Last year Commissioner/ Secretary issued an order disallowing some contractors to take part in public works based on their relatives past militant activities

Srinagar: The High Court of J&K and Ladakh directed the Chief Secretary to initiate action against then Commissioner/Secretary to Government, Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj for passing a blatant order in March last year against some government contractors, disallowing them to carry their works based on their relatives past militancy activities. 

The Chief Secretary was asked to submit the action taken report within two months before the court. 

Last year Commissioner/Secretary to government, Department of Rural development and Panchayati Raj issued an order whereby Director, Rural Development Department, Jammu/Srinagar, was called upon to initiate action against the petitioner contractors and also to ensure that no contract from Rural Development Department is allotted to them in future. 

The Court of Justice Sanjeev Kumar while allowing pleas of aggrieved contractors found the said communication as blatant abuse of law and violation of Article 19(1) and 21 of the constitution. 

 It was recorded that the said order has put the petitioners to serious prejudice as they have been deprived of their right to participate in the process of allotment of contracts by the Department of Rural Development.  

 The court while striking down the communication  dated 15th March 2023, issued by Commissioner/Secretary to Government, Department of Rural and Panchayati Raj observed that it a matter of very serious nature. 

Justice Kumar said that the official who issued this communication has shown complete disregard to the law and deserves to be proceeded against. 
 

Justice Kumar noted that be that as it may, to such a blatant violation of fundamental rights of the citizens, this Court cannot remain a mute spectator.  

“It may not be out of sync to point out that with a view to rehabilitating ex- militants/surrendered militants, the Government of Jammu and Kashmir has been promulgating rehabilitation policies,” court said. 

Justice Kumar while giving reference to 2010 rehabilitation policy for ex-militants and surrendered militants recorded that the intent and objective of the aforesaid policies issued from time to time is to bring people back who had strayed into militancy.  
 

However, Court said that the order issued by Commissioner/Secretary is a clear onslaught on the well thought after and wise decisions taken by the Government to bring peace and normalcy in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. 

Justice Kumar said, “ I have not been able to discern the thought process that might have gone into the mind of the then Commissioner/Secretary to issue such communication. Was it intended to make the petitioners to starve or take up activities prohibited by law.” 

Justice Kumar further recorded that the petitioners  were debarred from executing works of the Rural Development Department on a flimsy ground that their uncle or even father’s uncle 10/20 years back were involved in anti-national activities.  
 

“As is evident from the CID report, most of the relatives of the petitioners named therein have either died or surrendered to make a new beginning as law abiding citizens of this Country,” court said. 

 
“ Having said that, I find merit in these petitions and the same are, accordingly, allowed. The communication bearing No.PS/Commr/Secy/RDD-J/79/2023 dated 15th March, 2023, issued by Commissioner/Secretary to Government, Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, is quashed,” court said.

The respondents were also directed to permit the petitioners to participate in the tendering process, “if they are otherwise eligible, the communication dated 15th March, 2023, not withstanding,” Justice Kumar said.

 “Let a copy of this judgment be placed before the Chief Secretary of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, for initiating departmental action against the concerned Commissioner/Secretary,” court directed. 

it was further directed that a report with regard to action taken against the then Commissioner/Secretary to Government, Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj shall be submitted by the Chief Secretary to this Court within a period of two months from the date a copy of this judgment is served upon the Chief Secretary.  
“For this purpose only, the matter shall be listed before this Court on 29 July 2024,” court said

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