Demand for Pune Bench of Mumbai High Court marks 46 years

Pune possesses all the necessary infrastructure for the establishment of a bench of the High Court.
Bombay High Court
Bombay High Court

Pune: The long-standing demand for establishing a bench of the Mumbai High Court in Pune has reached its 46th year. Despite the resolution passed in 1978 to set up benches in Pune and Aurangabad, only Aurangabad saw the establishment of a bench in 1981. Pune's wait continues, with no bench in sight even after nearly five decades.

Lawyers and citizens have frequently protested to enforce the 1978 resolution. In 2016, prolonged protests led to a shutdown of court activities.

During the inauguration of the Family Court building in Pune in 2017, lawyers directly appealed to then-Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Chief Justice Manjula Chellur for the Pune bench. Although a committee was promised, no concrete steps have been taken.

Representations have been made to current and former chief ministers and deputy chief ministers. Recently, the Pune Bar Association (PBA) submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, emphasizing the need to ease the burden on the Mumbai High Court and to provide convenience to litigants in Pune. The memorandum highlighted that Pune possesses all the necessary infrastructure for the establishment of a bench.

There is also a rising demand for a bench in Kolhapur, leading to a debate on whether Pune or Kolhapur should be prioritized. Political leaders have made assurances to both sides, but no definitive decision has been made, leaving the establishment of a bench in a state of uncertainty.

Considering the demands from both Pune and Kolhapur, the idea of a circuit bench has been suggested. While Vidarbha and Marathwada regions have benches, Western Maharashtra does not. Advocates argue that Pune, contributing over half of the cases from the region, deserves the first right to a bench.

Distance Argument Debunked

The argument against the Pune bench, citing the proximity to Mumbai, has been countered by the Pune Bar Association. Comparisons were drawn to the Lucknow-Allahabad and Chennai-Puducherry distances, which are less than Pune-Mumbai's 187 kilometers, yet both have benches. This highlights the fallacy of the distance argument.

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