Day 10 – Q 2.Government is the largest litigant in the courts. What measures can be taken to reduce litigations involving the government?
2. Government is the largest litigant in the courts. What measures can be taken to reduce litigations involving the government?
अदालतों में सरकार सबसे बड़ी मुकदमेबाज है। सरकार से जुड़े मुकदमों को कम करने के लिए क्या उपाय किए जा सकते हैं?
As per various studies, almost half of all litigations in the Indian judiciary today are government litigations. This issue has been raised by the Law Commission of India in its 126th Report in 1988, the Supreme Court of India and even by the Prime Minister of India.
- Much of this government litigation is in the form of appeals where about 95 per cent of the appeals fail and are such that shouldn’t have been made in the first place.
- Most cases are not where government is a compulsive litigant but where the government is a respondent. As per a Legal Policy report on the Supreme Court, only 7.4% of fresh cases filed before the court in 2014 were by the Central government.
- The writ jurisdiction vested in High Courts under Article 226 of the Constitution enables an ordinary citizen to access the highest court in her State to address grievances against any authority, including any government, for violation of any of her fundamental or other rights.
- Data for the year 2016 show that writ petitions constitute nearly 60% of all fresh cases filed before the Karnataka High Court, out of which nearly 80% of them are filed against the State Government or related agencies.
- Government litigation crowds out the private citizen from the court system.
- It adds to the woes of already overburdened judiciary.
- Reduction in cases- One way of reducing the load on courts is to reduce the quantum of cases that come to the courts by strengthening the internal monitoring process, e.g. whether appeal should be made or not, dropping petty cases, etc.
- Alternate Dispute Redressal mechanism- For cases like traffic rules violation, theft and other petty crimes, to solve them without bringing them in the purview of judiciary.
- Internal dispute resolution- To reduce writ petitions filed by workers in government agencies against their management.
- Reforming quasi-judicial authorities- Appeals against orders of quasi-judicial authorities can be reduced by appointing judicially trained person or creating a separate class of judicial officers to discharge quasi-judicial functions in those authorities.
- Co-ordination and information sharing- Cases involving different departments are scattered at different places in physical files. These must be streamlined at one place for better information processing and fast tracking the litigation.
- Checks and balances for advocates- Ensuring cases are not unnecessarily extended and making sure advocates are paid on time.
- Enforcement of laws- For example, strict action against corruption cases should be taken at the government level so that there is least involvement of judiciary.
- Clarity on laws- There are a number of vague or contradictory laws, because of which whatever action is taken by Government, it is dragged into the court by one or the other. There is a need of clarity in the laws.
- Modifications in National Litigation Policy (2010)- Clarity of objectives, defining roles of different functionaries involved, setting minimum standards before taking litigation forward, accountability mechanisms and provision for penalties etc. must be taken care of.
- Reduces the burden on the public exchequer arising due to these cases.
- Will assist in reducing the burden of pending cases on the judiciary.
- Make the government an efficient and responsible litigant.
Legal Information Management and Briefing System (LIMBS) is an excellent initiative in this regard, and must be implemented soon across all government departments to make government litigation more efficient.