Haryana’s Nuh bears witness to failure of first ‘mobile court’

first_imgOn the drive south from Delhi towards Alwar, a left turn at Badkali Chowk in Haryana’s Nuh brings one to the small town of Pingawan. About 7 km down the road, one encounters a black, rusted signboard that reads ‘Mobile Court, Pingawan, Mewat’ on the boundary wall of a modest building.But the place is unusually quiet for a court. A solitary watchman, who appears to be in his 60s, is seated on a half-broken chair while two children play close by. “It is a Wednesday. The court sits only on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays,” the watchman says, explaining the lack of activity.The town’s residents promptly direct visitors to the building when asked about the “mobile court”, oblivious to the fact that the court, inaugurated more than a decade ago as the country’s first mobile court, officially lost its ‘mobile court’ designation more than five months ago.Set up in a bus, the court was inaugurated in August 2007 by the then Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan with the aim of making the judicial system accessible to remote and backward areas, and was slated to sit for one day each week at the four towns of Punhana, Shikrawa, Indana and Lohinga Kalan.Presided over by an Additional Civil Judge-cum-Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate, it was staffed like a regular court and meant to conduct both civil and criminal cases through full-fledged trials.But just a little over a year after its inauguration, the court gave up on mobility as both the lawyers and the local judicial officers found themselves facing difficulties in operating it in a mobile form. While it was a good initiative to provide “Sasta aur Sulabh Nyay” (affordable and accessible justice) to the people of Punhana, the lack of basic infrastructure was the reason for its failure, said Ferozepur Jhirka Bar Association president Mumtaz Hussain. ‘Lacked key facilities’“Since the mobile court was held in the open at four different locations in the interior areas, it became difficult to provide facilities such as stamp vendors, typewriters, photocopiers and more importantly the treasury to collect court fees,” said Mr. Hussain. “Despite the lawyers cooperating to their full to make the experiment a success, the court had to be fixed in a building in Punhana,” he added.The court was subsequently shifted to its present building in Pingawan after a year since the Punhana building had to be vacated for the Election Commission during the 2009 election. After the District and Sessions Judge, Nuh, sought the discontinuation of the “mobile court” in 2013, the Punjab and Haryana High Court formally consented to it on July 17, 2018.However, with the court now presided over by a junior judge, litigants have to travel to the Ferozepur Jhirka court to file civil suits, defeating the purpose of door-step delivery of justice. “It was an initiative taken in haste without considering the ground realities,” said another lawyer, who did not wish to be identified. As for the ‘mobile court’ bus, it now lies parked in the Ferozepur Jhirka court campus — a testimony to the failed experiment.last_img

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