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Notification on family court judges' appointment delayed over lack of LG nod, AAP govt tells HC

Law Crime

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The Delhi High Court on Friday directed the AAP government to notify the names of family court judges, which was being delayed due to lack of LG's view on it amid the vexed issue as to who is the administrative head of the national capital despite a Supreme Court ruling on the issue.

The AAP government had approved the names for notification but the decision was held up by the Principal Secretary, Law Department, as the Lieutenant Governor's view had not been sought.

However, noting the urgent requirement of presiding officers in the family courts, as cases from there were adding to the burden of the high court, a bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao on Friday directed the Delhi government that the names be notified within three days.

The bench also asked the Principal Secretary, Law, to indicate on affidavit his objections to it and added that if the high court finds that the issue in question was before the apex court, then it will not interfere in the matter.

The high court said it was passing the interim order keeping in view the urgent requirement of presiding officers in the family courts as many of these were non-functional due to lack of judges and as a result, cases related to maintenance and child custody were coming to the high court.

During the hearing, Delhi government senior standing counsel Rahul Mehra told the bench that despite AAP government's Law Minister approving the names for notification, the Principal Secretary of the department was objecting to it on the ground that the LG view has not been sought.

Even the recommendation to appoint Justice S Ravindra Bhat as the Executive Chairman of the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) was not notified for the same reason, Mehra contended.

Besides, he said, once the Supreme Court held that the elected government was the administrative head of Delhi in all matters, except land, public order and police, the LG's concurrence was not required every time.

The submission came in response to the high court's query on October 3 about the reason for non-notification of the names recommended by it.

The Additional Secretary of the law department, who was present in court, told the bench that the names were not notified as the file concerned was not sent to the LG for his view.

To which the court asked the Additional Secretary why the file should go to the LG once the apex court has held that Delhi government can take decisions on all issues except land, police and public order.

It directed the Principal Secretary, Law, to file an affidavit indicating his objections.

"Give us the objections. Place the file before us. Let us see if they (objections) are valid in view of the apex court judgement," the court said and made it clear that if the issue in question was before the Supreme Court then the high court will not interfere in it.

The bench also made it clear that it was passing the interim order keeping in view the urgent requirement of presiding officers in the family courts as many of these were non-functional due to lack of judges and as a result, maintenance and child custody related matters were coming to the high court and burdening it.

"The citizens should not suffer. My judges are already overburdened and they now have to also deal with applications for maintenance from husband and child custody matters," Chief Justice Menon said and listed the matter for further hearing on October 25.

The bench on October 3 had pulled up the Delhi government for not filling up the vacant posts of family court presiding officers despite names being recommended by the high court.

It had directed the Delhi government to file an affidavit indicating the reasons for not appointing anyone to the post of presiding officer in the family courts in several District Courts, including that of Saket here.

The bench had also highlighted the issue of vacancies in the DSLSA which were also not filled up despite the high court recommendations.

It said the vacancies have led to the "legal aid system getting derailed" and delay in payments to legal aid lawyers as well as disbursement of compensation.

The court was hearing two PILs on the issue of vacancies in family courts.

One PIL was filed by a woman whose divorce petition has been pending in a family court since January this year and the other was initiated by the high court itself after getting a letter on the issue from one of its judges.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Fri, October 12 2018. 18:40 IST