CAT passes strictures against deptts for taking its orders, observations casually

Personal appearance of Addl Secy Home sought
Warns of contempt for circumventing judicial orders

Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, Dec 2: Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) Srinagar Bench has passed strictures against departments for taking its orders and observations casually and sought the personal appearance of Additional Secretary, Home Department of J&K Union Territory for filing ‘irresponsible’ affidavit despite being aware of the fact that order of the Tribunal was upheld by the High Court as well as Apex Court of the country.
Moreover, the Tribunal has warned of initiating contempt proceedings against the authorities for circumventing the judicial orders in future and has made it clear that nobody is above the law and the law is supreme.
In the contempt petition titled Hilal Ahmed Rathore Versus Home Department, Srinagar Bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal comprising M S Latif (Member Judicial) and Prasant Kumar (Member Administrative) observed, “counsel for the applicant (Hilal Ahmed Rathore) submits that a detailed order was passed by the court on 03-10-2023, wherein the counsel for the respondents (Home Department), in all fairness, prayed that he be granted four weeks time to positively comply with the judgment of the court dated 27-04-2022, which was confirmed by the High Court and upheld by the Apex Court of the country”.
“The Government Advocate has submitted that he has filed an application seeking extension of time. However, surprisingly, the prayer of the application reads that the applicants be granted reasonable time to examine the matter in the light of the directions passed by the Tribunal in the contempt petition. The application is supported by a duly sworn affidavit, which seems to have been signed by Qazi Irfan, Additional Secretary to Government Home Department, UT of J&K”, the CAT said.
“However, the counsel for the applicant submits that the judgment of the Tribunal having been confirmed by the High Court and ultimately upheld by the Apex Court of the country, the Additional Secretary to Government, Home Department has the cheeks to submit such an affidavit, which itself amounts to contempt of the court and may even amount to criminal contempt for which he deserves to be dealt with separately in accordance with law”, the CAT observed, adding “counsel for the respondents, however, makes a statement at the bar that the respondents are in process of complying with the direction of the court dated 27-04-2022 and he prays for grant of sometime”.
The CAT further observed, “this court has, on many occasions held that we do not feel happy in calling the officers, high or low, in the court as they are more required in public to mitigate their sufferings rather than be present before the court. However, it seems that the authorities concerned are taking these observations casually”.
“The court orders are to be complied with grace as law always commands grace and coercive measure is adopted only when the orders of the courts are not complied with in its letter and spirit. This Tribunal is not powerless to initiate proceedings in terms of Section 17 of Administrative Tribunal Act, 1985 which mandates that the Tribunal shall have the same jurisdiction, power and authority while dealing with the contempt petitions as that of the High Court and the Tribunal may, for this purpose, exercise the provisions of Contempt of Courts Act 1971 as well, read with the Contempt of Courts (Rules, 1992, which prescribes the procedure for initiation of contempt proceedings”, the bench said.
“This Tribunal has, all along, showered grace and respect to the senior responsible officers of the UT of J&K with the expectation that its orders will be complied with grace and respect as there is nobody above law and the law is supreme”, the bench said, adding “judicial orders cannot be allowed to be circumvented and the Supreme Court has held that disobedience of the orders of the courts strikes at the very rule of law, which erodes the faith of common people in this temple of justice”.
“We are also at pains to observe that every order of the court is accompanied by a contempt petition, as the orders of the courts are being taken casually, which is a matter of grave concern for both the Bench and the Bar”, the CAT said.
While granting three weeks further time for compliance of the judgment of the court dated 27-04-2022, the CAT directed that on the next date of hearing, the Additional Secretary to Government, Home Department Qazi Irfan shall remain present in person before the court to explain as to how he has filed an ‘irresponsible’ affidavit.
“The officer shall cause his appearance before the court on the due date at 4.30 PM sharp as he may be required in discharging his public duties and we would not like the public to suffer in his absence in the office. The officer will also assist this court for seeking compliance of the judgment dated 27-04-2022, which was confirmed by the High Court and also upheld by the Apex Court of the country as ultimately presence of the officer will help in expeditious disposal of this contempt petition and to uphold the majesty of law”, read the order of CAT.
Listing the matter on December 21, 2023, the CAT has directed the Registry to send a copy of this order to the Chief Secretary, UT of J&K.