Conduct Of Litigant In Sleeping Over His Rights For 42 Years Disentitle Him To Discretionary Relief Under Art. 226: P&H HC
In a case where an inordinate delay of 42 years in approaching the Court had not been explained, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has dismissed a petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution for quashing an order cancelling the allotment of a house.
The Division Bench of Justice Augustine George Masih and Justice Harpreet Singh Brar observed that: “Delay and laches are relevant factors for exercising jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and in the absence of any compelling or extenuating circumstances which prevented the petitioner from approaching this Court for such a long time, this Court has no other option but to dismiss the writ petition on the ground of delay and laches”.
Senior Advocate Sumeet Goel appeared for the Petitioner, whereas Senior Standing Council Anil Mehta appeared for the Respondent.
Going by the background of the case, one Mohan Lal Jain was allotted the site of the house on lease hold basis for a period of 99 years. A show cause notice was issued to him for non-payment of instalments. The site was ordered to be cancelled by the Estate Officer and the appeal filed by the allottee against the said cancellation was decided by the Chief Administrator, UT, Chandigarh. The site was restored subject to conditions of payment. Later, a revision petition filed against the order of Chief Administrator was allowed and the site was restored subject to conditions of payment, failing which the site was ordered to be resumed. As orders of the Chief Administrator had not been complied with, eviction proceedings were launched under the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupants) Act, 1971.
When the original allottee died, an eviction order was passed by the Estate Officer under Section 5(i). A review petition was filed by son of the original allottee which was dismissed by the Advisor to the Administrator, UT, Chandigarh. Later in 1995, the District Judge issued a direction to conduct fresh proceedings for eviction of the occupants including Udey Jain. Thereafter an application was moved for transfer of site in question by the present petitioner, son, and widow of deceased original allottee respectively, based on Will. A notice was issued by the concerned SDM to the legal heirs of deceased Mohan Lal Jain, on which date the SDM (Central)-cum-Estate Officer passed an order of eviction.
After considering the submission and noting that the orders passed in the years 1978, 1980 & 1994 were challenged in the present writ petition in the year 2023, the Bench stated that the Petitioner had been extremely negligent in invoking the writ jurisdiction of the Court and the present writ suffered from laches and undue delay.
Observing that an inordinate delay of 42 years has not been explained, the Bench said that the Petitioner has been grossly indolent and lethargic in invoking the remedies available to him under the law in time.
“The conduct of the petitioner in sleeping over his rights for such a long period, would disentitle him to the discretionary relief under Article 226 of the Constitution of India”, added the Bench.
Therefore, finding that there were no compelling or extenuating circumstances which prevented the Petitioner from approaching this Court for such a long time, the Bench dismissed the petition on the ground of delay and laches.
Cause Title: Ashutosh Jain v. The Assistant Estate Officer, U.T. Chandigarh and Ors. [Neutral Citation: 2023: PHHC: 075595-DB]