Rashid Paul

J&K HC sees govt circular on its six-months-old interim orders as being contemptuous

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Says Law dept has misinterpreted the SC judgment it has referred to

Srinagar: The J&K High Court today held contemptuous a recent J&K government circular that ordered all the administrative secretaries and heads of departments (HODs) to treat all the court ordered stays as expired in case they were six months old.

The Department of Justice and Parliamentary Affairs had on November 25 issued a circular under number 07 JK (LD) of 2020 requiring all the administrative secretaries and HODs to review all the administrative actions and procedures held up due to interim court orders.

“In case the interim court orders are six months old, treat the orders as expired and proceed accordingly,” the circular had said.

Justice Sanjeev Kumar, who heard the matter in a 2018 case titled Khurshid Ahmad Zargar versus State noticed “the circular is, prima facie, contemptuous” and puts the Union Territories’ chief lawyer, D C Raina on notice to assist the court in taking a correct view in the matter.

Raina immediately appeared before the court and sought a short adjournment to aid the court, citing personal difficulty.

On his request, the matter was adjourned to 14th December, 2020.

The Law department had issued the circular on the ground that in a large number of cases in courts involving the government as party, actions could not be taken as a result of the interim court orders.

Such interim orders preventing further action were mostly stays on transfers, tenders, maintaining stauts quos and their final adjudications took prolonged periods of time.

The department held that many cases lie pending unresolved for many years leading to administrative bottlenecks and delays.

Justice Kumar viewed the recent Supreme judgments relied by the department for the circular said “they do not provide that all interim orders, passed by the High Court will come to an end after the expiry of six months of their issuance unless they are extended by the court by a reasoned order.”

He held that from the reading of the judgment of the Supreme Court, it prima-facie transpires that it was only in the cases where the interim order(s) was with respect to stay of proceedings in a suit or criminal challan pending before the trial court .

The Supreme Court, he observed, provided that the stay of proceedings will automatically come to an end on the expiry of six months from the date of such order unless extension is granted by the court by a speaking order.

The respondents have misinterpreted the referred judgment of the Supreme Court in the case titled Asian Resurfacing of Road Agency Pvt. Ltd v. Central Bureau of Investigation, he said.

Meanwhile in Zargar’s case, Justice Kumar extended the interim order passed on 7th of August, 2018.

He observed that the interim order in Zargar’s case has neither been varied nor modified by the court. The respondent authorities too have not filed objections till day or sought its modification.

“This court sees no justification not to extend the same,” he directed.

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