1 July 2017 12:59 PM GMT
A week after restraining the State Government from purchasing luxury items for failing to equip government-run schools with minimum facilities, the Uttarakhand High Court on Friday vacated the order, but permitted luxury cars to be bought only by the approval of the Chief Secretary to the State. The Chief Secretary has been directed to record the necessity for buying luxury cars in the State...
A week after restraining the State Government from purchasing luxury items for failing to equip government-run schools with minimum facilities, the Uttarakhand High Court on Friday vacated the order, but permitted luxury cars to be bought only by the approval of the Chief Secretary to the State. The Chief Secretary has been directed to record the necessity for buying luxury cars in the State on a case to case basis.
The Bench comprising Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Alok Singh thereafter directed the State Government to provide (a) basic infrastructural facilities like benches, desks, blackboards, separate hygienic toilets for boys and girls, potable drinking water etc. within a period of six months, (b) rest of the directions shall be implemented within a period of three months thereafter.
Warning that a failure on the Government’s part would entail salary cuts, the Bench observed, “It is made clear by way of abundant precaution that in case, direction no. (a) is not implemented in the time schedule, as provided hereinabove, all the gazetted officers in Education Department including Principal Secretary (Education), Secretary (Education), Deputy Secretary (Education), all the Directors in the Education Department shall not be paid their salaries for the month of January, 2018,”
The Court also reminded the State, in a “very subtle manner”, of Article 360 of the Indian Constitution, which pertains to imposition of a financial emergency. “We will not elaborate further, since this may have serious political ramifications. It is expected from the State functionaries to reduce their unproductive expenses on luxurious items and to divert the necessary funds for improving the education system at the grassroot level,” the Court added.
While the Court clarified that it is not oblivious to the financial health of the State Government, it opined that the State cannot be “permitted to shirk from its Constitutional responsibilities to provide the basic infrastructural facilities in the schools.”
The Court had, on 22 June, noted that the State had failed to implement an order dated 19 November, 2016, wherein it had issued the following mandatory directions to the State Government:
The Court had then summoned the Secretary (Education), State of Uttarakhand. The Secretary had informed the Court that the matter was taken up by the Finance Department of the State on 14 March, but no response had been received from it yet.
“It reflects a very sorry state of affairs. The peremptory directions were issued by the Court on 19.11.2016, to arrest the falling standards of education in the State of Uttarakhand and to provide at least bare minimum infrastructure and wherewithal in Government run schools… Since, the State Government miserably failed to provide minimum bare facilities in schools inter alia benches, desks, blackboards, hygienic separate toilets for boys and girls, Water Purifiers and ceiling fans, the State Government is restrained from buying luxurious Cars, Furniture and Air Conditioners etc. till further orders of this Court,” it had thereafter ordered.
Subsequently, on 23 June, it had modified its order, permitting the State to buy “need based items i.e. water purifiers taking into consideration the summer season, that too, by the approval of the Chief Secretary, Government of Uttarakhand.” It had, however, clarified that the State is still not permitted to buy luxury cars, furniture, ACs, etc, till further Court orders.
Read the Judgment Here