Railways, IT, forest, finance, defence top litigants among central ministries

New Delhi: The ministries of Railways, Communications, Environment and Forest, Finance and Defence are the top litigants among various ministries of the Union government, latest data show.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu

According to data available on Legal Information Management and Briefing System (LIMBS), while Railway Ministry has entered data related to 58,735 cases, the Communication and IT Ministry has keyed in details of 7,617 cases.

The Environment and Forest Ministry has entered 2,893 cases, the Finance and Defence ministries 1,375 and 792 cases, respectively, in a new network-centric system to streamline litigation-related data and make it available at a single point to prevent delay in dealing with upcoming matters in the courts.

But, at the same time, officials said these are the cases which have been uploaded by respective ministries and the actual figure may vary, though chances of such an eventuality are rare.

While a total of 41 ministries are active on LIMBS, 13 have been bracketed as “inactive”, including AYUSH, Department of Atomic Energy, Minority Affairs, Shipping and Tourism.

The LIMBS, conceived by the Law Ministry, can capture information pertaining to different courts and tribunals and categorise them into various sets of management information system reports for officials concerned to take action.

LIMBS can send reminders through SMS to officials to provide alerts about particular cases coming up for hearing.

The system will be modified based on the feedback of officials involved in sharing the data, official sources said.

It was conceived sometime in September last and, according to the plan, it will be fully functional by the next financial year.

The Law Ministry had urged Secretaries in various departments of the Union government to appoint a joint secretary-level officer as the project coordinator for implementing LIMBS.

According to a status note on the National Litigation Policy pending before the Union Cabinet for approval, “government enjoys the dubious distinction of being the largest litigant in the courts involving a big draught on public exchequer.”

Though there are no official estimates, the Law Ministry believes government is a party to 46 per cent of the cases being contested in various courts, including tribunals.

Most cases relate to service matters of employees or deficiency in service provided by government bodies.

Law Ministry handles several cases every month where the Department of Personnel and Training seeks to challenge judgements which go against the government and favours an employee. Law officers, including additional solicitors general decide on whether such cases have to be challenged or the judgement accepted.