Observing that if the Judicial Officers of the State have to "run from pillar to post" for their pay-slips, leave credit statement, etc., there is "likelihood that it may affect efficient dispensation of justice", the Gauhati High Court has pulled up Assam's Principal Accountant General (Accounts and Entitlements) over the late release of salaries.
Justice Kalyan Rai Surana suo motu invoked the court's writ jurisdiction on the basis of representation dated 10.08.2020 submitted by the Assam Judicial Service Association regarding non-issuance of pay slips, leave credit statements, etc. in a time bound manner.
The Judicial Officers of the State of Assam, through their said representation, have expressed that they are facing a lot of problems with the office of the PAG in the following matters:-
Stating that it is expected that the Judicial Officers would effectively utilise their time and deliver justice to the litigating parties, the Single Bench reflected that if a judicial officer has to spend time to obtain papers, documents and slips from the office of the PAG, there is reasonable apprehension that it would increase their stress and there is likelihood that it may affect efficient dispensation of justice, which would not be in public interest.
"Normally the Court is required to presume under Section 114, Illustration (e) of the Evidence Act that official acts have been regularly performed. However, if the Judicial Officers of the State have to run from pillar to post for their pay-slips, leave credit statement, etc., the said presumption appears to have no application in the present situation", said the bench.
The Court asserted that it is a right earned by every employee, including judicial officers to be paid in time for the service rendered by them, and that it further cannot be disputed that the PAG has the duty to release salary and emoluments in time.
"The respondent no.1 definitely knows that the State pays salary and other emoluments as per the prescribed grade pay scale, as such, the respondent no.1, i.e. the Principal Accountant General (A&E) is expected to have information about the pay which is being drawn by a Judicial Officer of the State and, as such, the delay in issuing pay slips appears to be incongruous, and without any apparent reason", the bench remarked.
Issuing notice to the PAG (A & E), the bench required his office to file a detailed affidavit, providing detailed information w.e.f. 01.01.2017 till date regarding (a) the dates on when communication was received by this office about appointment of new judicial officers; (b) the dates on which his office received communications from the Registry of this Court about transfer and posting of judicial officers; (c) the dates on which his office has received information about promotion and promotional posting of judicial officers; (d) the corresponding dates on which his office had issued pay-slips, etc. as morefully mentioned in paragraph 3 above; (e) the standing instructions and/ or standard operating procedure in force, if any, in his establishment regarding time within which the pay-slips, etc. is required to be made ready and communicated to the concerned judicial officer; and (f) whether any e-mail address has been notified in the Gazette, wherein orders of appointment, transfer, posting, promotion of judicial officers of the State is required to be sent in lieu of hard copy.
On behalf of the PAG, the submission made was that since the initial lockdown imposed in the month of March, 2020, the establishment of the PAG is working with not more than 30% staff attendance and therefore, there could be a possibility of some inadvertent delay in not being able to issue all the necessary pay-slips etc.
In this context, the bench expressed the view that when most of the works relating to issuance of pay-slips etc. are computerised, there must be a system in place which works so that notwithstanding whatever situation is prevailing in the State, there should be seamless disbursement of the salary of the Judicial Officers.
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