Delhi court complex badly needs a facelift

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Old 25-Sep-2011
Delhi court complex badly needs a facelift

New Delhi: Withered walls, cracked roof, stationary lifts, defunct water coolers and broken furniture. Are we seeing an aftermath of an earthquake? No, it's actually the present state of the Tis Hazari district court complex.
The court, located in north Delhi, has not got any repairs done since its inception in 1958, said Rajiv Khosla, spokesperson of the Delhi Bar Association.
And all this even though the court is currently hearing high-profile cases like the September 7 Delhi High Court bombing, former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh's role in the cash-for-votes scam and the Delhi University radiation case, among others.
"The [complex] has very old sewage lines, laid in the late 1950s. Most of them have not been changed since then," Khosla told IANS.
The court staff have figured out innovative ways to deal with the situation, including lighting incense sticks to mask the bad smell in rooms and placing furniture in such a way that they cover peeling walls.
"During this monsoon, the situation was the worst. There was around two inches of water inside the court. We had to be very alert so that the water did not enter the almirahs (cupboard), where the court records are kept," a court staff member told IANS on condition of anonymity.
The Delhi Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's court is also situated in this complex. Even his court was not spared by the rains, with water entering the courtroom.
The complex houses five buildings, including the main court building. It has 125 courts and 10 mediation cells, apart from a consumer and sub-divisional magistrate court.
Bar association officials say steps have been taken to renovate the buildings and make them fully air-conditioned.
"The district judge has sent a proposal to the Delhi government to install a bigger transformer, which could support the increase in electrical usage, but the application has been pending for the past two years," Khosla said.
Also pending is a proposal for a multi-storeyed lawyers' chamber.
Even though around 6,000 people visit it every day, the complex does not have proper drinking facilities. None of the 15 water coolers spread across the main court building is functioning.
"Even if they do, the water is not fit for drinking," a court official said.
This translates into additional trouble for the already hassled litigants, who have to shell out money every time they are thirsty.
The complex has no proper parking area. Court staff say they park in nearby areas like Sadar Bazaar.
"Litigants and advocates cannot even park their vehicles here," rued advocate Deepak Sharma.
Security remains another gaping hole.
"After the Delhi High Court blast, metal detectors were installed, but since so many police officers carrying guns come to the court every day, it becomes difficult to figure out who is genuine," Khosla said.
None of the seven entry gates has proper security measures in place. While the complex has several cameras installed inside, surveillance of areas outside has been ignored.

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