Patiala House will soon be relocated to Rouse Avenue, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg. It is supposed to be constructed near the Comptroller and Auditor General of India building. The city’s ‘Public Works Department’ has already started its construction. According to the plan, the new court premise will have a double basement parking capacity for about 825 cars and it will be built at a cost of Rs. 306 crores. There will be 41 courts and an auditorium with the capacity of 200 people. Open all measuring 3500 square meters will be provided for lawyers chambers. Also, in every floor an ATM, library, food court, stamp vendors will be available.
Does this extravagant environment please the advocates of Patiala House? Not exactly! When we interviewed many advocates of Patiala House, most of them showed dissatisfaction with this project. Vikash Sharma, an advocate who has his chamber in the same premise, stated that advocates faced major problems when court was being shifted to Vishwas Nagar in East Delhi.
There were protests and strikes by the lawyers who wanted to shift back to family courts of Karkardooma district courts complex. There were instances of files missing and courts not meeting the deadline. He asserted that if more justice needs to be given, it should be done by the appointment of more judges. He also pointed out that relocation will be more problematic for litigants than advocates.
Brijesh Singhal, another advocate stated that how he had put in good amount of money to modify his chamber In Patiala House, but if he will have to relocate then his entire investment will turn futile. Dhiraj Nayal who has been handling his workplace in the Patiala House for the past 21 years explained that how relocation is absolutely unnecessary. Instead, renovation could have been possible within the same premise.
Advocates have mostly mentioned that how relocation of Patiala House has been a matter of discussion and debate for almost a decade. It is nothing new for them! What most advocates fear is that if they will have to shift to Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg, will they be provided independent chambers or not, they really don’t know. Providing an open hall of 3500 square meters may not be helpful at all. Instead, when we disclosed them that in every floor ATM, library, food court etc will be available, they did not find it quite benefitting. One advocate stated that how the only ATM machine in Patiala House is not maintained. Most of the times, it is out of order! Then how can the advocates blindly rely on these amenities.
Jatin Sapra, a young advocate explained to us that providing greater facilities may be good but the primary objective of the court is providing justice at a faster pace. ‘No individual comes to enjoy these facilities’ he said with a smile. He said that ‘cleaner place’ is the only thing that the litigants and advocates need. Manju Bhatnagar is an advocate who has been working in the Patiala house since 1982. She said that since Patiala House has historical significance and it is located in a premium area, relocation is not required.
There was a very tiny group of advocates who supported the process of relocation. The advocates, in general, did not want to change their workplace and relocate.