Centre must finalise litigation policy

The Supreme Court’s scathing criticism of the government’s litigation policy and practices is well deserved, as the conduct of governments, both at the Centre and in the states, is a major cause of obstruction of justice. The government is the country’s most prolific litigant and 46% of the pending cases in courts have been filed by governments. The Centre is to be blamed more than the states as it is clear from the court’s observation that "the couldn’t-care-less and insouciant attitude of the Union of India has gone too far". Cases are filed again and again even on the same issue. The court’s comments were occasioned by the third batch of appeals over a similar question of law in the same matter. The court had dismissed the first batch in December, the second batch in March this year with a fine and the third batch was now before it. Such unnecessary litigation is common, and not an exception.

A very large number of disputes which can be settled departmentally or even ignored are taken to courts by the government. The decisions on various dispute settlement forums are not accepted and appeals are made. The fear of being questioned later and of enquiries and actions makes officials take even silly issues to court and appeal against all unfavourable decisions, especially those relating to money. The cost of litigation may be more than the amount involved in the dispute. Sometimes cases are instituted just to harass people or other parties like NGOs, and at other times to extract bribes or favours. The government has an array of legal manpower and infrastructure and so the cost is no consideration. But, as the court noted, the burden is on the ordinary citizen who has to spend a "small fortune" to get justice.

The result is that the cases clog the courts and all cases are delayed causing injustice to ordinary litigants. A National Litigation Policy was drawn up in 2010 which was intended to make the government an "efficient and responsible litigant" and to reduce the pendency of cases in courts from 15 years to three years. The policy was revised in 2015 and again, as the court noted, "Nothing has been finalised for the last about eight years". Delays are caused not just by the governments’ itch for litigation but by other factors like shortage of judges, cumbersome court procedures and practices, and other reasons. But they can be reduced greatly if governments restrain themselves and avoid all unnecessary, vexatious and frivolous litigation. That will promote the cause of justice which now finds undermined in many ways.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry

Comments:

Centre must finalise litigation policy

0 comments

Write the first review for this !