Ranchi, July 12: Jharkhand High Court has torn into "lethargic" bureaucrats of the state for not paying heed to judicial notices, thereby contributing to the rising number of pending cases against the government.
A bench of Justice D.N. Patel, in an order issued weeks ago while hearing a case filed by a Lohardaga student, observed that it had become a matter of routine for government officials in Jharkhand to seek time to file affidavits whenever a case was listed in court.
"They are never ready on the very first day. Normally, writ petitions come on board after a few weeks (after they are filed). This period ought to be utilised by the government machinery. Proper case management is required on the part of the state. The cases are adjourned because of non-availability of instruction with government lawyers," the court said on June 29.
The judge cited the Centre's national litigation policy to reduce pending cases in various courts of the country under the national legal mission. Jharkhand, whose state government is a party to around 70 per cent cases pending in high court, had also framed its own litigation policy for the proper case management.
The court was hearing a case filed by one Saroj Kumar who had applied for the post of village-level worker in Lohardaga district. He had got more marks than the last selected candidate in the general category, but was allotted Gumla.
The memo of his petition was served on the advocate-general's office on April 5, but, the government was yet to respond. The court observed it was Saroj's misfortune that even though a copy of the writ was with the AG's office in April and a letter was written by it to agriculture secretary and director, deputy commissioners of Lohardaga and Gumla, none of them gave any instruction to the government counsel.
"All four officials are lethargic, though they are party respondents in this writ petition. No care has been taken by them to file a reply," the court said.
The judge pointed out that the state government had appointed two nodal officers in the high court with mobile phones and a FAX machine. They also had the services of a peon. "Despite these facilities, the government machinery is still lethargic. It appears that these officers are not taking any interest in the state of Jharkhand," Justice Patel said.
Advocate-general Anil Kumar Sinha, who is chairman of the state litigation committee, admitted government officials were not taking court directives seriously. "The chief secretary has also issued a circular in this regard and yet it has not made any difference. It is a serious issue," he told The Telegraph.