Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Stop Clogging Courts with Frivolous Cases, SC tells Govt : Centre Pulled Up For Similar Pleas, Fined Rs. 1L Twice

New Delhi:“The couldn’t-care-less and insouciant attitude of the Union government with regard to litigation has gone a little too far,” the Supreme Court said and castigated the Centre for repeatedly filing appeals on identical questions of law despite being fined earlier for clogging the justice delivery system with frivolous cases.

Ticking off the Centre for snail-paced efforts to streamline its litigation policy, a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta recently used the NDA government’s reformist slogan of “ease of doing business” to make a sharp point. “Under the garb of ease of doing business, judiciary is being asked to reform. The boot is really on the other leg,” the bench said. Pointing to the collateral damage the overcrowding of the judicial system caused other litigants, besides financial liabilities of the government, the court asked when the “Rip Van Winkleism” would end. “We hope that someday, some sense, if not better sense, will prevail on the Union of India with regard to the formulation of a realistic and meaningful national litigation policy and what it calls ‘ease of doing business’, which can, if faithfully implemented, benefit litigants across the country,” the bench said.

On December 8 last year, the SC had dismissed a batch of appeals filed by the Centre. Unmindful, the Centre filed another batch of petitions in March involving the very same question of law. It was dismissed with a cost of Rs 1 lakh on March 9. “Unfortunately, the Union government has learned no lesson,” the bench of Justices Lokur and Gupta said on April 24 when it came across a third set of appeals on the same issue with an identical question of law.

‘Govt has created huge financial liability by engaging 10 lawyers’

The bench said it had expected the Centre to take steps to withdraw all pending appeals from the SC registry once the question of law was settled by the December 8 order. “But obviously, the Union government has no such concern and did not withdraw appeals from the registry. The government must appreciate that by pursuing frivolous or infructuous cases, it is adding to the burden of this court and collaterally harming other litigants by delaying hearing in their cases through the sheer volume of numbers. If the Union government cares a little for the justice delivery system, it should display some concern for litigants, many of whom have to spend a small fortune in litigating in the Supreme Court,” it said and slapped an additional cost of Rs 1 lakh while dismissing the appeals.

Writing the judgment for the bench, Justice Lokur said, “To make matters worse, in this appeal, the Union government has engaged 10 lawyers, including an additional solicitor general and a senior advocate. In other words, the Union government has created a huge financial liability by engaging so many lawyers for an appeal whose fate can be easily imagined on the basis of existing orders of dismissal in similar cases. “Yet, the Union of India is increasing its liability and asking the taxpayers to bear an avoidable financial burden for the misadventure. Is any thought being given to this? The real question is: When will the Rip Van Winkleism stop and Union of India wake up to its duties and responsibilities to the justice delivery system?” Referring to the Centre’s 2010 “National Legal Mission” to reduce average pendency from 15 years to three years and the “National Litigation Policy”, the SC said, “None of the pious platitudes of the NLC have been followed, indicating not only the Union government’s lack of concern for the justice delivery system but scant regard for its own policy.

The court said the 2010 policy was supposed to be reviewed and reformulated in 2015.

(Source - TOI)

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