Avoid frivolous lawsuits, ministries advised

New Delhi, May 27 (Calcutta Tube) Avoid frivolous lawsuits, the law and justice ministry has told other ministries and departments in an important communication as the government tries to shed the dubious tag of being the ‘biggest litigant’ that only adds to the huge pile-up of cases in courts across the country.

The advice was sent as part of the government’s effort to develop its National Litigation Policy and seek to reform the judicial system that is ‘clogged’ with frivolous petitions and appeals, a senior law ministry official told IANS.

There are an estimated 30 million cases pending in Indian courts with some cases being tried for decades.

‘It is reiterated that once a considered view has been expressed by the legal affairs department under the ministry of law and justice, the other ministries and departments should consider acting in terms of the advice tendered,’ said the official quoting from the communication to other ministries.

‘If for some reason, reconsideration of the advice is desired, it should be sought only with the approval of the secretary of the ministry concerned or the department,’ the communication said.

‘On reconsideration, if the advice is reiterated (by the legal affairs department), the department concerned must follow such advice,’ said the official, quoting from the communication.

The law ministry also pointed out a Delhi High Court stricture against the union government in 2008 for ignoring the department’s advice against filing an appeal in a particular case.

‘Notwithstanding the categorical opinion of the department of legal affairs that it is not a fit case for filing the appeal, the petitioner, government of India, went ahead and filed the instant writ petition,’ said the law ministry’s communication, quoting the high court’s observation.

‘Ironically, even when there are instructions that normally various government departments should concede to legal advice by the Legal Affairs Department and should not challenge the courts’ orders by filing frivolous petitions and appeal, many a time such advice is not heeded to,’ the communication quoted the high court as saying.

‘This tendency of filing appeals till the highest court by the government departments, and, in turn, making the government the country’s biggest litigant, is one of the reasons clogging the judicial system with huge pendency,’ the communication quoted the high court as saying.

The law ministry communication, in fact, also drew the attention of various other ministries and departments to an earlier statement May 20, 1967, on the same issue.

The 1967 communication had said, ‘It is not appropriate on the part of any ministry or the government department to say it is not bound by the advice given by the legal affairs department nor they can refuse to follow such advice,’ the communication said.

(Rana Ajit can be contacted at rana.ajit@ians.in)

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