Special cost of Rs. 1lakh imposed on Center for delayed filing of SLP

A writ petition was filed in the year 2000, raising a question of parity in the pay-scale of the employees of the Central Tibetan School Administration and that writ petition came to be allowed by the learned Single Judge.

The Union of India decided to wake up and preferred an application seeking restoration of the LPA in the year 2016 seeking condonation of delay of 2590 days. This application was dismissed by the impugned order dated 19.12.2018 by the detailed order. The Division Bench recorded that the only ground which was urged was that the counsel appearing in the matter has been elevated as a Judge of the High Court and the Department was not aware about the “peculiar circumstance”.

The High Court thus while referring to the judicial view of this Court, inter alia, in the matter of Office of the Chief Post Master General & Ors. vs. Living Media India Ltd. & Anr. – (2012) 3 SCC 563 and Balwant Singh (Dead) vs. Jagdish Singh & Ors.- AIR 2010 SC 3043 opined that the appellant cannot be compared to an illiterate litigant.

“We have repeatedly being counselling through our orders various Government departments, State Governments and other public authorities that they must learn to file appeals in time and set their house in order so far as the legal department is concerned, more so as technology assists them. This appears to be falling on deaf ears despite costs having been imposed in number of matters with the direction to recover it from the officers responsible for the delay as we are of the view that these officers must be made accountable. It has not had any salutary effect and that the present matter should have been brought up, really takes the cake!”, the Court further said referring to earlier orders passed by it in the matter of belated filing of SLPs by Government and public authorities.

Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Dinesh Maheshwari and Hrishikesh Roy held that “Looking to the gross negligence and the impunity with which the Union of India had approached this Court in a matter like this, we consider it appropriate to impose special costs of Rs.1 lakh in this case to be recovered from the concerned officer(s), to be deposited with the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Welfare Fund within four weeks.”

The special leave petitions are dismissed as time barred in terms aforesaid.

Union of India vs Central Tibetan School Admin [Special Leave Petition Civil No 19846/2020].

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