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Tapestry designed by Corbusier removed from CJ’s courtroom
Maneesh Chhibber
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 30
The removal of a huge specially-woven tapestry, one of the few hanging on the walls of nine courtrooms of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, was today raised by concerned citizens of the City Beautiful at a presentation-cum-meeting chaired by UT Adviser Lalit Sharma.

The subsequent posers left a lot of officers red-faced.

The residents had the UT officials in a bind when they wanted to know if the priceless tapestry, which was recently removed from the wall of the courtroom of the Punjab and Haryana High Court Chief Justice Mr Justice, B.K. Roy, would be placed back.

The importance of the tapestry stems from the fact that it was originally part of the High Court as designed by Le Corbusier. In fact, the tapestries were designed by Le Corbusier himself and selected artisans worked under his supervision to complete them.

Some of the tapestries were hung in the Punjab and Haryana Vidhan Sabhas.

Some residents also wanted to know if recent architectural changes in the High Court had the blessings of the Administration.

While a small wall has been constructed to segregate the toilets near courtroom number nine, huge windows in some of the courtrooms have been covered by placing or constructing wooden almirahs in front of them.

"These tapestries are part of our heritage. Students of architecture come from all over the world to study them and other monuments of the city. About six years back, a French agency had offered to remove the tapestries from the courtrooms and take them to France for cleaning. The High Court had refused to allow them to be removed on the plea that they were part of the City's heritage and could not be taken out of the country," recalls senior advocate Manmohan Lal Sarin, who is President of the Alliance Francaise.

When contacted, UT Chief Architect Renu Sehgal said the tapestry from the courtroom of the Chief Justice was removed on his instructions as it had a lot of dust.

"We are going to get it cleaned and hopefully put it back," she added. However, neither she nor UT Chief Engineer V.K. Bhardwaj could say where the tapestry had been stored and when they would be put back.

Tapestries had been hung in nine original courtrooms in the High Court. On March 19, 1955, when then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru inaugurated the High Court, the tapestries were there to greet him and other visitors.

Interestingly, Chief Engineer Bhardwaj, when asked the reason why the tapestry had been removed, said that it had been removed on the orders of Chief Justice Roy. "We were told that the tapestry is unhealthy as it has a lot of dust. The Chief Justice is allergic to dust and that is why the tapestry was removed. But, we will get it cleaned," he said.

According to UT sources, there is little chance of the tapestry being put back. "Any expert will tell you that the tapestry will get destroyed within a few months if it is not properly stored. Is the UT equipped to keep it safe?" asked one the concerned citizens at today's meeting.

When contacted, no High Court official, including the two Registrars, were ready to speak on the issue.

According to experts, the only way to store such tapestries is to hang them on the wall without folding them. Incidentally, when Justice V. Ramaswami was the Chief Justice, a proposal had been cleared to include the Judges’ chambers within the courtrooms.

However some of the Judges opposed the move and even wrote to the then Prime Minster, Mr Rajiv Gandhi, to get the move stalled, which it was.

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