The Punjab and Haryana high court has issued notice to Alka Sharma, the principal integrated financial adviser (PIFA) of the ministry of defence (MoD) and Major General Ashok Singh, the additional director general of personnel services, on a contempt petition for non-compliance of Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) orders, breaching the undertaking given to the HC.
The issue pertains to the matter of retirees of the rank of honorary naib subedars who were not paid interest on their pension arrears as directed by the AFT in 2017, and after repeated non-compliance and non-appearance of the concerned officers, the Chandigarh bench of the AFT had issued notice for contempt and arrest warrants against the officers.
The MoD had then approached the HC against the warrants and the contempt proceedings. Recording the undertaking that the MoD would comply with the orders of the AFT by August 30, a HC division bench had then directed that the warrants would be kept in abeyance in case an affidavit of compliance was filed by the concerned officers by personally appearing in AFT on the date fixed.
Though the officers then appeared in AFT, the compliance affidavit was not filed, and rather, on the application of one of the officers, Alka Sharma, the contempt case itself was transferred from the Chandigarh bench to AFT principal bench in Delhi by the AFT chairperson.
The main petitioner, honorary naib subedar Roop Lal, a senior citizen approached the HC under contempt jurisdiction stating that the undertaking made before the division bench was flouted by the officers and that the contemnors by getting the case transferred to Delhi have succeeded in ousting the jurisdiction of the Punjab and Haryana HC, which had passed orders for compliance. It has also been stated that regrettably the HC orders have not been taken note of by the AFT chairperson while transferring the case and that the orders of a constitutional court (HC) have been circumvented by an administrative order by the chairperson of a statutory tribunal, that too, without notice to the affected party.Hearing the contempt plea, the HC directed the officers to file their response by March 13. Additional solicitor general of India, Satya Pal Jain, who was present during the hearing of the case on Friday, received notice on behalf of the officers.