The West Bengal government has incurred anguish of the Supreme Court over its “gross negligence” in filing an appeal despite claiming it to be a matter of public interest.
A bench headed by Justice Sanjay K Kaul came down heavily on the state for failing to explain why it took five years to move the top court even though the government was of the view that the matter involved substantial public interest.
“We are unable to accept the plea that the Government has a right to walk into this Court as and when they want even if other matters are pending,” held the bench, trashing the appeal by the state on the ground of delay.
The court noted that the only explanation given for the enormous delay of 1697 days in filing is stated to be that there is a public interest involved and there are certain other matters pending.
“All we can say that if there is public interest involved then the Government has been grossly negligent to look after public interest,” said the bench, adding for almost three years, nothing was done to file an appeal.
The bench shot down the request to excuse the delay while emphasizing that the state government and its officials had been completely lax in challenging the 2014 judgment by the Calcutta High Court on issues of land laws and agricultural tenancies.
It dismissed the application for condoning the delay and said that if the government has suffered losses, it should rather ask the officers responsible for the delay to pay up.
“We find that there is no merit in the application and thus, if the Government has suffered any consequences thereof monetarily or otherwise, it is always open to the Government to recover financial recompensation from the persons responsible for causing loss to the Government” the bench stated in its order.
It then concluded: “The Special Leave Petition is dismissed as barred by time."