‘We will not hesitate to direct the DG & IGP to arrest such officers if they fail to appear’
Castigating two senior IAS officers for neither complying with the court’s orders nor personally appearing before the court despite specific directions, the High Court of Karnataka on Monday summoned the State Advocate-General to deprecate such conduct by officers.
While directing Advocate-General Prabhuling K. Navadgi to instruct the Chief Secretary to issue circulars to the officials to comply with the court’s directions within a specific time, the court also orally observed that it would not hesitate to direct the Director-General and Inspector-General of Police to ensure that officers, who fail to appear before the court, are arrested and produced before the court. A Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum, issued the direction while viewing seriously the absence of the Principal Secretary, Medical Education Department, and the Principal Secretary, Housing Department, in two separate petitions.
“What is is happening in the State? The officers appears to be taking the High Court very lightly… We are very competent to handle such conduct by the officers… Don’t compel us to pass any strict orders. We may not hesitate to order the DG & IGP to arrest officers and produce them before the court,” the Bench told the A-G.
“ We can make them [officers] understand what is the High Court. Even officers of the rank of Principal Secretaries don’t appear before the court despite directions. Neither they comply with orders nor they appear in person… I have not not seen in my life, either as a judge or an advocate, officers taking the court so lightly,” the Chief Justice orally observed.
The Bench was informed by the Government Counsel that Naveen Raj Singh, Principal Secretary, Medical Education, had come to the court in the morning, but was not present when the petition was taken up for hearing as he had to rush back to the Vidhana Soudha in view of the Cabinet meeting.
In the case of J. Ravishankar, Principal Secretary, Housing Department, it was informed to the court that he did not come as a compliance affidavit was ready to be filed as per earlier directions, which wanted his presence only on failure to file the affidavit.
As the affidavit was not filed before the court, though it was ready as claimed by the Government Counsel, he should have been personally present, the Bench said.
Later, it was informed to the Bench that both the officers were posted to the respective departments recently and would ensure compliance of directions issued earlier.
As the A-G assured the court that the Chief Secretary will ensure that all the officers would adhere to the court’s orders, the Bench accepted the apology of both the officers while orally making it clear it would not tolerate such conduct in the future.