Rashid Paul

Tardy disposal of cases at CAT Jammu strains petitioners

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Petitioners demand bench in Srinagar as well

Srinagar: A year-and-half after the Government of India divested the courts of Jammu and Kashmir of their powers to adjudicate complaints about recruitment and service-related petitions of its employees, Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), the alternative body seems to have only strained the nerves of the of the aggrieved petitioners.

After subsuming the jurisdiction, powers and authority of the local courts, CAT, the Government of India’s employee adjudicator, has been able to dispose of just 550 cases out of the 16000 cases it received since the inception of its bench at Jammu since June 08, 2020.

The Tribunal has received 4569 cases from Jammu wing of the High Court and 8542 cases from the Srinagar, besides 48 cases from the court of Sub Judge, Anantnag.

According to official data, the bench also received 1235 OAs; 1639 MAs, 06 RAs and 30 CPs till 14th day of December, 2020. The Tribunal has till date been able to dispose of 550 cases only.

After the Government of India enacted the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, in 2019 wherein the then autonomous state was bifurcated in to two union territories and the jurisdiction of various benches of the Central Administrative Tribunal was extended to the region.

Initially the Chandigarh Bench of the Tribunal was given the jurisdiction over the newly created union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

It was only after a public interest litigation titled Aditya Sharma versus Union of India was filed in the Supreme Court that an independent bench of the Tribunal was constituted for the region on 28th of May, 2020.

However, the bench became operational at Jammu on 8th of June, 2020.

Thousands of petitioners from Kashmir region have to travel more than 300 kilometers to file their grievances before the bench at Jammu.

“It is traumatic to travel so distant a place for getting justice. Pursuing the case at the local High Court was very easy. One gets exhausted while searching for the counsel in a strange place and staying there in the unconducive situation,” said Ali Mohammed, a petitioner from south Kashmir district of Kulgam.

R A Jan, a senior High Court lawyer says that access to justice is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution.  Non-availability of the Bench of the CAT at Srinagar tantamounts to denial of access to justice, he said.

According to officials, the Lt. Governor of J&K has pleaded to the Union Home Ministry for allowing the establishment of a permanent Bench in Srinagar as well.

Officials say that 20 positions of the Members (Judicial and Administrative) are lying vacant in the Tribunal. But the process to fill them has not been seriously taken for establishment of a court of first instance for petitions from Kashmir.

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