Home Dehradun Koshyari writes to CM, expresses concern over shifting HC out of Kumaon

Koshyari writes to CM, expresses concern over shifting HC out of Kumaon

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By Arun Pratap Singh

Dehradun, 14 May: Former Governor (of Maharashtra) and former Chief Minister, Bhagat Singh Koshyari has written a letter to Chief Minister Pushkar Dhami regarding the proposal to shift the Uttarakhand High Court from Nainital. Koshyari has shared his concern about the proposal to shift the High Court out of Kumaon region and has also pointed out the circumstances under which the High Court was set up in Nainital.  Koshyari’s opinion has been shared in the form of 11 points through which he has requested the CM to consider resolving the issue after mulling on the points raised by him.

Koshyari writes that, recently, the High Court of Nainital has given instructions to the state government find a new place to shift the High Court from Nainital. In his first point, Koshyari reminds that Uttarakhand High Court is the only major institution still operating from Kumaon but efforts are being made to shift it out.  Koshyari has also reminded that, at the time of state formation, it was unanimously agreed that the state capital would be in Garhwal while the High Court would be established in Kumaon region. This decision was arrived at after a very detailed discussion in which it was decided that Dehradun will be the interim capital of the state while the High Court would be established in Nainital.

Koshyari reminded that the Raj Bhawan and the Secretariat have been built in Nainital since British times, as it was treated as the summer capital of United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh) by the British. He said that Nainital had been given due priority by the British by making it a summer capital and this resulted in continued presence of dignitaries, ministers and tourists, boosting the local tourism in Nainital. Considering a possible disruption of local and tourists’ lives in Nainital, the capital was set up in Dehradun but to ensure a regional balance of power, the High Court was established in Nainital.

Koshyari further stated that though he is not a student of law, but having been a member of Parliament and earlier a member of the Legislative Assembly for a long time, in his opinion, the executive power to decide the location of any institution or department rests with the Parliament and the Legislative Assembly and not the High Court. He added that he respects the Court but also the legislative powers of the legislature. Koshyari added that, if the courts start taking decisions in this regard, then there will be a flood of PILs being filed in the courts with demand to shift any department or office like District Headquarters or Tehsil or any other institution by seeking judicial direction and interference in matters, the jurisdiction of which lies with the Centre or the State Government as per the Constitution.

Former CM Koshyari also expressed his concern that he has been given to understand that the state government had already agreed in the past to shift the High Court. He added that as the High Court itself has said in its instructions (Instruction No. 13 and 14 D) the Full Bench of the High Court had agreed to the process of setting up the court at Goulapar, Haldwani. Koshyari reminded the CM that in pursuance of the decision of the High Court, the Government/Administration have identified about 26 bighas of land in Goulapar in Haldwani for the shifting of the High Court. He also reminded that the process of getting due clearance and No Objection from the Forest Department, and even the clearance of the Union Forest and Environment Ministry has also been obtained which has opined that the land of 26 bighas is somewhat excess and has directed that somewhat lesser land be transferred for the project. The state government and its forest department have also already identified land for compensatory plantation against this project. In such a situation, the possibility of spreading dissatisfaction in the Kumaon region cannot be ruled out due to the instructions given by the High Court to find alternative places elsewhere.

Koshyari also points out that the said land in the official records has been shown as Raukhar (barren) and that most of the trees located in this plot are only 4 to 6 inches thick. He also reminded that, in its order, the court itself has cited the instructions of the Supreme Court and said that the advocates should practice virtually and debate in online mode (Order No. 12).

Koshyari further points out that the High Court has mentioned that there is no proper arrangement for medical care, etc., in Nainital. In case of the establishment of the High Court in Gaulapar, it should be remembered that adequate medical facilities are already available in Haldwani through various government and private hospitals. Even Pantnagar Airport is within reach of 20 to 25 minutes from Gaulapar.

Koshyari says that with utmost humility, he will like to urge the CM that the practice of resorting to referendum for the High Court be avoided as this may lead to misuse of this practice in future. Instead the CM should find a solution to this issue at the earliest with the help of the Centre and if needed, the Supreme Court.