By Our Reporter
SHILLONG: The State may soon see its dream of having a separate high court fulfilled as a process is going on to bring an amendment to the North East Areas Reorganisation Act, 1971, which is necessary for setting up a high court in Meghalaya.
Responding to the State’s long-pending demand for a separate high court the Centre recently said the high court can be set up after amendment of the Act.
Speaking to reporters here on Monday, Deputy Chief Minister also in-charge of Law, Bindo M Lanong, said, “We have received a reply from the Union law Minister Veerappa Moily regarding our demand that we would get a separate high court only after amendment to the Act.”
The State along with five other north-eastern states comes under the purview of the Gauhati High Court. Besides Assam, Sikkim is the only state in the region having a separate high court.
Meghalaya, born out of Assam nearly four decade ago, had a permanent bench of the High Court set up in Shillong on February 4, 1995.
“It is a constitutional right of a state to have its own high court,” Lanong said quoting the Article 214, which says, “There shall be a high court for each state.”
Citing difficulties faced by Meghalaya for not having a separate high court, Lanong said, “We had recently conducted an interview for magistrates in the court but none were found suitable by the High Court, though we had qualified candidates.” Appointment of the judicial officers in the State has to be first approved by the Gauhati High Court.
“We have qualified and judges and adequate infrastructure for a high court whereas Sikkim is a smaller state but it has a high court,” Lanong pointed out.
There are other difficulties the State has been facing including the long distance the clients and their counsels have to travel to Guwahati numerous times to pursue their cases.
The number of pending cases is expected to go down considerably once the separate high court comes into being. At present, there are 826 pending cases in the Shillong Bench of the Gauhati High Court.