For repeated adjournments, HC asks Govt to pay 6800 as fine
The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has imposed costs of Rs 400 against each adjournment on government in a service matter after observing that "it cannot proceed ahead on the course of justice unless records are produced and arguments advanced".
Hearing a petition titled Muhammad Bashir Rather versus State of J&K and Ors, a bench of Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey directed Additional Advocate General M A Baigh to deposit Rs 6800 as costs for the seventeen days of adjournment before the Registrar Judicial and produce a receipt before the Court at the time of making his submissions.
"In the event costs are not deposited, the Court would proceed to take all coercive steps to recover the same from the Commissioner Secretary to Government, General Administration Department, which could include seizure of his personal salary account," the Court said.
It observed: "Unfortunately the Court cannot proceed ahead on the course of justice unless respondents advance their arguments and produce their record. But at the same time the Court is not powerless to compel the respondents and their counsel to argue the case and to produce the records".
Observing that there are ways and means available to it and one such course available to the Court is to award costs for each day of adjournment, the Court said: "Respondents may take as much time as they want, but they would need to compensate the petitioner for each day up to a minimum of Rs 400 for each day of adjournment."
The court pointed out that the state counsel was repeatedly asked to argue the case and given opportunities to produce the original record and directions in this regard were passed on July 27, September 7, October 5, October 24 and October 27 this year. "But in vain".
"The respondents and their counsel seem to be deriving pleasure out of the melancholy of the petitioner who has been prematurely retired from service, and, therefore, mind least about the sanctity of the orders passed by the Court," the Court observed.
Observing that on July 27 on finding that the matter to be ripe for final hearing, the Court held the same was ordered to be listed for hearing after two weeks and the respondents were directed to keep the records available. "Ever since the matter has been coming up for hearing, but the records are not being produced," the Court said.
On October 5 this year, the Court said, the petitioner, on account of non-availability of his counsel, was directed to prepare a brief and argue the matter himself. "So was it ordered that the AAG, will advance his arguments on the next date. The direction to keep the original records available was repeated," the Court said.
Underscoring that the petitioner made his submissions on October 24 and sought two days' time to submit his arguments in writing, the court held that he was allowed to do so with direction to furnish a copy thereof in advance to the AAG, who, it added, in turn was required to keep the records available and advance his arguments on the next date.
On October 27, when the matter again came up, the petitioner, the court said, submitted his written arguments, copy whereof was furnished one day earlier to the AAG. "However, the AAG, was not prepared to argue the case and, therefore, sought and was granted two weeks' last opportunity to submit the records and to advance his arguments. The matter was directed to be posted on November 11".
The Court said while the matter came up foe hearing on November 11, the AAG was again not prepared for arguments, nor did he produce the record. He again, the court said, sought one week's time to argue the case and to produce the record.
"In the interest of justice, as prayed for, the matter is adjourned and the respondents are allowed the further time, adjournment as prayed for by the learned AAG, subject to payment costs of Rs 400 for each day of adjournment, the court said and ordered that the matter be listed on November 21 before any available bench according to the roaster.