Kar HC | Whether delay and latches be put against a person who approaches the Writ Court under Article 226 of the Constitution? HC determines

Karnataka High Court: S. G. Pandit J., rejected the petition on the ground of delay and latches.

The facts of the case are such that the father of the petitioners are the owners/ landlords of the property situated at Unachageri of Ron Taluk, Gadag district. The lands were inam land and on abolition of inam saranjam and in view of Inam Abolition Act, the name of the father of the petitioners was removed and the name of the Government was entered which was rectified later pursuant to filing of an application under Rule 6(1) of Inam Resumption Rules by the father of the petitioners. The grievance of the petitioners is that on 26-08-1974 the husband of respondent 2 filed form No. 7 seeking occupancy rights on grounds being that he was cultivating or tenant of the said land which was ex parte granted by the Special Tahsildar, Land Reforms. Challenging the said order, petitioners have preferred this petition under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India to quash the impugned order.

The Court observed that the petitioners have approached this Court belatedly and there is an inordinate delay of more than 40 years in preferring this writ petition challenging the order dated 28-03-1977 without any explanation to the effect.

The Court relied on Santhosh V. Rai v. Legory Saldhana 2015 (1) Kar. L.J. 429 and observed

“10. That apart, the impugned order in the instant case is of the year 1981. Petitioner has assailed the impugned order after a lapse of 32 years. It is difficult to believe that the petitioner or his father were unaware of the impugned order. They are residents of Attavar Village. In fact, residents of villages would be aware with regard to occupation, possession and cultivation of agricultural lands, particularly when Tribunal has granted occupancy rights. Therefore, the petitioner cannot contend that the impugned order is a nullity as it is in violation of principles of natural justice as there is no service of notice on the legal representatives of the petitioners mother Ramaramba. Therefore the writ petition would have to be dismissed on the ground of delay and latches and as being a speculative exercise.”

 The Court further relied on Municipal Council, Ahmednagar v. Shah Hyder Beig, (2000) 2 SCC 48 and observed that

 “The real test for sound exercise of discretion by High Court in this regard is not the physical running of time such but the test is whether by reason of delay, there is such negligence on the part pf the p[petitioner so as to infer that he has given up his claim or whether the petitioner has moved the Writ court, the rights of the third parties have come into being which should not be allowed to disturb unless there is reasonable explanation for the delay.”

The Court in S.S. Balu v. State of Kerala, (2009) 2 SCC 479 held that Delay defeats equity and that relief can be denied on the ground of delay alone even though relief is granted to other similarly situated persons who approach the Courts in time.

The Court held that it is well-settled position cannot be unsettled after decades.

In view of the above, petition stands rejected.[Shiddanagouda v. Special Tahsildar, WP No. 105092 of 2017, decided on 10-01-2020]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

One comment

  • In the Supreme court of India,
    1 ) Delay of 42 years condoned in CA No.60-61 of 2020 ( Arising out of SLP (Civil) Nos.467-468/2020 @ D. No.36919/2018. Vidya Devi vs The State of Himachal Pradesh & Ors

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