HC slaps cost of Rs 10,000 on govt officials for wasting judicial time
Srinagar: The J&K High Court Wednesday imposed a cost of Rs 10,000 on Mission Director State Rural Livelihood (J&K) and some other officers for abusing the process of law in a civil litigation case.
The costs were imposed (as punishment) on the officers in a Letters Patent Appeal (LPA) filed by them after a delay of 275 days.
“The delay is totally misconceived,” said a division bench comprising Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Puneet Gupta.
“In our view, judicial time has been unwarrantedly wasted by filing an appeal which is completely without merit,” they observed.
The Mission Director and his subordinate officers had appealed against a 2017 single bench order that allowed Tariq Ahmad Bhat, a taxi-owner/driver to continue providing services to the department for a contract period of one year.
The department had issued an order of service in favor of Bhat in 2016. The officers had later on arbitrarily withdrawn the contract.
Bhat, owning an Innova cab challenged the “subjective” cancellation order.
A single bench of the High Court had ordered the continuation of the contract.
It thus ordered “the respondents remain legally obliged to adhere to the terms and conditions of the earlier official order.”
It further directed the officers to work out the hiring and fuel charges as was payable to the owner of the vehicle for the period of contract.
After a period of nine months of the order, the Mission Director filed an (LPA) praying that the delay be condoned.
The division bench dismissed the appeal with costs quantified at Rs 10,000.
The cost has been directed to be deposited by the Mission Director and his company of officers within two weeks from today in the Advocates Welfare Fund.
Interestingly, no lawyer appeared on behalf of the ‘sarkar’ (government) when the matter was called out in the court.
The court found that the appellant officers have failed to take steps for service despite opportunities.
“From perusal of the record, it is revealed that no steps for service have been taken by the appellants,” observed the judges.
It also remarked that the order passed by the Single Judge bench in favor of the taxi driver cum owner was in accordance with law and warranted in the facts of the case.