SRINAGAR: A day after the state cabinet headed by chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed abolished Additional Special Mobile Magistrate Courts created 13th Finance Commission, the J&K high court on Thursday said that there was not difficulty for the government to continue with the 38 courts even beyond August 31.
“We have noticed that about 15,000 cases are pending in these courts as on June 30 2015 as per the details furnished by the (court) Registry,” a division bench of Chief Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Hasnain Massodi said while hearing a suo-moto Public Interest Litigation.
While announcing to close them down, a government spokesman after cabinet meeting said that the courts were temporarily created to be co-terminus with the period of the award of the 13th Finance Commission up to 31 August this year.
The division bench observed that under the 14th Finance Commission (1 April 2015 up to 31 March 2019), the Government of India has tentatively decided to sanction a sum of Rs. 172.04 crore for a period of five years for setting up fast track courts, additional courts and re-designing existing courts to make them more litigant friendly under the scheme.
“In the proposal of Department of Justice, (GoI), it is stated that for Jammu and Kashmir, a sum of Rs. 25.33 crores is earmarked for additional courts and Rs. 48.35 crores for fast track courts and Rs.38.5 crores for Re-designing Existing Courts,” the court observed, adding that it was clear that a sum of Rs. 112.18 crores has been earmarked for five years by the GoI for additional, fast tract and re-designing existing courts
The court said that the amount required for continuing the courts per year would be around Rs. 12 crores i.e. within the sanctioned amount of Rs. 63.83 crores for five years.
“In such circumstances, we are of the view that there may not be any difficulty to continue the 38 Additional/Special Mobile Magistrate Courts even beyond 31 August this year without any financial liability on the part of the State Government,” the bench observed.
Advocate General Jhangir Iqbal Ganie sought time to get response from the government with regard to the proposal under “finance commission” and make a statement before the court.
He submitted that even though the proposal was furnished, no amount has been released by the Government of India as on date.
Subsequently, the court issued notice to the Secretary, Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India after impleading the officer as a party respondent in the PIL.
On notice was accepted by assistant solicitor general of India S. A. Makroo for filing the response on next date of hearing on 25 August.