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'Can't bulldoze govt authority by judicial orders', SC on land allotment for lawyers' chambers


New Delhi, March 17
The Supreme Court on Friday observed that a signal must not go to the government that the court can bulldoze its authority by passing judicial orders, while hearing a plea moved by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) to convert a land measuring 1.33 acres allotted to the top court for the construction of lawyers' chambers.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud and comprising Justices S.K. Kaul and P.S. Narasimha, said it would take up the land allotment issue for lawyers' chambers with the government.

The bench queried senior advocate and SCBA president Vikas Singh, how could the court pass an order to take over the land for allotment of chambers? Lawyers are part of us, but can we use our own judicial powers to safeguard our own people?

The bench added it would appear that the apex court is exercising its own judicial powers to meet its own needs.

Singh said the apex court is surrounded by roads on all sides, there is no way to grow except within the campus, and futuristic planning is required for the court campus and urged the court to issue notice on the plea, so that a discussion can start. It was pointed out that a building close to the court has received eviction orders, and they have got another land.

The bench asked how it could take over all the buildings judicially, and added that the court did not doubt the requirement of the lawyers, but under Article 32, how can it take over these buildings? "We must trust the court to take it up on the administrative side with the government. A signal must not go to the government that we can bulldoze their authority by passing judicial orders", said the bench.

Singh pressed for issuing notice in the matter and added that the Delhi High Court expansion land was taken over. The bench replied that it was done administratively. Expressing his reservation, Singh said the bar and other stakeholders will not be a part of such administrative consultation.

The bench further added that for the e-courts project, the government allotted Rs 7,000 crore because they said that we need it, and the government engages with the top court on the administrative side and the lawyers' chambers issue can be put to it.

Thanking the bench on behalf of the entire bar, Singh said that the entire bar is with the institution and "we will not do anything to undermine the majesty of the institution irrespective of whatever happens in this case".

Counsel for Bar Council of India contended that there is a need for space for the bar body and also Supreme Court Advocate on Record Association (SCAORA) sought to be a part of the proceedings and intervene in the issue.

Attorney General R. Venkataramani submitted that flexibility of the administrative side would certainly be helpful to resolve the matter. After hearing detailed submissions, the apex court reserved its order.