STATE TIMES NEWS
JAMMU: The Division Bench (DB) of Jammu and Kashmir High Court has kept in abeyance the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT’s) direction for the stoppage of the salary of the Financial Commissioner (FC), Health and Medical Education (H&ME), Government of Jammu and Kashmir.The DB consisting of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Sindhu Sharma after hearing Additional Advocate General (AAG) Aseem Sawhney for the petitioners and Senior Advocate Abhinav Sharma assisted by Advocate Abhimanyu Sharma the respondents, ordered “Until further orders of this Court, the direction for the stoppage of the salary of the Financial Commissioner, Health and Medical Education Department, Government of Jammu and Kashmir shall remain in abeyance.”In view of the appearance of Adv Abhinav Sharma, the caveat was discharged, the DB directed.According to details, Dr. Arshad Bhat, respondent number one was working as Consultant Radiology, SMGS, Jammu. He was transferred on Dec 30, 2019 by way of deputation at Government Medical College (GMC) Doda.This transfer order was challenged by him by filing writ petition WP(C) No. 436/2020 which was duly entertained and an interim order was passed on February 13, 2020 staying the transfer order and his relieving order till next date of listing if not implemented till the said date.The aforesaid writ petition was transferred to the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) 2 WP(C) No. 592/2021.Arshad Bhat filed an application for the implementation of the above interim order of the High Court before the CAT and against the order passed on the said application, he preferred WP(C) No. 1187/2020. In the said writ petition, an interim order was passed on July 20, 2020 staying the order of Tribunal dated September 9, 2020 and directing the Financial Commissioner, Health and Medical Education Department to ensure that the petitioner performs his duties in SMGS Hospital, Jammu. Subsequently, this writ petition was got dismissed as withdrawn with the result, the above interim order ceased to exist.Dr Arshad Bhat filed some other applications before the CAT inter alia seeking implementation of the interim order of the High Court dated February 13, 2020 as also of the CAT. In dealing with the said applications, there was a difference of opinion between two Members of the CAT. One was of the view that respondent No. 1 Arshad Bhat has been relieved on January 1, 2020 and therefore, there is no requirement of the implementation of the interim order of the High Court. The other Member took a different view. So the matter was referred to the third Member. The third Member of the CAT after narrating the facts and noting the arguments, vide order dated February 17, 2021, observed that the withdrawal of the subsequent writ petition on December 15, 2020 does not obliterate the effect of the interim order passed therein on July 20, 2020, which is patently an illegal observation contrary to settled law. The said member thereafter proceeded to record a finding that the petitioners have failed to establish that the respondent No. 1 Arshad Bhat was actually relieved on January 1, 2020, accordingly, directed for the implementation of the order of the High Court dated February 13, 2020 agreeing with the opinion as expressed by the Judicial Member.Later, as probably the order of the High Court was not implemented, the Tribunal vide order dated March 8, 2021 has directed not to release the salary of 3 WP(C) No. 592/2021, the Financial Commissioner, Health and Medical Education Department, Government of Jammu and Kashmir till next date of listing i.e. April 5, 2021. Aggrieved by the above order dated March 8, 2021 and the order dated February 17, 2021 passed by the CAT, the petitioners have preferred this writ petition.“Many things have been argued on behalf of the parties but the crux of the matter is that the adjudication of the validity of the transfer order impugned in the first writ petition before the High Court which was transferred to the CAT remains and unnecessary time is being spent only in dealing with the miscellaneous applications which practice has been deprecated by the Supreme Court. In the circumstances, we are of the view that the entire controversy would have come to rest, if the Tribunal would have taken a little precaution to decide the main case rather than dealing with the miscellaneous applications time and again,” the DB observed.“As far as the submission that the respondent No. 1 Arshad Bhat is not being paid his salary, we do not find that any order has been passed by the Tribunal on any application of the respondent number 1 Arshad Bhat asking for the payment of the salary,” the DB observed. The stoppage of salary of the Financial Commissioner in such circumstances, more particularly, when no proceedings have been initiated for contempt of any order and the order is not in any contempt petition, we find that such a direction is prima facie not warranted in law.In view of the aforesaid facts and circumstances, the Court directed Abhimanyu Sharma, learned counsel for Arshad Bhat to file counter affidavit in this petition within a period of one month. Two weeks thereafter, are allowed to the petitioners to file rejoinder affidavit.The court further orders that list the case for admission/final disposal on May 25, 2021. In the meantime, it will be open for Arshad Bhat to press for his application for the payment of the salary before the CAT which will be considered most expeditiously in accordance with law if the writ petition is not decided for any reason and remains pending, the court stated.“We expect that the CAT would do its best to decide the main petition on merits most promptly, if possible on the next date itself which is fixed in the case, as we are told by the parties that they have exchanged their pleadings therein, the court observed. It is expected that the Tribunal in deciding the main petition would not be influenced and swayed away by any observation or finding recorded by us in this order or any other order passed earlier by the High Court or any interim order of the Tribunal itself, the court order states.Until further orders of this Court, the direction for the stoppage of the salary of the Financial Commissioner, Health and Medical Education Department, Government of Jammu and Kashmir shall remain in abeyance, the DB ordered.
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