Delay in finalization of 147 departmental enquiries

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Jammu: A Division Bench of the State High Court comprising Chief Justice N. Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Bansi Lal Bhat expressed its displeasure over non-filing of the status reports by the Commissioner/Secretaries Finance, Revenue and Housing and Urban Development Departments despite the categoric directions issued by the Division Bench on February, 10, 2016 when a detailed order was passed impleading 13 Administrative Secretaries as party respondents in the much publicized PIL filed by two Social Activists Sheikh Mohammad Shafi and Prof. S.K. Bhalla highlighting delay in the finalization of 147 departmental enquiries pending against various officers occupying responsible positions in several departments of the State. The Division Bench had directed the Advocate General to get the details from the 13 Administrative Secretaries within a period of two weeks and in case of non-furnishing of the details by the Secretaries to the Advocate General relating to the pendency of the enquiries the Division Bench had directed the personal presence of the concerned Commissioner/ Secretary and not only this the Division Bench had also warned that Court will take a serious view of the matter and secure his/her presence.

When this Public Interest Litigation of wide public importance was taken up for hearing Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed with Advocates Irfaan Mohammad Khan, Rahul Raina and Suraj Singh appearing for the petitioners drew the attention of the Division Bench that out of 13 newly impleaded Administrative Secretaries, 10 Administrative Secretaries viz. Industries and Commerce, Agriculture Production, Social Welfare, School Education Department, Technical Education/Youth Services and Sports, Higher Education Department, PWD, CAPD, PHE and Planning and Development Department have filed their status reports indicating the latest position of the pending departmental enquiries. Advocate Ahmed further submitted that despite the clear cut directions passed by the Division Bench on the last date of hearing the Administrative Secretaries of Finance, Revenue and Housing and Urban Development Department have not filed their status reports nor the said Secretaries are present in person before the Court.

Advocate Ahmed according to CNS further submitted that apart from the aforesaid three Departments the status report have also not been filed by Commissioner/Secretaries of various other Departments viz. Home, Health and Medical Education, Special Tribunal, Cooperative Department, Animal/Sheep Husbandry, Rural Development Department, Forest Department and Tourism Department.

Advocate S.S. Ahmed further submitted that as per the status report filed on April, 21, 2014 by GAD it was disclosed that 9 Departmental Enquiries are pending in Health and Medical Education Department, 6 in Cooperative Department, 12 in Housing and Urban Development Department, 1 in Special Tribunal, 2 in Home Department, 17 in Rural Development Department and 12 in Forest Department.

At this stage Senior AAG Seema Shekhar Khajooria appearing for State submitted that 10 Administrative Secretaries have already complied the directions of the Division Bench and the status reports with regard to left over three Departments have also been received by the office of the Advocate General and she sought a short opportunity to place on record the status reports on behalf of Finance, Revenue and Housing and Urban Development Departments.

The Division Bench looking into the importance of the matter and the prayer made by Senior AAG Seema Shekhar Khajooria appearing for the State allowed time till February, 29, 2016 to file the status reports on behalf of the 3 Secretaries viz. Finance, Revenue and Housing and Urban Development Department.

At this stage Advocate S.S. Ahmed requested the Division Bench that Administrative Secretaries of other left over Departments be also impleaded as party respondents in the PIL and directions be given to them to submit the status of the pending enquiries. In the open court Advocate S.S. Ahmed named various Departments viz. Home, Health and Medical Education, Special Tribunal, Cooperative Department, Animal/Sheep Husbandry, Rural Development Department, Forest Department and Tourism Department and prayed that their Administrative Secretaries be arrayed as party respondents.

The Division Bench after considering the submissions of Advocate S.S. Ahmed allowed him the liberty to make a proper application for impleading the left over Departments before the next date of hearing. (CNS)

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