Law Minister’s directives, reminders fall on deaf ears
JAMMU, Apr 8: Creating impediments in the process of weeding out unnecessary litigations against the State, Government departments have failed to submit cases which are not worth contesting in the courts for review by a committee constituted by the Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs over 10 months back. This is notwithstanding the fact that Minister for Law has personally issued directives in this regard to all the Administrative Secretaries a number of times.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that unnecessary litigations against the State are also contributing to huge pendency of the cases in all the courts across the State and this issue was deliberated upon by the Government a number of times in order to evolve a mechanism to get rid of this problem, which is only putting avoidable burden on the State.
During the series of meetings with the Administrative Secretaries, Law Officers representing the State before High Court and Law Officers posted in various Administrative Departments, it was observed by the Law Minister that State litigation was required to be taken seriously and it should be a constant endeavor that good Government cases are to be won and bad cases are not to be unnecessarily pursued, sources said.
“For achieving this objective, it is imperative to examine with full transparency the cases both at the stage of filing and also at the stage of being contested/defended so that Government doesn’t become a compulsive litigant”, they further said, adding “there are matters which can be decided administratively without intervention of the courts and such cases need not to be pursued in the courts”.
It was observed after series of meetings that in order to take first step to avoid unnecessary litigations against the State, the Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Government Counsels and concerned departments have to be proactive and cases which are found without merits are required to be withdrawn.
Accordingly, the Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs vide Government Order No. 1970-LD (A) of 2017 dated June 6, 2017 constituted a committee to review the litigations against State pending before different courts of Jammu and Kashmir.
The committee comprising of Special Secretary, Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Senior Officer to be nominated by the concerned Administrative Department, Law Officers representing the department before the court where the case is pending and the Law Officer posted in the concerned department was mandated to review the State cases and departments were directed to place those cases before the committee which are not worth contesting.
It was also mentioned in the order that the cases before the committee may be placed by Administrative Department concerned or Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs or any member of the committee or Law Officer posted in the concerned department. The committee was required to meet once in a month and decide as to whether such cases can be administratively disposed of and accordingly recommend the withdrawal of such cases from the court.
“However, till date not even one Government department has placed case(s) before the committee despite the fact that number of cases which are not worth contesting is beyond expectation of the Government”, sources said, adding “all this has clearly established that weeding out of unnecessary litigations against the State is nobody’s priority”.
They further said, “not only the committee has sent a number of reminders to all the Government departments even the Law Minister has personally issued directions to all the Administrative Secretaries for extending necessary cooperation in decreasing the burden of unnecessary litigations on the State to pave the way for focused attention on the cases which are worth contesting”.
“Even no focused attention is being paid towards vacation of interim directions of the courts which have effect of stalling developmental works”, sources said, adding “the non-serious approach on this aspect is notwithstanding the fact that High Court had in the recent past constituted a special bench to ensure expeditious disposal of such cases”.
They remarked, “this is also the testimony of lack of coordination between different Government departments on a vital subject”.