The Delhi High Court has expressed shock over the government raising false claims and defences with impunity as there is no accountability of officers for doing so and called for framing rules by the Centre and Delhi government to hold officers accountable for the lapses in handling of court cases. The high court, which termed it as a matter of grave concern, said it was of the prima facie view that whenever a false claim is raised by the government, it causes immense injustice to the litigant seeking justice and also puts unnecessary burden on the court.
In all these cases, the government raised false claims/defences before this court which is a matter of grave concern. All these cases shocked the conscience of this court. It appears that the false claims are raised with impunity because there is no accountability of any government officer for raising the false claims and courts seldom take any action against the person concerned for raising false claims/defences, Justice J R Midha said in a 31-page judgement. The court said with these false claims, even the government suffers but the concerned officer, who has raised the false claim, does not suffer any action.
If the facts given by the officers are found to be false/incorrect by the court, the government shall consider taking action and the copy of the judgment be kept in the ACR file of the officer. This will ensure that the officer is held accountable for the actions taken by him in the court case, the court said. Referring to the rules framed by Sikkim for holding its officers accountable for the lapses in handling of court cases, the high court said there is a need to incorporate similar rules by the central government as well as by the Delhi government.
Haryana has framed State of Haryana Litigation Policy 2010 to bring visible, enduring qualitative and quantitative improvements in the manner in which litigation is perceived, managed and conducted in the state, it said, adding that the national concern of pendency and delays in courts needs to be reduced proactively. The court was informed by the central government’s standing counsel Kirtiman Singh that there is no litigation policy of the government at present and that the National Litigation Policy, 2010 was never implemented. He further said a writ petition for implementation of National Litigation Policy was rejected by this court earlier.
To this, Justice Midha said, This court is of the view that the directions with respect to accountability in government litigation are in the nature of PIL (public interest litigation) and therefore, it would be appropriate to list this matter before the PIL bench. Subject to the orders of the Chief Justice, list this matter before division bench on July 15. The court appreciated the valuable assistance and comprehensive research done by senior advocate A S Chandhiok, who was appointed as amicus curiae to assist the court, and Akshay Chowdhary, Law Researcher attached to Justice Midha.
The high court noted that as per Legal Information Management and Briefing System (LIMBS) which is a web-based portal developed by Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law and Justice for monitoring and handling of various court cases of government departments and ministries, 4,79,236 cases of government, 2,055 cases for compliance and 975 cases of contempt were pending as on June 8, 2021. It noted that the finance ministry has the highest number of 1,17,808 cases, whereas Railways has second highest pendency with 99,030 cases.
The court, which gave the verdict in four cases where the government made false claims in its defence, clarified that all these cases have already been decided on merit and therefore, need not be listed again before it.