AG tells additional solicitors general that frivolous cases should not reach Supreme Court

New Delhi: Law officers should ensure that frivolous appeals planned by ministries related to service matters of individuals do not reach the Supreme Court and special leave petitions are filed only in cases where a policy decision of the government is involved, the Attorney General is learnt to have told additional solicitors general.

File image of Supreme Court. Reuters

File image of Supreme Court. Reuters

The A-G told additional solicitors general at a recent meeting that when the Law Ministry refers proposals of various ministries to file SLPs in the top court challenging a high court order relating to service matter of individuals, the law officers should ensure those frivolous pleas are not allowed to reach the apex court. Sources aware of the meeting said the move is aimed at checking unnecessary government litigation in the top court.

If a SLP has to be filed by a central ministry or a department, it approaches the Law Ministry which seeks the opinion of one of the additional solicitors general. If the opinion of the ASG is positive, the SLP is filed. According to the Law Ministry, the central government is a party to 46 percent of cases pending in courts and is hence one of the biggest litigants, a tag it wants to shed.
Over 3.14 crore cases are pending in courts across India.

"I will not take risk -- this attitude is one of the major reason that (central) government is a party to lakhs of cases pending in courts. If quick decisions are taken by government departments and ministries, most of the issues would not reach courts," explained a Law Commission functionary who had worked on one of its reports on the proposed 'national litigation policy'. In 2010, then Law Minister M Veerappa Moily had come out with a national litigation policy but the policy could not take off. Successive law ministers have worked on the policy but the Centre so far has not been able to evolve one.

In a letter addressed to his cabinet colleagues heading various ministries, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had recently said, "The government must cease to be a compulsive litigant...The judiciary has to spend its maximum time in tackling cases where the government is a party, and the burden on the judiciary can only be reduced if the cases are filed after taking a careful and considered view".

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also termed the government as the "biggest litigant" and had pushed for a need to lessen the load on the judiciary which spends its maximum time in tackling cases where the government is a party.


Updated Date: May 12, 2018 16:51 PM

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