The judicial pendency question: How to lighten the court’s load

Source: The post is based on an article “The judicial pendency question: How to lighten the court’s load” published in The Indian Express on 7th January 2023.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Governance

Relevance: high number of pending cases in the court

News: Indian courts have a high number of pending cases and out of these cases the government is the largest litigant in the court system.

What are the findings of the various reports?

Department of Justice: It released an Action Plan to reduce Government Litigation in 2017. This action plan was in response to the fact that 46 percent of the total pending cases in the court system is related to the government.

Legal Information Management Briefing System (LIMBS) Project: It was started in 2015 to connect 55 ministries and their departments for litigation management. It shows that there are 6,20,000 cases involving the government pending before the court system.

Law Commission of India: The 230th report of Law Commission noted that the government is the biggest litigant in the system.

National Litigation Policy, 2010: The status note on NLP 2010, was prepared based on the recognition that the government and its various agencies are the predominant litigants in the courts and tribunals in the country.

NLP aimed to transform the government into an efficient and responsible litigant. However, in response to a PIL inquiring about the NLP 2015, the government replied to the Delhi High Court that it was still under consideration.

Moreover, not all its litigation is initiated by the government but the government acts as the catalyst in inter-departmental litigation. Citizens also file writ petitions that involve the government.

Therefore, the government can control some of the litigation it is involved in, but not those that involve the government acting as the catalyst.

How can the government control the litigations?

The government’s 2010 National Litigation Policy (NLP) recognizes that service matters should not be normally appealed. Cases that involve questions of constitutional interpretation should only be taken to the Supreme Court.

The government should implement reforms suggested by its policymakers because the costs involved in pursuing litigation eat public funds.

Hence, the court system should be used more efficiently and cautiously and more judges should be appointed for speedy hearing of the cases.

 

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