Srinagar, Sept 9: The High Court today in a major relief for Chairpersons and members of Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) and Juvenile Justice Boards (JJBs) across Jammu and Kashmir, whose services came to an end, directed that their position shall not be disturbed till the matter is finally resolved by the court.
Justice Javed Iqbal Wani while hearing the advocate Hakim Suhail Ishtiaq on behalf of these members directed the authorities to maintain status quo with respect to the present position and working of these chairpersons and members.
The Government has issued an advertisement of fresh appointments on these posts and the present members have approached the court seeking a direction upon the respondent-authorities to undertake their performance appraisal for the purpose of their re-appointment as Chairpersons and Members of the Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) and members of Juvenile Justice Boards in terms of the J&K Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act.
Advocate Ishtiaq while appraising the court about the factual matrix of the case as projected by the him on behalf of the sitting Chairpersons and members submitted that they are working as Chairpersons and Members of the CWCs and members of JJB pursuant to their respective appointments in the year 2018 under the Act and the Rules.
He further added that their initial term of 3 years expired on 12.01.2021 with respect to the members of the JJB and on 06.02.2021 with respect to the Chairpersons/Members of the Child Welfare Committee and after the expiry of their respective terms, the authorities instead of undertaking the exercise of performance appraisal for the purpose of their re-appointment in terms of Rules of 2014 in general and Rules 4 in particular, granted an extension for a period of one year vide Government Order No’s. 13-SW-21 dated 27.01.2021 and Order No. 29-MD of 2021 dated 25.03.2021. Upon expiry of the said period of one year, two more extensions were granted to the petitioners vide orders dated 18.01.2022 and 24.06.2022 respectively whose extension has expired on 24.08.2022.
However, the respondents instead of undertaking the exercise of performance appraisal for the purpose of their re-appointment in terms of the rules initiated the process of fresh selection for the posts being manned by the petitioner-members and for that purpose advertisement notice No’s. 01 SC (MV) of 2022 dated 01.08.2022 and 02 SC (MV) of 2022 dated 01.08.2022 were issued by them.
Advocate while projecting his case contended that the aggrieved members are eligible for re-appointment up to three consecutive terms of three years each based on the performance appraisal to be made by the selection-cum-oversight committee based on recommendations of the District Child Protection Unit and the authorities were duty bound to consider their cases for re-appointment in terms of the Rules of 2014.
Justice Iqbal added that pendency of the writ petitions and pending adjudication of the issue regarding the right of re-engagement of the petitioners, the interests of the children in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection cannot be allowed to be jeopardized and need to be protected.
“Having regard to the nature of controversy involved coupled with the submissions made by the appearing counsels for the parties as well as keeping into account the fallout of refusal of the interim relief at this stage over the object of the Act coupled with the nature of duties performed by the Chairpersons/ members, a prima facie case for grant of interim relief is made out”, Justice Iqbal said and directed for status quo with regard to the position of petitioners on holding their posts.