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Addapedia Editorial Analysis-13-06-24 | अड्डापिडीया संपादकीय विश्लेषण- 13-06-24

National Litigation Policy

With an aim to reduce the burden of pending court cases in which the government is a party, the Union Ministry of Law and Justice approved the National Litigation Policy, which will now be sent to the Cabinet for approval.

What is National Litigation Policy?

  • As of now, roughly 5 crore legal cases are pending at various levels of the judiciary across the country and the government is the country’s leading litigator.
    • For example, the government is responsible for 73% of all cases admitted by the Supreme Court.
  • The National Litigation Policy was launched in 2010 to make the government a more “responsible litigant”. However, the policy was not implemented.
  • Its aim is to transform the government into an efficient and responsible litigant.
    • Efficient litigant means: A litigant who –
      • Manage and conduct litigation in a cohesive, coordinated and time-bound manner.
      • Ensure that good cases are won and bad cases are not unnecessarily pursued.
      • Is represented by competent and sensitive legal persons.
    • Responsible litigant means:
      • That false pleas and technical points will not be taken and shall be discouraged.
      • Ensuring that the correct facts and all relevant documents will be placed before the court and there will be no attempt to mislead any court or Tribunal.
      • Prioritisation in litigation has to be achieved with particular emphasis on welfare legislation, social reform, weaker sections.
  • It also proposed a monitoring and review mechanism to sensitise government in important cases and avoid delay and neglect of the same.

What is the significance of the National Litigation Policy?

  • The policy aims to decrease the number of cases in which the government is a party by promoting alternative dispute resolution methods and avoiding unnecessary appeals
  • This will help the judiciary to achieve the goal in the National Mission for Justice Delivery & Legal Reforms to reduce average pendency time from 15 years to 3 years.
  • The NLP holds government officials accountable for their decisions related to litigation and encourages them to make responsible choices.
  • The policy fosters better coordination and communication among various government departments to avoid conflicting positions in court.
  • By adopting a more prudent and efficient approach to litigation, the government aims to save public resources and create a more effective justice delivery system.

What are the challenges in implementing National Litigation Policy?

  • Resistance from government agencies: Some government departments and agencies are reluctant to adopt the NLP guidelines, as they may perceive it as a limitation on their autonomy in legal matters.
  • Inadequate training and awareness: Government officials, including those responsible for making decisions related to litigation, may lack proper training and understanding of the NLP guidelines.
  • Lack of coordination among government agencies: Conflicting positions taken by different government agencies in court can undermine the effectiveness of the NLP and lead to unnecessary delays and expenses.
  • Pendency of cases: The pressure to clear pending cases may sometimes override the need to adhere to the NLP guidelines, leading to a continuation of old practices.

Heatwaves NOT been included as a notified disaster

 (Indian Express, 13/06/24)

The current extreme heatwave across the country has reignited discussions about including heatwaves as a notified disaster under the Disaster Management (DM) Act, 2005.

What are notified disasters?

  • Notified disasters are specific types of disasters that have been officially recognized and listed by the government for special consideration and management under the Disaster Management (DM) Act, 2005.
  • These disasters are formally acknowledged to ensure systematic and structured response and relief efforts, often involving the allocation of dedicated funds and resources.
  • The Act includes 12 categories of notified disasters, which are: Cyclone, Drought, Earthquake, Fire, Flood, Tsunami, Hailstorm, Landslide, Avalanche, Cloudburst, Pest attack, Frost and cold waves
  • These are eligible for relief assistance under the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) and National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).
    • The states first utilise the funds available in the SDRF, and only if the magnitude of the disaster is unmanageable with the SDRF, states seek the money from the NDRF.
    • While the entire money of the NDRF comes from the central government, states contribute 25% of the money in the SDRF, the rest comes from the Centre.
    • The money in these funds (SDRF & NDRF) cannot be used for any purpose other than response & management of notified disasters.

Why are Heatwaves not included as notified disasters & why is there now a demand for  its inclusion?

  • Heatwaves are common occurrence during summer and not a new phenomenon in India. As a result, these were not viewed as a disaster when the Act came into being in 2005.
    • The Disaster Management Act, 2005 defines a disaster as a “catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence” arising from natural or man-made causes that results in substantial loss of life, destruction of property, or damage to the environment
  • However, over the years, both the severity and frequency of heatwaves have increased. Also, due to increased economic activity, there is a far larger number of people who have to remain outdoors for their livelihoods or other reasons, exposing them to the risk of a heat-stroke.
  • 23 states are vulnerable to heatwaves. These states as well as several vulnerable cities have now prepared heat action plans (HAPs) to deal with the impacts of extreme heat.
    • HAPs involve activities like creation of shaded spaces, ensuring availability of cool water in public places, distribution of simple oral solutions, and reorganising the schedules of schools, colleges and office working hours.
  • HAPs require expenditure but state governments have not been able to use the SDRF for them. This is the reason for the demand for inclusion of heatwaves as a notified disaster in the DM Act.
  • Also, inclusion as a notified disaster can improve the management of heatwaves. Heat-related illnesses and deaths would be better reported, and authorities would be more alert to minimize the impacts of heatwaves.

Why is the Centre not adding heatwaves as a notified disaster now?

  • The 15th Finance Commission, whose recommendations are currently in effect, stated that the existing list of notified disasters already largely meets the needs of the states and did not support including heatwaves.
  • Nevertheless, it endorsed an enabling provision created by the 14th Finance Commission that allows states to use up to 10% of their SDRF for local disasters such as lightning or heatwaves, which states can notify themselves.
    • Using this provision, at least four states — Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, and Kerala — have classified heatwaves as local disasters.
  • Another main reason behind the reluctance to add heatwaves as a notified disaster is the significant financial implications.
    • The government would have to provide Rs 4 lakh compensation for every life lost due to a notified disaster, along with compensation for grievous injuries.
    • Heatwaves claim many lives annually, and the recorded number of deaths has been increasing, with over 500 heat-related deaths reported this year.
    • Mandating compensation could reveal even more deaths.
  • Additionally, attributing deaths to heatwaves is challenging because most deaths are due to pre-existing conditions exacerbated by extreme heat, making it hard to ascertain the direct impact of heat. This differs from other disasters where victim identification is straightforward.

  Addapedia Editorial Analysis-13-06-24 | अड्डापिडीया संपादकीय विश्लेषण- 13-06-24_3.1

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