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Deptts asked to file consolidated reply before court; get objections vetted by Law Deptt

Non-adherence to directions will face action: Sethi
12:49 AM Jun 07, 2024 IST | SHUCHISMITA
deptts asked to file consolidated reply before court  get objections vetted by law deptt

Jammu, June 6:  J&K government has directed all the Heads of its departments, special and additional secretaries (Legal) and all Law officers to file consolidated replies, in cases involving more than one department, in respective adjudicating forums and courts.


They have also been asked to get objections vetted by the Law department before filing them in various courts, tribunals and forums.


In this connection, Secretary J&K Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Achal Sethi has issued fresh instructions for them, particularly Law officers and the government counsels.  He has warned that those not adhering to these directions will face action as warranted under the law.


Warning and renewed instructions have been issued after noticing violation of orders and instructions, issued from time to time, by all the official respondents.


Sethi pointed out vide Government Order No 777-JK(GAD) of 2021 dated August 24, 2021, issued by the General Administration Department (GAD), it was impressed upon all the departments’ HoDs, organizations, bodies and Societies that all the objections were to be vetted by Law department before filing in respective adjudicating forums.


“It was inter-alia instructed that in cases involving more than one department; a consolidated reply is to be filed on behalf of all the departments, unless there are specific directions from the court or Forum for filing of separate replies by each department,” he said.


However, while reviewing the task of filing replies or responses in various courts, it was observed that the consolidated reply on behalf of all the official respondents were not being filed before the court.


“This action on behalf of the department, Law Officer, OIC or government counsels is a clear violation of the referred Administrative Council decision, government orders, circular instructions etc. To ensure strict implementation of the instructions issued from time to time and in continuation to earlier orders, instructions, it is hereby ordered that all the Law officers will strictly implement and adhere to them in letter and spirit,” Sethi cautioned.

As per fresh instructions, the Law Officer posted in the department, immediately after receipt of the writ petition or order, will enquire about the engagement of government counsel from the Directorate of Litigation Kashmir and Jammu, and will immediately prepare the brief note and send the same to the engaged counsel for preparation of consolidated reply in the matter.

The contesting department or respondents have been made responsible for coordinating with all other official respondents, wherever required, in light of the averments of the petition and to ensure that the inputs from all the official respondents are furnished to the government counsel for preparation of consolidated reply in the matter.

All Law officers of the concerned departments have been made equally responsible for furnishing the inputs to the engaged counsel in a time-bound manner for the preparation of a consolidated reply.

“The contesting department shall immediately recommend by name and designation an officer not below the rank of Under Secretary to the Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs for appointment of OIC in the matter. There shall be only one OIC in the case, who along with the concerned Law officer shall be responsible for coordination with all other official respondents wherever required for preparation and finalization of consolidated reply in the matter,” Sethi directed.

He ordered that in case of “any dispute or conflict between two or more departments which are sued jointly”, the matter would be referred to the Law Department, which would issue necessary instructions in the matter.

Law officers at the administrative level will be responsible for sending the consolidated reply or objections to the Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs for vetting.

“The Law officer posted in the department shall ensure that the legal defence available to the government is properly reflected in the reply or objections and shall return the same to the government counsel duly sealed and signed after it is vetted by the Law department,” the Law Secretary ordered.

The government counsels have been asked to file the consolidated reply duly signed by the OIC or competent authority. The reply will be filed by the main contesting department on behalf of all the official respondents.

He directed all the special, additional secretaries (legal), senior Law officers, public Law officers, assistant legal remembrancers, associate Law officers, assistant Law officers to adhere to these directions or instructions issued by the government in letter and spirit.

“Any laxity in this behalf shall be viewed seriously and action, as warranted under law, shall be taken in accordance with rules,” Sethi cautioned.