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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Eateries on High Court premises to go

BANGALORE: In just a few weeks from now, several petty shops doing brisk business around the premises of the Karnataka High Court will have to pack up and leave. These shops, which cater to hundreds of hungry people daily, including advocates, litigants and visitors, have been asked to wind up.

Many of these shops have been termed illegal by the authorities and slapped with eviction notice.


The Deputy Commissioner of Bangalore Urban district, on an application by the Registrar-General of the Karnataka High Court, has issued eviction notice to these shops and asked them to vacate in 45 days.

Ramanand Bhat, owner of one of the most popular shops in the area, told The Hindu that his father first set up the eatery on the premises of the old High Court in 1960. A few years later, the shop was shifted to its present location.

A little later, several other eateries and petty shops sprang up in the area. Today, the area near the Press Club teems with petty shops and canteens selling stationery, chaat, cut fruits, sugarcane juice, paan and other food items, catering to a large number of people every day. Their food is cheap and good and snapped up by advocates, litigants, High Court staff, policemen and even those working in government and private offices dotting the area. For an equal number, these establishments offer a rendezvous to have snacks and coffee after office hours.

While all these shops have been asked to move out, the authorities have spared the State-owned Nandini milk parlour.

Mr. Bhat, whose canteen is perhaps one of the most frequented in the area, says though he and his compatriots have carried on their business down decades, it is only in the last few months they have been facing pressure from the police to close shop early citing security reasons.

Most of the shops have obliged the police, but the first hint that they would be evicted came when the High Court proposed to construct an underground parking complex. Mr. Bhat and the owners of other petty shops say that they have been informally informed that they would have to vacate as part of the complex would come up near their shops. However, in recent days, the police and the High Court cited security reason to evict them. Mr. Bhat says though all the shop owners contested the case in the District Court, they could not get any relief. Now they plan to appeal against the order.

There has been mixed reaction to the eviction of shops in the area. Government advocates Veerappa, Satyanarayana Singh, Keshav Reddy and B. Manohar welcome the security measures, but point out that closing the shops would not only inconvenience the people but scores of advocates and High Court staff who have to work beyond duty hours.

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