North Bengal gets HC Circuit Bench

Chief Justice Biswanath Somadder on Saturday unveiled a plaque to mark the operationalisation of the Calcutta High Court Circuit Bench at Jalpaiguri.

The programme was attended by West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, among others.

The Centre and the State had been engaged in a bitter rivalry over the past few years over the fate of the Bench in Jalpaiguri.

The foundation stone for it was laid by Ms. Banerjee in 2012, but it was only on February 8 this year that Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the facility.

It triggered a prompt protest by the CM, who claimed that her government as well as the high court were kept out of the loop.

On Saturday, Ms. Banerjee refused to get drawn into any controversy.

“There have been some struggles along the way, but I don’t want to fuel any controversy about it. All’s well that ends well,” she said.

Relief for many

The new Bench is the third one of the Calcutta High Court, the other two being the principal Bench in Kolkata and a permanent Circuit Bench in Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The Calcutta High Court retains jurisdiction over the Port Blair Bench. The new Bench will have jurisdiction over five north Bengal districts of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Cooch Behar, Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri.

Acting Chief Justice Somadder and three other judges will hear matters at the Jalpaiguri Circuit Bench. The judges will begin hearing petitions from Monday at the Jalpaiguri Zilla Parishad bungalow till a new building comes up on land allotted by the State government.

More than 10% of Bengal’s almost 10 crore people reside in the area and they had to travel to Kolkata, about 600 km away, for “every tiny issue or dispute”, said Tanmay Mallick, a Siliguri resident. The Circuit Bench will stop the ordeal, he said.

(With PTI inputs)


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