Arrest warrant issued against Director Tourism Kashmir

TNN Bureau. Updated: 12/30/2017 11:30:53 AM

Srinagar, Dec 29: The High Court today issued arrest warrants to be executed by SSP, Srinagar, against Director Tourism Kashmir, Mehmood Shah, for avoiding appearance in the court for hearing of a petition and instead going on for a road show to Banglore.

The court also asked the Secretary Tourism, Sarmad Hafeez, to explain in written how he allowed the director to skip court and went on the show.

Both Shah and Hafeez are in Bangalore participating in road shows to entice tourists to visit the Valley in winter and the next year.

A bench of Justice Ali Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey observed that in order to ensure strengthening of the faith and confidence of the public in judicial system, with other protections, to preserve the dignity and honour of the court, it has become necessary to seek appearance of the director (respondent no.2) by adhering to the coercive method.

“Registrar Judicial to issue bailable warrants in the amount of Rs 20,000 to seek personal appearance of respondent no.2 on the next date of hearing. Warrants shall be executed by SSP, Srinagar who incase fails to execute the warrant shall appear on the next date of hearing,” the court directed.

The court is hearing a petition filed by Mohammad Ayub Lahewral against the director over adjustment of a person against an available post of Junior ‘Watchman’ in the department.

On 28 November, the high court had found Director Tourism “prima facie” responsible for committing contempt by violating its orders and asked him to show cause as to why he shall not be punished for contempt of Court order.

Shah was further directed to remain present on each hearing of the case till the contempt petition was taken to its logical conclusion.

But Shah did not appear in today’s hearing, instead filed an application through his counsel seeking exemption from personal appearance on the grounds of being busy in the road show and “will not be in a position to attend the court hearings”.

However, the counsel for the petitioner submitted that the grounds seeking exemption from personal appearance are not sufficient for exempting the director from his personal appearance.

The counsel pleaded that not only the director but also the Secretary to Government Tourism Department being the party respondent to contempt petition had the knowledge of the court order on personal appearance.

Hearing the submission, the court observed that the respondents were having the knowledge of the order before one month are not avoiding appearance but also delaying the implementation of the court judgment, therefore, in terms of settled position of law, they have further committed contempt of the Court.

“One fails to understand as to why should the officers of the State choose to avoid appearance in the court of law when required and instead choose to attend other events in and outside the State. Does it form a ground for an officer to seek exemption, when he already knew it well that he has to appear before the Court of law today,” the court pointed out.

“The respondent no. 2 has not sought permission of the Court in advance before he could go to attend the event. Same is position of Secretary to Govt, Tourism Department even who too knew it in advance that respondent no.2 in the contempt matter has to appear before the Court in terms November 28 order.”

The court observed that in view of the approach adopted by respondents, it is question mark (?) as to why should an officer seek exemption and avoid appearance.

It said that the Secretary Tourism could have deputed Director Tourism Jammu for the road show when he knew the Director Tourism Kashmir is required to appear in a court matter.

“Seemingly, the Secretary to Govt Tourism Department too has prima facie opted the line of avoiding appearance and showing disrespect to the court orders. And he shall explain on affidavit as to how he has deputed the Officer to attend an event without seeking his exemption in advance when he knew that the officer has to appear in the court today.

The court said that in case the Secretary fails to explain the position he shall also remain present in the court. The next hearing is listed onJanuary 29, 2018.

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