One of independent India’s first major buildings designed by architect, Ganesh Bhikaji Deolalikar now could be explored by the public on all Saturdays, except on public holidays.
So far, general public was not allowed to enter into the premises. Only lawyers, law interns, law students, litigants and media persons were allowed to enter in the court premises.
Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi launched the project on Thursday in a small function held at the Judges’ Lounge inside the apex court premises. He said the idea behind the venture is that “a public institution should be opened up in a limited way”. He also launched an in-house think tank to strengthen the knowledge infrastructure of the court.
The Supreme Court will now be open from 10 am to 7 pm for the general public except on declared holidays. It can be done simply by making an online booking for which one has to click to the “Registration” tab under the link “Guided Tour” which is available on the official website of the Supreme Court of India and will have to fill a form to confirm their reservation fees shall be charged, through which pre-planned escorted visits can be arranged. As per the security measures planned for the general public’s visit, those who have made the booking online will receive bar-coded messages on their mobile phones. These barcodes will help them gain entry into the premises for the guided tour.
The guided tour would include a visit to the main lawns where the statue of justice is located, to courtroom number one, the CJI’s court, the judges’ library, the judges’ corridor, as well as the museum.
The tours would be free of charge, but rules like a ban on bringing eatables, tobacco items, cameras, bag packs for visitors would be applicable. Creating any kind of commotion or smoking inside the premises would be barred.
Announcing this, the Chief Justice Gogoi said this was entirely his decision for which he was seeking post facto approval from his brother judges.
CJI Gogoi described it as one of the “two great experiments” undertaken by him, the other being set up of an ‘In-House Think Tank’ to strengthen the knowledge infrastructure of the top court and to enhance its capacity to meet its increasing knowledge needs.
In a function organized at Judges’ lounge, Justice Gogoi said, “The in-house centre will be a very small body but it will be meant for domain experts all over the country who will be contributing their line of thoughts.”
The main mandate of the think tank would be to collect, assimilate and disseminate inputs for judicial reforms, legal education and development of jurisprudence of the Supreme Court of India.
Professor Mohan Gopal, academician and former vice chancellor of National Law School of India, Bangalore, also spoke at the programme. He said the think tank could play an important role in better explaining to the general public, the work of the Supreme Court. He further added “We are setting out on a very important venture to create a permanent body of knowledge that can be accessed by the entire legal fraternity and by the public that will improve the better understanding of the working of the judiciary and the justice system,” he said.
The Indian Supreme Court joins an elite list of top courts in the world where guided tours are allowed. The United Kingdom and Canada are two such examples.
By- Abhinav Jassal