long been asking the central government to set up a bench of the high court in Thiruvananthapuram.

The Kerala legislature has unanimously passed two resolutions for this.

There was a high court in Thiruvananthapuram in 1947 and it became a high court bench following the establishment of Kerala High Court in Kochi after the formation of the state in 1956. But the bench was wound up in 1957.

To commemorate the second anniversary of their agitation for a high court bench here, advocates of the Thiruvananthapuram Bar Association and the High Court Bench Stir Action Council boycotted court proceedings last month and held a protest inside the court complex here.

In 2008 Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking for his intervention on the long standing demand for setting up of a bench of the high court here.

The biggest obstacle for sanctioning of the bench here is that the central cabinet has to clear this and send it to the president for approval and prior to that the governor of Kerala and the Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court have to approve.

While the governor of Kerala has already given his nod in 2008, a group of advocates after applying through the Right to Information Act found out the Kerala High Court, however, had sent a reply in the negative for the bench.

The setting up of the bench was one of the promises made by local MP and union Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor.

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