Srinagar: Three years after their creation, the state government on Wednesday decided to abolish ‘36’ Additional and Special Mobile Magistrates courts in the state. The courts were established under the 13th Finance Commission for improving the justice delivery system vide two different government orders—(No. 929-LD(A) dated 27 February 2012 and No. 2011-LD(A) dated 20 June 2012).
The award period of 13th Finance Commission is expiring by the end of this month and the 14th Finance Commission didn’t keep any provision for the courts. The judicial officers as well as staff working in these courts have not been paid their salaries for over five months.
The decision to do away with the courts was taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. “The 36 Special/ Additional Mobile Magistrates’ Courts were temporarily created to be co-terminus with the period of the award of the 13th Finance Commission, up to 31-08-2015,” a government spokesman said. “The cabinet has decided that these courts shall cease to exist thereafter and the posts created on this account shall stand abolished.” However, the spokesman said the cabinet approved the payment of liabilities on account of the functioning of these courts.
Ahead of the cabinet meeting, the J&K High Court on Tuesday had made it clear to the government that it cannot review its order and that it was bound to release the pending salaries to the presiding officers and staff of these courts. “You can take the decision to abolish the courts and whether your decision is legal or otherwise, we will see later; but what about the payment of salary which is ordered by the Court? You cannot review the High Court order,” a HC bench had said.
As per the High Court’s registry, the salary amount required for the financial year 2015-2016 was Rs 10,38,97,152. The Registry had put the number of these courts at 38 as against 36 by the state government.
With Rs 86,58,096 to be paid as salary per month, an amount of Rs 4,32,90,480 is required for clearing the pending salaries of the judicial officers and the staff for five months from March to July this year, according to the Court’s registry.