No Preferential Treatment for Government Institutions For Condonation of Delay in Filling Cases: SC
We have observed that government institutions usually take plea of administrative delays and maintain that receiving copy of an order from courts, getting opinion from the legal section thereon and the final approval from the competent authority for filling is a cumbersome procedure. Thus, it takes time to file a case in a court. In such eventualities, the delay in filling cases is inevitable and it should be treated as a sufficient cause for delay.
Whether this plea or excuse on the part of the government institutions is a reasonable excuse for condonation of delay. The Supreme Court has taken note of this grave issues many times in the past, but a significant judgment which attempted to put this issue at rest is PLD 2003 SC 6 wherein the Supreme Court formed a committee comprising the AGP and other law officers which was mandated to suggest ways and means to address this issue. The said committee submitted a conclusive report which was published in PLD 2003 Journal 6. It was a comprehensive report to address the issue of administrative delay in filling cases on the part of the government institutions.
In the case at hand , CIVIL PETITION NO.469-L OF 2023, a government institution once again filed an application for condonation of 31 days delay in a CPLA before the Supreme Court. The Court noted that the government institution has neither took the matter serious nor it has acted proactively. Rather it seemed to the Court that the delay was caused deliberately to extend an undue favor to the other party which was not possible otherwise. The Court noted that government institutions usually do not act proactively to file a case in order to give undue and illegal favor to other party. The government institution took plea of the administrative issues but the Court unequivocally ruled that plea of administrative delay or any other plea on the part of any government institution is not a sufficient cause for condonation of delay unless a cogent, well reasoned and a genuine reason for delay has not been established. The Court further asserted that a preferential treatment in any way in condonation of delay can be accorded to government as they are at par with other ordinary litigants. The law does not allow to discriminate between government and ordinary citizens.
The gist of this significant judgment is that government institutions are on equal footing with the ordinary litigants and they cannot should not expect a preferential treatment from courts in condonation of delay cases. The Court emphasized the government that the earlier recommendations suggested by the committee should be followed in litter and spirit, and the delinquent officers who cause delay must be punished as per the law.