The Supreme Court has strongly disapproved the practice of the government assigning Under Secretary level officials to respond to the top court, saying it amounted to "undermining the dignity" and "status" of the highest court of the land.
While directing the Ministry of Law to issue a notice that all affidavits and responses before the apex court would be filed by an officer of All India Services not less than the rank of Joint Secretary, a bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar said it would pass such an order as there was a need for responsible officers to respond to the apex court.
The order and remarks were made during the hearing of a PIL in which the Centre was rebuked for its failure to place before the apex court the regulatory mechanism for monitoring the fundings of NGOs, voluntary organisations and societies.
It was then noticed that all the affidavits on behalf of the government was filed by Under Secretary level officer.
"What is the status of this court in the eye of your officers. Your Under Secretary will give response to this court? The officer who is the lowest in the rank shall file the response in this court.
"You are undermining the dignity of this court when you file a reply through an Under Secretary. There should be some responsible person," the bench, also comprising Justices N V Ramana and D Y Chandrachud, said before passing the order.
The bench was of the view that officers of the level of Joint Secretary or Additional Secretary should be made responsible for filing responses and affidavits before the Supreme Court.