In remote areas, judicial officers sit with tigers: Bombay High Court

The oral comment was made amid concerns that it would be difficult to distribute mobile handsets to Anganwadi workers in remote areas of Maharashtra.
Bombay High Court
Bombay High Court

The Bombay High Court on Friday briefly alluded to the difficulties faced by district and subordinate court judges who have to work in far-flung or remote areas.

Some judicial officers even have to hold court while tigers roam nearby, the Court remarked while hearing a case concerning Anganwadi workers in such areas.

The Court on Friday directed the Central and the State governments to ensure that proper mobile handsets were provided to Anganwadi workers in remote areas of Maharashtra within 3 months.

This was to enable such workers to enter data in the POSHAN tracker app of the Central government, which tracks activities of Anganwadi centres in the country.

Senior advocate Gayatri Singh, however, expressed her apprehension that it would be difficult to deliver the handsets to Anganwadi workers in rural and remote regions of Maharashtra, especially in districts like Gadchiroli.

Acknowledging that it would be difficult to reach such regions, a division bench of Justices GS Patel and Gauri Godse asked the State government to ensure that it distributes the handsets at the earliest.

Some of our judicial officers sit with even tigers in their court there,” the Court added.

The Anganwadi workers had approached the Court challenging action taken against them by the State government for not feeding data into the app. They had claimed they were handed old and non-functional handsets and, hence, were unable to feed data.

The Court directed the State to ensure that workers are given functional devices.

The State informed the Court that it would distribute handsets to workers through vendors. The Court was, however, not convinced about letting vendors distribute the handsets.

Justice Patel recounted an incident where vendors were unable to deliver power backup to judicial officers in remote districts of the State as there was no direct transport to these areas.

The division bench proceeded to suggest that the State government take the help of the Child Development Project Officers (CDPO) to distribute the handsets.

The bench warned that the procurement, sampling and distribution of these handsets should not be stopped citing a lack of funds.

“We are not concerned how Central and State government arrange the financial affair of 60-40% funding. We urge the Centre to attend to the matter at maximum possible priority. The process will not be stopped for non-receipt of funds from Centre. The State will proceed,” the Court ordered.

It also clarified that by virtue of this order, the State will be allowed reimbursement of up to 60% of the funds infused, if any, on behalf of the Centre.

“The handsets are required for the ultimate beneficiary which is the mother and children. This is the only way financial support can be made available to beneficiary. That is the primary objective and procedural requirements will not be a hindrance,” the Court said.

Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news