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Himachal high court gets ‘green bench’

Shimla, Feb 20 (IANS) The Himachal Pradesh High Court Saturday announced the setting up of an exclusive ‘green bench’ to deal with cases related to environmental issues.

‘The high court receives plenty of petitions on various issues ranging from mining to forests to environmental loss. The green bench would now speedily dispose of such cases. It would meet every Friday from Feb 26 and if required a sitting can be held on Saturdays too,’ Chief Justice Kurian Joseph told reporters here.

‘All such cases will now come directly under the bench headed by a senior judge. The petitions already pending in court would also be transferred to the special bench,’ the chief justice said, adding ‘the bench would be set up on the lines of the Kerala High Court’.

Justice Joseph, 56, who was sworn in as chief justice Feb 8, is also in favour of judges making their assets public.

‘All the judges in the high court would be declaring their assets as soon as possible. There are some logistical problems right now but soon it would be made public. It would be updated every financial year,’ he said.

He also favoured clearing the backlog of cases on a priority basis and to make the high court one of the best courts in terms of faster delivery of justice.

‘The high court has a full strength of 11 judges and there is a backlog of 53,000 cases, which is quite high when compared to the Kerala High Court, which had 38 judges and the pendency was 110,000 cases,’ said Joseph who was elevated from the Kerala High Court.

‘I have looked into the reasons (for the backlog). Now, we will try to clear it in a phased manner. Within one year, the court will have just one year of pendency,’ he said.

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