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HC warns of action against Maha chief secy for not following

The Bombay High Court today warned of contempt action against the Maharashtra chief secretary and the principal secretary of finance department for failing to abide by an order regarding release of funds for providing toilets and water coolers in the courts across the state.

The division bench of justices A S Oka and A P Bhangale was hearing a PIL filed by Litigants Association of Maharashtra, which claims that several courts in the state lack basic facilities such as toilets and drinking water.

The government, last August, had sanctioned Rs 5.38 crore for providing toilets, water coolers and benches for litigants in the courts. However, the amount was released only on March 2.

The judges were informed earlier that if the funds were not handed over to the high court administration (which would then deposit them in the PWD’s account) by the end of financial year (March 31), they would lapse.

The bench, on March 24, directed the government to release the funds forthwith. However, today it was told that the government released Rs 9.60 crore on the night of March 31. “The amount lapsed the next day,” said advocate S R Nargolkar, appearing for the HC administration.

Peeved, the judges said if this was the state of affairs, they would be compelled to summon the principal secretary (finance).

“This is a clear case of breach of our previous order. Gross case of contempt. Unless this is rectified we will be compelled to pass contempt order against the chief secretary of the government and the principal secretary of the finance department,” said Justice Oka.

Adjourning the hearing to April 21, the court asked the government to take necessary remedial measures.

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