Three years after the National Litigation Policy was announced, a Shajapur-based former trade unionist has found that the Centre has not moved an inch to implement it. Kantilal Bafana, the 76-year-old former Secretary-General of the All-India Census Employees Association, fought a year-long battle with the Law Ministry to find out what had become of the National Litigation Policy.
The policy is aimed at reducing pendency of cases and puts checks on government litigation which form the bulk of pending cases. For example, it calls upon government departments not to file appeals in service matters relating to an individual’s grievance or if the matter does not set a precedent. The policy was announced by the former Law Minister, Veerappa Moily, in June, 2010.
The Central Agency Section and the Department of Legal Affairs did not respond to Mr. Bafana’s Right to Information request, filed in July, 2012, and passed the buck within the Law Ministry. Finally, after an order of the Central Information Commission in September this year, the Law Ministry responded that its RTI Cell had been shifted thrice and Mr. Bafana’s file was not traceable.
The Department of Legal Affairs, in its reply, a copy of which is with The-Hindu, said: “... no other circulars have been issued on the subject and the said policy is not yet approved by the Government.”
As of May, the Madhya Pradesh High Court has more than 2.5 lakh cases pending and the Supreme Court as of November has more than 65,000 cases.
In a research paper titled “The Indian Supreme Court by Numbers,” Nick Robinson — a visiting fellow at the Centre for Policy Research at Azim Premji University, Bangalore, found that appeals against statutory bodies had gone up by 475 per cent between 2005 and 2010. His analysis of pendency data of the SC found that tax, company law, mining and public interest litigation cases took the longest to resolve. Also, cases from Punjab and Haryana, Uttaranchal and Himachal Pradesh High Courts, all 400 km from Delhi, are more likely to end up in the SC than cases from other HCs.
Mr. Bafana told this newspaper: “Hundreds of government employees waste their savings unnecessarily running to courts. Crores of public money is wasted on unnecessary litigation. The government not even issued a circular in three years is proof that it wants this wastage and harassment to continue,” he said.