The Supreme Court of India.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court has "strongly deprecated" the "casual manner" in which Bihar has filed an appeal before it after a delay of over 700 days and said a clear signal has to be sent to the government authorities that they cannot approach the court as and when they please.
A bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Indira Banerjee dismissed the appeal filed by the Bihar government in a service matter and imposed a cost of Rs 20,000 on the state, saying it was a "complete wastage" of judicial time.
The apex court noted that an appeal against the division bench order of the Patna High Court was filed before it after a delay of 728 days and the state sought condonation of this "extraordinary" delay stating that it took time to obtain all the sanction from the respective departments and receive the affidavit.
"We are of the view that a clear signal has to be sent to the government authorities that they cannot approach the court as and when they please, on account of gross incompetence of their officers and that too without taking any action against the concerned officers," the bench said in its order.
"No detail of this delay of 728 days have been given as if there is an inherent right to seek condonation of delay by state government. The law of limitation apparently does not apply to the state government according to its conduct," the bench said.
Referring to an earlier judgement of the apex court, the bench noted in its order that such condonation of delay is no more admissible on the pretext of "government working lethargy".
The bench also noted that the state had earlier filed an appeal before a division bench of the high court against an order of its single judge in the matter after a delay of 367 days.
The division bench of the high court had dismissed the application filed by the state seeking condonation of delay on the ground that there was no sufficient cause shown for it.
"We strongly deprecate the casual manner in which the division bench (of the high court) was approached and also this court has been approached; the objective possibly being to get a certificate of dismissal from this court. This is complete wastage of judicial time and the petitioners must pay for the same," the bench said.
"We, thus, dismiss the special leave petition on delay and impost cost on the petitioners of Rs 20,000 to be recovered from the officers responsible for this delay and be deposited with the Supreme Court Mediation Centre within four weeks. Certificate of recovery be filed in this court," the bench said.
The apex court also directed the chief secretary of Bihar to look into the matter to ensure better management of legal cases.