Chhattisgarh High Court: Rajendra Chandra Singh Samant, J., allowed the petition and set aside the impugned order.

The facts of the case are such that the respondents were Malgujars of Malkharauda Jagirdari, who were holders of the land in question and the petitioners are the persons in possession of the land in question on the ground of grant or purchase or by sikhmi rights or by a registered sale deed. Proceeding was drawn against the respondents under the M.P. Ceiling of Agriculture Holdings Act, 1960 (i.e. “Act, 1960”). The petitioners filed their objections which came to be dismissed by the Sub-Divisional Officer (Revenue) vesting the disputed land with the State Government. Subsequent to that the petitioners and the various villagers made representation before the Sub-Divisional Officer, Sakti, for allotment of land from the government. The applications of some of the villagers were entertained and lease was granted in favour of some of the villagers, but the case of the petitioners was not considered. The petitioners then preferred an appeal before the Board of Revenue and Additional Tahsildar, Malkharauda submitted report making recommendations in favour of the petitioners for grant of government land on lease. The Board of Revenue has dismissed the appeal only on the ground of limitation. Being aggrieved by the said order instant petition was filed.

Counsel for the petitioners Mr Rajeev Shrivastava submitted that the order passed by the Board of Revenue is cryptic order, by taking technical approach, without considering that the petitioners have been prosecuted their claim since the very beginning by raising their objections. Hence, the order passed is erroneous without any justification.

Counsel for the respondents Mr Adil Minhaj submitted that the appeal was clearly delayed by two years, before it was filed in the Board of Revenue, regarding which, day to day explanation was required and there had been no such explanation given by the petitioners’ side. Hence, the impugned order has been correctly passed, which needs no interference.

The Court relied on Oriental Aroma Chemical Industries Ltd. v. Gujrat Industrial Development Corpn., (2010) 5 SCC 459 wherein it was held “law of limitation is founded on public policy. The legislature does not prescribe limitation with the object of destroying the rights of the parties, but to ensure that they do not resort to dilatory tactics and seek remedy without delay, therefore, the expression sufficient cause must receive a liberal construction so as to advance substantial justice.”

The Court further relied on State of Karnataka v. Y. Moideen Kunhi (dead) by LRS., (2009) 13 SCC 192 wherein it was held that “the Court must not be pedantic in deciding delay condonation petition, which should not be dismissed on mere ground of longer delay, if the, explanation offered is bonafide.”

The Court observed that Section 44 of the Act, 1960 provides for limitation of 60 days from the order against which appeal or revision is to be preferred. It is further provided that the provisions of Section 4, 5, 12 and 14 of the Indian Limitation Act shall also apply to the filing of such appeal or application for revision. It was further observed that Section 5 of the Indian Limitation Act provides for extension of prescribed period, in certain cases, where in, the applicant satisfies the Court that he had sufficient cause for not preferring the appeal within the prescribed period.

It was further observed that that the petitioners have a claim for allotment of surplus land vested with the State in ceiling proceeding, in their favour on the basis of their entitlement and that despite there being recommendation in their favour, the same was not considered by the Sub-Divisional Officer and also the reasons for delay mentioned in their memo of appeal and application for condonation of delay, which appears to be bonafide.

The Court thus held that “learned Board of Revenue has failed to exercise the jurisdiction and dismissed the application for condonation of delay of the petitioners in mechanical and arbitrary manner.” 

In view of the above, petition was allowed.[Rajendra Kumar v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2021 SCC OnLine Chh 445, decided on 03-03-2021]

Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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