CAT bench in J&K: SC seeks response of Centre, UT govt

TNN Bureau. Updated: 5/23/2020 12:24:25 PM Front Page

JAMMU: The Supreme Court Friday sought responses from the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir on a plea seeking setting up of a permanent bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) to deal with service disputes of government employees in the Union Territory.

A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and Hrishekesh Roy issued notices to parties including DoPT and the Ministry of Home Affairs on the plea which has also sought quashing of a notification of April 29, by which the service disputes of J-K will be heard by the CAT at Chandigarh.

In the proceedings held through video-conferencing, the bench granted four weeks to the Centre and others for filing the responses.

After the change of status of Jammu and Kashmir from that of a state to a UT, the notification was issued saying that the government employees of the UT will have to move to the CAT at Chandigarh, instead of the HC, with their service related grievances.

The plea filed by Asheesh Singh Kotwal alleged the decision to shift cases is violative of the fundamental right to access to justice.

It sought a direction that the HC be allowed to keep hearing the pending service petitions which are nearly 30,000. It also sought a direction that till the time CAT is set up in the UT, the HC be allowed to hear fresh service matters as well.

"The petitioners are filing the writ petition seeking a writ of Mandamus for quashing of notification ...conferring jurisdiction to the CAT, Chandigarh over all service matters of the employees of the UT of Jammu and Kashmir, and also seeking establishment of a permanent bench of the CAT in J-K with complete infrastructure and adequate strength," the plea said.

"Direct the High Court not to transfer any case pending before it to the CAT till a permanent bench of CAT is established ... under the provisions of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 and made functional...," it said.

In a similar petition filed in Jammu and Kashmir High Court, the Centre has already informed the court that the immediate steps are being taken to constitute bench of CAT in UT of J&K and UT of Ladakh to be stationed in J&K only.

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