Jammu, Srinagar to have CAT benches

The benches of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), that adjudicates central government employees’ service matters, will function from Jammu and Srinagar, the Personnel Ministry has said, modifying its earlier order that had created confusion and resentment among many over the jurisdiction of tribunals.

The move comes nearly a month after the ministry in its April 29 order had extended the CAT’s Chandigarh bench’s jurisdiction to the states of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab and union territories of Chandigarh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

This order had created resentment and confusion among many employees of the newly created union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. Following which, the central government had on May 1 clarified that neither the petitioner nor the lawyer need to go to Chandigarh for filling petition or appearing before the tribunal related to service matters of employees.

“The term Chandigarh circuit is being misinterpreted to mean that the petitioner/lawyer would have to go to Chandigarh, which is not so. All service matters of central government and UT employees of J&K and Ladakh will be heard and disposed off in CAT bench in J&K itself,” it had said.

However, on Thursday, the Personnel Ministry came out with a notification that said, “The central government hereby specifies Jammu and Srinagar as the places at which the benches of the Central Administrative Tribunal shall ordinarily sit for the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir and union territory of Ladakh.”

It removed the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh out of the ambit of Chandigarh bench. It has now amended its last month’s order by inserting “Jammu bench” and to specifically say that the bench will have jurisdiction over the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

With the creation of new bench, over 31,000 matters of the employees of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, which were heard by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, will now be transferred to the CAT, officials said.

The erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir has been reorganised into two union territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh — with effect from October 31, 2019.

The Personnel Ministry’s earlier order had evoked shared reactions from all concerned in the state. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Justice Gita Mittal has shot off a letter to Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh, a move resulting in sharp reaction from CAT chairman L Narasimha Reddy.

“The establishment of benches at various places and to ensure disposal of the cases is the responsibility of the tribunal and the high court need not be so apprehensive. Wherever necessary, the guidance and help of the high court would certainly be taken,” the CAT chairman had said.