On Wednesday, the Central Govt told the High Court of Delhi that drafting of the revised National Litigation Policy (NLP) is underway.
NLP was formulated by the Ministry of Law & Justice to bring down the litigation from government agencies by making them more responsible in filing cases.
On being informed by the counsel appearing for the Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma of the revised policy, a Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel & Justice Jyoti Singh adjourned the matter for Feb 12.
The Court was hearing a plea seeking direction to the Central Govt through Law Secretary, Department of legal affairs to uniformly implement NIP launched on June 23, 2010, along with progressive changes subsequently brought into such policy, if any, amongst all Ministries, Departments, Instruments, PSUs & Apparatus under Respondent’s control, & similar directions to Delhi
The Govt in respect of State Litigation Policy, while determining a strict time schedule to be followed by the respondents.
The petitioners Dr N Bhaskar Rao & Shanmuga Patro sought the court’s indulgence & intervention towards the alleged problem of judicial delay & huge arrears that stare ‘we the people of India’ in the face.
Unless something is done about it, the whole system will get crushed under its weight, they said.
The plea stated that the Department of Legal Affairs launched NLP on June 23, 2010.
“Thirteenth Finance Commission (2010-2015) made it a condition for States to formulate & implement State Litigation Policy in order to receive Central Grants. Working Group for the Twelfth Five Year Plan (2012-2017) of Department of Justice Ministry of Law & Justice, Government of India emphasised on strict implementation of NLP,” it said.
It also stated that the Union Minister of Law directed different Ministries to review all pending court cases & take up Special Arears Clearance Drives.
The Judiciary has to spend its maximum time in tackling cases where the Government is a party, & the burden on Judiciary can only be reduced if the cases are filed after taking a careful & considered view, the plea said.
It also stated that there is a crucial need to take transformative measures to reduce the pendency of court cases.
“It is imperative to give top priority by all concerned Ministries/Departments to review all pending court cases & take up Special Arrears Clearance Drives. NLP was formulated with the purpose that the Government should not involve in frivolous litigation, especially where the stakes are not high. The policy aimed to transform the government into an efficient & responsible litigant,” the plea stated.
The petitioners said that the underlying purpose of the policy is to reduce government litigation in courts so that valuable court time is spent in resolving other pending issues to enable the average pendency of a case in a court reduced from 15 years to 3 years.
They mentioned that the policy also formulated that all pending cases involving the Govt would be reviewed to filter frivolous & vexatious matters from the meritorious ones.
The plea stated that “Cases so identified would be withdrawn, which would also include cases covered by previous decisions of Courts. Such withdrawal of the cases would be done in a time-bound fashion”.
The PIL alleged that the Central Govt, however, is not adhering to its own aforesaid Policy, neither it is implementing the policy uniformly not in totality, thereby causing great injustice to the poor.
Recently the highest law officer of the country the Learned Attorney General highlighted the need for collective efforts to reduce the case burden on courts in his 2020 Constitution Day speech, said the petition.