The Supreme Court Thursday reprimanded the Madhya Pradesh Government for filing an appeal after a delay of 663 days.
Dismissing the appeal as time-barred, a division bench led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul also imposed costs of Rs.25,000/- on the State Government.
The Court made it clear that the costs were to be recovered from the officers responsible for the delay in filing the appeal and a certificate of recovery of the said amount would also have to be filed in the Court within four weeks, failing which contempt proceedings would be initiated against the Chief Secretary.
It said it wanted to send a message that where there are such inordinate delays, the Government or State authorities coming before the Court must pay for wasting judicial time which has its own value. Such costs can be recovered from the officers responsible.
The bench, which also comprised Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, said it was constrained to pen down a detailed order as it appeared that “all our counseling to Government and Government authorities have fallen on deaf ears i.e., the Supreme Court of India cannot be a place for the Governments to walk in when they choose ignoring the period of limitation prescribed.”
“We have raised the issue that if the Government machinery is so inefficient and incapable of filing appeals/petitions in time, the solution may lie in requesting the Legislature to expand the time period for filing…Till the Statute subsists, the appeals/petitions have to be filed as per the Statues prescribed”, the Court said.
“No doubt, some leeway is given for Government inefficiencies but the sad part is that the authorities keep on relying on judicial pronouncements for a period of time when technology had not advanced and a greater leeway was given to the Government,” they said
The State Government, in its defence, submitted that the reason for such an inordinate delay was, among others, “due to unavailability of the documents”.
Chiding the state authorities for the casual manner in which application was filed, the Court said a preposterous proposition is sought to be propounded that if there is some merit in the case, the period of delay is to be given a go-by.
The Court also pointed out that the object for filing an appeal after this inordinate delay appeared to be to obtain a certificate of dismissal from the Supreme Court to put a quietus to the issue and thus, say that nothing could be done because the highest Court had dismissed the appeal. It is to complete this formality and save the skin of the officers who may be at default that such a process had been followed, the Court said.