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HC raps Maha govt for not raising pay of judicial members

bombay high court

Mumbai : The Bombay High Court today came down heavily on Maharashtra Government for not implementing its 2014 order asking it to raise the remuneration payable to judicial members of consumers forums in the state.

Government pleader Abhinandan Vagyani assured the court that the state was reconsidering its decision taken in Februrary not to raise the remuneration after which the bench said it would not press for contempt action at this stage.

“Nothing has been done to implement the high court order seeking a hike in salaries and allowances to members of consumer forums in the state,” said the bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka while hearing a bunch of petitions filed by Mumbai Grahak Panchayat and others.

The bench today expressed its anguish over the recent decision of the government rejecting the proposal to raise the salaries of judicial members and said even the Supreme Court had upheld the high court order of 2014 regarding increase in their remuneration.

“In fact, we find that there is no application of mind on the part of the Government,” the bench said and warned that it would be forced to take contempt action against the officers of the government for not obeying the orders of the court.

However, the bench said, it was not pressing for contempt action at this stage because the government has assured to reconsider its decision of February 2016.

The bench said this after government pleader Abhinandan Vagyani assured the court that the state was reconsidering its decision.

Sudip Nargolkar, appearing for the high court administration, said the consumer courts lacked infrastructure and the judicial members were not getting adequate remuneration. Hence, the high court order of 2014 must be followed by the government.

The high court had earlier asked the government to improve the judicial machinery and infrastructure. It said that litigants come to the court for getting relief and should not find lack of infrastucture in courts.

The PIL highlighted the plight of litigants, who have to visit crumbling structures, bereft of basic infrastructure such as water and toilet facilities, serving as consumer forums.

Several of them operate out of rooms with area of 150 sq mts and don’t have space to store even documents, the PILs pointed out.

Counsel for Mumbai Grahak Panchayat Uday Warunjikar had informed the court on earlier occasion that many such consumers and other lower courts were functioning in dilapidated buildings. He also pointed out that more such courts need to be established.

The high court then asked the state government to consider setting up more consumer and magistrate courts and suggested shifting these courts to safer venues in case of those functioning in dilapidated buildings.

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