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Shifting of Nainital High Court again brings to the fore the Kumaon-Garhwal divide

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Shifting of Nainital High Court again brings to the fore the Kumaon-Garhwal divide

B.D. Kasniyal

Pithoragarh, May 27

The issue of shifting of Uttarakhand High court from the hill station of Nainital on the orders of the High Court itself, which has now been stayed by the Supreme Court has again brought to the fore the divide between the two regions of the states namely Kumoan and Garhwal.

The Nainital High court had asked the state government to find suitable place to locate high court after shifting it from Nainital, either at Rishikesh in  Garhwal or in some other place in   Kumaon region itself. The decision sparked a bitter row and divided the lawyers and politicians of both regions. The Supreme Court on a petition filed by Nainital High Court Bar Association has stayed the order of the high court in this regard. However, the verbal duel between the lawyers and politicians of both the region continue unabated.

Uttarakhand high court, was established on November 9, 2000, simultaneously with the creation of a separate state of Uttarakhand at Nainital. At that time while the temporary capital of the newly created state was created at Dehradun, to balance the aspirations of the Kumaon region, High court was established at hill resort of Nainital.

Over the past more than two decades, due to increased tourist flow it was felt that litigants ts who had to come from far off places from all over the state and even tourists were facing several difficulties.

“The high court inaugurated by the then BJP minister Arun Jaitely in the year 2000, had an understanding of its been established at Nainital to compensate Kumaon region and Jaitely also personally wanted it due to himself  been alumini of a convent school of Nainital,” claimed Kashi Singh Airy, a senior leader of statehood movement.

He further said that since the new state had two distinct regions of Kumaon and Garhwal, at the time of creation of the state it was principally decided to give equal share of institutions to both the regions.”Although it was never a written agreement anywhere but it was well thought out to establish high court in Nainital in order to give parity since temporary capital was set up at Dehradun,” said Airy.

Mahendra Singh Pal, former Lok Sabha member and president of Uttarakhand Bar Council at Nainital, said that it was a failure of leadership of Kumaon region as the high court could be shifted to other places only with the advise of President of India.”The political establishment at the centre has direct say in this decision,” said Pal.

The closed factory of Indian Drugs and Pharmaceutical Limited (IDPL) at Rishikesh, Gaulapar area of Haldwani and summer capital of Gairsain in Chamoli district, are being  suggested for the high court.

“Earlier, the understanding was to shift the High court complex to Gaulapar in Haldwani so that it remain  in Kumaon region only but now the name of IDPL complex of Rishikesh has been included  recently by some clever political elements,” claimed Airy.

DCS Rawat, chairperson of High Court Bar Association, has said that the high court should remain in Nainital as it was the understanding at the time of creation of Uttarakhand state.”The high court was established in Nainital out of section 26 of UP Reorganisation Act, 2000 and it could be shifted after following a constitutional procedure, ” said Rawat.

“If it needs to be shifted to any other place, it should remain in Nainital district. The reason  of traffic jam is not strong enough as the places like Rishikesh and Haridwar are also facing long jams up to 15 km long in these days of ‘Chardham yatra’,” added Rawat.

Vinay Kirola, a political activist in Almora has a different view on the move to shift the High court, he said that it is not only court but also thousands of livelihood ventures that will be closed once the court is shifted from Kumaon region.”Moreover, a new township could be developed in Terai region of Kumaon region following shifting the court from Nainital to some other places of Kumaon as  it has been given to Kumaon under UP Reorganisation Act, 2000 with intention to create extra livelihoods from already existed before state was created,” said Kirola.

Those who are advocating shifting to Rishikesh in Garhwal, have argued that as more than 75 percent cases in high court come from Garhwal and Haridwar and it would be convenient for  majority of litigants.

Disagreeing with the arguement Mahendra Pal , the president of Uttarakhand High Court Bar Association said that it is not a logic  to establish a court in the region from where most of litigants come.”In Supreme court, most of cases come from South India, then why it should not be shifted to South India?, ” asked Mahendra Pal.

Rajiv Sharma, president of Dehradun Bar Association, said that  after National green Tribunal (NGT) and Supreme Court have rejected Gaulapar proposal for relocating the high court on the grounds of violation of ecology, he and his members of the Dehradun Bar  Association support the move to relocate high court at IDPL complex at Rishikesh as the place lies at the center  place, 270 km from each from Chamoli in Garhwal  or from  Pithoragarh, the far flung district of Kumaon.”The IDPL location has 1400 acres of land, has AIIMS and airport near it and moreover the litigants will get relief from high expenditure of Nainital and could get speedy justice at a low cost, ” claimed Rajiv Sharma.

He further said that according to existing rules, the Chief Justice of the High court can give another bench  of the court  at any place with advise of the governor. “A decision needed o be taken in the overall interests of the litigants,” said Sharma.

The political activists in the state have sigh of relief as the Supreme Court has stayed the matter and would take a final decision. “ The issue should not be seen from the prism of  Kumaon – Garhwal divide as it is first time in its history, that both the regions are happy as one political entity,” said Kashi Singh Airy, oen of the senior most statehood activist and leader.


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