Change of counsel no ground for granting more time to file report; J&K High Court imposes ₹1000 cost on government

The High Court imposed a cost of ₹1000 on the State Government for its delay to file a status report on a PIL regarding the dumping of municipal waste on the Ramsar Wetland in North Kashmir's Sopore town.
High Court of Jammu & Kashmir, Srinagar
High Court of Jammu & Kashmir, Srinagar

The High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh recently imposed a penalty of ₹1000 on the Central government for not filing a status report within the time limit set by the court. [Central Auqaf Committee Tarzoo v Union of India & Ors.]

A division bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Wasim Sadiq Nargal, while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) with regard to dumping of municipal waste on the Ramsar Wetland in North Kashmir, noted that even though the previous Additional Advocate General was directed to file status report within a period of one month, the report was yet to be filed.

The bench took a dim view of the delay and said that even a change of counsel is no ground for granting more time to file the status report.

"We are not inclined to keep granting time for doing a particular thing when the time fixed for the purpose has already expired. The change of the counsel is no ground for granting time to the respondents to file the status report as directed", the Court said in its order.

However, the Court granted the new AAG one more month's time to submit a status report with regards to setting up of a dumping site for the garbage and imposed ₹1,000 as cost to be deposited with the High Court Registry within a week.

"Nonetheless in the needs of the justice, we permit Mr. F. A. Bhat, AAG, to file the status report within a period of one month from today subject to the costs of Rs. 1000/- which shall be deposited with the Registry within a week", the order stated.

The PIL that the Court was considering was filed by the Central Auqaf Committee Tarzoo seeking immediate stoppage of dumping of municipal solid waste, biometric waste on the land (Ramsar Wetland) situated at Dharnambal, Ningli Tarzoo Sopore which falls within the delineated periphery pillars of Wular Conservation and Management Authority (WUCMA) and also within the limits of Hygam-Ningli-Tarzoo Tourism Development Authority.

According to the plea, the Municipal Council, Sopore started dumping waste in close vicinity of Wular lake in the month of March, 2020.

It was contended that solid waste is being dumped without following the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 and the whole place has been converted into a stinky swamp.

The PIL, therefore, sought directions to the respondents to identify a proper place for dumping municipal waste away from the residential and environmentally sensitive areas and develop the same in terms of Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016.

The matter will be heard next on October 19, 2022.

[Read Order]

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