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Cabinet Secretary asked to set up special division to cut red tape on legal advice

New Delhi: The Law Ministry has approached the Cabinet Secretary for creation of an ‘integrated legal division’ in all central ministries to ensure that legal advice on complex issues is not delayed and courts are only approached as a last resort and cases with lean chances of winning are not pursued.

Cabinet secretary P K Sinha

After a push by the Prime Minister’s Office and the Cabinet Secretariat, Law Secretary Suresh Chandra wrote to the Cabinet secretary P K Sinha yesterday seeking creation of integrated legal division on the lines of integrated financial division which is already in place.

I have written to the Cabinet Secretary yesterday. The draft proposal is for creating ILD on the lines of IFD in all ministries,” Chandra told a coordination committee meeting of over 60 nodal officers representing different departments and ministries which are part of the the Legal Information Management and Briefing System (LIMBS).

LIMBS is an online database of government-related litigation with details of 2.91 lakh uses. It was launched in 2016 with an aim to eventually bring information on court cases where government is a party on a single electronic platform.

According to the proposal, formulated last November, the law ministry would first increase the strength of Indian Legal Service cadre so that its officers are deputed in various ministries.

It also plans to set up an integrated legal division on the lines of integrated finance division.

The officers attached to the division would report to the department of legal affairs in the law ministry and also get their salaries from it. This would ensure their independence which is necessary for them to be able to give an impartial legal advice, a functionary said.

Law Secretary Suresh Chandra

The move will ensure that legal advice required by various ministries is not delayed as the presence of law ministry officials in ministries would cut short the red tape.

The officials would report to their unit or group heads in the law ministry who would also help them resolve complicated legal issues.

Law ministry officials are already posted in the defence and the railway ministries.

These officials would also ensure that the ministries in which they are posted approach courts only when they are satisfied that litigation is the last resort left to settle a dispute.

The cases which have lean chance of winning by the government will not be pursued further. A majority of the cases in which government is party relates to service disputes and indirect taxes.


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