The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Tuesday directed that whenever the State Government is joined as a party to a writ petition, though through several Departments and Authorities, one consolidated counter-affidavit of the State Government must come on record, and that too through the Officer in-charge of the case, as appointed by the Government.
Accordingly, the bench directed the Law Secretary of the State to place this matter before the Chief Secretary of the State informing that the requisite guidelines must be prepared by the Government taking a decision in this regard within two weeks, and the decision taken be communicated to the Registry of this Court, immediately.
"It is very unfortunate that whenever Officers of various Departments of the State Government, including the Principal Secretary of the Department representing the State, are joined as parties to the writ petitions, counter-affidavits on behalf of the Officer of lowest rank are coming on record", the High Court expressed its displeasure on Tuesday.
The Chief Justice-led bench observed that Under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, a writ can be issued against the State Government and its instrumentalities. "However, in such a situation, what is the stand of the State Government must come on record, and not the stand of the Officer of lowest rank of the State Government", it remarked.
"It is also experienced in several cases that whenever a number of Officers of various Departments of the State Government are joined as parties to the writ petitions, separate counter-affidavits on behalf of such Officers are coming on record", noted the division bench.
It said that Filing of separate counter-affidavits by the different Officers of the State Government along with the documents results in (i) repetition of facts; (ii) makes the file bulky without any substance; (iii) wastage of time of the learned Government Pleaders as well as the Court; and (iv) wastage of paper, and amounting to national wastage, to papers.
"Such filing of separate counter-affidavits also creates confusion", the court commented.
The bench noted that the said fact has already been brought to the notice of the Advocate General, Additional Advocate General as well as Government Advocates representing different Departments on earlier occasions, but steps are still awaited. "In the opinion of this Court, such a practice is wholly undesirable and should be discontinued", said the bench.
It was of the view that Whenever the State Government is joined as a party to a writ petition though through several Departments and the Authorities, one consolidated counter-affidavit of the State Government must come on record, through the Officer in-charge of the case, appointed by the Government, and the filing of their separate counter-affidavits must be stopped.
"We direct the Law Secretary of the State to place this matter before the Chief Secretary of the State informing that as and when a writ petition is filed joining various Departments, including the State Government, as parties thereto, one consolidated counter-affidavit of the State Government must be filed", ordered the Court.
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