Summoning of officials to be contested on basis of SC judgment
*Prolonged litigations against Govt major concern
JAMMU, Jan 25: As prolonged litigations against the Government have remained a major concern, a dashboard is being developed for effective and timely monitoring of court cases and contempt petitions by the Administrative Secretaries, who have also been asked to contest the personal appearance orders of the courts on the basis of judgement given by the Supreme Court.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam has observed that repeated formal instructions from the Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and General Administration Department about timely monitoring of court cases have not yielded tangible results till date.
“This is mainly because of lack of coordination between the departments and the Government counsels appointed for handling the cases in the courts”, sources said, adding “there are numerous instances of Law Officers in the departments not apprising the concerned Administrative Secretaries of the court orders well in time leading to delayed filing of replies and compliance reports”.
They further said, “in such circumstances the courts are compelled to pass adverse orders against the Government and frequent summoning of the senior officers”, adding “it is because of lack of timely response to the cases by the departments that number of litigations against the Government in different courts across the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir are still beyond imagination”.
In numerous orders issued by the Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs it was mentioned that in case of adverse orders from the courts on account of delay in filing of replies/status report, the concerned officers shall be identified and made liable to face disciplinary action including reflection of their conduct in the Annual Performance Reports (APRs). “But, such a warning has never been translated into reality and this is the main reason behind continuous dilly-dallying approach in handling the court cases”, sources said.
Few days back, the Chief Secretary again discussed the issue with the Administrative Secretary of the Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and finally it was felt that unless a dashboard/portal is developed the situation was not going to change.
Accordingly, the Chief Secretary has directed that the Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs in consultation with Department of Information Technology will develop a dashboard/portal to facilitate the easy accessing/monitoring of court cases and contempt petitions by the Administrative Secretaries.
“Such a mechanism will go a long way in not only timely tracking of the status of court cases but will also make the Law Officers in the departments accountable for filing timely replies after obtaining opinion from respective Administrative Secretaries as well as Secretary of Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs wherever required”, sources said.
Meanwhile, Government has directed the Administrative Secretary of the Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Department to circulate the judgment of the Supreme Court regarding non-summoning of senior Government officers by the courts among all the Administrative Secretaries.
“The objective behind this is to facilitate the concerned Administrative Secretaries to contest the court orders of personal appearance”, sources said.
It is pertinent to mention here that Supreme Court in its recent judgment disapproved the practice of summoning of officers by the High Court while considering the writ petitions.
“Merely because an order has been passed by the officer, it does not warrant the personal presence of the officer in the court”, the Supreme Court has mentioned in the judgment, adding “the summoning of officers to the court to attend proceedings impinges upon the functioning of the officers and eventually it is the public at large who suffer on account of their absence from the duties assigned to them”.
“The practice of summoning officers to court is not proper and does not serve the purpose of administration of justice in view of the separation of powers of the Executive and the Judiciary. If an order is not legal, the courts have ample jurisdiction to set aside such order and to issue such directions as may be warranted in the facts of the case”, read Supreme Court order.