Coming down hard on the Punjab education department for failing to implement orders passed by it, the Punjab and Haryana High Court observed that it seemed as if the government machinery starts working only contempt of court notices are issued.
Hearing a contempt case alleging “willful disobedience” of an order passed by the court in November 2016, a single bench of Justice Avneesh Jhingan sought a record from the education department of all the cases where its directions were implemented only after issuance of contempt notices. It also summoned the director, public Instructions, in the matter.
“There are number of cases coming with regard to the education department where the orders of this court are not being complied with. Let data be produced by the department on the next date, as to in how many cases directions issued by this court were complied in time and number of cases where the compliance was made after issuance of contempt notice,” Justice Jhingan said in an order.
The high court in November 2016 had directed the education department to grant provisional promotions to some petitioners to the post of lecturer as per the seniority list subject to fulfillment of the promotional criteria. However, the department, in the contempt case, informed the court that it has just finalised the seniority list but no decision has been taken on whether the petitioners are eligible for promotion or not.
The bench, while describing it as a “classic case of casual approach” being adopted by the government officials in carrying out the directions of the court, said, “Day in and day out it seems that only after issuing contempt notices the machinery starts working”.
While summoning the DPI (SE) to court on the next date of hearing, the bench directed him to come along with the record and also inform it about action proposed to be taken against defaulting officials. Meanwhile, the department was also pulled up for sending three officials to court but without any proper instructions.
“It would be worthwhile to note here that at least three officials have come from the department to assist the learned State counsel and the instructions passed over were not complete. Let, these officials also remain present on the adjourned date to explain how the said instruction could not have been conveyed by one person,” the order read.