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It is important to make the Union government litigation efficient

It is important to make the Union government litigation efficient

Article:

The article discusses the issue with increasing government litigations

Important Facts:

Government litigation includes service matters, disputes with private parties, disputes between two government departments and disputes between two PSUs.

Extent of the issue:

  1. A 2017 document by the Ministry of Law & Justice, stated that the government, including public sector undertakings (PSUs) and other autonomous bodies, are party to around 46% of court cases which makes it the single largest litigant in India
  2. Railway, home affairs, communications, health and family welfare and finance account for more than 70% of the cases
  3. Most cases are in tribunals, followed by high courts. Among high courts, most cases are filed in Delhi, UP, Tamil Nadu, Punjab and West Bengal High Courts.

Impact/ Concerns:

  1. Government litigation proves costly to the public exchequer
  2. Litigation curtails the executive from performing its primary responsibility of governance as efforts are redirected to managing its legal burden.
  3. Government litigation has contributed to judicial backlog, thus affecting justice delivery in India.

Measures Taken:

The National Litigation Policy, 2010:

  1. National Litigation Policy has been formulated by the Ministry of Law and Justice of the Government of India to bring down the litigation from government agencies by making them more responsible in filing cases.

Objectives:

  • To transform government into an efficient and responsible litigant.
  • To reduce Government litigation in courts so that court time would be spent in resolving other pending cases so as to achieve the Goal in the National Legal Mission to reduce average pendency time from 15 years to 3 years.
  1. Legal Information Management and Briefing System (LIMBS): It is a web based portal developed by Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law & Justice for monitoring and handling of various court cases of government.

Challenges

  1. Sufficient data and empirical evidence on government litigations is lacking
  2. LIMBS is a work in progress and its scope remains limited. Moreover, there is no means of verifying comprehensive litigation data is being methodically collected.
  3. Even after 8 years of National Litigation Policy being framed, no efforts have been made to understand how the policy has shaped litigation practice in the country

Way Ahead:

  1. a multi-pronged approach needs to be adopted to tackle the issue of government litigation, depending on the kind of litigation
  2. It is important to examine the functioning of litigation-prone departments and formulating solutions unique to each department.
  3. Legal Information Management and Briefing System (LIMBS) should be strengthened to efficiently monitor government litigations and provide reliable data.
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