Item as published in The Tribune Dated March 20th, 1955
SHOULD BE CHEAP AND SPEEDY
PLEA FOR SIMPLE PROCEDURE
Opens High Court Building
Nehru Praises Punjab For Its New Capital
in India should be simple, speedy and cheap. I have no doubt that
the Punjab which is more wide awake and enterprising than other
States in India will take a lead in this matter", observed
Prime Minister Nehru this afternoon while declaring open the new
building of the Punjab High Court.
Prime Minister referred to a suggestion made by the Advocate-General
and the President of the High Court Bar Association that since a
large number of cases were pending since 1948, therefore, the number
of judges in the High Court should be increased. He said that he
would plead the other point of view and that was as to why they
should not think in terms of reducing litigation.
Is a Disease
is a disease" he said, and it could not be a good thing to
allow any disease to spread and then go out in search of the doctors
complaining at the same time that the doctors were not available.
The health of a community should not be judged by the large number
of patients who are treated in the hospitals but by the small number
of patients that the hospitals may have to attend. Similarly, Pt.
Nehru said, that the legal disease of a country or a State would be
judged not by the large number of cases with the demand to increase
the number of judges of the High Court. On the other hand, they
should see that there is as little of litigation as it possible.
Better Than Cure
course, said the Prime Minister, the disposal of cases must not be
delayed "because justice delayed is undoubtedly justice
denied". To first allow a disease to spread and then look for
doctors would be the same thing as allowing litigation and then
looking for more judges. Preventive measures were always better than
curative. While disposing of cases quickly, the Prime Minister of
India said that there would be no harm if even sometimes some little
injustice was also done here or there. But the disposal of legal
cases must be done with great speed and justice must be made simple
and cheaper. This applied not only to the Punjab but to the whole of
Prime Minister said that he was greatly impressed to find the
gorgeous building which has standing before him. The building gave
the outlook of what he described as an open building which should be
the kind of building where justice is to be administered because
there was hardly any need of having something of a closed nature.
Administration of justice was no secret and, therefore, the High
Court building should be open also. He was, therefore, glad that the
new High Court building had been constructed in that manner. For
this, he congratulated the Punjab and its people as also Mr.
Corbusier to whom, he said, he would request a little while after to
explain to him the whole design and structure of the building.
Prime Minister said that he had been to Chandigarh twice before and
was happy to have come here again to see the progress that this new
city was making. He saw the plan of the city being made and then he
saw the foundations of the buildings being laid and he was happy
that on this visit, he had seen the buildings grown up. He said he
was dominated by the building of the High Court which he was facing
and he hoped others had also the same feelings.
regard to the point that the number of the High Court judges should
be increased, the Prime Minister said that he could not say anything
just then but if proper representation was made, he could say that
it would receive due consideration by the proper authorities.
"the Prime Minister said, "I hope you will be worthy of
this new building and the spirit it exhibited."
Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had started speaking in
Hindustani in reply to what had been said in English by the
Advocate-General, acting President of the High Court Bar and the
Chief Justice. The aforementioned portion of his speech which was
the later half was in English and before speaking he said, 'after
all, English has a great influence and force (laughter)'.
in Hindustani earlier, the Prime minister of India said that when
one saw a city he was deeply affected by the spirit behind that city
and the history it had. It was natural that it should be so. He had
seen Chandigarh being planned and structures being laid and,
therefore, he was naturally affected as even a child would be.
India there were cities which had a long history behind them and
represented something much more than mere structures of mud and
stones- cities like Benaras and Delhi as also Lahore which is now in
Pakistan. These cities have a history and culture behind by which
one is greatly impressed. Even though the city of Calcutta is
perhaps the biggest city in India, yet it did not represent that
spirit and history which Benaras or Delhi have. Therefore, one was
bound to feel happy on seeing a new city growing up. A city does not
consist of merely the houses that are build in a particular area. If
reflects new life and the wider vision of its people. It was a
matter of sincere gratification that the Punjab had thought of
building a new Capital and did not choose to set up its Capital in
one of the old towns of the State. If they had done that, it would
have been no achievement on their part. In fact it would have shown
that they could not think. The fact that the Punjab has build a new
city showed that they could think and think progressively.
town of Chandigarh and its buildings were being criticized by some.
To the Prime Minister's mind, however, Chandigarh represented the
spirit and new life of the people of this State. The houses in a
city and their plans of structure really represented the economic
and social life of the people who lived there. He, therefore, said
that it was a matter of gratification indeed to see Chandigarh being
built which represented the new life and spirit of the Punjabis.
Things of Pride
the Prime Minister of India said that there were two things of which
the Punjab could be proud. One of these was the Bhakra Project and
the other was Chandigarh. Chandigarh was much more known to the
people even outside India than most of the other big towns of the
country with the exception of just two or three. In India itself,
many people today know more about Chandigarh than they know of any
other town of the Punjab.
For Time To Come
had been built not for a day or a year but has been built for a long
time to come and would continue to represent in future the new life
here. It was a fine growing town with fine natural scenery around
with the background of the majestic hills with a good climate even
if not moderate throughout the whole year. It was, a good
achievement of the Punjabis in which they had the advice and
guidance of well known engineers from outside.
work at Bhakra is a very great work indeed and had assumed
importance all the world over. They had to face many difficulties
but they were happy to have started doing that work of which they
are rightly proud today.
Prime Minister said that having seen Chandigarh today and the speed
with which it was growing, he felt happy and satisfied. He could not
be a critic possibly because he was not competent to be so. He will
go back with the impression that "Chandigarh is a city that
represents new life and is a city which has a lesson for us".
The British in their times had set up a particular model of building
houses which was neither British nor Indian. The people here had
somehow taken fancy to that design and they were not able to
appreciate the new plans and the new design of the houses which
represented the new spirit and life. He had no doubt that people
will begin to appreciate these plans and structures very soon
because he said when they had thought of building a socialistic
structure of society, their new city must represent the new spirit
and abolish many of the distinction that existed. The new structures
here represented the spirit of the change of time.
Prime Minister then pressed a button from the dais where he was
sitting and the doors of all the rooms of the High Court building
were opened amidst cheers from the large and distinguished
the Prime Minister was received by the Chief Justice of the Punjab,
Shri A.N. Bhandari, who introduced his Brother Judges to the Prime
Minister; Shri Justice Khosla, Shri Justice Harnam Singh, Mr.
Justice d'Falshaw, Shri Justice Jeewan Lal Kapur, Shri Justice Dulat
and Shri Justice Bishen Narayan, as also the Advocate-General, Shri
S.M. Sikri, and the President of the Bar Association, Shri Hari
Prasad, with his executive all of whom garlanded the Prime Minister
of India. As the Prime Minister accompanied by the Governor and the
Chief Minister of Punjab conducted by the Chief Justice of Punjab
stepped on the dais, the large and distinguished gathering stood up.
The Prime Minister acknowledged their greetings with folded hands.
On the dais were seated also the Rajpramukh of PEPSU, Mr. Justice
Das of the Supreme Court, Mr. Justice Bhagwati of the Supreme Court,
Sardar Swaran Singh, Minister for Works, Housing and Supply and
others present at the function were Mr. Justice Mehr Chand Mahajan,
former Chief Justice of Supreme Court, Mr. Justice Achhru Ram,
former Judge of the Punjab High Court; the Chief Justice of PEPSU
and his brother Judges, the Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan,
Maj. General Abdul Rehman, the Speaker of Pepsu, Shri Ram Saran
Chand Mittal, Chief Minister of PEPSU, Shri Brish Bhan and his
colleagues; Raja of Nalagarh, Finance Minister' General Shivdev
Singh, Education Minister and Sardar Harcharan Singh, Revenue
Minister; Sardar Prem Singh 'Prem', Deputy Minister; Shri Hans Raj,
M.L.A., Shri Gian Chand, M.L.A., PEPSU and Shri Brahm Prakash,
Education Minister of the Delhi Government.
were present also Maharani of Patiala, two daughters of the
Governor, all the Minister of the Punjab Government, the Chairman
and the Speaker of the two Houses of the Legislature in the Punjab,
a large number of members of the State Legislature, President of the
Punjab State Congress, and a number of M.P.s from Punjab besides
most of the officers of all ranks and members of the Bar drawn from
all over the State. PEPSU and Delhi. A large number of ladies
including the wives of the Ministers, of the Judges and high
officers were also present.
guests were received by Shri Ranjit Rai, Registrar of the High Court
and Shrimati Padma Bhandari, wife of the Chief Justice looked after
all the guests personally.
and traffic arrangements made by the Police were highly
the inauguration ceremony about 400 guests were entertained to lunch
given by the Chief Justice and his brother Judges of the Punjab High
Court in honour of the Prime Minister in the premises of the new
High Court buildings, after the Prime Minister had been taken around
the huge building which he saw with great interest while Mr.
Corbusier explained to the Prime Minister the plan and structure of
the Advocate-General Shri S.M. Sikri in the course of his speech had
Prime Minister, my Lord the Chief Justice and my Lords:
this day, never to be forgotten in the annals of this Court, it is
my honour and privilege to welcome you, Mr. Prime Minister. You have
done us a great honour in coming here. Your presence among us is
very significant. It manifests that you, Sir, attach great
importance to the proper administration of justice. It could not be
otherwise. In the international sphere, day in and day out, you
stress the importance of the observance of the Rule of Law-the
principal that right and not might is the true basis of society. The
only function of this Court is to administer justice in accordance
with the Constitution and Law and thus enforce the Rule of Law. That
the Punjab Government also attaches importance to the proper
administration of justice is shown by the fact that it has built
this magnificent building at great cost to house this Court. This
building is now considered the show-piece of Chandigarh, though the
visitors, I am sure, find the decorative and original tapestries
which hang behind the seats of the Judges as inscrutable as the
growing intricacies of the law.
Prime Minister, this State and other States in India have made
remarkable progress in all spheres of life under your dynamic
leadership. Punjab, in spite of the handicaps resulting from the
partition, is on the march towards a true welfare State. The steady
and great decrease in crime in this State-last year criminal cases
were less by 2695 than in the previous year- is a sure indication
that the people are devoting their energies to beneficial and
productive pursuits, rather than to crime.
there are two problems allied to the creation of a Welfare State
which deserve special consideration by the Government of India.
First, there is the problem of the heavy accumulation of arrears in
this Court and indeed in other High Courts. You, Sir, will probably
be astonished to hear that some appeals which were filed in the year
1948 are still pending in this Court. I call your attention to this
problem because thousands of litigants are being denied an early
hearing which is their due. The Indian nation has under your
inspiration and lead set its heart on a true Welfare State based on
a democratic constitution. But can there be such a Welfare State if
its citizens are denied an early judicial settlement of their
disputes in the highest Court in a State? The answer must surely be
in the negative.
One High Court
one solution of this problem, said Shri Sikri, would be the creation
of a combined High Court exercising jurisdiction over the States of
Punjab, Delhi, Pepsu, and Himachal Pradesh. The expanded bench thus
attained would enable the constitution of Benches in such a way that
Judges with a specialized knowledge of a branch of the law would
deal only with that branch as they do in England. This
specialization among the Judges has led to speedy disposal of cases
in England and there is no reason why the same result should not
follow here. At any rate, for the time being, if the Circuit Bench
at Delhi is discontinued some increase in the disposal of work can
be achieved. The main reason for the creation of the Circuit Bench
no longer exists as the High Court has now moved to Chandigarh and
there can be no difficulty for the Delhi litigants to come here.
second problem is the plight of litigants who are too poor to
ventilate their grievances in Court. In a true Welfare State, you
will readily agree, such litigants should receive reasonable state
assistance to engage counsel and meet other expenses as they do in
some, other countries. At present very little is being done in this
respect, I can assure you, Sir, that the Bar is ready to co-operate
with the Government and give such assistance as it mighty require.
Prime Minister and my Lords, I can well-imagine an Indian citizen
standing here a 100 years hence and reflecting thus; 'the
principles laid down by the Judges have sunk deep into the mind of
the nation and have been more powerful than anything else in
creating the spirit of the Indian Constitution. In this building, so
strong and so balanced, so built as if for all time, one gets a
sense of wonderful history and with it a knowledge that we Indian
people are heirs of a spiritual worth which is a greater power in
the world than the most powerful armed forces and the hydrogen bomb.
have now the honour, Sir, to invite you to perform the opening
Har Prasad, Assistant Advocate General who acted as the President of
the High Court Bar after the demise of the President Shri Amolak Ram
Kapur in the course of his speech said:
Prime Minister, my Lord Chief Justice and my Lords-Today, the 19th
of March, 1955, will remain a memorable day in the history of the
High Court of Judicature for the State of Punjab. We have assembled
here today to witness the opening of our High Court in its new
building at Chandigarh-the new Capital of the State of Punjab-by the
Nation's illustrious leader, our Prime Minister. To-day we are all
full of feelings of satisfaction, of happiness of expectancy and, if
I may be permitted to say, of legitimate pride. We rejoice in the
feelings of legitimate pride for having emerged, after years of
constant toil and hard work, after the partition of the country in
1947 and the terrible events following in its wake, as a happy and
contented people, people who are full of hope in the future of our
State and that of the country as a whole. It is Sir, with these
buoyant feelings that we the members of the Punjab high Court Bar
Association respectfully greet and welcome you on this memorable day
which will go down in the history of our High Court as a red-letter
the partition of the country in 1947 our High Court had to shift to
Simla where it started functioning in the month of October 1947.
Many were the difficulties which it had to face and grapple with but
it maintained, admirably, the high traditions of its predecessor,
the Lahore High Court of the undivided Punjab and of the other High
Courts in the country, of administering even-handed justice to all
high or low and rich or poor. Throughout that most difficult period
the Bench, assisted by the Bar and the ministerial officers and
staff of the High Court, strove hard to maintain the high and lofty
traditions of this august institution. Last year, after seven years
of 'exile in the Simla hills' our Government came down to the
plains in its newly built picturesque Capital at Chandigarh. Our
High Court also has now shifted to this new Capital to be housed in
its new building to administer pure and unalloyed justice and help
bring about the ideal state of 'Ram Rajya' the attainment of
which is our ideal and cherished goal. It is a matter of great
significance that the inauguration ceremony of this new building of
the High Court should be performed by you. Sir, a redoubtable
champion of justice and fairplay even amongst nations.
under your able guidance and stewardship the country is fast
undergoing vast changes in every respect. Vested rights, capitalism,
landlordism and distinctions based on caste and creed are fast
vanishing as if by the touch of a magic wand. The whole environment
is moving at a break-neck speed. Our legislatures are busy framing
laws to meet and control the new conditions created by the forces of
these changing times and circumstances and to solve the many
difficult and intricate problems which confront the judicial
administration of our State as also the other States in the country.
These problems are created by a mixed economy, the diverse needs of
a complex civilization and the dynamic times through which we are
passing and deserve a very bold and courageous but sympathetic and
tactful handling without much delay. The demands for reducing the
cost of litigation for making justice tax free and for rendering
needful assistance to poor and needy bona-fide litigants have to be
attended to sympathetically by the State without loss of time to
make effective in actual practice, the constitutional mandate that
no State shall deny to a citizen the equal protection of the law.
The legal profession too has to contribute its mite in the matter of
rendering the said free legal aid and we are confident that it shall
not be found wanting.
of the many problems which confront us, including those which
pertain directly to the legal profession, we are hopeful and
confident that under the guidance of our sympathetic able and
wide-awake Chief Justice, and the Hon'ble Judges and the willing
co-operation of our Government, we would be able, in due course of
time, to solve them in the best interests of the people. There are a
few important and urgent matters however, which need pointed mention
we should not forget that a bona fide litigant is very sore over the
delay that is caused in the decision of cases. In civil cases he has
to pay heavy court-fees and other expenses like copying charges etc.
and yet he has to wait for very long to get his cases decided. In
delaying with this problem we should not forget the hoary maxim 'Justice Delayed is Justice Denied'. The volume of work in our
High Court has greatly increased and is ever increasing as a result
of the piling and endless legislation, enacted both by the State and
the Union legislatures. We have in all seven Judges-including the
Chief Justice-for our High Court. The volume of work in our High
Court is almost the same which the Lahore High Court, with its
strength of 14 Judges, had in the undivided Punjab or about double
of what we, in this High Court, had in 1947. This has resulted in
accumulation of heavy arrears. To cope with this state of affairs
and to remove this just grievance of the litigant public my Lord the
Chief Justice has suggested to Government that some more Judges may
be appointed for the High Court. We trust that early steps will be
taken not only to raise the permanent strength of the Judges from 7
to the prescribed maximum strength of nine for this High Court, but
some retired Judges will also be requested to sit and act as Judges
of the High court to help clear the arrears.
More Circuit Bench
with the shifting of our High Court to the plains there now seems to
be no justification for the continuation of the Circuit Bench at
Delhi which should now be abolished at any early date. For a better
administration of justice and the up keeping of the dignity and the
high traditions of our High Court, as one Court, it is very
necessary that all the Hon'ble Judges of the High Court should sit
and function at one place viz. Chandigarh.
it seems necessary in the interest of public at large the better
administration of law and justice and to economize the expenditure
on the administration of justice that the judicial merger of the
High Court of PEPSU and the Judicial Commissioner of the Himachal
Pradesh should take place with the High Court of the Punjab at an
early date. In Himachal Pradesh the fate of a condemned prisoner and
the decision of important legal and constitutional points are left
to be decided by one Judge sitting alone-viz. the Judicial
Commissioner of the said State-whereas in all 'A' and 'B' States
such cases are decided by Division and, if necessary by still larger
Benches of their High Courts. And this, Sir, on the very face of it
looks very odd and incongruous.
are extremely grateful to my Lord the Chief Justice and the Hon'ble
Judges for fully supporting our demand for house accommodation etc.
in this new and yet not fully developed Capital of the Punjab. We
are also deeply indebted to the Chief Minister and other Ministers
of the State and officers of the Government for their efforts to
help us by providing us with accommodation and necessary facilities
for adjusting ourselves in our new environments. We hope we will
continue to get that help in solving our remaining difficulties
it is beyond the power of words to express our gratitude for your so
kindly consenting to perform the opening ceremony of our High Court.
It is so very kind and gracious of you to have spare time despite
heavy and varied demands on it, to grace this function and to
perform this opening ceremony. We feel greatly honoured by the
association of your name, the name of the Pride of the nation, with
our High Court. This association, I am sure, will serve us as a
great inspiring force in the performance of our duties to the common
citizen and the bona fide litigant fearlessly, honestly and
independently and will infuse fresh courage in our hearts to serve
as valliant soldiers in the defence of the law.