HC disapproves delayed response to pleas

Jammu and Kashmir High Court has observed that unnecessary delays by government in contesting cases is burdening the public exchequer and interim orders passed in pleas have serious repercussions.

A division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and justice Puneet Gupta while hearing a Public Interest Litigation said: “No effort is made to obtain instructions from Government departments to assist the Court on the first date of hearing and it is taken for granted that notices would be issued in a routine”.

While the court underscored that no effort is made to oppose the matter, it pointed out as a result interim orders passed in these matters have serious repercussions.

For instance, the court said, stays of land acquisition for large infrastructure projects, stay of selection processes conducted after long procedures, stays of transfers and posting orders and interim protection to encroachers have serious impacts.

“We find that these cases remain pending for decades. As a result illegalities are perpetuated for decades together having the heavy burden on the public interest as well as public exchequer.”

The Court observed that “service of advance copy before filing means that a counsel representing the respondents is well prepared to assist the Court.” This, the court said, is the practice followed in other courts.

The Court’s observations came after it noticed that Jal Shakti department had neither filed the reply nor any one represented before it in the Public Interest Litigation seeking directions for supplying drinking water supply to seven villages in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.

The Court directed Commissioner Secretary Jal Shakti Department J&K to remain present in person on October 22.

Advocate Syed Iqbal Tahir through advocate Syed Faisal Qadri has filed a PIL seeking to provide drinking water to villages Rambirpora, Kehribal, Rampora, Wantrag, Roonipora, Brah of District Anantnag.

On September 8, the Court had issued notice for response on the PIL and had directed Commissioner Secretary Jal Shakti Department and Superintending Engineer, Jal Shakti Department Circle, Anantnag to examine the grievance of the petitioner with regard to non-availability of potable drinking water and place on record their response besides their action plan within two weeks.