The Supreme Court on Friday observed that the Supreme Court of India cannot be a place for the Governments to walk in when they choose ignoring the period of limitation prescribed. Where there are such inordinate delays in filing appeals/petitions by the Government or State authorities, they must pay for wastage of judicial time. Such costs can be recovered from the officers responsible.
The bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari have strongly disapproved of the “inordinate delays” by the Government authorities in filing appeals.
“The Supreme Court of India cannot be a place for the Governments to walk in when they choose ignoring the period of limitation prescribed. We have raised the issue that if the government machinery is so inefficient and incapable of filing appeals/petitions in time, the solution may lie in requesting the Legislature to expand the time period for filing limitation for government authorities because of their gross incompetence. That is not so. Till the Statute subsists, the appeals/petitions have to be filed as per the Statues prescribed.” said the bench.
The bench said a “preposterous proposition” is sought to be propounded that if there is some merit in the case, the period of delay is to be given a go-by.
“If a case is good on merits, it will succeed in any case. It is really a bar of limitation which can even shut out good cases. This does not, of course, take away the jurisdiction of the court in an appropriate case to condone the delay,” it said.
The Top Court further observed, “The irony is that in none of the cases any action is taken against the officers, who sit on the files and do nothing. It is presumed that this Court will condone the delay and even in making submissions, straight away counsels appear to address on merits without referring even to the aspect of limitation as happened in this case till we pointed out to the counsel that he must first address us on the question of limitation.”
“We are thus, constrained to send a signal and we propose to do in all matters today, where there are such inordinate delays that the government or state authorities coming before us must pay for wastage of judicial time which has its own value. Such costs can be recovered from the officers responsible,” the judgment reads.
The Top Court has dismissed the appeal filed by State of Madhya Pradesh on the ground of delay of 663 days and imposed a cost of Rs. 25,000. The amount said to be deposited within four weeks with the Mediation and Conciliation Project Committee.