J. Venkatesanin The HINDU
“This racket has been going on for a long time,” says Supreme Court
“Appeals are filed after a long time to get them dismissed on the ground of delay” It is high time this malpractice is severely rooted out, says Bench
New Delhi: Taking a serious view of the inordinate delay in filing appeals by the officials, sometimes in connivance with the parties concerned, the Supreme Court has issued notice to the Chief Secretaries of all the States/Union Territories with a view to evolving a mechanism to curb the delay.
A Bench of Justices Markandey Katju and T.S. Thakur in an interim order said: “It appears that cases are coming up before this court and probably before the High Courts also, where appeals or writ petitions are filed after inordinate delay and an explanation is sought to be given in the application for condonation of delay in such cases filed by the government or the State authorities that the file was moved from one desk to another or the approval was sought from the higher authority which took considerable time.”
The Bench said: “We feel that the beneficiary of the judgment may be hand-in-glove with the officials in the government department who deal with the files, and files are suppressed for a long period, and then the appeal before the High Court or Supreme Court is filed after a long delay to get the appeal dismissed on the ground of delay. Huge amounts of public money or public property may be involved and the government will be the loser on the technical point of limitation in such cases.”
Expressing concern, the Bench said: “This racket has been going on for a long time not only before the Supreme Court but also before the High Courts. Now the time has come that this racket is ended and the officials responsible given severe punishment.”
The Bench which was dealing with an appeal filed by the State of Jharkhand said: “This practice is often adopted by officials of various State governments and has become a regular feature. The explanation usually given for the delay is the red tape in government offices. It is high time that this malpractice is severely rooted out and an effectual mechanism adopted all over the country so that such delays do not occur in future.”
The Bench directed that notice be issued to the Chief Secretaries of all States so that effective action might be taken in this regard. The Chief Secretary of Jharkhand was directed to explain what action had been taken against the officials concerned for causing the delay in filing the present appeal. The Bench listed the matter for further hearing on November 8 and asked Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam to render assistance in this matter.