SHIMLA- Amidst a continuous protest against the move of Himachal High Court for sending circuit courts of Additional District and Sessions Judges to subdivision level, on Sunday, representatives of bar associations from various districts gathered at the Shimla District Court Complex at Chakkar to decide further course of the protest. The move was criticized by angry lawyers practicing at district courts. They claim that it’s a ridiculous move and Chief Justice HP High Court has hurt the dignity and sanctity of the judiciary by not taking their views before making such a decision. The speakers expressed their grief over the humiliation they faced due to this move. Members commented that to deliver justice at doorsteps, first, the High Court should start circuit courts as there is only one High Court in the state, which makes it a compulsion for litigants to travel to the capital city. While senior advocates referred the issue as a serious situation where lawyers at district courts are facing a threat to their livelihood, the amateurs and new comers were almost asleep on back seats. Some members of Himachal Bar Council and Indian Bar Council were also present at the meet. To hear their grievance in their own voice, watch the videos below:
In highly charged atmosphere, speakers referred to the interference of political personalities in Judiciary, which applies to bar associations as well. But, as the present moment demands unity, most of the speakers emphasized the need to stand united. In some statements, representatives of district bar associations hinted towards the wastage of funds, which the High Court received recently. Lawyers also revoked an old demand that they have been making long; five days a week like that in High Court. They questioned the unjust discrimination in serving privileges in courts. However, a senior advocate, president of Hamirpur Bar Association, emphasized the need of focusing on the present issue of circuit court tours and not mix it with other issues. Also, they condemned the regulations in academic policies which are allowing a whole-sale of law degrees, and the fact that the courts are getting crowded with people in black suits, which they bought from educational institutes.
What are circuit courts tours and why the lawyers are protesting against them?
As a simple answer, now the Additional District and Sessions Judges in Himachal will tour the circuit courts in their respective sub-divisional courts. The litigants can file their cases in their respective sub-division courts and won’t have to travel to their respective district courts. The step was taken under ‘Justice at your doorstep policy’. That means, the litigants won’t need the lawyers practicing at district courts, while at the same time, lawyers at sub-divisional courts are all in gold. Also, some cases have already been transferred to circuit courts. Now, either the lawyers will have to tour the sub-divisions if they wish to continue with their clients or they’ll have to leave the case and issue an NOC so that the client could hire the services of some other lawyer practicing at sub-division level. Why anyone would run to a district court when he/she have courts much near to their homes?
After the meeting and a delicious lunch, the representatives of district bar associations along with senior advocates had a conversation to decide the fate of their protest and their demand of canceling the move. All the lawyers, except those practicing at sub-divisional courts, present at the gathering agreed to unite and continue with the protest until their plea isn’t heard by the honorable CJ of HP High Court.
An interesting question that you must consider before you take a side is that whether this move is beneficial and relevant for the majority of the public? If it is, then the lawyers are protesting for their personal survival in a professional world. It will affect the future generations of advocates. The decision has come as damage to the career of advocates. At the same time, don’t ignore the fact that lawyers also make a part of public and society. They also have families and they seek the same kind of security and comfort for their kids as any parents do for their kids. To the lawyer community, the profession you chose comes with a huge responsibility. Judiciary is one of the pillars of democracy. As true human and nationalist, every lawyer is ought to respect what benefits the majority of population.
HP Govt Employees to Get Higher Pay Scale on Completion of Two Years of Service: CM Jairam
Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Government employees working in different departments before January 3, 2022, would be given a higher scale at par with other employees on completion of two years tenure of regular service. A higher pay scale was also announced for the Junior Office Assistants (IT) on completion of two years of regular service.
Chief Minister Jairam Thakur made these announcements during the Karamchari Maha Sammelan of the Himachal Pradesh Non-Gazetted Employees Federation at the hotel Peterhof on Sunday.
He appreciated the role played by the employee especially frontline workers in the battle against the pandemic.
He said most of the government employees in the state have been given revised pay scales and on average, every employee has got the benefit of a 12 to 15 percent salary hike. There has also been an increase in the pension of about 1.50 lakh pensioners of the state. The financial benefits of Rs. 7801 crore have been given to state government employees and pensioners from the year 2018 to 2022. The pensioners who retired before 2016 are getting the benefit of a 15 to 20 percent increase in the pension while around 40 thousand pensioners who retired after 2016 would be benefitted soon, he said.
He said the daily wages were Rs. 210 in the year 2017 which has been increased by the present state government to Rs. 350. Similarly, 12 per cent interim relief annually has been provided to government employees and pensioners during the present government’s tenure. He said the Himachal government has provided Dearness Allowance to its employees and pensioners on the lines of Punjab and Central governments from the due date. The Punjab government has given only 5 percent interim relief to the employees while the Himachal government has provided 21 percent interim relief to its employees.
“Out of the total interim relief amount given to the employees and pensioners amounting to about Rs. 6500 crore, Rs. 3500 crore has been paid during the tenure of our government” added the Chief Minister.
He said that the state government has increased the government contribution for NPS employees from 10 percent to 14 percent benefitting more than one lakh employees. The NPS employees are being given the benefits of retirement and death gratuity at par with employees falling under the old pension scheme. The government has also increased the upper limit of death gratuity from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh.
The Chief Minister said the state government has also increased the honorarium of para-workers working in various departments. The salary of outsource workers has been hiked by Rs 1,500 per month.
Non-Gazetted Employees Federation President Ashwani Thakur thanked the Chief Minister for providing various financial and other benefits to different categories of government employees.
Most Covid Restrictions to be Lifted From March 31, Mask and Hand Hygiene to Continue
New Delhi-The Centre has issued a notification to the States informing that the provisions of the Disaster Management (DM) Act, 2005 will not be invoked in the country after March 31. The Union Health Ministry said that the use of face masks and following hand hygiene will continue.
It implies that most of the Covid-related rules and restrictions would end.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla issued the notification which said that the decision was taken following the overall improvement in the situation and the preparedness of the government in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, local authorities and State police can still invoke fines and criminal cases against persons violating COVID-19 norms under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), a senior government official said.
The DM Act was invoked on March 24, 2020, due to the pandemic
“Over the last seven weeks or so there has been a steep decline in the number of cases. The total caseload in the country stands at 23,913 only and the daily positivity rate has declined to 0.28%. It is also worth mentioning that with the combined efforts, a total of 181.56 Cr vaccine doses have been administered,” the notification said.
“I would like to mention that in view of the nature of the disease, we still need to remain watchful of the situation. Wherever any surge in the number of cases is observed, the States/UTs may consider taking prompt and proactive action at a local level, as advised by MoHFW (Health Ministry) from time to time,” the notification said.
The Indian government had issued various guidelines and measures for the first time on March 24, 2020, under the Disaster Management Act to curb the COVID-19 situation in the country, which have been modified several times thereafter.
India currently has 23,087 active COVID-19 cases and recorded 1,778 new cases and 62 deaths in the last 24 hours. The daily positivity rate has also declined to 0.28%.
HP Cabinet Decisions: Country Liquor Made Cheaper in New Excise Policy, Read All Decisions
Shimla-A meeting of the Himachal Pradesh Cabinet was held on March 20, 2022, under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur.
The excise policy for the financial year 2022-23 was approved. Approval was also given for the renewal of retail excise vends in the state for the financial year 2022-23 at the renewal fees of 4% of the value of unit/vend.
The State Government said that wants to enhance the government revenue and curb the smuggling of country liquor from the neighbouring states by a reduction in its price.
The brands of Country Liquor will be cheaper as license fees have been reduced. This will help in providing good quality liquor at a cheaper rate to the consumers.
In the new excise policy, the 15% fixed quota of country liquor for manufacturers and bottlers to be supplied to the retail licensees has been abolished. According to the government, this step will give the retail licensees to lift their quota from the suppliers of their choice and further assure the supply of good quality country liquor at competitive prices. The MRP of country liquor will be cheaper by 16% of the existing price.
In this year’s policy, the Gaudhan Vikas Nidhi Fund has been enhanced by Re.1/- from the existing Rs.1.50 to Rs.2.50.
The fixed annual license fee of Bars has been rationalized by abolishing the area-specific slabs of license fee. Now throughout the State, there will be uniform license slabs based upon the room capacity in hotels.
Rates of the annual fixed license fee of Bars in the tribal areas has been reduced considerably.
Further, all the above stakeholders will have to install CCTV cameras at their establishments as it was made mandatory for them.
Wholesale vends and retail vends, the penalty provisions under the H.P. Excise Act, 2011 have been made more stringent.
An end to end online Excise Administration System would be established in Himachal Pradesh, the government said.
HP Government estimates a collection of Rs 2131 crore revenue during the year, which will be Rs. 264 crores higher than the financial year 2021-22 – growth of 14% in state excise revenues.
The Cabinet also gave its nod to amend Himachal Pradesh Disaster Relief Manual-2012 to include deaths due to biting of honey bees, hornet and wasps, accidental drowning and deaths due to accidents of vehicles (including land, water and air) under this Manual.
The Cabinet gave its approval for filling up 11 posts of ‘A’ Class Tehsildar in Revenue Department through direct recruitment on regular basis through Himachal Pradesh Public Service Commission.
HP State Toll Policy 2022-23
The HP Cabinet also gave its nod to HP State Toll Policy for the year 2022-23 which envisages auction cum tender for all the toll barriers in the State. During the year 2021-22, toll revenue has registered a growth of 20 percent of the previous year’s revenue.