News Item as published in The Tribune Dated March 20th, 1955


Nehru Opens High Court Building
Nehru Praises Punjab For Its New Capital

"JUSTICE 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.

The 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.

                                Litigation Is a Disease

"Litigation 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.

                    Prevention Better Than Cure

Of 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 India also.

                               Greatly Impressed

The 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.

                           Dominated By Building

The 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.

With 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.

Concluding "the Prime Minister said, "I hope you will be worthy of this new building and the spirit it exhibited."

Earlier 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)'.


Speaking 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.

In 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.

The 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.

                           Two Things of Pride

Continuing, 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.

                        Built For Time To Come

Chandigarh 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.

The 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.

The 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.

The 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 gathering.

Earlier, 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.

Among 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.

There 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.

The 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.

Security and traffic arrangements made by the Police were highly satisfactory.

After 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 building.

Earlier, the Advocate-General Shri S.M. Sikri in the course of his speech had said:

"Mr. Prime Minister, my Lord the Chief Justice and my Lords:

On 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.

Mr. 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.

Sir, 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

Perhaps, 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.

                            State Assistance

The 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.


Mr. 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.

I have now the honour, Sir, to invite you to perform the opening ceremony.

Shri 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:

Mr. 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 day.

                                   After Partition

On 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.


Sir, 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.


In spite 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 here.

                                     Justice Delayed

Firstly, 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.

                           No More Circuit Bench

Secondly 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.

Thirdly 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.

                           House Accommodation

We 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 also.

Sir, 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.

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