High Court of J&K recommends cessation of Annual Durbar Move in Union Territory

The bugle to freeze the practice of extravagance and loot of exchequer through annual ritual of Darbar Move blown by Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

Hearing the issue of Durbar Move, the honorable High Court of Jammu and Kashmir recorded its judgment on the several aspects which arise on account of the implementation of the Darbar Move in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

Treating unnecessary annual expenditure of Rs 200 crore as the reason and based on the arguments of learned advocates court recommends to Secretary,  Ministry of Home Affairs,  GOI and Chief Secretary of UT J&K for examining the issue and taking a considerate decision thereon.

Recording the judgment, Hon’ble Chief Justice of High Court Gita Mittal and Hon’ble Judge Rajnesh Oswal observed, “No reasons or grounds are forthcoming for enabling and supporting considerations of administrative efficiency, legal justification or Constitutional basis for effecting the Darbar Moves.”

Stating further the Hon’ble judges in a voluminous 90 page order said “Both the Jammu as well as the Srinagar regions equally require administration and governance round the year without interruption. It is unfair and opposed to public interest to deprive either region completely of access to government machinery for six months at a time.”

The court upheld the argument of Ms. Monika Kohli, learned Amicus Curiae who submitted that Maharja Ranbir Singh made the arrangement of shifting the Darbar from Srinagar to Jammu in the year 1872 to escape the severe winter in the Kashmir Valley, however since 1872 when the arrangement of the Darbar Move was effectuated, much has changed. The discomfort on account of change of weather in either city, is, today compensated by efficient and modern environment control mechanism.

Hon’ble High Court also upheld the other arguments of Ms Monika Kohli, learned amicus in which she expressed the depravity of efficient governance and hardship people of both regions suffer for six months attributed to Darbar move. Besides Adv Monika Kohli explicitly submitted that Darbar Moves have the effect of disruption of the scheduled completions of important administrative assignments and impedes monitoring of government projects.

Countering the argument of economic gains through Darbar Move, the learned amicus Adv Monika Kohli stated that the Darbar Move may be making a temporary impact of six months at a time to the earnings of a few hoteliers/ guest house owners/ shopkeepers of the cities of Jammu and Srinagar – but it does not even the two districts as a whole, let alone the two regions.

When commenced, the Darbar Move involved some officers and records in a few cartloads. Today it involves shifting of nearly 151 government departments and over 10,000 government personnel (including officers, staff and employees of every category), reportedly thousands of official documents and equipments including computers and even pieces of furniture are packed in bundles, cartons and metallic trunks loaded in over 150 trucks and transported for over 300 kms between Jammu and Srinagar, twice a year.

Can any Government afford the annual expenditure of at least Rs.200 crores (as disclosed and many more hundreds of crores of rupees of undisclosed costs) to sustain and perpetuate an arrangement of bi-annual shifting of its Capital two times a year? This is the opening remark made in the judgment by Hon’ble Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court and leaves no ambiguity in processing an opinion against the practice.

The ball as evident in the judgment lies in the court of Home Ministry of Union of India and they have to take a call on the continuation or discontinuation of this annual ritual. Certainly the observations made by the Hon’ble High Court are pertinent and logical to over ride.

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