Majority of Govt deptts not responding timely to HC’s repeated directives in PILs

Non-serious approach despite serious concern expressed by CS
Law Deptt’s numerous  instructions fall on deaf ears
Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Oct 3: Majority of the Government departments have not developed the habit of responding timely to the directives of the High Court in the Public Interest Litigations even after repeated instructions from the Law Department in this regard. In this way, they are creating impediments in achieving the intent of the litigations rather than facilitating the same.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that from time to time the State High Court, while dealing with the Public Interest Litigations (PILs), conveyed serious concern over the dilly-dallying approach of the Government departments and the Law Officers in filing timely reply and compliance and status reports.
In several PILs, the High Court had remarked: “The Law Officers should act as the officers of the court and render all sorts of help in deciding the matters timely by obtaining requisite information from the concerned departments instead of creating obstacles by seeking grant of more time on every date of hearing”.
On the instructions of the High Court, the office of Registrar General has dashed numerous communications to the Law Department till date asking for ensuring proper cooperation of the heads of the concerned departments and Law Officers in taking the PILs to the logical conclusion.
This was also viewed seriously by present Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam and on his directions the Law Department vide Circular No.LD(A)-2018/54 dated August 14, 2018 had passed certain directions to all the Administrative Secretaries, Heads of the Departments and Law Officers.
“All the Administrative Secretaries are requested to ensure that reply/compliance/ status reports are filed well in time and the directions of the court are complied with immediately so as to avoid any adverse orders. If any adverse orders are passed by the court on account of such lapses, the concerned officials shall be identified, held responsible and made liable to face disciplinary action including reflection of their conduct in Annual Performance Reports (APRs)”, read the circular dated August 14, 2018.
However, the situation has not improved till date and orders passed by the High Court particularly in the PILs are still not taken seriously and consequently filing of reply/compliance /status reports get delayed, sources said.
In a PIL seeking improvement of tourist infrastructure at Mantalai-Sudh Mahadev, Division Bench of State High Court has granted several opportunities to the State for filing detailed affidavit indicating projects taken up in the area and their completion date. However, requisite information has not been furnished till date and while viewing this seriously the Division Bench has now granted last opportunity.
Similarly, in a PIL seeking Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) investigation in the selections made by J&K Public Service Commission since July 2015, the DB on last date of hearing granted four weeks time to the State for filing response as the State counsel was not in a position to furnish reply to the notice.
Likewise, no satisfactory reply has been furnished till date in the PIL seeking better facilities in the Government health institutions and rationalization of doctors so as to overcome deficiency of staff in majority of the health centres in rural parts of the Jammu province.
In a PIL challenging the Jammu and Kashmir State Lands (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act, which is popularly known as Roshni Act, Division Bench of State High Court is still seeking compliance report of the directions issued in the month of March this year.
It is pertinent to mention here that on March 7, 2018, Division Bench had directed the State to submit the list of beneficiaries and also make a proper publication in newspaper that WPPIL No.41/2014, challenge to the Roshni Act, is pending before the High Court for consideration and also persons, who are interested or likely to be affected, are entitled to cause their appearance in the proceedings.
Moreover, in a PIL seeking check on environmental degradation due to construction of power projects in a highly seismic sensitive zone of Kishtwar, objections have not been filed by the State till date despite being given sufficient time by the Division Bench of the State High Court.
“Similar is the approach in PIL highlighting delay in creation of artificial lake and completion of ropeway project besides gearing up of conservation work at historic Mubarak Mandi Complex”, sources said, adding “there are numerous other PILs which could not be taken to logical conclusion despite lapse of considerable period of time due to dilly-dallying approach of the concerned departments in filing replies and compliance reports”.
They further said, “it seems that in all these and other PILs the Government is waiting for adverse orders from the High Court to show compliance of the directives”.