SC raps Centre for red tapism, bureaucratic delays

The union govt was rapped by the SC for its bureaucratic delays and red-tapism even in challenging lower courts` adverse orders against it.

New Delhi: The union government was on Friday
rapped by the Supreme Court for its bureaucratic delays and
red-tapism even in challenging lower courts` adverse orders
against it.

Dismissing an appeal by the Department of Posts, a bench
of justices P Sathasivam and J Chelameshwar asserted that it
would not brook any such delays as the government departments
have obligation to discharge their duties with diligence and

"The government departments are under a special obligation
to ensure that they perform their duties with diligence and
commitment. Condoning delay is an exception and should not be
used as an anticipated benefit for government departments. The
law shelters everyone under the same light and should not be
swirled for the benefit of a few," it said.

"In our view, it is the right time to inform all the
government bodies, their agencies and instrumentalities that
unless they have reasonable and acceptable explanation for the
delay and there was bona fide effort, there is no need to
accept the usual explanation that the file was kept pending
for several months / years due to considerable degree of
procedural red-tape in the process," it added.

The apex court passed the ruling refusing to entertain an
appeal by the Department of Post, challenging a 2009 judgement
of the Delhi High Court which had upheld the appeal of a media
house, the Living Media India Ltd, challenging the postal authorities refusal to give concessional tariff for postage of its two magazines "Readers Digest" and "India Today".

The apex court was irked that the department chose to
filed the special leave petition 427 days after the judgement
was passed against it by the Delhi High Court on September 11,

Under the law of limitation, an appeal against a lower
court ruling has to be normally filed within 90 days.

The department took the plea that the delay was not
intentional but was on account of the departmental/
administrative procedures involved in for filing the Special
Leave Petition.

"It is submitted that unlike the private litigants, the
matters relating to government are required to be considered
at various levels and then only a decision is taken," the
department had stated in its affidavit for condoning of its
delay by the court.

The apex court, however, said there was delay at every
stage and except mentioning the dates of receipt of the file
and the decision taken, there is no explanation as to why such
delay had occasioned.

"Though it was stated by the Department that the delay was
due to unavoidable circumstances and genuine difficulties, the
fact remains that from the day one, the Department or the
person / persons concerned have not evinced diligence in
prosecuting the matter to this Court by taking appropriate
steps," the bench said.

"The bench said the officials were well aware or
conversant with the issues involved including the prescribed
period of limitation for taking up the matter by way of filing
a special leave petition in the court.