Srinagar, Dec 16: The High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh has directed Deputy Commissioner (DC), Srinagar to get the elections of office bearers of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) conducted expeditiously.
"In this regard, it would be appropriate that Joint Registrar (Judicial), High Court of J&K and Ladakh of Srinagar Wing, along with Assistant Commissioner (Revenue), Srinagar, to be nominated by Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, shall conduct and conclude the aforesaid elections of KCCI within one month," the court of Justice Vinod ChatterjiKoul directed.
For smooth conclusion of elections of KCCI within the said period, the court directed the members, who were already nominated vide court order on March 23, 2021, to provide all assistance to the officers.
"It is made clear here that in the event any of the members of the Committee is/are not in a position to render the assistance as was/is required of him/them, the aforesaid officers shall be free to take all steps as may be required and deemed appropriate by them for conduct and conclusion of elections of KCCI," the bench said.
That apart, the court directed that the caretakers, appointed by the Court in terms of order passed on March 23, 2021, shall cease to be the caretakers from February 27, 2023 or from the date the elections are concluded, which is earlier.
"Joint Registrar (Judicial) shall be paid the fee of Rs.50,000 by KCCI," Justice Koul directed.
The court passed the directions after observing that the position is the same as it existed in March 2021.
The court noted that the elections are yet to be conducted given the obstacles created under one pretext or the other ostensibly by the Committee members, "making it imperative to have alternative option/measure for conducting and concluding the elections of KCCI."
On March 23, last year, the court formed an election committee of six persons for conducting election of KCCI which was to be concluded by the end of April,
2021. The DC, Srinagar was directed by the court to supervise the elections.
The court had observed that the parties were ready to hold elections to elect the office bearers of KCCI for which they had proposed and suggested the names of three persons each from rival factions to associate in conducting of elections.
Accordingly, the court had directed that the six persons would form and function as a committee for conducting elections.
Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar was directed to supervise the elections.
Subsequently, on May 9, 2022, the court was informed by the applicants that the elections had not been conducted so far although a notification in this regard had been issued. They had cited COVID restrictions as a reason for not conducting the polls.
“This court in terms of order dated March 23, 2021, has directed six persons, named therein, to conduct elections. DC Srinagar was directed to oversee the elections and take all steps as may be required in this regard,” the court had directed.
Accordingly, a compliance report was filed by DC, Srinagar wherein he has stated that steps were initiated in terms of the orders of this Court to ensure conduct of elections of KCCI, but the elections could not be held as the committee sought some time to allow fresh nomination or withdrawal from previously nominated candidates.
It stated that some members disagreed with the mode and conduct of elections as they insisted that elections were to be held for the year 2022-23 in terms of the Notification issued in the year 2020-21, for which terms were to expire in September 2022.
The court had noted that the counsels for both sides fairly agreed to withdraw one of nominated candidates, who moved application and fresh nominations, if any, in terms of the election notification already issued within one week.
It had underscored that elections are to be held in terms of the election notification already issued as per directions of the Court within a period of one month.
The bench recorded that as all other issues had already been considered by the court vide order dated March 23, 2020, a notification was issued which prescribed the terms.
“The DC Srinagar, as well as the members of the committee, should conduct KCCI elections in terms of order dated March 23, 2022, read with an order dated May 9, 2022, within a month,” the court said.
DC Srinagar was also directed to take all steps and ensure the conclusion of elections within a month and report accordingly.