SC reserves order on plea by SCBA seeking land for construction of lawyers’ chambers

18 March 2023 05:46 PM
  • SC reserves order on plea by SCBA seeking land for construction of lawyers’ chambers

The SCBA is seeking conversion of 1.33 acres of land allotted to the top court into chamber blocks for SC lawyers.

The Supreme Court on Friday reserved its order on a petition filed by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), demanding land for the construction of chambers for lawyers that was allocated to the top court and measuring 1.33 acres.

A three-judge special bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, and Justices SK Kaul and PS Narasimha heard the arguments of lawyers and all stakeholders but questioned how it could be done on the judicial side, adding that it was already dealing with all such issues on the administrative side.

At the beginning of the hearing, senior advocate and SCBA President Vikas Singh expressed his gratitude to the bench for taking up the matter.

On March 2, senior advocate Vikas Singh urged the CJI to list the matter and went on to state that they would have to take it to the judge’s residence if the matter did not get listed.

After that, CJI Chandrachud lost his temper and questioned the senior lawyer, saying, “Is this a way to behave?”

During Friday’s proceedings, the CJI expressed his reservations over hearing this matter on the judicial side, saying that it wouldn't be the right thing to do.

“Lawyers are a part of us. It’s a part of our institution. If we use our judicial orders, it’s a message – look what the Supreme Court is doing. You are using judicial power and using it for your expansion. Today it is land, tomorrow it will be something else. The message should not go that we are using our judicial powers to bulldoze the government,” the CJI said.

Singh then urged the bench that the land opposite to the Supreme Court, which currently houses the Foreign Correspondents Club and the Indian Law Institute, could be taken over for construction of the lawyers’ chambers.

Echoing the CJI’s views, Justice Kaul said the judiciary had been taking up issues of infrastructure, including the needs of lawyers, with the government on the administrative side.

Justice Narasimha also added that the discussion on the administrative side could be more fruitful.

Senior advocate Meenakshi Arora, appearing for the Supreme Court Advocate-on-Record Association (SCAORA), highlighted the requirement for chambers for AoRs, who are considered an integral part of the Supreme Court, and said that at least 800 AORs have become eligible for such chambers.

Assuring Singh and other stakeholders in the case, the CJI said, "We are in the process of having a new Supreme Court building that can last for the next 75 years and our first concern is that the bar should get due space. And I am extremely happy to share with all of you that the PWD planning has been done already and drawings has been done and we judges even went to the Delhi High Court to check out the construction and underground parking etc, and I can assure you all that we understand your challenges and needs and we shall certainly work on that."

Justice Kaul added, "I can also tell you, Mr Singh, the Chief Justice has also taken on board the opinion of all future Chief Justices till 2030. So I can also assure you that things will go on."

Towards the end of the hearing, Attorney General for India R Venkataramani said that the flexibility of the administrative process has a certain advantage and said he could play a better role in the matter if it is taken up on the administrative side.

The SCBA is seeking conversion of land measuring 1.33 acres, which was allotted to the top court, into chamber blocks for Supreme Court lawyers.

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