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The letter points outs that a single Circuit Bench of the Chandigarh Bench of the Tribunal is insufficient to provide justice dispensation in service matters in the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.
The Jammu and Kashmir High Court Chief Justice Gita Mittal has written to Union Minister of State Jitendra Singh, seeking the establishment of Administrative Tribunals with multiple benches having permanent seats in Srinagar and Jammu.
In her letter, Chief Justice Mittal stated that upon the enforcement of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 on August 9, 2019, all provisions of the Administrative Tribunal Act, 1985 have become applicable to the newly created Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh with effect from the notified date i.e. October 31, 2019.
Pertinently, on April 29, the Union Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions had issued a notification directing that the Chandigarh Bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal would exercise jurisdiction over the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir as well as Ladakh.
However, Chief Justice Mittal's letter point outs that a single Circuit Bench of the Chandigarh Bench of the Tribunal is insufficient to provide efficacious justice dispensation to the large number of service matter litigants in the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir as well as Ladakh.
In this backdrop, she has raised concern that no infrastructure or Registry had been created since for operationalising the functioning of an Adminstrative Tribunal in Jammu and Kashmir.
Chief Justice Mittal has highlighted that about 31,641 pending service matters have to be transferred from both the wings of the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir to the administrative tribunals with the enforcement of the Jammu and Kashmir Re-organization Act, 2019.
It is pointed out that by virtue of Section 15 of the Act of 1985, service matters of persons appointed to posts in connection with the affairs of the State or at local bodies or authorities also come under the jurisdiction of Administrative Tribunals.
The letter goes on to highlight that the number of such pending cases for the Union Territories that would now fall under the jurisdiction of Administrative tribunals is far greater than thos pending before the Adminstrative Tribunals in Delhi (Principal Bench), Allahabad, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Jabalpur among others.
In this regard, it is noted that as of February 29, 2020, the total pendency of cases before the seventeen existing Administrative Tribunals (including its Principal Bench at Delhi) was 452,41. The distribution of cases amongst the various benches is also detailed in the letter.
While this is the case, it is noted that separate Tribunal Benches have been created even for States having extremely low pendency. For example, the points out that the Bengaluru Bench which has only 895 cases and Gawahati Bench with 597 cases have separate Benches.
Adding on, the letter points out that the scope for service dispute litigation is also higher in the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, given that each UT has an area equivalent to, if not more than, that of many States in India.
"The physical area of each of these Union Territories is much larger than that of any Union Territory in India. If a census is taken of the number of government employees, you would probably find that the number of government employees in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is also more than perhaps some of the larger States."
Chief Justice Gita Mittal
Chief Justice Mittal adds that a number of litigants whose cases are required to be transferred have been waiting for several years for the adjudication of their rights and that over 31,000 cases have to be immediately transferred.
Therefore, for effective conduct and disposal of these cases, the letter emphasises that there is imperative need for establishing an Administrative Tribunal with multiple Benches having permanent seats both at Jammu as well as Srinagar.
Read the issues raised in Chief Justice Mittal's letter here: