Over 7700 contempt petitions pending against Govt in both wings of State HC

No end to lackadaisical approach in complying with court directions
School Education, Revenue, PHE, PDD top the list
Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Dec 18: Giving credence to the fact that majority of the departments are ‘wilfully’ ignoring the directions of the court and creating impediments in speedy disposal of the cases, over 7700 contempt petitions are pending against various Government authorities in both the wings of the State High Court.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that during hearing of a matter in open court in Srinagar in the recent past, the Chief Justice of J&K High Court Justice Gita Mittal had observed that approximately 4000 contempt petitions are pending before the Srinagar wing of the High Court.
Now, the State High Court has come out with a list which indicates that over 3700 contempt petitions are also pending in Jammu wing of the High Court. With this, over 7700 contempt petitions are pending for disposal in both the wings of the State High Court.
These figures clearly establish that majority of the Government departments are not timely acting on the directions/orders of the High Court thereby not only denying justice to the litigants but also contributing to pendency of the cases instead of contributing in their timely disposal.
As far as Jammu wing of the High Court is concerned, School Education Department is on the top of the list as a total of 805 contempt petitions are pending against its authorities for not complying with the directions/ orders passed in different matters.
Majority of these contempt petitions have been filed against the Administrative Secretary of the School Education Department. Moreover, in certain cases contempt petitions have also been filed against the Chief Secretary for being head of the entire civil administration.
Revenue Department is at the second place as a total of 325 contempt petitions are pending against its authorities. Majority of these petitions have been filed against the Collectors of Land Acquisition, Deputy Commissioners and Administrative Secretary of the department.
A total of 214 contempt petitions are pending against the Public Health Engineering Department and Administrative Secretary of the department along with Chief Engineer have been made respondents in the same. With this, the PHE Department is at the third place in the list.
Power Development Department is at the 4th place in the list with 192 pending contempt petitions mostly against the Administrative Secretary, Chief Engineers, Managing Director of Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corporation and Managing Director of Chenab Valley Power Projects Pvt Ltd.
Among the other departments against whom more than 100 contempt petitions are pending include Public Works Department (138), Forest Department (133), General Administration Department (118), Social Welfare Department (105) and Rural Development Department (103).
As per the list, these contempt petitions are pending against the Government departments during the past several years thereby clearly establishing that those at the helm of affairs in these departments are not extending necessary cooperation to the High Court by either implementing the directions/orders or justifying non-implementation with cogent reasons, official sources said.
“It is because of the lackadaisical approach of the concerned authorities of the Government departments in implementing the directions of the High Court that even Chief Secretary is made respondent in the contempt petitions, which is a major embarrassment for the Government”, sources further said.
When contacted, Registrar General of State High Court Sanjay Dhar said that the list has been prepared and put on the website for the information of the Government counsels so that they obtain necessary instructions from the heads of the concerned departments and extend necessary cooperation in their expeditious disposal by the High Court.
“The concerned Administrative Secretaries should show utmost seriousness towards the contempt petitions and pass necessary instructions to the departments under their charge or Law Officers so that High Court is eased of burden of contempt petitions”, sources said, adding “this is also imperative to avoid their own personal appearances before the High Court”.
It is pertinent to mention here that last month Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam had directed all the Administrative Secretaries to immediately review the contempt petitions pending against their departments both at Jammu and Srinagar wing of the High Court and take a well informed decision in each of these cases in consultation with the Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs to ensure compliance with the directions of the High Court.