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Report No. 100

4.2. Disparity productive of hardship.-

The disparity between the law as applicable to the Government and the law as applicable to private parties is usually sought to be justified on the ground that Government is a vast apparatus, with matters being required to be handled at different levels in different departments, and more time is, therefore, required for preparing the material for any litigation that may become necessary. This reasoning, assuming that it is sound, misses the other aspect of the matter, namely, the hardship caused to the prospective defendant. The present position is often productive of hardship, inasmuch as the private party who is likely to be used by the Government must keep and preserve his documents for a long time to come. The present discriminatory provision totally disregards the considerations that underline the law of limitation and constitute its rationale.

The rationale of the low of limitation is that after a long lapse of time, the evidence that the defendant might have in his possession may get lost, that witnesses may die or their memory may suffer and that valuable evidence may perish. Further, the pursuit of stale demands is, in itself, an act likely to be productive of oppression. In the face of these considerations, which apply as much to claims of the Government as to claims of private parties, there should exist very strong counter-balancing factors in order to justify the legislature in allowing a very long period in favour of Government. We think that, on the balance, a case for such special treatment favouring Government has not been made out.

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