The Punjab and Haryana High Court has given four weeks to the Union finance ministry to submit a detailed report on the outcome of pending complaints against the alleged misbehaviour and financial irregularities by Harcharan Singh, the presiding officer of Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT-I) in Chandigarh.
The division bench comprising Justices S S Saron and Lisa Gill on Wednesday also directed the registrars of DRT-I and DRT-II to file their respective affidavits on if their websites have been made fully operational and displaying daily cause list and case orders.
The court was hearing a case in which it had taken suo motu cognisance about the functioning of the DRT-I last year. DRT-I has jurisdiction over Haryana, Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh.
Appearing for the central government, Additional Solicitor General of India Satya Pal Jain submitted that since the officer concerned in the Finance Ministry was on training, the reply about outcome of the complaints could not be submitted.
Jain also informed that as of now cause lists are being displayed on the DRT’s website and soon all the orders would also be uploaded on a daily basis.
DRT advocate I P Singh submitted that there should be a provision to accommodate all the three benches of DRTs in Chandigarh in one building so that litigants and advocates do not have to shuttle from one sector to another.
He informed that DRT-I runs from a rented accommodation of Sector 8 and DRT-II is functioning from the building of Punjab National Bank in Sector 17.
He also submitted that though the presiding officer of DRT-III, a district judge from Rajasthan, has taken over on deputation in February, since the notification about his jurisdiction of cases has not been issued till date, he was without work.
It was submitted that the presiding officer of DRT-III has been given a room in the DRT-I premises.
The court was also informed that even in 2010 a plot was allotted by the Chandigarh administration for DRT building, but the central government did not deposit money with the Chandigarh administration and said that since tribunals are of temporary nature, they did not require permanent premises.
On this, the court directed I P Singh to put his averments in an application on the next date of hearing for court’s consideration.
DRT Bar Association members had from July 1 to July 7 last year refrained from work in protest against Harcharan Singh. They had alleged that Harcharan is not only in the habit of misbehaving with the advocates, but also with various senior bank officers after summoning them and his attitude is vindictive against them. The high court had then ordered that no bank officials would be called in DRT.
The case would now come up for hearing on September 23.