- HC defers contempt proceedings against 2 officers
SRINAGAR: Taking strong notice of the nonpayment of salary to the 38 presiding officers and the staff of Additional Special Mobile Magistrates despite its directions, the High Court has prima facie held finance and law secretaries responsible for “contempt proceedings” against them.
However, a division bench of Chief Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Hasnain Massodi deferred to proceed against them following submissions by advocate general Jahangir Iqbal Ganie who assured to use his “good office” to resolve the issue by October 27.
“On perusal of the affidavit and nonpayment of salary to 38 newly created posts of additional special mobile magistrates and the staff, a prima facie case is made out to initiate contempt proceedings against commissioner secretary to government finance department and secretary to government law, justices and parliamentary affairs who are present in the court,” the division bench said.
At this juncture, Advocate General sought further time to use his good office following which the court posted the case for October 27.
On August 20, the state cabinet headed by chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed abolished the Additional Special Mobile Magistrate Courts and 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.
However, the division bench stayed the cabinet order, observing 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.
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 had observed.
The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation initiated after a report by its Registry which had stated that the salary amount required for the judicial officers as well as the staff for the financial year 2015-2016 is Rs 10, 38, 97,152. It said while Rs 86,58,096 are required as monthly salary, an amount of Rs. 4,32,90,480 was needed to be paid as pending salary to the judicial officers and the Court staff for five months from March to July 2015.
The cabinet had agreed to release the salary till August 31 before abolishing the special courts.