The demand for setting up of a Karnataka Administrative Tribunal (KAT) bench for North Karnataka seems to be slowly turning into a public protest on the lines of three- decade-long movement for a High Court bench.
With the government turning a deaf ear to the six-year-old demand, advocates, government employees and the general public are thinking of holding a series of protests.
The advocates association of the High Court bench in Dharwad has decided to launch a hunger strike on February 23 at the DC office. Various government employees associations, social organisations have extended their support to the strike.
The absence of a KAT bench here has put the government employees of North Karnataka in severe hardship as they find it difficult to travel frequently to Bangalore to attend hearings for cases related to promotions, suspension, dismissal, transfer and charges of irregularities. There is also an inordinate delay in disposal of their cases as several posts in KAT remained vacant for months.
Out of the around 5.5 lakh government employees functioning from Grade-1 to ‘D’ group in the state, half of them are working in North Karnataka. And of the more than 22,000 cases pending with the KAT, around 11,000 belong to the region. Government employees are facing problems in fighting their cases as they have to spend hefty sums on travelling to the capital city and also on appointment of suitable advocates there.
The registrar of KAT had also written to the principal secretary of the government on August 02, 2012 stating that its chairman and members have no objections to setting up of a bench in Dharwad in view of the administration reforms. However, there has been no progress in the issue.
KAT has already been struggling to cope with its workload. The number of cases is mounting and the delays are causing concern among the government employees. Some of the cases have been pending for more than 10 years and employees have had to retire from service without getting justice from the quasi-judicial body.
“The Dharwad bench of the high court has all infrastructure to house a KAT bench. I have submitted memorandums to the chief ministers and law ministers more than ten times since 2008, but the government has not yet initiated any steps. I will go on an indefinite fast along with government employees from the region if a bench of the tribunal is not set up soon,” said BD Hiremath, president of the Dharwad High Court Bar Association.
The bar association had also sent an appeal to the chief secretary last year demanding establishment of a bench of the tribunal. The government has delayed the process citing elections though KAT has submitted comprehensive report to it.
“A KAT bench in Dharwad will reduce the time and financial burden on government employees. We will draw our strategy to launch an agitation along with Dharwad High Court Bar Association members demanding setting up of tribunal bench here,” said Basavaraj Gurikar, the Dharwad district unit president of the government employees association.
DNA | 23 February 2014 SEE MORE