New Delhi [India], May 17 (ANI): The establishment of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) benches at various places and to ensure disposal of the cases is the responsibility of the Tribunal and the Jammu and Kashmir High Court need not be so apprehensive, said CAT Chairman L Narasimha Reddy has said.
Referring to a news item on the basis of the letter reportedly written by Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court to the Union Minister of State Dr Jitendra Singh, Justice Reddy said that he contacted the minister to know about the subject and Singh informed him that he did not receive the letter either in the form of a hard copy or through e-mail.
The Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions on Saturday released the clarification from Justice Reddy regarding CAT benches in the UTs of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Justice Reddy said that the pendency of the cases in the circuit benches at Srinagar and Jammu before the State was re-organised was just 140.
"Going by what is published in the Media, it appears that the Chief Justice expressed concern over the ability of the Tribunal to handle the service matters of the Union Territory as and when transferred. Comparative statements were also furnished as regards the pendency in the entire tribunal on one hand and pendency of service matters in the High Court on the other hand.... I may mention that the pendency of the cases in the circuit benches at Srinagar and Jammu before the state was re-organised was just 140," he said.
He said though the appointment of members was delayed on account of the pendency of a Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court, the Tribunal recorded the disposal rate of 104 per cent in the past few months.
"If 31,000 service matters were pending before the High Court and the litigants were waiting for several years, it is not due to any lapse on the part of the Tribunal. 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," he said.
Noting that last year he conducted a hearing along with an administrative member at Srinagar and Jammu, he said it "took place in a room of 8' X 10' size in a corner of the office of the Deputy Commissioner".
"Even a II Class Judicial Magistrate Court would not function in such premises. The situation in Jammu was slightly better. Repeated requests made to the state government for accommodation did not yield any positive result. All the same, the Tribunal did not shirk from its responsibility," he said.
Justice Reddy said that after re-organisation of Jammu and Kashmir, the request for accommodation was considered and offer of the places was also made.
"Before any tangible steps could be taken, the COVID-19 lockdown has occurred. One cannot expect full-fledged functioning of the benches of the Tribunal straight away particularly when the cases are yet to be transferred from the High Court," he said.
"The Tribunal has 33 Benches across the country and depending on the pendency before each Bench and the need to establish Benches at various places, adjustments are taking place from time to time. Once the accommodation is made available and cases are transferred from the High Court, it would be the responsibility of the Tribunal to take care of the situation," he said. (ANI)