The Bombay High Court on Wednesday suo motu took notice of the tardy progress of the Maharashtra government's project to publish the writings and speeches of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.

It reflects a "sorry state of affairs", said the Division Bench of Justice P B Varale and Justice S M Modak.

The Court took cognizance of a report published in a Marathi newspaper which said the government had not been able to print enough copies of 21 volumes of Ambedkar's literature.

The government had planned to print nine lakh copies of "The writings and speeches of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar" and had also purchased paper worth Rs 5.45 crore for the project.

But in the last four years, only 33,000 copies were printed and the rest of the paper is gathering dust, as per the report. Further, out of the 33,000 copies, only 3,675 were made available for distribution.

The government press did not have modern machinery, the Court noted in its order, citing the newspaper report.

The news item reflects a sorry state of affairs. There is no dispute that these volumes are in demand not only by researchers but also by the public in general, the Court said.

The publication is absolutely necessary and desirable for present and future generations. It is useful to members of the legal fraternity as well as to general members, the bench said. Considering the nature of the grievance raised in the report, the Court was treating it as the subject matter of a public interest litigation, it said.

The Bench directed the High Court registry to register it as a suo motu public interest litigation and place it before a Bench headed Chief Justice Dipankar Datta which hears all PILs.

With PTI inputs