This has taken a long time – but would be more than welcome for people of the Northeast. The government has announced that it will set up separate High Courts for each of the Northeast states. Setting up of separate High Courts would be subject to creation of necessary infrastructural facilities by the respective state governments.
Announcing this in the Lok Sabha on Friday, Salman Khursheed, Union Minister for Law and Justice, said that at present the governments of Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura have created the necessary infrastructural facilities for establishment of separate High Courts.
An amendment to the North-Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) Act, 1971 would now be required for the formal establishment and functioning of these separate High Courts.
In June it had been reported that the Union ministry of home affairs and the law and justice ministry were in an advanced stage of consultation for establishment of three new High Courts in Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura. With several of these states being affected by insurgency, the UPA government was of the opinion that establishment of these courts would ensure a quicker legal process and reduce pendency of cases in the region.
Currently, the Northeast has only two High Courts — Sikkim High Court and Gauhati High Court in Assam, which exercises jurisdiction over Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Tripura, Meghalaya, Manipur and Mizoram.
If the ostensible reason is to address the feeling of alienation often expressed by the people in Northeast, this would work to quite an extent since the move is essentially an expansion of judicial access. But the people of the Northeast might have to wait for just a little longer. The chances of the matter being taken up during the ongoing monsoon session of Parliament seems rather bleak.