Following is the text of the clarification from Justice L. Narasimha Reddy, Chairman, Central Administrative Tribunal regarding CAT benches in the UTs of J&K and Ladakh:-
“A News item appeared in print as well as electronic media on the basis of the DO letter dated 08.05.2020 said to have been addressed by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of Jammu & Kashmir High Court to the Union Minister of State Dr.Jitendra Singh. The subject seems to be about the establishment of Benches of Central Administrative Tribunal in the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. A DO letter happens to be the communication between its author and the addressee and it is not made public particularly when it is between highly placed Dignitaries. Since the News item was only about establishment of the Benches, and is a matter of relevance for the Central Administrative Tribunal, I contacted the Hon’ble Minister to know about the subject. He informed me that he did not receive the letter either in the form of a hard copy or through e-mail.
Going by what is published in the Media, it appears that the Hon’ble 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. Many statements in the attachment of the news item on the website of “Bar & Bench” were indeed not called for and at any rate, were not a matter of concern for the High Court. 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. The Circuit Benches used to be held periodically. Last year I conducted one of the hearing along with an Administrative Member at Srinagar and Jammu. The hearing 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.
After re-organisation of the State of Jammu & 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. 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. Though the appointment of Members was delayed on account of the pendency of a Public Interest Litigation in the Hon’ble Supreme Court, the Tribunal recorded the disposal rate of 104% 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.
This is issued to clarify the position from the point of view of the Tribunal”.