Decided on December 05,2006

STATE Appellant
Raghbir Lal Kohli Respondents


NIRMAL SINGH, J. - (1.) RESPONDENTS are working as Principal Private Secretaries to the Honble Judges of this court and placed in the pay scale of Rs.9000 -14100/ -. They filed writ petition SWP No.762/03 claiming parity with the Private Secretaries/Principal Private Secretaries working with the Ministers and Ministers of the State in the State Government falling under the J&K Secretariat (Gazette4 Service). The writ court vide impugned judgment [2006 (2) JKJ HC -193] dt.17th of March06, allowed the writ petition and directed the State Government as under: - - "....Above observations by this court clearly establish that the petitioners are similarly situate as the Private Secretaries in the Secretariat belong to J&K Secretariat (Gazetted Service) were. It is also no denial of the fact that the nature of the duties of Private Secretaries of the Judges of the High Court and those working with the Honble Ministers and Minister of State and Head of the departments are same. Duty of the Private Secretaries working with the Honble Judges is more onerous and sensitive. They have to maintain utmost secrecy. Their responsibilities are also atleast equal, if not, more than the Private Secretaries working with the Honble Ministers. Therefore, they cannot be treated differently, separately and with hostility. They have to be treated equally and at par with their counter parts working in the Secretariat. Merely because the State has the financial control over the employees of the judiciary, the State cannot, be permitted to treat similarly situated employees of the High Court and those working in the government differently. The question of their similarity of job already stands adjudicated upon by this court and the findings have been confirmed by the Apex Court. Therefore, petitioners are to be treated at par with the Private Secretaries working in the Secretariat. No doubt petitioners cannot be inducted into KAS as has been done in case o the Private Secretaries vide Government Order No. 80 -GAD/03 dated 16.1.03, but definitely they have to be placed in the pay scale equivalent to the pay scale of the inductees i.e. Rs. 10,000 -15200/ -........".
(2.) THE writ court further observed as under: - - "This Government Order clearly establish that an equivalent pay scale i.e. Rs. 10,000 -15200 is available in the High Court and there is no reason that the benefit of this pay scale be not allowed to the petitioners. What, designation is to be given when petitioners are given the benefit of higher pay scale, be left to the wisdom of the High Court, but in so far as the financial benefit is concerned State/Respondent is under legal obligation to give the same benefits to the petitioners as has been allowed to the Private Secretaries working in the Secretariat. This petition accordingly succeeds and a direction is issued to the respondent/State to place the petitioners in the higher pay scale of Rs. 10,000 -15200 w.e.f 16.1.03, the date similarly situated persons in the J&K Civil Secretariat. (Gazetted) Service -II PSS were given. The salary/emoluments of the petitioners shall be fixed accordingly. "
(3.) AGGRIEVED by the said order of the writ court, the present LPA has been filed by the respondent -State. Along with the LPA, an application under Section 5 of the Limitation Act has been filed for seeking condonation of delay in filing the appeal. It has been pleaded that the judgment impugned was pronounced on 17th of March06 and thereafter, the applicants applied for issuance of certified copy of the judgment on 1st of April06 and the same was issued on 7th of April 06. After the receipt of the copy of the judgment, it was referred to the concerned authorities for obtaining legal opinion as to whether the appeal is to be filed or not. The matter was examined by the concerned authorities and in the process of completing official formalities regarding according sanction and obtaining other requisite documents time was consumed and accordingly sanction was granted to file the appeal on 27th of June 06. It is thus stated that there was no delay in filing the appeal and even if there is some delay, the same was neither intentional nor deliberate but has been caused due to the procedure which was required to be followed. We have heard Mr. Salathia, learned AAG, and perused the record. The courts are liberal in condoning even long delays provided sufficient cause is shown to exist and the merits of the case warrant such condonation to advance the cause of substantial justice. This would not be, however, to put a premium on the negligence and inaction on the part of a litigant in taking requisite steps and ensuring filing of appeal within the prescribed period. The judgment impugned was passed on 17th of March06. The applicants applied for the certified copy on 1st of April06. The same was ready on 4th of April06, as per the certified copy of the judgment annexed with the appeal. The applicants received the copy on 7th of April 06. The application, however, does not indicate as to on which date, the Law officer who obtained the copy of the judgment sent the same to the concerned authorities for obtaining legal opinion regarding filing of the appeal. It is also not mentioned in the application as to on which date, copy of the judgment was received by the concerned authority. As stated in the application, the sanction for filing the appeal was given on 27th of June06, but it has not been mentioned how the matter was dealt with by the applicants/concerned authorities from 7th of April 06 i.e. the date on which copy of the judgment was obtained, upto 27th of June 06, i.e. the date on which sanction was given for filing the appeal. The present appeal has been filed on 7th of Sept 06 i.e. even after about more than two months from the date, sanction was given by the concerned authorities. There is no explanation whatsoever as to what happened from 27th of June 06 to 7th of Sept 06 i.e. the date of filing of appeal.;

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