calcutta high court

Calcutta High Court: In a writ petition where the primary issue was the ownership of the land, which had been in dispute since 1972, a single bench comprising of Bibek Chaudhuri,* J., held that this dispute should be resolved by a civil court, not a writ court. The Court affirmed that while illegal, irrational, or malafide actions of the State or its instrumentalities are open to judicial review, a writ court should not be used to resolve private disputes, contractual issues, or questions of ownership.

The instant matter pertains to a writ petition that was filed the petitioner challenging a letter issued by the Additional District Magistrate and District Land and Land Reforms Officer, Hooghly, restraining the operation of a brick field over disputed land. The key issues in the case revolve around the ownership of the land and whether the petitioner is the rightful owner of the brick field.

The petitioner claimed ownership of the land on which the brick field operated, supported by various documents, including deeds of gift and sale. There were ongoing disputes and litigation regarding the ownership of the land between the petitioner and other parties, including private respondents No.5 and 6. The petitioner had been running the brick field since 1989-90 without interruption until receiving the impugned letter in 2008.

The Court stated that the disputed questions of fact cannot be decided in a writ petition. The Court said that the Judicial review is applicable to actions that are illegal, contravene prescribed procedures, are unreasonable, irrational, or mala fide. However, private disputes, contractual disagreements, or questions of fact regarding land ownership should be resolved by the Civil Court, not the Writ Court.

“…every action of State or its instrumentality, which is illegal, in contravention of the prescribed procedure, unreasonable, irrational or malafide is open to judicial review. Every executive or administrative action of the State or other statutory or public bodies, “legally treated to be authority”, which is violative of fundaments rights or any statute, is open to judicial review.”

Given the ongoing dispute and the need to determine land ownership, the Court dismissed the writ petition and held that the petitioner is not entitled to any relief.

[Kameshwar Narayan Singh v. State of W.B., 2023 SCC OnLine Cal 3719, order dated 16-10-2023]

*Judgment by Justice Bibek Chaudhuri

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Ms. Subhanwita Ghosh, Counsel for the Petitioner

Ms. Subhanwita Ghosh, Counsel for the Respondent/State

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