Jharkhand High Court on Tuesday directed the state to ensure that welfare stamps, without which legal submissions were invalid, were distributed in Ranchi within 10 days.
It pulled up assistant inspector-general of registration and stamps S. Siddiqui for the current shortage of such stamps and ordered distribution of 3.35 lakh stamp papers in the district.
The two-judge bench also asked the state to ensure that all petitions filed on its behalf by its panel of advocates had the stamp affixed. “Even the memo of appearance filed by a government counsel shall have the welfare stamp,” the court said in its order.
Earlier, government lawyers were exempted from this formality.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Jharkhand State Bar Council, which informed about the dearth in welfare stamps. The token paper needs to be stuck on all petitions and documents filed in the high court and the money collected thus by the Bar Council is to be utilised for the welfare of advocates.
Council chairman Rajiv Ranjan told the court that owing to shortage of stamps, filing of petitions and documents was getting affected and it was also losing on revenue.
Ranjan also pointed out that because of the crunch welfare stamps were being sold at a higher rate. The usual cost of a welfare stamp is Rs 15, but they are now being sold at Rs 50, he told the court.
The bench of Justices D.N. Patel and S. Chandrashekhar, while hearing the petition, summoned the inspector-general of registration and stamps to appear in person. However, Siddiqui showed up in his place and faced the music.
The bench was informed that the stamps were available, but had not been distributed as yet.
To this, the judges observed that the bureaucracy was becoming lethargic. They expressed surprise over the fact that stamps were available with the authorities concerned and yet there was a deficit in the market, which, in turn, was prompting unscrupulous practices.
The court further said that the state did not have a stamp distribution policy, which was detrimental to the interest of advocates and litigants alike.
The case will again be heard on April 3.