Judicial orders can’t be circumvented on lame excuses: CAT to Transport Deptt

‘Nobody above law, uphold majesty of courts’

Expresses anguish over non-compliance of orders
Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, Mar 1: Expressing anguish over non-compliance of numerous orders passed from time to time, Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) Srinagar has made it clear to the Transport Department that judicial orders cannot be circumvented on lame excuses and it should uphold the majesty of the courts because nobody is above temple of justice.
The CAT, while dealing with the matter relating to legitimate dues of the consolidated workers of the Transport Department, passed numerous orders from time to time particularly on September 25, 2023, November 6, 2023 and December 21, 2023.
When the matter came up for hearing once again two days back, M S Latif, Member Judicial of CAT Srinagar observed, “perusal of the orders passed from time to time reveals that respondents have been taking the court orders very casually and prima facie it appears that the respondents are willfully disrespecting the orders of the court”.
Stating that judicial orders cannot be circumvented on lame excuses, the CAT reiterated that ignorance and absence of motivation can hardly be offered as any defence in an action for non-compliance. “Ultimately, it is the rule of law which has to prevail and courts cannot be silent spectators to the conduct of the violators, as people will lose faith in this temple of justice, which ultimately may lead to an erosion and a State of anarchy”, the CAT added.
“We have all along been reiterating that this court is never happy in calling the officers to this court in order to seek compliance of the orders. In this backdrop, this court passed an order dated 25-09-2023, wherein the RTO Kashmir, Shahnawaz Buhari made statement that he would personally monitor the compliance of the order/judgment and the personal appearance of the Administrative Secretary Transport Department was exempted as the court took a lenient view in the facts and circumstances as were projected by the counsel for the respondent”, the CAT said.
Vide order dated 06-11-2023, Rahul Sharma, the then Transport Commissioner, submitted that petitioners are working on a consolidated amount in the department and the case for release of legitimate dues of the petitioner has been forwarded to the Finance Department.
“On 06-11-2023, counsel for the respondents Waseem Gul referred to a communication bearing No. TRPT-MVDOLEG/40/2022-02 dated 30-10-2023 addressed by the Under Secretary to Government Transport Department to Transport Commissioner regarding the subject matter of the TA, the same was also taken on the record. It was observed that the communication dated 30-10-2023 depicts a very sorry state of affairs wherein official lethargy of the department was writ large”, the CAT said.
The matter was yet again listed on 21-12-2023 and Shahnawaz Bukhari, RTO Kashmir was present along with the Assistant Transport Commissioner. The presence of the Administrative Secretary was dispensed with as the official was deputed for general elections duties to Rajasthan. It was mentioned in the order and in the presence of Assistant Commissioner Transport and RTO Kashmir that non-implementation of the orders of the court leaves a bad impact on the society and at the same time, the inaction pollutes the stream of justice which is supreme and nobody is above this temple of justice, the CAT further said.
When the matter came up for consideration on February 28, 2024, neither the Commissioner Secretary Transport nor Transport Commissioner and RTO Kashmir was present. “It was expected that to uphold the majesty of the courts and the rule of law, at least they would have moved a motion before the court for seeking their personal appearance through virtual mode or could have also sought for their exemption in view of their busy schedule in discharging their public duties but that also has not been done”, the CAT said.
However, Government Advocate Waseem Gul made a statement at Bar that the respondents have arranged the funds and due to some formalities they are not in a position to release the same. When confronted as to what are these formalities, Waseem Gul submitted that since ARTO has been transferred, as such formalities are pending. On the other side, Mir Suhail, counsel for the applicants, submitted that the statement has been made again and again by the counsel for the respondents.
“This court is expressing its anguish and dismay for having shown gross non-compliance to the orders. We would have been compelled to issue a bailable warrant for seeking presence of the concerned officials as envisaged in terms of Section 17 of the CAT Act, read with rules, Contempt of Court CAT Act, 1992. However, in view of the submission made by counsel for the respondents we defer this matter by one week”, M S Latif (Member-J) said.
However, the CAT once again reiterated the order dated 21-12-2023 and Registry was directed to convey this order to Commissioner Secretary, Transport Commissioner and RTO Kashmir for compliance. Now, the matter will come up for consideration on 11-03-2024.