SC imposes fine of Rs. 1 lakh on Centre for delay in filing appeals

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Sushree Mohanty

The Supreme Court, in its hearing of the matter between Union of India versus Central Tibetan Schools Admin and Otherstook strong steps for the delay in filing of appeals bids by the Centre and subsequently, slammed the government for repeatedly failing to abide by the limitation period. 

The Court noted that it appears that the directions are “falling on deaf ears” even after repeated requests and fines being imposed in several cases.

With reference to the delay of 6616 days in documenting an appeal from the date of the original order passed by the Delhi High Court, the court said, “The approach of the Union of India in the manner it has filed the present special leave petition exasperates us as all earlier counsel appears to have been thrown in the dustbin!”.

The bench comprising of presiding judge Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Hrishikesh Roy, expressed their annoyance over the Centre’s “lethargic ways” and pointed out that apart from the incompetence of the councils, nothing of importance is carried by the records presented before them.

The court likewise stated that numerous legislatures have been disregarding the period of limitation set up by the procedures and have been filing for appeals in the court as though the rules do not confer upon them. 

The bench also stated that this attitude of the government was not appreciated by the court, given the existence of improved and advanced technology.

Reprimanding the Centre in its six-page order, the bench said it has repeatedly requested and guided, through its orders, that the government offices, state governments and other public departments should learn to pay attention to the procedures of filing a timely appeal, setting their house in order and take help of the existing technology for assistance.

“The objective is to complete a mere formality and save the skin of the officers who may be in default in following the due process or may have done it deliberately,” it said.

“We have deprecated such practice and process and we do so again. We refuse to grant such certificates and if the Government/public authorities suffer losses, it is time when concerned officers responsible for the same, bear the consequences. The irony, emphasized by us repeatedly, is that no action is ever taken against the officers and if the Court pushes it, some mild warning is all that happens,” the bench further added.

Defending its delay in filing appeals, the Centre said the council appearing for the matter was elevated as an appointed authority of the High Court and the office was not made aware about such exceptional conditions.

Dismissing any explanation for a delay of 532 days and 6616 days from the passing of the previous order, the bench dismissed the Special Leave Petition by imposing a fine of Rupees One Lakh,

The mighty government of India is manned with a large Legal Department having numerous officers and advocates. The excuse given for the delay is, to say the least, preposterous,” stated the court.

Additionally, the court has given strict orders for depositing the imposed penalty with The Supreme Court Advocates on Record Welfare Fund within a period of four weeks of the passing of the order.

The top court has also requested the Law Secretary and the Education Secretary to look into the order personally.

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