New Delhi, Oct 28, 2020: The Supreme Court has imposed a fine of Rs 35,000 on the Madhya Pradesh government for filing a special leave petition (SLP) after a delay of 588 days.
A bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy said: "The state of Madhya Pradesh continues to do the same thing again and again and the conduct seems to be incorrigible. The Special Leave Petition has been filed after a delay of 588 days."
The bench directed the Chief Secretary on Tuesday to look into the aspect of revamping the Legal Department as it appears it is unable to file appeals within any reasonable period of time, much less within limitation.
The bench noted that on October 5, the government's lawyer was approached in respect of the judgment delivered on November 13, 2018, and the Law Department permitted filing of the SLP against the impugned order on May 26, 2020.
"Thus, the Law Department took almost 17 months to decide whether the SLP had to be filed or not. What greater certificate of incompetence would there be for the Law Department!"
Commenting on the probable reasons for this delay, the top court said that it has expressed concern that these kinds of cases are only "certificate cases" to obtain a certificate of dismissal from the Supreme Court to put a quietus to the issue.
"The object is to save the skin of officers who may be in default. We have also recorded the irony of the situation where no action is taken against the officers who sit on these files and do nothing," said the bench.
The apex court said that looking at the period of delay and the casual manner in which the application has been worded and the wastage of judicial time involved, "we impose a cost on the petitioner/state of Rs 35,000 to be deposited with the Mediation and Conciliation Project Committee."
The bench directed that the amount be deposited within four weeks, its recovery from officers responsible for the delay, and submission of a certificate of recovery in the court.
"We make it clear once again that if the order is not complied with within time, we may be constrained to initiate contempt proceedings against the Chief Secretary. A copy of the order be also placed before the Chief Secretary of Madhya Pradesh," said the top court.