Rashid Paul

HC holds SKIMS admin in contempt for non-compliance of its order

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Says entire administrative machinery appears to be steeped in inefficiency and incompetency

Srinagar: “The entire system (of administrative machinery) appears to be steeped in inefficiency and incompetency” observed the High Court of J&K Monday while referring to non-compliance of one of its orders in a service writ petition of 2017.

“The entire system appears to be steeped in inefficiency and incompetency despite a veritable army of lawyers representing the respondents,” observed the division bench in the case Prakash Kour versus SK Institute of Medical Sciences Srinagar (SKIMS).

The authorities at the Institute were directed to consider the case of the petitioner in the light of the Recruitment Rules of 1998 with utmost dispatch within a period of eight weeks.

Aggrieved by the non-compliance of the judgment, Kour filed a contempt petition.

The bench expressed its “extreme pain” at the conduct of the respondents on account of the non-compliance of the judgment dated 6th October 2017 saying “no person or authority can be permitted to conduct itself in this manner.”

Holding the respondents prima-facie guilty of the contempt of court, the judges including the Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Puneet Gupta said valuable time of the court has been wasted since the filing of the petition.

“The respondents are bound to compensate the judicial time which has been wasted by them and compensate every date they have taken starting from 22nd of May, 2018,” observed the court.

The SKIMS had approached the Supreme Court of India against the High Court order in the case. The apex court however dismissed their review petition.

Amusingly the authorities today again informed the court that the matter relating to Kour is still under their active consideration. “We have received some representation from her,” they “immodestly” informed the court.

The judges said that they failed to understand as to how the receipt of a representation could be offered as an excuse to defer the compliance in a case which had attained finality up to the Supreme Court of India.

They noted “on hearing after hearing, the impunity with which the official respondents are violating binding orders of this court is agonizing”.

The judges also found that Kour’s was not the only case “where such contumacious conduct” is observed.

“In case after case, hapless citizens are harassed and tormented by the officials by non-complying with court orders,” they said while pressing for “setting up a system whereby online intra-department notification of the details of the court orders could be effected.”

The judges remarked that significant public money is being wasted in paying fees and other charges to state lawyers “for their fruitless appearances in court who seek adjournment after adjournment”. They dubbed the sequence “a deep rooted (judicial) systemic malaise”.

The court offered one last opportunity to the respondents for compliance “subject to payment of costs of Rs 1500 for every date they have taken an adjournment starting from 22nd of May, 2018 till date”.

The costs shall be deposited by the SKIMS authorities with the Jammu & Kashmir State Legal Services Authority within two weeks from today.

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