IAS officer Shaleen Kabra gets scolded by the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh

Jammu: In CPOWP No. 180/2018 Deep Raj V/s Shaleen Kabra, Principal Commssr P.H.E. Irrig. And Flood Control and Ors. after hearing HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE SANJEEV KUMAR, JUDGE ORDERED as:-

 The judgment passed by this Court dated 18.04.2018 in OWP No. 683/2018 still awaits compliance.

The contempt petition was filed by the petitioner on 18.06.2018 and notice was issued to the respondents on 02.07.2018.

In response to the notice, the respondents caused their appearance and filed statement of facts on 13.03.2019. The objections filed by the respondents which were supported by an affidavit of the Executive Engineer, Irrigation Division-II, reveal that the respondents admit that an amount of Rs 36.361 lacs is due to the petitioner.

However, the respondents have submitted that the said amount which is admittedly payable to the petitioner could not be released in favour of the petitioner due to paucity of funds.

The respondents have also placed on record two communications- one, dated 18.05.2018 written by the Executive Engineer, Irrigation Division-II to the Chief Engineer Irrigation and Flood Control Department, Jammu and the other communication dated 08.02.2019 issued by the Chief Engineer, Irrigation Division-II, Jammu to the Secretary to Government, Jal Shakti Department, Civil Secretariat, Jammu.

A plain reading of both the communications clearly indicates that the respondents do not dispute their liability to pay an amount of Rs 36.361 lacs in favour of the petitioner but are showing their inability to release the said amount due to paucity of funds.

The communications aforesaid further reveal that matter has been taken up through proper channel by the Executive Engineer concerned with the Administrative Department for providing requisite funds.

However, the Principal Secretary to Government, Jal Shakti Department, instead of releasing the requisite funds to meet the admitted liability of the petitioner, has come up with a fresh compliance, a perusal whereof indicates that the Principal Secretary to Government, Jal Shakti Department has rejected the claim of the petitioner on the ground that prior to allotment of the work in favour of the petitioner certain codal formalities were not full-filled by the officers subordinate to him.

One fails to understand as to how an officer of the rank of Principal Secretary to Government could take such stand.

The requirement of codal formality, if any, required for allotment of the work falls purely within the domain of the authorities and for noncompliance thereof the contractor cannot be penalized.

Once, the respondents accept that the contractor has executed the work duly allotted to him to their satisfaction and is entitled to a particular sum, there can be no reason or justification to deny him the payment, that too, on the flimsy grounds as are contained in the Government Order No. 28.01.2023 passed by the Principal Secretary to Government.

 It is true that this Court while disposing of OWP No. 683/2018 had directed the respondents to consider and decide the representation of the petitioner for making payment which was legitimately due and payable to the petitioner.

The matter was considered by the Executive Engineer concerned who had got the work executed from the petitioner and it was found that the petitioner was entitled to an amount of Rs 36.361 lacs for the work which he had executed to the satisfaction of the respondents.

The Executive Engineer took up the matter that the Administrative Department through proper channel for the release for the requisite funds so that the amount due to the petitioner is released.

When nothing was heard from the Administrative Department, the Principal Secretary to Government, Jal Shakti Department was formally impleaded as party respondents and was asked to comply with the judgment.

A detailed order in this regard was passed by this Court on 23.12.2022.

It is in response to the order dated 23.12.2022, the Principal Secretary to Government, Jal Shakti Department has filed the compliance report and has placed on record the Government Order rejecting the claim of the petitioner.

I have examined the response filed by the respondents. I am of the view that Government Order No. 11-JK(JSD) of 2023 dated 28.01.2023 is only an eye-wash and an attempt to over reach the judgment passed by this Court.

The compliance report filed by the respondents as also the Government Order (supra) is rejected.

For the reasons stated above, Mr. Shalin Kabra, the Principal Secretary to Government, Jal Shakti Department is given another opportunity to ensure that the judgment passed by this Court is implemented in its letter and spirit and CPOWP No. 180/2018 the amount which is admittedly due and payable to the petitioner is released by the next date of hearing.

He is expected to act as facilitator and not the frustrater of the judgment passed by this Court.

However, it is made clear that in case the needful is not done by the next date of hearing, this Court would be constrained to frame Robkar and proceed against the Principal Secretary to Government, Jal Shakti Department for committing contempt of the order of this Court.

Leave a Comment