Court Dismisses Petition Due to 42-Year Delay, Ruling Out Discretionary Relief

In a significant ruling, the Punjab and Haryana High Court recently dismissed a petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, which sought to quash an order canceling the allotment of a house. The court based its decision on the litigant’s astounding 42-year delay in approaching the court, a delay that remained unexplained.

A Division Bench comprising Justice Augustine George Masih and Justice Harpreet Singh Brar emphasized the relevance of delay and laches when exercising jurisdiction under Article 226. The court regretfully noted the absence of any compelling or extenuating circumstances that could justify the petitioner’s inaction for such an extended period. Consequently, the court had no choice but to dismiss the writ petition on the grounds of delay and laches.

Senior Advocate Sumeet Goel represented the petitioner, while Senior Standing Counsel Anil Mehta appeared on behalf of the respondent.

The case stemmed from an allotment made to Mohan Lal Jain, who leased a house site for a term of 99 years. Upon Jain’s failure to pay the installments, the Estate Officer issued a show cause notice, leading to the cancellation of the site. Jain appealed the cancellation, but the Chief Administrator of the Union Territory of Chandigarh upheld the decision, restoring the site subject to payment conditions. Subsequently, a revision petition filed against the Chief Administrator’s order was allowed, resulting in the restoration of the site with the same payment conditions. However, as the orders of the Chief Administrator were not adhered to, eviction proceedings were initiated under the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupants) Act of 1971.

Following the death of the original allottee, the Estate Officer issued an eviction order under Section 5(i). The deceased allottee’s son filed a review petition, which was subsequently dismissed by the Advisor to the Administrator of the Union Territory. In 1995, the District Judge directed the initiation of fresh eviction proceedings against the occupants, including Udey Jain. At this juncture, the present petitioner, the son, and the widow of the deceased original allottee, moved an application to transfer the site in question, citing a will. The Sub-Divisional Magistrate (Central)-cum-Estate Officer issued a notice to the legal heirs of Mohan Lal Jain, after which an eviction order was passed.

Upon examining the facts and considering that the present writ petition challenged orders from 1978, 1980, and 1994, which were only brought before the court in 2023, the Bench concluded that the petitioner had demonstrated extreme negligence in invoking the writ jurisdiction of the court. The court further remarked that the petitioner’s case suffered from laches and undue delay.

Expressing concern over the unexplained 42-year delay, the Bench declared that the petitioner’s conduct of neglecting his rights for such an extended period would disentitle him to discretionary relief under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

Consequently, as there were no compelling or extenuating circumstances that could justify the petitioner’s failure to approach the court in a timely manner, the Bench dismissed the petition on the grounds of delay and laches.

The case was titled “Ashutosh Jain v. The Assistant Estate Officer, U.T. Chandigarh and Ors.” and carried the neutral citation “2023: PHHC: 075595-DB.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Scroll to Top