Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: A Division Bench of Surya Kant, CJ. and Sandeep Sharma, J. addressed grievances raised by the petitioners and directed the authority to take necessary action.

The instant matter relates to an order passed by the Sub Divisional Officer (Civil) Gohar, whereby it had turned down the claim of the Petitioners for conferment of ownership rights and protection over a small piece of forest land on the grounds of the claim being barred by time limit prescribed under Rule 11(1) (a) of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Rules, 2007 (hereinafter ‘2007 Rules’).

The learned counsel representing the petitioners, Mr Rajnish Maniktala and Mr Naresh K. Verma, stated that there is no prescribed time limit for Gram Sabha to invite claims or authorize the Forest Rights Committee to accept the claims. They contended that the Gram Sabha had invited claims and the petitioners had submitted its claim within the time limit and thus, the Sub Divisional Officer (Civil) erred in rejecting the claim of the petitioners being time-barred. The petitioners also contended that the Sub Divisional Officer (Civil) did not have the authority to decide the matter but the competent prescribed authority to process the claim was Sub Divisional Committee and the final deciding authority being District Level Committee.

The Court held that the competent authority to process the claim of petitioners was the Sub Divisional Committee, and the final deciding authority was the District Level Committee. In view thereof, it directed the said Committee to complete the process within a period of two months and submit the report to the District Level Committee within the stipulated period of time. The Court also stated that as long as the matter is not finally decided by the District Level Committee, the possession shall remain with the petitioners.[Bhama Devi v. State of H.P., 2019 SCC OnLine HP 616, decided on 14-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: The Bench of R.K. Gauba, J. dismissed a petition filed under Section 482 CrPC holding it to be an abuse of process of law.

Petitioner was accused for committing an offence punishable under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 (dishonour of cheque). It was alleged that he had issued a cheque for a sum of Rs 12 lakhs in favour of the complainant for discharging the debt due to him. The said cheque got dishonoured. Therefore, complainant initiated the process under Section 138. The trial court summoned the petitioner as an accused. He assailed the summoning order in the present petition on the ground that the debt had become time-barred and thus the cheque represented an amount which was not legally recoverable.

The High Court observed that the petition at best-raised questions of fact which could be answered only at proper inquiry or trial. Such questions were not permitted to be raised in jurisdiction under Section 482 CrPC. Furthermore, the Court held that filing of the petition was itself an abuse of the process of law. It was observed, “issuance of cheque gives rise to a presumption of the amount being due and consequently an acknowledgment rendering the plea of debt being time-barred inconsequential. It will be for the petitioner to show at trial that the amount was not due or that the cheque had not been issued to the complainant.” Therefore, the petition was dismissed and the costs of Rs 25,000 was imposed on petitioner. [Tarun Samdarshi v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2019 SCC OnLine Del 6711, Order dated 16-01-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Sanjay Karol, Acting CJ and Ajay Mohan Goel, J. dismissed a batch of applications filed for condonation of delay in filing revision petitions under Section 48(1) of Himachal Pradesh Value Added Tax Act 2005, beyond the period of limitation prescribed therein.

All the revision petitions were time-barred by as much as two years beyond the period of limitation prescribed in the section. The moot question involved in all the petitions was whether the Court can entertain an application under Section 5 of Limitation Act for condonation of delay in filing a revision petition under Section 48(1) of H.P. Value Added Tax Act. Section 48 provides that ‘any person aggrieved by an order made by the tribunal under Section 45(2) or Section 46(3), may, within 90 days of the communication of such order, apply to the High Court for revision thereof…’. It was contended by the Senior Counsel opposing the application that the application filed under Section 5 was per se not maintainable and the same was liable to be dismissed outrightly. Whereas, Senior Additional Advocate General argued that such application was maintainable and the Court had the power to condone delay.

While settling the issue at hand, the High Court observed that the language of Section 48 is unambiguous and categorical. Further, there is no provision in the Statute from which it could be inferred that a time-barred revision petition can be preferred before the High Court and if the High Court is satisfied, it can condone the delay in filing the same. The High Court relied on the decision of the Supreme Court in Hukumdev Narain Yadav v. Lalit Narain Mishra,(1974) 2 SCC 133, wherein the Hon’ble Court held, “where a Statute is a complete code in itself, meaning thereby that it is a substantive as well as procedural code, then the application of Limitation Act has to be seen from the scope of application of the Statute and not the Limitation Act.” Based on such principle, the High Court held that H.P. Value Added Tax was code in itself as it was both a substantive and procedural law and no provision therein, made the provisions of Limitation Act applicable to the proceedings originating under the former Act. Therefore, the Court held that it had no inherent power to condone the delay in entertaining the revision petitions filed beyond the period of limitation prescribed by the Act itself. [State of H.P v.  Tritronics India (P) Ltd.,2018 SCC OnLine HP 757, dated 18-06-2018]