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Friday, June 25, 2010

Finally, Moily takes a call…. (UPDATED)

We have discussed this issue a number of times before here on this blog.

The following blog-posts are pertinent to the issue :

This one published on 4th December 2009,

this on 31st January 2010,

and this one on 4th April 2010.

Well, finally Dr Moily has decided to promulgate a ‘National Litigation Policy’ which takes care of some of the issues highlighted by us in the recent past which also formed part of communications sent to the Law Ministry. I am also happy to inform that the Law Ministry has dealt with most of our points in the new policy and that the step is bold in the sense that it is for the first time that there has been an indication of a holistic overhaul of the legal system.

‘The Hindu’ has reported on the development. It is a welcome and a notable move, however the lower level babudom would still manage to exercise leverage in the various caveats and provisos of the policy which are aplenty if what is stated by the newsreport is taken to be correct. Also this idea of appealing against Court verdicts in cases involving ‘financial implications’ should be dumped forever since an illegality cannot be allowed to sustain on the pretext that its rectification shall burden the exchequer. In a democracy, financial burden can never be an excuse to perpetrate something that is declared illegal or arbitrary.

We would have to analyse its effect in practice but I’m sure the Law Ministry would be open to more suggestions in case of any pitfalls. Here is a reproduction of the newsreport :

(Updated Note : While the newsreport is reproduced below, the complete official National Litigation Policy can now be accessed by clicking here)

With the huge backlog of cases continuing to clog the wheels of justice, Union Law Minister M.Veerappa Moily on Wednesday launched a new policy initiative to ensure that government departments and agencies become more “responsible” in filing and pursuing cases.

Recognising that the departments and agencies contribute the maximum to court cases, the new ‘National Litigation Policy' enjoins on these organisations to think twice before resorting to litigations, as well as in pursuing them.

The policy statement makes it very clear that, “litigation will not be resorted to for the sake of litigating” and that “false pleas and technical points will not be taken.” It also lays down that correct facts, all relevant documents should be placed before the court and that nothing should be suppressed or an attempt made to mislead any court or tribunal.

The policy also directs that “the Government must cease to be a compulsive litigant” and states that, “the philosophy that matters should be left to the courts for ultimate decision has to be discarded” and that “the easy approach, ‘let the court decide' must be eschewed and condemned.” Drafted by the office of Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati, the policy provides a set of tools for its implementation, including a provision for appointment of well-trained nodal officers, with adequate legal background and expertise by each and every department and agency for a “pro-active” management of its cases and constitution of empowered committees to monitor the implementation of the policy.

Acknowledging that frequent adjournments are resorted to by government lawyers, the policy states: “unnecessary and frequent adjournments would be frowned upon and infractions dealt with seriously.” Defaulting lawyers may even have their names removed or suspended from government panels.

The policy also provides that in service matters, no appeal would be filed in cases where the matter pertains to an individual grievance without any major repercussion or where the matter pertains to a case of pension or retirement benefits without involving any principle and without setting any precedent or financial implications.

Further, an appeal would not be filed in service matters merely because the order of the Administrative Tribunal affects a number of employees and appeals would not be filed to espouse the cause of one section of employees against another. Challenges to orders of Tribunals would be an exception rather than a matter of routine. Mr. Moily said that in keeping with the new policy, all pending cases involving the government would be reviewed and categorised in order of priority so that they could be disposed of quickly.

Noting that the monitoring and review mechanism proposed under the policy would help prevent delay and neglect of important cases, he said, “May be, cases like the Bhopal case would not be repeated.” Asked about the curative petition that the Group of Ministers (GoM) have recommended on the Bhopal case, Mr. Vahanvati, who was also present at the launch function, said, the Law Minister had only made a suggestion before the GoM and that it was not a considered opinion. The GoM's recommendation had to first go to the Union Cabinet for approval before any follow up measure could be taken up. In response to a question, he acknowledged that the 1996 Supreme Court order judgment “wrong as a matter of law,” he said: “I am not criticising the judgment. [But,] I am entitled to tell you that it is wrong. I say it as a matter of law. I believe there are contradictions in the judgment and there are lot of material that have come up post that judgment.” The Attorney-General pointed to evidence that people knew that there were some flaws in the factory and that they were not rectified as matter of economy.

6 comments:

VNatarajan said...

Dear Major Navdeep,
Points you had been making out vociferously in recent times, have been covered well in the NLP. Immediately after the news, I have sent a letter of"PUBLIC GRIEVANCE" To:Jt. Secy, Deptt of LA ,Nodal Public Grievance Officer, Ministry of Law Justice; on INCREASING NUMBER OF LITIGATIONS"- related to Pre2006Pensioners:Extracts:” Apropos HonLaw Minister’s press conference on 23rd June 2010 -Several lacks of pre-2006 civilian and military pensioners would have been confused, whether to laugh or weep, after reading the Hon Law Minister’s speech of 23rd June, 2010 on the “National Litigation Policy”! Because, the ground truth is “Ministerproposes – Lesser Authority disposes”!In recent times, the Govt. appears to have become a “compulsive litigant” in the cases of past Civil and Military pensioners. Authorities dispose offpensioners’ appeals enmasse withoutrecognizing the merits in them. Pensioners are driven to approach the Tribunals/ Courts for justice. Concerned authorities do not file Counters/ Replies in time, resulting in repeated adjournments. Side-lining/ contemptuously ignoring the genuine grievances of the pensioners by the Pension Authorities is the reason for maximum number of litigations ( they never think “twice”). Review litigations (quoting “Finances” deliberately even for “ legitimate Pension dues”) are filed for “litigation sake” (Retd Maj Gen SPS Vains Case, 2008- contempt 8 times adjourned delaying justice; “recent “Rank Pay for Pension Case of Rtd Majors, 2010) Distorted clarifications through OMs on Cabinet decisions are resorted to for misleading one and all ( Pension Authorities’s OMs dated 3rd/ 14th Oct 2008) .(contd...in next post)

VNatarajan said...

(Contd .... from previous post -VNatarajan)
IDEAL EXAMPLE::Fifth (5th) Central Pay Commission (CPC) introduced the principle of Modified Parity / Sixth(6th) CPC endorsed this modified parity in keeping with its continuity and their recommendation was accepted by the Cabinet. However, while implementing it, the Govt. delinked the pension from the “Post”/ “Scale of Pay” one had retired from and adopted a ‘common minimum pay’ of a Pay Band and made it applicable to all the pre 2006 pensioners. Basic pensions of higher scale pensioners were brought to the lower-most “common minimum basic pension” of the Pay Band resulting in loss of pension varying from 165 to 3650 pm in the fixation as on 1.1.2006 / Representations of pensioners made individually and collectively through Pensioners’ Associations have failed to get due justice. Stubborn dogmatic attitude of the Govt. amounts to acting against all norms of Pension/ Fundamental Rules, violation of Constitutional protection of equality, utter disregard to Apex Court pronouncements in the past/ recent times on pension parity/ related issues , not taking into consideration the correct stand taken by some State Governments like Punjab, and ignoring concern and opinions expressed by Hon Ministers of State /CAG. A proposal made by Pension Authorities for correction in Oct 2008 was rejected by the Finance Authorities on a vague excuse of financial limitation/.As a result, there are more than a dozen cases that have come up in recent times in High Courts and Tribunals (CAT s/ AFT s) filed by several hundreds of affected pensioners.. It is high time that the genuine discontentment amongst the old pensioners is addressed by the Govt. in implementing the Sixth CPC recommendations in letter and spirit- under the guidance of MIN. OF LAW & JUSTICE. Will the Ministry of Law/ Department of Legal Affairs play their roles truly in tune with the principles of the "NATIONAL LITIGATION POLICY" and implement fully the policy guidelines enunciated so that : (1) In fructuous Pre-2006 Pensioners' cases are avoided AND a minimum administrative remedy/ redressal of their GRIEVANCE is carried out by the Department of Pensions & PW and Department of Expenditure (2) Delay in filing of Counters/ Replies are avoided by Govt Counsels (3) Avoid extended litigations by creating new hurdles to delay implementing already pronounced JUDGMENTS in the form of UNTENABLE FINANCIAL LIMITATIONS as correct pension payments/ legitimate dues are the pensioners own deferred wages etc.
THE ABOVE STEPS WILL CERTAINLY CHANGE THE GOVT'S IMAGE OF BEING A "COMPULSIVE LITIGANT" AND SAVE THE VALUABLE TIME OF COURTS WITHOUT CHOKING THEM & ALSO TAX PAYER'S MONEY.

Gavini VN said...

Dear Sir,

The prayers were heard at last. It is extremely a worthy and one of its kind development. If proerly applied, many ills of the present justice system would disappear. FULL TEXT OF THE NLP POLICY DOCUMENT RELEASED CAN BE VIEWED HERE. http://pib.nic.in/release/release.asp?relid=62745
THANKS A LOT FOR YOUR PERSISTANT AND FINE EFFORTS.
GAVINI VN

Anonymous said...

we all know that the wheels of justice move very slowly in India.a simple case can take ages to resolve here. how is the performance of Ist world countries compared to us?

Ex-Sgt.P.Vigneshwar Raju said...

In every dept. it is common that any decision against dept. has to be appealed, whether it is correct or not. I hope with this 'litigation policy' the routine filing of appeals against the poor pensioners/employees will be minimized. Until an action is taken against such litigant makers when ever such appeal is dismissed,change may not be possible. I hope this site will enlighten many more issues like this.

druv said...

Sir, I am an Ex-sergeant, I left the service 4 months ago. I got selected in central govt job. They says that after police verification only they will give appointment order, but, I came to know that one G.O is there which says that an ex-servicemen who has not completed one year is not required the police verification.