Amravati, Aug 9 (ILNS)The Andhra Pradesh High Court on August 04, made serious observations on the issue of non payment of funds to gram Panchayats of the state and the attitude of officers in not assigning any reason for the delay.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice Arup Kumar Goswami and Justice Ninala Jayasurya while hearing a Bunch of Public Interest Litigations seeking release of funds to various Gram Panchayats condemned the officers concerned who did not reach on court for their reply and who assign frivolous reasons for absenting.
” There is no explanation as to what is that unforeseen and unavoidable administrative work,” the court said, while hearing an application of the Principal Secretary, Finance Department who sought exemption from his appearance before the court to reply on the issue.
Mr C. Sumon, Counsel appearing for the State submitted, that Rs.413.00 crores have been released to various Gram Panchayats on July 31, 2021, which pertain to works worth below Rs.5.00 lakhs each.
On July 15, 2021, the High Court had ordered that all cases related to the issue will be listed on August 04, 2021. If the payments are not made then the Principal Secretary, Department of Panchayat Raj & Rural Development, the Principal Secretary, Department of Finance, and the Commissioner, Department of Panchayat Raj & Rural Development shall remain present before the Court at 10.30 a.m. on August 04.
Pursuant to the order, Gopal Krishna Dwivedi, Principal Secretary, Panchayat Raj & Rural Development Department, and Mr. M. Girija Shankar, Commissioner, Panchayat Raj & Rural Development, were present in the Court on Wednesday.
The Principal Secretary to Government, Finance Department, was not present and an application has been filed on his behalf praying for dispensing with his presence .
The High Court held that the officers were directed to be present if the payments have not been made. The presence of two officers and the application of the Principal Finance Secretary to dispense with his presence itself demonstrates that all payments have not been made.
On a query of the Court as to what is the report of the Vigilance, the officers present were unable to reply. It appears that they are not well prepared, said the Court.
The Bench observed that the prayer for dispensing with the presence of the Principal Secretary, Finance Department, is made on the ground “due to unforeseen and unavoidable administrative work with the Government of India.” There is no explanation as to what is that unforeseen and unavoidable administrative work.
“For good grounds, certainly the Court will consider dispensing with personal appearance. The reason assigned cannot be considered as a valid ground for dispensing with personal appearance. It appears that the officer has taken it for granted that prayer for dispensation of personal appearance will be routinely allowed”, the court observed.
Though the Court is unhappy with the way the application is filed, by way of indulgence, it allowed the prayer for dispensing with the appearance of the Principal Secretary, Finance Department, for Wednesday. However, he is directed to be present before the High Court on the next date August 18, 2021 at 10.30 a.m, the court said. ILNS/SS/SNG