State, as a litigant, cannot behave as a private litigant, and it has solemn and constitutional duty to assist the court in dispensation of justice, the Supreme Court has remarked.
The Court was considering an appeal against the High Court order which had dismissed a writ petition challenging denial of exemption from Customs duty on the ground that the authorities of the State were also unaware of the clarificatory notification and neither did the petitioner bring it on record.
Disagreeing with this approach, the bench comprising Justice Navin Sinha and Justice Krishna Murari observed:
The State is the largest litigant as often noted. It stands in a category apart having a solemn and constitutional duty to assist the court in dispensation of justice. The State cannot behave like a private litigant and rely on abstract theories of the burden of proof. The State acts through its officer who are given powers in trust. If the trust so reposed is betrayed, whether by casualness or negligence, will the State still be liable for such misdemeanor by its officers betraying the trust so reposed in them or will the officers be individually answerable.
The Court observed that it was absolutely not a defence of the State authorities to contend that they were not aware of their own notification. The onus heavily rests on them and a casual statement generating litigation by State apathy cannot be approve, it added.
Case name: M/S. GRANULES INDIA LTD.vs. UNION OF INDIACase no.: CIVIL APPEAL NO(s). 593594 OF 2020Coram: Justice Navin Sinha and Justice Krishna Murari
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