The government, the biggest litigator in the country, faces 369 contempt cases across courts, a Law ministry document states. According to its data, as on June 12, 2017, a total of 1,35,060 government cases and 369 contempt cases were pending in the courts. Government litigation includes service matters and conflict with private entities as well as disputes between government departments and between PSUs. Contempt cases are generally a result of non-adherence to judicial directions and failure to file affidavits on time and appear before courts. The document, prepared in June, does not mention reasons for the contempt cases. “Approximately 46 per cent of the total pending cases in courts pertain to the government. These include cases relating to public sector undertakings and other autonomous bodies,” says the document, citing data available on the website of LIMBS — the government’s Legal Information Management and Briefing System. The document clarifies that as LIMBS is a dynamic website, the data is constantly changing. The Railway ministry tops the chart with the maximum number of contempt of court cases pending against it. After the Railways, which has 241 such cases, is the Ministry of Home Affairs with 68 cases, the document states. The ministry of Communications has 21 pending contempt cases.
In a series of meetings held in June, the department of justice in the Law ministry had asked various central departments to review their pending cases so as to reduce the litigation numbers.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in October last termed the government as the “biggest litigant” and had pushed for the need to lighten the load on the judiciary which spends the maximum time in tackling cases where the government is a party.