New Delhi, December 22
The Supreme Court has said it is an “irony” that despite its repeated observations deprecating the practice of government authorities filing appeals before it belatedly to complete a “mere formality”, no action has ever been taken against officers who sit on file and do nothing.
The apex court, which dismissed the plea filed by Deputy Conservator of Forests against the Bombay High Court’s February last year order on grounds of delay and imposed a cost of Rs 15,000 on the petitioner for “wastage of judicial time”, observed that it has repeatedly deprecated such a practice.
“The irony is that despite observations, no action was ever taken against officers who sit on the file and do nothing,” a bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said.
“The matter is further aggravated in the present case and even the present petition is filed with a delay of 462 days and once again the excuse is of change of counsel. We have repeatedly deprecated such attempts of the state governments to approach this court only to complete a mere formality,” said the bench, also comprising justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Hrishikesh Roy.
The top court noted in its order that it has dealt with the issue of government authorities approaching courts belatedly as if the statute of limitation “does not exist for them”.
“The special leave petition has been filed after a delay of 462 days. This is one more case which we have categorized as a ‘certificate cases’ filed before this court to complete a mere formality and save the skin of officers who have been throughout negligent in defending a litigation!” the apex court said.
The top court, while referring to a judgement passed by the apex court in October this year, said it had defined “certificate cases” the objective of which is only to put a quietus to the issue by recording that nothing could be done because the highest court had dismissed the appeal.
“We have repeatedly deprecated such practice and process,” it said.
When the counsel appearing for the petitioner contended that a valuable land is involved in the matter, the bench said, “In our view, if it was so, then the officers responsible for the manner in defending this petition must be made to pay for it.” “We are thus constrained to dismiss the petition as barred by time and impose cost of Rs 15,000 on the petitioner for wastage of judicial time. We put it to the counsel that the cost would have been much greater but for the fact that a young counsel is appearing before us and we have given considerable concession in the costs on that factor alone,” the bench said.
It directed that cost be recovered from the officers responsible for delay in filing of plea in the apex court. PTI