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Punish officials who sit on files of legal matters: Apex court


New Delhi: The Supreme Court has said that it was high time that the “malpractice” and the “racket” of officials sleeping over the files of cases that have gone against the State comes to an end and such officials are punished.

“We feel that the beneficiary (the non-state actor) of a judgment may be hand in glove with the officials in the government department who deal with the files, and the files are suppressed for a long period,” said an apex court bench of Justice Markandey Katju and Justice T.S. Thakur in an order.

The court said that a delay in filing appeals in the high courts or the Supreme Court becomes a technical ground for the dismissal of the petition by the State.

“Huge amount of public money or public property may be involved and the government will be the loser in such cases on technical point of limitation (time limit for filing an appeal),” the court said in its order delivered Friday.

“This racket has been going on for a long time not only before the Supreme Court but also before high courts,” the court said.

“Now the time has come that this racket should come to an end and the officials responsible for this be given severe punishment,” the court said.

The court said: “It is high time that this mal-practice be severely rooted out and an effectual mechanism be adopted all over the country so that such delays do not occur in future.”

While asking Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam to assist the court as amicus curiae, the court directed the issuance of notice to chief secretaries of all states and union territories.

In the instant case, the Jharkhand government took 501 days in filing appeal before the state high court in a case. Thereafter, the government took more than a year’s time in filing the appeal in the apex court challenging the impugned verdict of the high court.

The court has asked the state’s chief secretary to file an affidavit explaining what action has been taken against the officials responsible for the delay.

The court said in case no action has been taken then the chief secretary should explain the reason for it.