Farmer recompense: SC slams centre for wasting court time

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 [the centre] are willing to spend Rs100 crore on 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 H L Dattu said.

"You have enacted the new land acquisition law for payment of compensation to farmers, but you don't pay farmers for years,'' he 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 government's appeal against the Punjab & 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 Rs100. But you spend lakhs on it,'' said the Chief Justice of India.

The rest of the bench was clearly in agreement. Justice A K Sikri 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 up to the Supreme Court,'' Justice Sikri said.

The CJI 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.