SRINAGAR The J&K High Court pulled up government for delay in filing appeals and underlined that it was high time that the decision making was made accountable and delay in taking action was penalized.
We are finding that this is not only the case where similar unexplained delay has been placed before this Court. The fact that the cases where the State is applicant, it has been noted that on account of impersonal machinery and the inherited bureaucratic methodology imbued with the habit of note-making, file pushing and moving the files from table to table, unfortunately the matters are delayed on the part of the State, a division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Rashid Ali Dar said while dismissing an application filed by state, seeking condonation of delay in filing an appeal by the state.
It is well recognized that the State represents collective cause of the community. Judicial precedents have observed that the decisions are taken by officers/agencies proverbially at slow pace and the encumbered process for moving the files from table to table and keeping of files on the table for considerable time causing delay intentional or otherwise, is a matter of routine, the division bench said in an order issued on June 4.
The courts are not immune from granting latitude and condoning the delay which had occurred on the part of the State because of the public interest which suffers, the division bench said.
We would draw a caution however. Every delay in decision making and taking action on the part of the State cannot be condoned. It is high time that the decision making was made accountable and delay in taking action was penalized, the court said, adding, We cannot lose site of the fact that such delay may actually be actuated by collusion and mala fides.
Therefore, the court said, the Secretary of the Department concerned should examine every file where a decision is taken to file an appeal where delay is occurred and proceed in the matter against the officer responsible for the same.
Such negligence and non-action is resulting in wastage of huge amounts of public funds as well as valuable judicial time, the court said underlining that it was high time that a method for strict scrutiny was adopted by the Law Department.
We see no reason as to why an electronic file cannot be created in a tabulated format containing details of the case; date of the judgment and dates of its processing till compliance / filing of appeal, the court said. Even the appeal needs to be similarly tracked, the court added. Colour coding to track urgency may be adopted, the court said and ordered that an action taken report in this regard be filed by the Principal Secretary, Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, J&K Govt. before the court within four weeks.