Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Tuesday stayed the operation of a government notification dated 25 November, 2020, with regard to disengaging lecturers/ teacher assistants working in the Higher Education Department.
The court passed the order while hearing a contempt plea wherein the petitioners (lecturers/ teaching assistants) had submitted that the respondents had violated the court’s order dated 10 March, 2020.
In the said order, the High Court had stayed the operation of the communication dated 5th of March, 2020, to the extent of modifying/ changing the terms and conditions of the engagement of the petitioners in tune with Government order dated 17th of February, 2020, with a further stipulation that the petitioners shall be allowed to continue in keeping with the orders passed by the High Court in the earlier round(s) of litigation.
Advocate Jahangir Iqbal on behalf of the petitioners told the court that the petitioners were allowed to continue discharging their duties by the respondents in accordance with the terms and conditions prescribed in their engagement orders as well as regard to the mandate of Government Order dated 17th of February, 2020, but because of the issuance of Circular No. 07-JK(LD) of 2020 dated 25th of November, 2020, by the Secretary to Government, Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, the respondents were contemplating to disengage the petitioners.
The counsel submitted that this contemplation was evident from communication no. DC-HE/Circular/2020 dated 1st of December, 2020, issued by Director Colleges, Higher Education Department, addressed to the Nodal Principal, Government College for Women, MA Road, Srinagar and Nodal Principal, GGM Science College, Jammu.
Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey observed that upon a conjoint reading of the circular dated 25th of November, 2020, and the communication dated 1st of December, 2020, and the directions passed by the apex court of the country, the court is, prima facie, satisfied that both the Law Secretary as well as the Director Colleges had not only overreached their authority but their actions, besides being contemptuous in nature, also smacked of undermining the dignity of the court in the eyes of general public.
“This is so because the Supreme Court, in the aforesaid case, seemingly, has laid down guidelines with regard to pending cases where stay against proceedings of a civil or criminal trial is operating and not relating to all stay orders, passed in exercise of original jurisdiction under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution, as interpreted by the Law Secretary in the circular dated 25th of November, 2020,” Justice Magrey said.
Before proceeding further in the matter, the court said it deems just and proper to seek response from the respondents in the contempt petition as well as from the Secretary to Government, Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs.
“In view of above, let notice for filing the Statement of Facts go to the respondents, returnable by or before the next date of hearing. Besides, the Secretary to Government, Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs shall also file his response to the Contempt petition in light of observations made by the Court hereinabove,” Justice Magrey directed.
“Meanwhile, the operation of Circular No. 07-JK(LD) of 2020 dated 25th of November, 2020 and communication No. DC-JE/Circular/2020 dated 1st of December, 2020 shall stay qua the case of the petitioners herein,” the judge said.
Further, the court directed the Director Colleges, Higher Education Department, to file the Statement of Facts and remain personally present before the Court on the next date of hearing to explain his position.
The court will again hear the matter on 23 December.