8 May 2023 2:18 PM GMT
The Supreme Court on Monday orally expressed its disapproval over the central and the state governments’ practice of filing ‘frivolous’ and ‘unnecessary’ appeals. Justice BR Gavai said: “Forty per cent of litigation by the union and the state governments are unnecessary. We heard a case today over a former employee receiving Rs 700 extra per month. Over this, the...
The Supreme Court on Monday orally expressed its disapproval over the central and the state governments’ practice of filing ‘frivolous’ and ‘unnecessary’ appeals. Justice BR Gavai said:
“Forty per cent of litigation by the union and the state governments are unnecessary. We heard a case today over a former employee receiving Rs 700 extra per month. Over this, the government will spend Rs 7 lakhs in an appeal. The money comes from the public exchequer.”
Earlier in the day, a bench of Justices Gavai, Vikram Nath, and Sanjay Karol had dismissed a special leave petition filed by the state of Gujarat. In this appeal, the government challenged an order by the Gujarat High Court directing it to grant the benefit of a single increment to a retired driver formerly in the services of the government and revise his pension. While dismissing it, Justice Gavai noted that another bench had refused to entertain the petition on the ground that the loss to the state exchequer, as a result of the high court’s direction, was a meagre Rs 700. “This order was passed by a single judge and upheld by the division bench of the high court. Still, you go on filing an appeal,” the judge said, pulling up the counsel for the state of Gujarat.
Justice Gavai said, “If we find such petitions are filed by the state or by the Centre, we will impose exemplary costs. We are saying this in the presence of the solicitor.” Solicitor-General for India Tushar Mehta was in the courtroom, arguing in the batch of petitions challenging the third extension given to the term of Enforcement Directorate chief SK Mishra and the Central Vigilance Commission (Amendment) Act, 2021.
The solicitor general interjected, explaining that appeals are filed after taking opinions from law officers. “We are very conservative when it comes to this,” he said.
“We happen to disagree,” said Justice Gavai.
On a lighter note, Solicitor-General Mehta recalled how legendary lawyer and former Attorney-General CK Daphtary was once asked by a bench of the apex court why he had not advised his client against filing a petition, despite there being no merit to it. Mehta recounted, “The court told CK Daphtary that there was nothing in a matter. He replied that he knew that. The bench then asked him why he did not advise his client accordingly. Daphtary responded, ‘The client did not want my advice. He wanted your advice.’”
Last month, The Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud also emphasised the need for governments to switch from adversarial litigation to alternative dispute resolution routes, particularly mediation, in order to ‘declog’ Indian courts, and promote an alternative, collaborative, interest-based conception of justice. The chief justice, while speaking at a national conference on mediation organised by the Delhi High Court Mediation and Conciliation Centre, said that the motto of governments, particularly the union government should be ‘Mediate, don't litigate’.
State of Gujarat & Ors. v. Devang Vikramray Jaha & Anr. | Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 7175 of 2023