Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Wednesday reserved its verdict on the feasibility of Darbar Move amid the Covid-19 pandemic, after a suggestion was made that Secretariats at both Srinagar and Jammu were ideally required for functioning round the year.
The Amicus Curiae in the matter, Monika Kohli, submitted before court that in the year 1872, Maharaja Ranbir Singh shifted the Darbar from Srinagar to Jammu as an arrangement for the winter months and since then the tradition has continued over the years.
“There has been no examination of the efficiency or utility of this arrangement which was commenced only on account of weather reasons,” she told the court.
She drew the attention of the court towards the disclosure made by the government of the huge financial outlay, manpower and enterprise involved, and suggested that ideally, both the Secretariats are required to be functional in both the places round the year.
Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Rajnesh Oswal after hearing the Amicus said, “We have heard the submissions on the issue. We reserve our orders thereon.”
Government counsel Amit Gupta filed an additional report of the General Administration Department stating that “all records of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir are presently lying at Jammu office and have not been shifted”.
This was in response to the court’s direction on 16 April seeking report from government regarding status and location of all records.
Amicus Monika Kohli while arguing on the issue also gave reference to media reports that the Government of India had advanced sum of Rs 20 crore for the purpose of digitisation of the record, but it has not been effected yet.
It was pointed that the Government of the Union Territory is relying completely on paper files.
Meantime, three more reports were submitted before the court today regarding the Darbar Move.
It was submitted that the tentative seven days’ expenditure incurred by Government Departments on the Annual Darbar Move totals a whopping amount of Rs 1158.723 lakhsl.
The Transport department incurred expenses of Rupees 17,340,000 for 2018 and 2019 Darbar Moves.
Earlier, a report filed by the Financial Commissioner submitted that 10,112 employees were moved during April 2019 for which over 16 lakh rupees expenditure was incurred. Similarly, for October 2019, 9,695 employees were moved incurring expenditure of over 26 lakh.
Further, the Estates department in their report had mentioned that for the year 2018-2019, 607 private houses were used for accommodation, 748 government apartments were used and 7,659 hotels were used.
The Director General of Police in his report had submitted that 10,103 security personnel were involved in providing security cover during annual Darbar move for April 2018, October 2019 and October 2019.
The Government has already deferred the Darbar Move till 15 June due to Covid-19 fears.