WRIT PETITION C No 7366 of 2011
Avinash Chandra Sondhi & Another ...Petitioners
State of Chhattisgarh & Another ...Respondents
! Shri Sanjay Shyam Agrawal Advocate for the petitioner
^ Shri Shashank Thakur Panel Lawyer for the respondents
CORAM: Honble Shri Satish K Agnihotri J
O R D E R
(Passed on 07th day of December, 2011) WRIT PETITION UNDER ARTICLE 226 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA
1. By this petition, the petitioners seek a direction to
the respondents to refer his applications (Annexure P/2 and
P/3) filed under section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act,
1894, (for short, `the Act') for its determination.
2. Shri Agrawal, learned counsel appearing for the petitioner submits that the petitioners are brother and sisters and are the owners of land in question, bearing Khasra No. 678/1, 678/2, 678/3, 679/3, 685/2, total admeasuring 5.80 acres and Khasra No. 680, 685/2, total admeasuring 7.24 acres, situated at village Janjgiri, District Durg. An acquisition proceeding was initiated by the respondent authorities in the year 1995 for providing the same to the National Thermal Power and Grid. The award was passed by the respondent No. 2 on 18.06.1998 and the land of the petitioners were accordingly acquired and compensation was assessed to the tune of Rs. 4,76,428/- and 4,85,370/- respectively. Since the compensation assessed by the respondent No. 2 was on a lower side, the petitioners moved an application under the provisions of section 18 of the Act on 12.08.1998 and 18.08.1998 for its reference. However, the said applications were not referred by the respondent authorities to the Court for its proper determination. Thus, the petitioners were constrained to file a petition before this Court on 10.11.2003, being W.P. No. 3967/2003. The said petition was withdrawn on 16.02.2004 with liberty to make a representation before the authorities concerned. Pursuant to the order dated 16.02.2004, the petitioners submitted their representations on 09.01.2008, 19.05.2009, 23.09.2009, 25.10.2009 and 26.06.2010. On the basis of said letters, the Collector Durg, while referring to the letter dated 23.09.2009 and 25.10.2009, issued memo dated 07.10.2009 and 16.10.2009 to the respondent NO. 2 and directed him to submit his report, however, nothing has been done till date. Thus, this petition for the above-stated reliefs.
3. On the other hand, Shri Thakur, learned Panel Lawyer appearing for the State/respondents submits that this petition is not maintainable on account of delay and laches on the part of the petitioners themselves. After withdrawing the earlier writ petition, the petitioners made representation after a period of four years.
4. Heard learned counsel appearing for the parties, perused the pleadings and documents appended thereto.
5. The writ petition filed earlier, was withdrawn by the
petitioners on the ground that they want to make a
representation to the respondent authorities on16.02.2004,
the petitioners comfortably took about four years and made
representation only in the year 2008. Thus, it appears that
the petitioners themselves were not interested in disposal
of their reference applications. Even otherwise, a second
writ petition for the similar reliefs as sought for in the
earlier writ petition, is not maintainable.
6. Section 18 of the Act provides for making reference on the basis of written application made by an interested person to the Collector for determination of the Court in respect of measurement of the land, the amount of the compensation, the person to whom it is payable or the apportionment of the compensation among the persons interested. Sub-section (2) of section 18 of the Act prescribes the time limit. Under sub-section (2)(a) of section 18 of the Act, an application shall be made within a period of six weeks from the date of the Collector's award and in other cases, within six weeks from the receipt of the notice from the Collector under section 12, sub-section (2) or within six months from the date of the Collector's award, whichever period shall first expire.
7. In the case on hand, the petitioner, even after grant of liberty by this Court to make a representation to the respondent authorities, slept over for more than four years for making a representation. Thus, at this stage, this writ petition cannot be entertained for issuance of direction as sought for by the petitioner.
8. A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in Ramchandra Shankar Deodhar and others vs. The State of Maharashtra and others1 (Bhagwati, J. in para 10) observed as under :
"10..It may also be noted that the principle on which the Court proceeds in refusing relief to the petitioner on ground of laches and delay is that the rights which have accrued to others by reason of the delay in filing the petition should not be allowed to be disturbed unless there is reasonable explanation for the delay. This principle was stated in the following terms by Hidayatullah, C.J. in Tilok Chand vs. H.B. Munshi (supra) :
"The party claiming
Fundamental Rights must move the
Court before other rights come
into existence. The action of
courts cannot harm innocent
parties if their rights emerge by
reason of delay on the part of
the person moving the Court."
9. In State of M.P. vs. Nandlal2, it was observed that
that the High Court in exercise of its discretion does not
ordinarily assist the tardy and the indolent or the
acquiescent and the lethargic. If there is inordinate delay
on the part of the petitioner and such delay is not
satisfactory explained, the High Court may decline to
intervene and grant relief in exercise of its writ
jurisdiction. It was also observed that if writ
jurisdiction is exercised after unreasonable delay, it may
have the effect of inflicting not only hardship and
inconvenience but also injustice on third parties. When writ
jurisdiction is invoked, unexplained delay coupled with the
creation of third party rights in the meantime is an
important factor which also weighs with the High Court in
deciding whether or not to exercise such jurisdiction.
10. The Supreme Court in U.P. Jal Nigam and another vs. Jashwant Singh and another3, observed as under:
"The question of delay and laches has been examined by this Court in a series of decisions and laches has been considered to be an important factor in exercise of the discretionary relief under Article 226 of the Constitution."
11. On laches and delay in agitating the grievances before
the Court, the Hon'ble Supreme Court in State of Punjab and
another vs. Balkaran Singh4, observed as under:
"22. According to us, the suit is also barred by acquiescence and estoppel. No one in a service can sleep over the question of seniority for more than 12 years and then come to court seeking a relief which will upset the seniority of a number of persons who had been shown as seniors in the respective seniority lists. Therefore, on the face of it, a declaratory relief that will have the effect of altering a twelve-year-old and a nine-year-old seniority list could not have been granted by the courts below."
12. In Yunus (Baboobhai) A Hamid Padvekar v. State of
Maharashtra5, the Supreme Court observed as under:
"Delay or laches is one of the factors which is to be borne in mind by the High Court when they exercise their discretionary powers. In an appropriate case the High Court may refuse to invoke its extraordinary powers if there is such negligence or omission on the part of the applicant to assert his right as taken in conjunction with the lapse of time and other circumstances, causes prejudice to the opposite party."
13. Applying well settled principles of law to the facts of
the case on hand, the writ petition is liable to be and is
accordingly dismissed at the motion stage itself.JUDGE