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Punjab & Haryana High Court, in the ensuing battle of advocates against the Haryana government on constituting Haryana Administrative Tribunal for handling service matters of the state government employees, has directed the Bar Association on 9th August to allow litigants to enter court premises. The strike – which began a fortnight ago on 26th July following the Central Government notification dated 24th July 2019 constituting the Haryana Administrative Tribunal for the service matters pertaining to the State Government employees – has severely paralyzed the functions of the court.

The three judge bench comprising Chief Justice Krishna Murari, Justice Rajiv Sharma & Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain on 2nd August had said that “it is clear that a single member can neither decide the matter finally nor take up such cases where the vires of any Service Rules are challenged.” It is also undisputed that the infirmities as pointed out would cause the litigating public to be left without any remedy which would result into total failure of justice delivery system.

In an unprecedented situation, advocates went on strike protesting against the notification which appointed a former judge of the High Court, Justice Sneh Parashar as Chairperson but failed to determine further members or the seat of the Tribunal. Representation made by the Bar Association of Punjab and Haryana High Court pointed out various administrative infirmities like non-appointment of administrative members; the notification also did not determine the seat of the Principal Bench as required by Section 5(8) of the Administrative Tribunal Act, 1985.

On the government notifying a single retired judge constituting a tribunal adjudicating service matters, Advocate Shalini Atri, Punjab & Haryana High Court has said, “This directly affects the independence of judiciary. Service matters are filed against government; a tribunal apart from the mainstream judiciary cannot be said to be entirely independent, that too when hearing cases against its own employer.” Government recruitments are shrouded with allegation of irregularities and corruption and the High Court Judges have judged matters from time to time.

Court has ordered the deferment of implementation of the notification dated 24.07.2019 for the time being and in the meantime the High Court and District Courts in Haryana would continue to entertain fresh service matters and the pending matters may not be transferred in the interregnum period.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar is in talks with the High Court Bar Association and a positive outcome is hoped for.

Meanwhile, the symbolic shut down of High Court by the advocate association continues.

–India Legal Bureau

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