Can reducing 'state-litigation' solve half of the judiciary's problems?
New Delhi, October 4, 2022
Yes, the government is the biggest litigant in the country, but this is not the whole truth
On September 24, Former CJI NV Ramana, in his address at the ISB Leadership Summit 2022, termed the government as the "biggest litigator" and said half of the judiciary's problems would be resolved if the state decided to halt state-sponsored litigation.
However, this is not the first time he made this statement. In May 2021, the then CJI Ramana termed governments as the "biggest litigants", accounting for nearly 50 per cent of pending cases, and said the 'docket explosion' is due to the non-performance of various wings of the executive and the legislature not realising its full potential.
CJI Ramana was not the first SC judge to point this out. Former CJI T S Thakur had said the same in February 2015. We look at what this means in terms of cost to the state and what makes the state the "biggest litigant" in the country.
According to the data provided by the Ministry of Law and Justice in response to a question in the Lok Sabha on August 5, the Centre spent Rs 52.9 crore in FY 2021-22 on litigation fees paid to lawyers representing the government in the courts.
However, the law minister's response to the Lok Sabha question also showed a marginal downward trend in expenditure in the last three financial years. Notably, the decline was during the pandemic years. The government spent over Rs 54.1 crore in 2020-21 and over Rs 52.9 crore in 2021-22 as against Rs 64.4 crore in 2019-20. In the current fiscal year, as on August 2, the government spending stood at Rs 14.4 crore.
[The Business Standard]