Toilets, water coolers and purifiers are basic amenities and not luxury items, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday observed while directing the PWD to go ahead with the work for providing the same for litigants in every court in the state.
The state government had in August last year sanctioned Rs. 5.38 crore for providing toilets, water coolers and purifiers and benches for litigants in courts. However, the amount was released only on March 2 this year.
The court was informed that if the amount is not used by the end of the financial year (March 31), it would lapse. The court said that the government shall ensure that the funds do not lapse. Even if the amount lapses due to any technical problem, the government shall be under obligation to release the same amount immediately, it said.
A division bench of justices A S Oka and A P Bhangale was hearing a PIL filed by Litigants Association of Maharashtra claiming that in several courts basic facilities like toilets and water are not available.
The court had on Monday asked the finance secretary to come out with a solution so as to ensure that the amount does not lapse. However, government pleader Abhinandan Vagyani on Tuesday informed the court that he has not got any instructions from the finance secretary. “We fail to understand the reluctance of the state government to provide elementary facilities to the litigants. These are basic amenities that should be available to every litigant. These are not luxurious facilities,” Justice Oka said.
“We direct the High Court administration to release 75 per cent of the Rs. 5.38 crore to the PWD which shall consider the same as deposit and start work to set up toilets and water coolers. The government shall ensure that the funds do not lapse. Even if the amount lapses due to any technical problem, the government shall be under obligation to release the same amount immediately,” the court ordered.
The HC was informed that if the amount lapses, then it can be sanctioned only after a fresh proposal is made and presented before the monsoon session of the Vidhan Sabha.
“The funds were sanctioned after several orders were passed by this court. There was gross delay on the part of the government to release the amount. Hence, it is the duty of the government to ensure that it does not lapse and is made available to carry out the essential work,” the court said.