The Rajasthan High Court directed the State Government to monitor the situation regularly and take steps from time to time to fill the vacancies of the Ministerial Staff in the Tribunals and the other courts, which have been assigned to hear the Motor Accident Claims, as and when such vacancies arise, so in future, the functioning of Tribunals as well as other courts, which have been assigned to hear the Motor Accident Claims, may not be affected on account of inadequate Ministerial Staff.
The Division Bench of Justice Vijay Bishnoi and Justice Praveer Bhatnagar disposed of a Suo Moto Public Interest Litigation (PIL) regarding non-availability of adequate staff in the Tribunal .
The High Court was in receipt of a representation dated 24.04.2016 from petitioner – Jila Abhibhashak Sangh, Banswara complaining that on account of non-availability of adequate staff in the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Banswara, where more than 2000 cases are pending, it is not in a position to work effectively. It is also stated in the representation that more than 2000 cases are pending, however, on account of non-disposal of the cases, the poor claimants are not getting justice.
Taking cognizance of the said representation, the Court collected information from the Registry of the Court and according to its information, total 26 Motor Accident Claims Tribunals were in operation in the State of Rajasthan at that relevant time and total pendency before it was 35160 cases.
The High Court also noted that besides the Tribunals, total 111 courts in the State of Rajasthan were also conferred power to hear the cases relating to Motor Accident Claims. It was also observed by this Court that total pendency of the Motor Accident Claims before the Tribunals as well as the other courts was 72871 cases.
The Court further collected information from the Presiding Officers of the Tribunals about the availability of staff and it was informed that adequate staff is not available in the Tribunals. It was also informed that despite several requests to the State Government, no steps have been taken to fill the vacancy of the staff lying in the Tribunals.
The High Court also noted that in the Motor Accident Claims Tribunals, Jodhpur, Reader, Stenographer and adequate number of Lower Division Clerks are not available and the other courts, which were assigned to hear the Motor Accident Claims, are also not having adequate staff.
Noticing the above facts, the Court took cognizance of the issue and while invoking extraordinary jurisdiction of this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India in public interest, ordered for registering the petition.
Notices were issued to the Principal Secretary, Department of Law and Justice, Government of Rajasthan, Jaipur and also to the Principal Secretary, Department of Personnel, Government of Rajasthan, Jaipur and they were directed to furnish the complete status about the availability of staff in the Tribunals in the State of Rajasthan.
Pursuant to the above mentioned direction, the State Government furnished the information regarding availability of staff and it was revealed that adequate staff such as LDCs, Stenographers, Account Officers and Class-IV employees are not available in the Tribunals.
The High Court permitted the State Government to employ Ministerial Staff on contract basis till the vacancies of Ministerial Staff are filled by regular process and directed the Secretary to the Government of Rajasthan, Department of Law and Legal Affairs to remain present before this Court on one of the occasion. Thereafter, several directions were issued from time to time and the State Government was directed to fill the vacancies of the Ministerial Staff in the Tribunals. Pursuant to that direction, requirement of LDCs, Stenographers and Class-IV employees was taken place.
The High Court was also apprised that disbursement of the compensation to the claimants is not done expeditiously and, therefore, this Court directed the learned counsel appearing for the Rajasthan High Court to prepare a Standard Operating Procedure for circulation in all the Tribunals for early disbursement of compensation to the claimants.
The counsel for the Rajasthan High Court took some time to prepare the SOP and informed that after incorporating the suggestions of the Amicus Curiae, the SOP in respect of disbursement of compensation to the claimants will be prepared very soon and will also be circulated in all the Tribunals.
Anil Bhandiari, counsel appearing for the petitioner, Sandeep Shah, AAG/Sr Advocate appearing for the State Government and Dr Sachin Acharya, Sr Advocate appearing for the Rajasthan High Court have informed the High Court that now, at present, adequate Ministerial Staff such as Readers, Stenographers, Account Officers and Class-IV employees are available in the Tribunals and the problem of inadequate of Ministerial Staff is not there.
Considering the above facts and circumstances of the case, the High Court opined that the purpose of present suo moto petition is fulfilled and directed the Rajasthan High Court to prepare SOP for early disbursement of compensation to the claimants within a period of two weeks and to circulate it to all the Tribunals, functioning in the State of Rajasthan, and the other courts, which have been assigned to hear the Motor Accident Claims.