Mohammad Iqbal Mir
Srinagar, Oct 25: Jammu and Kashmir High Court has asked the Director Information to appear in the court personally on November 8, 2018, if he fails to inform the court whether his department is adhering to the policy governing the distribution of the government advertisements to the vernacular dailies.
In a case titled Precious Kashmir versus state and others Justice Mohammad Yaqoob Mir on May 10, 2018 had issued a notice to the Information department to file the reply by June 4, 2018 and had directed the department to adhere to the advertisement policy governing the distribution of the advertisements.
After four months advocate Saad Rafi appeared on the behalf of Information department and assured the court that compliance order about the department adhering to the policy governing the distribution of the government advertisements would be submitted on the next date of hearing.
The case came up for hearing on October 23, 2018 again. Advocate Rafi, appearing on behalf of respondents, submitted before the court that he has already written to the concerned officer to do the needful in terms of the order dated May 10, 2018, which had asked the department to file the reply. However, he (advocate Rafi) said that he has not received any instructions from his client till date.
Justice Tashi Rabistan on request of the advocate Rafi extended the time by two weeks to do the needful in terms of the order dated May 10, 2018, failing which Director Information shall appear in person before the Court on next date of hearing. The case has been listed for November 8, 2018.
Advocate M S Lateef representing the petitioner (Precious Kashmir) said that since May 10, 2018 the High Court has issued three consecutive orders but the officials of the Information department have not responded. “If they fail to respond this time they could end up in a soup,” advocate Lateef said.
It’s in place to mention here that state run Information department has remained in the news for longtime. The newspaper owners have been alleging that the department is not distributing the government advertisements in fair and transparent manner. Till date many RTIs have been filed to ascertain the mechanism about how the government advertisements are distributed and is the department following the advertisement policy it had framed? Replies have been vague.
An Editor of a local daily said, “One can imagine the callousness of the department. The first notice was served on May 10, 2018, since then nearly six months have passed but the department has not responded. It seems that people at the helm just take even the court orders lightly.”