Government Not Serious About Court CasesThe Supreme Court rightly castigated the government for its non-seriousness in pursuing legal cases in courts. Despite having a huge legal machinery at its disposal, the government lets cases linger. This happens only because those responsible for briefing the lawyers are either not inclined to find time for such mundane things or have been compromised by the opposing parties. If one examines the data, one will find that this is one of the major causes of the clogging of the judicial system in India.
By Sunil Garodia
The court also took umbrage at junior officials of ministries filing affidavits in crucial matters. The court pointedly asked the additional solicitor general what is the status of the Supreme Court in the eyes of the bureaucracy? In your opinion, who should be the officer in all-India services filing reply affidavits? When the government did not respond in the given time of an hour, the court proceeded to pass the caveat that from now on, all reply affidavits filed in the Supreme Court must be approved by the department and signed by the joint secretary of the concerned department. This places accountability on the head of the department which was missing.
The courts strict stand is welcome. The government has been very casual in its approach towards court cases. There seems to be no system in place in various departments as to who is going to handle court cases, how and in what time frame. There is no transparency in such matters. It seems that senior officers generally delegate such work to their juniors with instructions to play for time. This prolongs matters and is not advisable.
The government should look into the matter and take a clear policy stand on this. Heads of departments must be made accountable. They must be given time frames within which briefs should be given to lawyers. They must ensure that lawyers go to court well prepared on the dates of hearing. In short, all efforts must be undertaken to ensure that cases do not linger due to the fault of the government.
Governance does not only mean implementing policies. It also means settling disputes that may arise on account of grievances against such policies. After all, although the legislature makes the laws, it is the governments responsibility to ensure that they are enforced. By not being serious in handling court cases, the government shows scant respect for due process of law and encourages disrespect for law in the bureaucracy. Strong steps must be taken to reverse this state of affairs.