FULL TEXT OF THE SUPREME COURT JUDGMENT/ORDER
We have perused the application for condonation of delay. No doubt some time period was spent in the High Court, but the High Court ultimately held that the appeal would not be maintainable but will lie to this Court vide order dated 06-12-2019.
As per the averments in the application on 17-01-2020, the proposal was sent to file a Civil Appeal. It is averred that this aspect whether to file the appeal or not was decided only on 31-12-2020 i.e. after one year. Delay of 350 days out of 1134 days is completely unexplained to the aforesaid extent.
The aforesaid itself shows the casual manner in which the petitioner has approached this Court without any cogent or plausible ground for condonation of delay. We 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. In this behalf, suffice to refer to our judgments in the State of Madhya Pradesh & Ors. v. Bheru Lal [SLP [C] Diary No.9217/2020 decided on 15.10.2020] and The State of Odisha & Ors. v. Sunanda Mahakuda [SLP [C] Diary No.22605/2020 decided on 11.01.2021]. The leeway which was given to the Government/public authorities on account of innate inefficiencies was the result of certain orders of this Court which came at a time when technology had not advanced and thus, greater indulgence was shown. This position is no more prevalent and the current legal position has been elucidated by the judgment of this Court in Office of the Chief Post Master General & Ors. v. Living Media India Ltd. & Anr. – (2012) 3 SCC 563.Despite this, there seems to be a little change in the approach of the Government and public authorities. Revenue authorities like the appellant, were an assessee to be delayed would impose penalties on them!
We have 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. We have deprecated such practice and process and we do so again. We refuse 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.
The irony, emphasized by us repeatedly, is that no action is ever taken against the officers and if the Court pushes it, some mild warning is all that happens.
Looking to the period of delay and the casual manner in which the application has been worded, we consider appropriate to impose costs on the petitioner(s) of Rs.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. The amount to be recovered from the officers responsible for the delay in filing the Special Leave Petition and a certificate of recovery of the said amount be also filed in this Court within the same period of time.
We require the order to be placed before the Secretary/Officer concerned so that in future such endeavours are not made and an appropriate inquiry is held by the authorities as to who is responsible for this inordinate delay and action taken.
The Civil Appeal is dismissed as time barred, in terms aforesaid.