Is the parking fee being collected by Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association from people visiting the court premises illegal? To decide the issue, a division bench of the Jammu & Kashmir High Court comprising Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Justice Sindhu Sharma on Friday issued a slew of notices.
In a hearing over a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by RTI activist Balwinder Singh, the court issued notices to its own Registrar General, J&K High Court Bar Association and its president, besides Commissioner-Secretary Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, asking them to file their response within four weeks.
The petitioner had challenged that the parking fee being levied by some private individuals on behalf of the Bar Association in both the High Court and District Courts was illegal as the premises belonged to the court. Singh in his petition, pointed out that in response to an application under RTI Act seeking information in the matter, the Registrar Judicial in court’s Jammu wing had informed the Registrar General that the Bar Association was illegally collecting parking charges.
During the course of arguments, Singh pointed out that earlier the parking fee was being charged on an hourly basis and litigants were made to pay up to Rs 100 per day keeping in view the hours spend in the court complex. Singh had lodged a complaint to the Chief Justice of State High Court following which the parking fee was slashed to Rs 30 per day for four-wheelers and Rs 20 for two-wheelers.
Pointing out that it was not the domain of the Bar Association to indulge in the collection of parking charges, the petitioner submitted that lakhs of rupees have been collected so far. He sought the court’s direction to the Bar Association president to produce the state of accounts regarding the collection of parking fee so far.