Law Deptt’s repeated instructions being flouted by majority of Admn Secys, HoDs

Adopting proactive approach in handling court cases

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, July 11: In yet another testimony of lack of coordination, majority of the Administrative Secretaries and Heads of the Departments have been flouting repeated and explicit instructions of the Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs on adopting proactive approach in handling court cases.
Now, taking serious note of this, the Law Department, on the instructions of Governor, has asked for identifying the officers and officials who are creating obstacles in implementation of instructions and initiation of disciplinary proceedings against them under rules.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that from time to time instructions were issued by the Government about filing of appeals by the departments concerned within the stipulated time-frame in all those court cases which can be agitated before the next higher forum so as to safeguard the interests of the State.
Even stress was laid on monitoring of progress in the court cases regularly by the Administrative Secretaries and Heads of the Departments and ensuring proper liaison with the Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs.
However, there was no strict compliance to these instructions passed during the official meetings. This is evident from the fact that in the month of June 2016 the then Law Minister had ordered enquiry to fix responsibility of the officers and officials of the Power Development Department for not filing appeal in time in LPA No.157 titled State Versus Farooq Ahmad dated June 8, 2015.  Similar enquiry had also been ordered into lapse in filing Government’s response in a case pertaining to the Social Welfare Department.
Keeping this in mind, the Law Department vide Circular No. LD/Esst/2017/Notices dated June 13, 2017 had observed that departments were not filing the appeals before the State High Court and Supreme Court within the prescribed period of limitation, which results in dismissal of the cases at the threshold on the ground of limitation only and without considering the merits.
Accordingly, the Law Department, in order to overcome such a practice, had directed all the Administrative Secretaries and Heads of the Departments to ensure filing of appeals prior to the expiry of the prescribed period of limitation to facilitate hearing of the State cases on merits in order to safeguard the interests of the State.
Like the verbal instructions issued in the official meetings the Circular dated June 13, 2017 had also fallen on the deaf ears and departments continued to file appeals in the cases of their vested interests only while ignoring the ones in which larger interest of the State was involved, sources informed.
This can be gauged from the Circular No.LD/LIT/ 2018/80-Edu dated July 10, 2018, which reads: “It has been observed that departments don’t take timely action pursuant to the judgements/orders passed by the courts and submit the cases to Law Department at a belated stage as a result of which such departments are left with no other option than to implement the judgments/orders even in the cases where the same can be agitated before the next higher forum”.
“In order to curb such a practice, all the Administrative Secretaries and Heads of the Departments have been enjoined upon to ensure that the cases in which consultation of the Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs is required should be submitted without any delay and before the period prescribed for filing of appeals/reviews”, said the circular, the copy of which is available with EXCELSIIOR.
It has strongly been directed that the departments should identify the officers and officials who contribute in delaying the cases by not taking any view at the appropriate time and the disciplinary proceedings against such officers and officials be conducted under rules.
According to the sources, instructions vis-a-vis timely filing of response, status, reports and compliance etc are also not taken seriously as a result of which notices are issued to the top bureaucrats thereby creating embarrassment for the State.
“All this clearly establishes that adopting proactive approach in handling court cases has remained a distance dream even after issuance of repeated instructions by the Department of Law and Justice”, sources remarked.