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The government is unlikely to approach the Supreme Court against high court orders where the financial implication is less than Rs 50 lakh. Seeking to reduce the number of cases in which it is a party, the government is “actively considering” to increase by five times the financial threshold of cases. At present, the threshold is Rs 10 lakh.
Currently, government departments approach the apex court in case they have to forego an amount of Rs 10 lakh or more following a high court decision in individual cases. If the proposal is implemented, central departments and ministries will approach the top court only if the financial implication is Rs 50 lakh and above, a senior government functionary told PTI.
However, the official pointed out that if a high court decision overturns a policy, then the top court should be approached even if the financial implication is negligible.
Most of the cases involve the Income Tax Department, the Department of Posts, the Defence Ministry and the Railways. As on June 12, 2017, a total of 1,35,060 government cases and 369 contempt cases were pending in courts, according to a government data.
Recently, Attorney Generral K K Venugopal had told his law officers that they should ensure that frivolous appeals planned by ministries related to service matters of individuals do not reach the Supreme Court and special leave petitions are filed only in cases where a policy decision of the government is involved.
In a letter to his Cabinet colleagues heading various ministries, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had recently said, “The government must cease to be a compulsive litigant…The judiciary has to spend its maximum time in tackling cases where the government is a party, and the burden on the judiciary can only be reduced if the cases are filed after taking a careful and considered view”.
Describing the government as the “biggest litigant”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier advocated a need to reduced the burden on the judiciary, which spends its maximum time in deciding cases where the government is a party.
With PTI inputs