The Supreme Court on Wednesday rapped the Union government for not paying compensation to “poor farmers” in lieu of their land or granting post-retirement benefits to army personnel and instead spending money lavishly on public functions such as the Republic Day.
“You (Centre) are willing to spend Rs 100 crore on the Republic Day. But, you do not want to pay compensation to the farmers. For that, you fight up to the SC and spend lakhs of rupees. You are the largest litigator and clog the already over-burdened judiciary, for which you don’t provide better infrastructural facilities,” Chief Justice of India (CJI) justice HL Dattu told senior counsel Jaideep Gupta, appearing for the Centre in more than 15 cases of land acquisition from Punjab.
The CJI’s outburst, while hearing the Centre’s appeal against the Punjab and Haryana high court’s verdict favouring the farmers, reflected the judiciary’s annoyance with the government for failing to provide basic facilities in courts, especially the subordinate judiciary.
“You should not drag everything to the SC. Challenges are made in cases where the net benefit to an individual is just Rs 100. But, you spend lakhs on it,” said justice Dattu, clarifying that he spoke for himself and not his colleagues at the Bar.
Justice AK Sikri, accompanying the CJI, too did not spare the government. “The Centre has a national litigation policy. Why don’t you follow it? Even in disability pension matters, you appeal till the Supreme Court,” justice Sikri added.
The CJI, who was more vocal, said filing of appeals without application of mind by the government was choking the judicial system. “We can’t increase the strength of judges because there is no adequate infrastructure and you (Centre) don’t want to augment it,” he said, while reserving the Centre’s appeal.