Saturday, October 24, 2009

Litigants, advocates make do with the bare minimum

Litigants, advocates make do with the bare minimum

Anil Kumar Sastry
Facilities available in city court complexes are inadequate
— Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.

Lacking: In the absence of a proper canteen facility at the city civil court complex, advocates and litigants are forced to stand in the open and have food.
BANGALORE: Despite the steep increase in the number of litigants and advocates in recent years, there has not been any substantial improvement in facilities in the City Civil Court complex on Old Post Office Road, the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court complex on Nrupatunga Road and the Metropolitan Magistrate Court complex at Mayo Hall.

For an estimated 50,000 litigants and 10,000 advocates regularly visiting these complexes, adequate drinking water, well-maintained rest rooms and standard eateries do not exist. While the Civil Court complex houses nearly 80 courts, the CMM court complex has around 35 courts and the Mayo Hall complex has 10 courts.

A.N. Hegde, a leading insurance advocate, says: “Restrooms at the city civil court complex always stink because of lack of maintenance and water. It is hell for litigants and advocates in the adjoining court halls. Though all the floors have water dispensers, there is neither a glass nor water to drink.

Dinesh Kumar, a lawyer, says that the parking facility is woefully inadequate. “Though there is a parking complex people hardly get space to park their cars,” he says.

The magistrate court complex is similarly inadequate. “I hardly get space to park my car at this complex. Even if I do, I’ll have to wait till the evening to take it out,” says Mahabaleshwar G.C., an advocate. The rest rooms are not maintained well, Mr. Mahabaleshwar says. The facilities available to advocates and litigants in the court complexes at State’s capital are awfully inadequate, rued K.N. Putte Gowda, president of the Advocates’ Association, Bangalore.

“Just like judges, advocates too sweat it out in the courts from morning till evening. There are no well-maintained toilets, proper accommodation and decent canteen facility in all the court complexes,” Mr. Gowda said.

“While canteens at the civil court and magistrate court function from shed-like structures, we have to eat in the open on the High Court premises. Things have not improved despite repeated representations to the Government and the court authorities,” Mr. Gowda said. Echoing him, Mr. Hegde and Mr. Mahabaleshwar said hygiene is a casualty in these canteens.

Mr. Gowda said the Karnataka High Court while dealing with a writ petition filed by the Association in 1997 had ordered the Government to provide basic amenities to advocates in courts since they too were officers. The Government then allowed the Advocates’ Cooperative Society to sell more non-judicial stamp papers and increased the commission from one per cent to two per cent. With this amount the association provided certain facilities, including constructing a building for lawyers within court complex. After ban on the use of non-judicial stamp papers, no funds are available with the association and it is now Government’s duty to provide amenities, Mr. Gowda said.


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