Merit and not nepotism or other considerations should be criteria for hiring lawyers by central government departments to represent them in courts, the draft National Litigation Policy prepared by the Law Commission says.
The draft policy comes at a time when the government is party to nearly 46 per cent of the 3.14 crore cases pending in courts.
The draft also states that departments and ministries should take a cue from the income tax department which reviews the performance of its lawyers every six months.
The draft, which the law ministry will take to the Union Cabinet for final approval, also suggests that the departments and ministries should hire only the number of lawyers actually needed and not hire them overlooking actual requirement.
The policy goes on to suggest that inter-department feuds should seldom reach courts for adjudication and they should be settled at the government level. A committee of secretaries was proposed recently to look into such disputes.
The ministry plans to replace the 2010 national litigation policy brought out by then law minister M Veerappa Moily with this policy.
The 2010 policy could not take off and be adopted by various government departments.
The National Litigation Policy seeks to reverse the trend of government being the biggest litigant.
The proposed policy will bring in a mechanism to reduce the number of government litigations.
This is done in a hope to make the government an efficient and responsible litigant and reduce the burden on courts.
The policy will also help all the Union ministries and departments define types of cases to be pursued in courts and those which need to be dropped after review.