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Baljit Singh v. State Of U.P.& Another - WRIT - C No. 4823 of 2000 [2005] RD-AH 7392 (13 December 2005)


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Baljit Singh


State of U.P. and another


Hon. Shishir Kumar, J.

The present writ petition has been filed for quashing the order dated 23.12.1999 passed by respondent no.2, Annexure-4 to the writ petition by which the application filed by the State under Section 5 of the Indian Limitation Act for filing an appeal under Section 13 (2) of the U.P. Imposition of Ceiling on Land Holdings Act was allowed.

The case of the petitioner is that the matter was decided by the competent authority under the U.P. Imposition of Ceiling on Land Holdings Act (hereinafter referred to as the Act) - vide its judgment and order dated 10.9.1992 and no appeal was filed by the State and the order dated 30.9.1992 has become final. After a lapse of about 6 years an appeal was filed under Section 13 (2) of the Act supported by an application under Section 5 of the Indian Limitation Act for condonation of delay. The application under Section 5 of the Indian Limitation Act was allowed without assigning any reason and there is no explanation to this effect that after the record was consigned, how on the basis of opinion, the appeal was filed with the application under Section 5 of the Indian Limitation Act.

It has been submitted on behalf of the petitioner that the District Government Counsel has given an opinion immediately after the judgment passed by the Prescribed Authority and no appeal was filed. But after a lapse of 6 years, the court below has to see regarding the reasons mentioned in the application. The reasons were not satisfactory, therefore the appellate authority has committed an error in giving the benefit of Section 5 of the Indian Limitation Act to the respondent- State. Reliance has been placed by the petitioner upon a Division Bench judgment to this Court in the case of State of U.P. and others Versus Bhabul Singh decided on 29.11.1996, reported in 1997 Allahabad Civil Journal Page 246 and has referred to paras 4 and 5 of the said judgment which are reproduced below:

"4. The explanation furnished for such a long delay is that official correspondence took time but nothing has been brought on record or suggested the action taken by the officers of the appellants for taking necessary steps to file and prosecute the appeal diligently because such a long delay requires to be explained showing sufficient cause and good cause which has prevented the appellants to prefer the appeal well within the period of limitation. Merely making omnibus statements will not satisfy the requirements for condoning the delay. No doubt in State cases collective responsibility of the officials/officers is there but that itself will be no ground to condone the delay. Even the collective responsibility is required to be explained with a degree of reasonableness. The provision of the Limitation Act do not extend any immunity relaxing the period of limitation in favour of the State Government. On the other hand the State Government is also standing on the same footing like the ordinary litigants.

5. Under the garb of collective responsibility the public servants take undue advantage by moving leisurely and in careless manner in such matters. It is now high time that the public servants should be held personally responsible in such matters where State exchequer suffers loss on account of their inaction in the discharge of their function as public servants. Recently in Lucknow Development Authority Vs. M.K. Gupta, (1994) I SCC 243: 1994 All. CJ 524) it is ruled that public officers are accountable for their negligence and misfeasance if they commit negligence in the discharge of their official duties. The concept of State immunity is diluted and thus the public servants may be liable in the damages for deliberate or injurious wrong doing. The inaction on the part of the public servants in the instant case by behaving in callous manner amounts to malicious abuse of power. In this regard it will not be out of place to state that with the change in socio-economic out-look in our democratic set up the public servants are expected more attentive to their onerous duties which they must discharge diligently. If a public servant is found abusing his office either by an act of omission or commission as a consequence of which there is a loss to the public exchequer, action may be taken against such guilty public servants and therefore, no public servant can arrogate to himself the power to act in a manner he likes causing loss to the public exchequer. In a democratic set-up the function of the Government is to extend all possible facilities to its citizens and that is why the State is known as a welfare State which provides a large number of benefits to the citizens and, therefore, it is expected of the Government servants to discharge their official functions in a fair and just manner. The explanation furnished that simply after 7-7-1996 correspondence took pace for obtaining sanction to file the appeal is not sufficient and well reasonable explanation warranting condonation of the delay."

Placing reliance upon the aforesaid judgment Sri D.V. Jaiswal counsel for the petitioner has submitted that the explanation that the official correspondence takes time, cannot be a reason for condoning the delay. Further submission has been made on behalf of the petitioner that if the particular officer was negligent, what action has been taken against him. The inaction on the part of the public servant cannot be a ground for condoning the delay in case the rights of the parties are finalized. Further submission has been made that every litigant is equal in the eye of law and cannot be discriminated.

On the other hand the Standing Counsel has submitted and stated in the counter affidavit that immediately after obtaining the opinion from the District Government Counsel, as the District Magistrate due to the other various schedules could not give an approval for filing an appeal, therefore, the appeal could not be filed. As soon as the sanction was granted, the appeal was filed and the court below after considering the reasons stated in the application under Section 5 of the Indian Limitation Act has condoned the delay. It has also been submitted on behalf of the State that in the interest of justice the appeal may be decided on merits, therefore, this Court in such type of matters should not interfere in the interest of justice.

After hearing counsel for the parties and perusal of the record and the judgment impugned, it appears that the District Government Counsel (Revenue) was desired to give an opinion by the District Magistrate, then he has given an opinion for filing the appeal and immediately when on 21.6.1999, the appeal was filed and  a reason to this effect has also been recorded that the delay in filing the appeal was not deliberate and it was due to the busy schedule of the District Magistrate.

I have perused the order-dated 23.12.1999. The appellate authority has recorded a finding of fact that in the interest of justice, it will be necessary that the dispute regarding the surplus land be decided on merits. After perusal of the record, I am of opinion that the appellate authority has given cogent reasons for condonation of delay. It is well settled now that the rights of parties should not be defeated only on technicalities. The rights of the parties are to be decided after observance of the principles of natural justice.

In view of the aforesaid fact, I find no justification to interfere in the impugned order dated 23.12.1999 under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. The writ petition is devoid of merit and is hereby dismissed. There shall be no order as to costs.




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