Agartala, Jan 27 (IANS) The Supreme Court collegium has recommended three chief justices for the proposed high courts in the northeastern states of Tripura, Manipur and Meghalaya, officials said here Sunday.
The three high courts are likely to start functioning in March after completion of necessary formalities.
"We have heard that the Supreme Court collegium has recommended the names of three chief justices to the union ministry of law and justice," Datamohan Jamatia, secretary, Tripura law department, told IANS.
"Now the law and justice ministry through the prime minister would send the recommendations to the president for the appointment and notification of the three chief justices," he said.
As per the suggestions of the Supreme Court collegium, Justice T. Meena Kumari, a judge of the Patna High Court, who hails from Andhra Pradesh, is being elevated as the chief justice of Meghalaya.
Justice Deepak Gupta, who hails from Himachal Pradesh is being elevated as the chief justice of Tripura, and Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre, a judge of the Chhattisgarh High Court, is being appointed as the chief justice of Manipur.
The obligatory amendment to the North-Eastern Areas (Re-organisation) Act, 1971 -- the North-Eastern Areas (Re-organisation) and Other Related Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2012 -- was passed by the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha in May 2012, paving the way for the creation of separate high courts in the three states.
With this, the total number of high courts in the country will increase from 21 to 24.
According to another official of the Tripura law department, the strength of judges in the Tripura High Court will be four, including the chief justice. followed by Meghalaya and Manipur three each that will include the chief justice.
"Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, in a recent letter to the union ministry of law and justice has requested the appointment of at least five judges in the new high courts so that divisional benches can function besides single benches," the official added.
Jamatia said the Tripura government has already made all the necessary infrastructure to set up a separate high court in Agartala.
"We expect the new high court to be functioning by March. Now it is up to the apex court and the union law and justice ministry to issue the necessary notification for the purposes," he told IANS.
Currently, the six northeastern states of Tripura, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh have benches of the Gauhati High Court.
It was called Assam High Court when constituted on April 5, 1948, and initially had its sittings in Shillong, now the Meghalaya capital.
It was shifted to Guwahati Aug 14, 1948. Sikkim has a separate high court.
Under the North-Eastern Areas (Re-organisation) Act, 1971, Tripura, Manipur and Meghalaya became full-fledged states on Jan 21, 1972.
"In Tripura alone over 52,000 cases had been pending in different lower courts and 5,000 cases are awaiting disposal in the Agartala bench of the Guwahati High Court," Jamatia said, adding that the necessary infrastructure was ready in all three states for the full-fledged high courts.
Lok Sabha member from Tripura, Khagen Das, who had moved a private member's bill earlier for amending the necessary act to set up the high courts, said: "The 30 year-long-struggle for a separate high court in Tripura has finally yielded expected results."