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For improvement of government - Just like general public government authorities and erring officers should also pay late fees and penalties, for delays.

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For improvement of government - Just like general public government authorities and erring officers should also pay late fees and penalties, for delays.
By: DEV KUMAR KOTHARI
July 26, 2021
All Articles by: DEV KUMAR KOTHARI       View Profile
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For improvement of government - Just like general public government authorities and erring officers  should also pay  late fees and penalties, for delays.

DELAYS IN ALL WORK INCLUDING FILING OF APEPALS BY GOVERNMENT AUTHORITIES AND DEPARTMENTS SHOULD NOT BE PERMITTED AT ALL, IF WE WANT TO IMPROVE GOVERNMENT.

Government authorities and departments have large resources:

Government departments have more than necessary human and other resources for attending to various work. It is because of do not work or work at last moment attitude that they face difficulties at last moment.

They are usually over staffed and have large resources which are not used properly.

 So far litigation is concerned, they have resources in form of standing counsels, departmental legal officers, other officers and personal secretaries to senior officers for attending to secretarial work.

Therefore, there should not be any delay and work should be done well before last moment.

Ground reality about government departments:

It is ground reality that in most of government departments working is for fraction of normal working hours. Un-necessary and unimportant work and important work are not differentiated. Efforts by government authorities is usually to harass public instead of help them out.

Therefore, government authorities should not be shown any leniency when they delay in doing work, wait for last moment, and make delays with confidence that delay will be condoned easily.

Delays by private parties:

Public whether it be businessman or other persons have limited resources. Small organisations have shortage of staff even for day to day work. Government authorities, whenever there is involvement causes lot of un-necessary work for public due to harassment practices followed.

Many of litigations are imposed by government authorities due to wrong and illegal action or inaction by government authorities.

In case of private parties delays are costly because now-a-days government is charging mandatory fees for delays even in filing or uploading documents. The fees is collected or demanded automatically. Unless you pay the fees, your further work may not be performed.

Therefore, fees in case of delays is becoming mandatory in nature in case of MCA filing, direct and indirect taxes, other compliances under various laws where filing has been made online.

Like private parties who have to suffer due to delay and has to pay interest, late fees and penalty. Erring officers should also be charged with late work charges in an automatic manner.

Recent judgment of the Supreme Court:

In a recent judgment in case of UOI Vs. Vishnu Aroma (see chain of cases below) honourable Supreme Court dismissed SLP filed by UOI due to unreasonable long delay.

Main observations and decision are analysed below:

Proposal for filing the Special Leave Petition was sent after almost six months,

It took another three months to decide whether to file Special Leave Petition or not.

There is clear case of  lethargy on part of the revenue department.

The Court have  repeatedly discouraged State Governments and public authorities in adopting an approach that they can walk in to the Supreme Court as and when they please ignoring the period of limitation prescribed by the Statutes, as if the Limitation statute does not apply to them.

Court have e also categorized such kind of cases as “certificate cases” filed with the only object to obtain a quietus from the Supreme Court on the ground that nothing could be done because the highest Court has dismissed the appeal.

 The objective is to complete a mere formality and save the skin of the officers who may be in default in following the due process or may have done it deliberately.

The court have deprecated such practice and process and we did  so again in this case.

The Court thus refused to grant such certificates and if the Government/public authorities suffer losses, it is time when concerned officers responsible for the same, bear the consequences.

Looking to the period of delay and the casual manner in which the application has been worded,  the court considered  appropriate to impose costs on the petitioner(s) of ₹ 25,000/- for wastage of judicial time which has its own value and the same be deposited with the Supreme Court Advocates On Record Welfare Fund within four weeks.

And the  Special Leave Petition was dismissed as time barred.

Observations of author:

With due regards to their lordships author feels that cost imposed  ₹ 25000/- is a meagre amount considering that the UOI has engaged at least the following persons who appeared in the Court:

  1. Mr. N. Venkataraman, Ld. ASG
  2. Mr. S.K. Singhania, Adv.
  3.  Mr. V.V.V. Patabhai Ram, Adv.
  4.   Mr. Akshay Amritanshu, Adv.
  5. Mr. Rupesh Kumar, Adv.
  6. Mr. Mukesh Kumar Maroria, AOR

There was also involvement of all concerned officers and it has cause heavy costs on account of un-necessary litigation. These costs of litigation are to be apid out of hard earned money of tax payers.

Costs must also be recovered from counsels who cause delay and who cause un-necessary litigation by government department by encoring un-necessary and futile litigation by advising as fit case for filing appeals at different level in different courts on many issues.

To do justice costs and damages could  have been allowed in favour of respondents who had suffered heavy costs of litigation just to save undue demand raised by concerned department or authority.  They had to face un-necessary litigation at various stages due to wrong doing by the government authorities.

Unless such litigation is challenged properly many businesses and corporates can come to an end. We can find many cases in which huge demands were raised and ultimately refund was allowed.

Chain of litigation in this case:

2021 (7) TMI 532 - SC ORDER UNION OF INDIA & ORS. VERSUS M/S. VISHNU AROMA POUCHING PVT. LTD. & ANR.SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION

2020 (4) TMI 56 - GUJARAT HIGH COURT  MESSRS VISHNU AROMA POUCHING PVT LTD VERSUS UNION OF INDIA R

2019 (5) TMI 784 - GUJARAT HIGH COURT- MESSRS VISHNU AROMA POUCHING PVT LTD. VERSUS UNION OF INDIA 

This shows that the tax payer had suffered heavy costs in protecting itself from damages which could have been caused due to wrong doings of concerned authorities.

 

By: DEV KUMAR KOTHARI - July 26, 2021

 

Discussions to this article

 

Considering the fact that in most such cases there is no proper supervision and control by Senior Officers of the Government, the Costs should also be imposed on them as well.

This will set a precedent and the Officers responsible should understand the seriousness of the work they are doing, which they are working very casually and think it is the responsibility of the Public only and they have a right to demand, with no corresponding obligations.

By: SUNDARA MOORTHI
Dated: 27/07/2021

 

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