DB directs UT Govt to promptly identify premises for establishing CAT

J&K, Ladakh UTs to have permanent bench of CAT

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, May 19: Union Government today formally conveyed to the High Court that it will take positive steps for the establishment of a permanent bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh.
The information was provided to the Division Bench of the High Court comprising Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Sanjay Dhar when the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Advocate Aditya Sharma was heard, through video-conference, seeking permanent bench of CAT in J&K and for allowing the cases to be continued to be heard in the J&K High Court till a permanent CAT bench was established.
The Division Bench of the High Court, however, did not respond to the demand to allow continuance of cases to be heard in J&K High Court, in the light of the fact that the CAT had conveyed that it was ready to start its work with immediate effect. There was also no interim relief or stay order issued by the Judges.
During the course of hearing, Vishal Sharma, Assistant Solicitor General of India, submitted 5 point note of the Central Government and informed that the Govt has decided to establish a permanent Bench of CAT for UT of J&K and UT of Ladakh and has already requested the J&K Government to provide appropriate premises for functioning of the Bench as well as for the residences of Members and staff.
“Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court had written a letter on 8th May, 2020 to the Union Minister of State in PMO Dr Jitendra Singh on the subject of establishing a bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal exclusively for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The letter was received in the office of the Minister on 16th May, 2020”, read the note submitted by the ASGI.
Meanwhile, the CAT Chairman Justice Narasimha Reddy had taken cognisance of Chief Justice Gita Mittal’s letter to Dr Jitendra Singh and replied to her saying that she need not be apprehensive about the disposal of cases by CAT. Referring to high pendency of 31,000 cases cited by Justice Gita Mittal, Justice Reddy had observed that the cases had been lying pending in J&K High Court before these were handed over to CAT and therefore there was no lapse on the part of CAT for this pendency.
The note submitted by the ASGI today however said, “the Union Government fully appreciates the Chief Justice’s concern for the fundamental right of access to justice to the litigants and legitimate expectation of efficacious remedies for dispute redressal”, adding “as soon as the appropriate premises are made available, the process of setting of a Bench of CAT will be initiated and completed in course of time”.
It was further submitted by the ASGI that pending establishment of the office of permanent Bench, immediate steps are being taken to provide for registration of cases and receipt of files from the High Court.
After hearing ASGI Vishal Sharma for the Union of India whereas Advocate General D C Raina and Additional AG Aseem Sawhney for the UT Govt, Advocate Gagan Basotra for petitioner and Advocate Abhinav Sharma for JK High Court Bar Association Jammu, the DB directed the J&K Government to identify the premises for the Bench and residences of the members and staff of CAT which shall be inspected by a representative of the CAT.
The DB also directed the ASGI to seek instructions from the Government whether the Bench will have simultaneous permanent sittings at Jammu and Srinagar or will sit there alternatively.
During the course of hearing, Advocate General suggested one complex for using as court by CAT at Jammu. “It is the building where earlier Accountability Commission was functional. Some other suitable vacant Government buildings can also be shortlisted”, he added.
He further apprised the court that one building was shortlisted at Srinagar also but the same having been declared as heritage building another one is being located. “The needful shall be done in a couple of days”, he said, adding “as far as residential accommodation for the members of CAT is concerned, there are number of Government houses lying vacant at Jammu as well as Srinagar and allotment shall be made befitting the status of the members of CAT”.
He further suggested that some officer from CAT may inspect the premises regarding their suitability so that further steps could be taken.
Advocate Gagan Basotra, counsel for the petitioner submitted that accommodation in the building suggested by the Advocate General may not be sufficient especially from parking and court rooms point of view.
Advocate Abhinav Sharma, who was assisting the court, submitted that considering that on an average 25-30 cases are filed daily before both the benches of the High Court pertaining to service matters, one bench in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir may not be sufficient. “There should be at least one bench each at Jammu and Srinagar, to start with”, he added.
Accordingly, DB directed ASGI to seek instructions from the competent authority about the suggestion made by Abhinav Sharma about one bench each at Jammu and Srinagar to start with. He will also coordinate with AAG Aseem Sawhney for inspection of the buildings for the benches at Jammu and Srinagar and also the residential accommodation to be provided to the members of the CAT.


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