BEFORE THE MADURAI BENCH OF MADRAS HIGH COURT DATED : 24.07.2015 CORAM THE HONOURABLE MR.JUSTICE S.MANIKUMAR AND THE HONOURABLE MR.JUSTICE G.CHOCKALINGAM Writ Appeal(MD)No.1310 of 2011 and M.P(MD)No.1 of 2011 1)R.Lakshmi 2)R.Prakasam ..Appellants versus 1)The District Collector, Madurai District, Madurai.
2)The Tahsildar, Madurai North Taluk, Madurai.
3)The Head Surveyor, Madurai North Taluk, Madurai..Respondents Appeal filed under Clause 15 of Letters Patent, against the order made in W.P(MD)No.9223 of 2010 dated 14.10.2011.
!For Appellants : Mr.R.Prakasam/Party-in-person ^For Respondents : Mr.A.K.Bhaskara Pandian, Spl.G.P :JUDGMENT
(Judgment of the Court was delivered by S.MANIKUMAR, J.) Challenge in this appeal is to the order made in W.P(MD)No.9223 of 2010 dated 14.10.2011, by which, the prayer for issuance of a Mandamus, directing the respondents 1 to 3 therein, to issue fair copy of the land records, after correcting the mistakes in the Survey Land Register, has been negatived.
2.Case of the writ petitioner, R.Lakshmi, represented by her son and Power Agent, R.Prakasam before the Writ Court is that her husband was a World War II Veteran and by proceedings of the District Collector dated 10.11.1946, land in Survey No.80, Andarkottaram Village, Madurai North Taluk, Madurai District, measuring an extent of 6.54 acres was allotted in his favour.
After the Updating Registry Scheme, respondents in the writ petition have tampered with the records and reclassified the lands, behind the back of the writ petitioner, as Odai poromboke.
Therefore, after seeking information under the Right to Information Act, 2005, by making a representation, writ petition has been filed, for the abovesaid relief.
In addition to the above, the petitioner has challenged the classification of Ryotwari patta into Tamil Nadu land Act Patta, and issue a land settlement fair copy for agricultural use by the writ petitioner.
3.Before the Writ Court, the respondents therein have filed a counter affidavit stating that earlier, the writ petitioner filed W.P.No.7812 of 2008, praying for a Writ of Mandamus, directing the respondents therein, to survey the land and fix the boundaries in Survey No.20/1A Andarkottaram Village, Madurai North Taluk, Madurai District.
On 02.12.2008, this Court passed the following order:- ?.The counsel for the petitioner would submit the request of the petitioner is to get his land sub divided in the revenue records but it was not done after being measured.
Hence, in this factual matrix, the following direction is issued ?.The Tahsildar, on receipt of a copy of this order, shall consider the representation dated 22.07.2008, submitted by the petitioner on merits within a period of one month from the date of receipt of a copy of this order, after giving due opportunity of being heard to the petitioner.
With the above direction the writ petition is disposed of.?.
4.Tahsildar, Madurai North Taluk, Madurai District, in his counter affidavit, has further submitted that Survey No.80/1A measuring 2.24.5 Hectares of Andarkottaram Village, Madurai North Taluk, Madurai District, has been classified as Odai Poramboke in the revenue records.
He has given the details of encroachments made in the above survey field, which are as follows:- S.No.Name of the encroachment Extent Nature of occupation 1 P.Veeranan 0.20.0 hectares Paddy cultivation 2 Veeramakali 1.00.0 Paddy cultivation 5.Tahsildar, Madurai North Taluk, has further submitted that Survey No.80/1A measuring an extent of 2.24.5 hectares of Andarkottaram Village, Madurai North Taluk, Madurai District, has been classified as Odai Poromboke as per UDR ?.A?.
Encroachments in the odai poromboke was prima facie objectionable.
Therefore, there is no possibility of assigning the abovesaid Odai Poromboke to the petitioner.
It has to be converted as Assessed Waste Dry and then, assignment proposals have to be initiated.
The Tahsildar, Madurai North Taluk, Madurai District, has further submitted that the petitioner has not produced any assignment, issued by the revenue authorities, to prove the claim over the land.
Property is not in occupation and enjoyment of the petitioner.
There is no provision to convert odai poromboke and assign the same to the writ petitioner.
With the above contentions, the respondents have prayed for dismissal of the writ petition.
6.Adverting to the abovesaid averments and after hearing the submissions of Mr.R.Prakasam, Power Agent of the writ petitioner, Writ Court, vide order dated 14.10.2011 made in W.P(MD)No.9223 of 2010, has dismissed the writ petition and at paragraph 6, ordered as follows:- ?.6.But unfortunately for the petitioner, except two documetns, he has no other documents.
The fiRs.document that the petitioner has is the proceedings of the assignment dated 10.11.1946.
The second document that the petitioner has is a copy of the Land Survey Record.
But both these documents are not sufficient to prove possession of the petitioner from 1946 till date.
The petitioner does not have (i) the kist receipts (ii) chitta and (iii) adangal even to show that the petitioner is in possession of the properties.
The petitioner could not obtain patta in pursuance of the assignment made in 1946.
De hors the failure of the petitioner to obtain patta, the failure of the petitioner even to show by documentary evidence her possession of the property, would disentitle her to any relief, recognising the assignment.
It is relevant to note that the Updating Registry Scheme came in the year 1983.
A period of 28 years have now passed thereafter.
Therefore, even if the respondents had done something wrong, it is too late in the day for a person who cannot show actual physical possession of the property, to get any relief.
Hence, the writ petition is dismissed.
7.Writ Appeal has been filed against the said order.
Record of proceedings shows that vide order dated 22.01.2014 in M.P(MD)No.1 of 2013, Power Agent Mr.R.Prakasam, has been impleaded as second petitioner.
He argued in the appeal in person.
8.Assailing the correctness of the order made in the writ petition and inviting the attention of this Court to the photocopy of a document dated 10.11.1946 Mr.R.Prakasam, party in person submitted that land specified in the schedule to the abovesaid document, was assigned in favour of P.V.R.Raman Naidu, husband of the 1st appellant/R.Lakshmi, for the Fasli 1356 years with conditions.
He further submitted that his father, an Ex-serviceman, was in possession and occupation of the lands in S.No.80 measuring 6 acres and 54 cents in Vandiyur, Andarkottaram Village, in 1963 and thereafter, his father requested for issuance of patta.
9.Inviting the attention of this Court to the copy of the Revenue Map, SLR for Andarkottaram Village, Madurai North Taluk, enclosed at page 23 of the typedset of papeRs.he further submitted that there is a specific reference to the agriculture activity carried on, in S.No.80 and that the same has been altered as Odai Poromboke subsequently.
He further submitted that when his father died in the year 1982, mother R.Lakshmi was maintaining the lands, but when she was away to eke-out her livelihood, neighbours and otheRs.with the connivance of some Government servants have encroached the subject property and being aggrieved by the same, his mother Lakshmi sent a notice dated 22.07.2008 to the District Collector, Madurai District.
Subsequently, she also submitted a petition dated 18.09.2008 requesting removal of encroachments in Survey No.80/1 measuring 2.24.5 Hectares of Andarkottaram Village, Madurai North Taluk, Madurai District, for which, a reply in Government Letter dated 16.10.2008 was given by the Deputy Secretary to the Government, Revenue Department, with a copy marked to R.Lakshmi.
10.Referring to the order dated 27.05.2009 passed by the Tamil Nadu Information Commission in Case No.38406/Enquiry/2008, party in person, further submitted that though directions were given to the District Collector, Madurai District, to appoint a senior officer to locate the concerned records and supply the information sought for, and to resolve the issue properly, no information was furnished to him.
Subsequent representation dated 26.12.2009 to the Tamil Nadu Information Commission also did not receive proper attention.
11.Though a request was made to the Public Information Officer, Madurai, for furnishing the revenue Map for Survey Nos.123 part, 152 part, 153 part, 154 part, before Updating Scheme, there was no response.
According to him, the respondents have deliberately failed to furnish the revenue records for the lands in Survey Nos.152, 153, 154A which has been now classified as Sarkar Poromboke.
It is also his contention that by non furnishing proper revenue records of the assigned land and denying access to the same, the respondents have committed offences under Sections 3(1)(iv) & (v) of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 and that the Writ Court has failed to consider the same.
It is the further case of the petitioner that the Writ Court has failed to advert to the contentions in proper perspective.
For the abovesaid reasons, he prayed for reversal of the order impugned in this appeal.
12.Responding to the above and taking this Court through the documents filed by the appellants, Mr.A.K.Bhaskara Pandian, learned Special Government Pleader appearing for the respondents submitted that Late P.V.R.Raman Naidu was granted permission for temporary occupation for agricultural purposes from 23.03.1947 subject to the conditions stated therein.
He further submitted that there was no assignment of land as contended.
Learned State counsel further submitted that Survey No.80/1A measuring 2.24.5 Hectares of Andarkottaram Village, Madurai North Taluk, Madurai District, has been classified as Odai Poromboke in the revenue records when inspection was made, there were two encroachers namely, Veeramani and Veeramahali.
Encroachers were issued with B Memos and penalties were levied as per the rules in force.
As per the UDR A register, land has been classified as odai poromboke.
Even prior to UDR scheme, classification was only as odai poromboke.
Considering the nature of the lands, there was absolutely no possibility to assign the said lands to the father of the petitioner.
13.Reiterating the reasons contained in the counter affidavit, he also added that if at all there is any assignment, the said land has to be converted to Assessed Waste Dry and then only, assignment of the said land to eligible persons can be considered by the revenue authorities.
The appellants have not produced any permanent assignment order.
They are not even in possession and enjoyment of the lands.
Even as per the case of the appellants, they have left the land long ago and now seek for correction, in survey land register.
He further submitted that the Writ Court has taken note of the submissions and evidence on record and passed a detailed order, which does not required interference.
Heard the learned counsel for the parties and perused the materials available on record.
14.True copy of the document described as assignment to P.V.R.Raman Naidu, father of the 2nd appellant, indicates that the land mentioned in the schedule thereto, has been granted for temporary occupation for agricultural purposes Fasli the year 1356 commencing from 25.03.1947, subject to certain conditions.
There is no material document to substantiate that the grantee had fulfilled the conditions of the order of grant for temporary occupation for agricultural purposes.
15.Though the 2nd appellant has contended that the land was used for agricultural purposes, by his father and after his demise by his mother, R.Lakshmi/the 1st appellant and that there is also a reference in the SLR copy of Andar Kottaram Village, Madurai North Taluk, as rightly observed by the Writ Court, no document of possession has been filed.
As observed, the petitioner has not filed any kist receipts, chitta or adangal extracts, to show that the lands were in cultivation by his parents from 1946.
Though it is the case of the 2nd appellant that despite request made by his father, patta was not given, but to prove possession, he is expected to produce revenue records.
Even as per the notice dated 22.07.2008 of R.Lakshmi, for eking out livelihood, she went outside the state and during the said period, encroachments have been made.
Copy of SLR for Andarkottaram Village, Madurai North Taluk, Madurai District, shows that Survey Nos.123/2, 152 Part, 153 Part have been classified as Sarkar poromboke.
In so far as entry in Survey No.154, it is mentioned as Vaikkal kadai valathu pirivu paasanam, Vandiyur.
16.As regards classification, it is stated as odai.
Revenue records shows that Survey No.80 comprising of Survey Nos.123, 152, 153 and 154-A, has been classified as odai measuring 5.67 acres.
In the A register also, it is classified as odai.
However, there is an indication of the petitioner's father's name in that SLR.
Case of the petitioner is that grant has been given in the year 1946 and the grantee has claimed the same as a member belonging to the weaker sections of the society and contended that deprivation of the same would amount to an offence under Section 3(1)(iv) & (v) of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
There is a reference to BSO No.15A in the copy of the grant.
17.As per clause 2 of BSO No.15A, the period for which such temporary occupation may be sanctioned must be determined carefully in each case with reference to the nature of the proposeD occupation and the consideration whether and when the land is likely to be required by the Government for any other purpose.
18.As per clause 3, of BSO15, the grant in each case should be embodied in an order in the form given in Appendix X-A with suitable modification.
As in the case of assignments under B.S.O No.15, a simple form of order has been prescribed taking advantage of the provisions of the Government Grants Act, 1895 (XV of 1895).The items enumerated below by way of illustration will be cases for such grants- (i)growing of grass or other fodder, (ii)raising flower gardens, (iii)planting casuarina, (iv)cultivation of plantation products, (v)cultivation pa paddy, pulses and other foodgrains or commercial crops like tobacCo.cashew, groundnut, etc.(vi)sinking bore-wells, tube wells and other wells, (vii)putting up compost pits and manure yards, (viii)putting up hayricks, Barns, cattle-sheds, store houses for Farm implements (ix)Raising nurseries or forming threshing floORS.and (x)Any other purpose conducive to the improvement of agriculture or good husbandry.
19.Clause 7 of BSO15 deals with renewal of grants.
Renewal of grants under this Standing Order can be sanctioned only by the authority competent to sanction grant in the fiRs.instance.
20.Prescription of standard rates, is dealt with in clause 9 of BSO15 which as follows:- ?.Since it is not possible to prescribe standard rates for the various purposes for which land may be granted under this standing order, the determination of the charge will be left to the discretion, of the authorities who are competent to sanction the grant.
The following general principles should however, be observed as far as possible in fixing the rates of charge.
(a) the annual charge for the occupation for all remunerative activities shall be the full competitive rent.
By full competitive rent is meant the rent which the site would fetc.in the open market if offered, subject to the conditions stipulated by the Government.
The amount should constitute an annual return of not less than 6 percent from the land.
Such annual charge shall be liable to revision from time to time in accordance with the rules in force at the time of such revision.
Water cess will be leviable in addition in accordance with the Tamil Nadu Irrigation Cess Act (Act VII of 1895) and the Tamil Nadu Additional Assessment and Additional Water Cess Act of 1963 and the rules framed thereunder.
(b) In the case of persons who are not ordinarily eligible for assignment of land free of land value, annual occupation charge shall be double the full competitive rent [as indicated in sub-para (a) above].so as to act as a disincentive to occupation of public lands by more affluent class of persons.
(c) In the case of non-remunerative purposes the annual charge shall be fixed at an amount not lower than the assessment or ground rent leviable on the land, subject to maximum of Re.1 per acre.?.
21.As per BSO, there is a clause dealing with concession regarding payment of assessment which reads as follows:- ?.Assignment of lands to members of the scheduled castes the cultivation of which entails much labour, and expense will be free of assessment for a period of seven years from the date of the grant, but subject to the conditions that one-fifth of the extent assigned is brought under cultivation in each of the five years succeeding the grant.
The exemption will be for seven years only and not for shorter periods.
If however, an assignee whom the concession is granted fails to cultivate in accordance with the condition, assessment will be collected from the year in which the default occurs.?.
22.For assessment of lands to members of scheduled castes upto default clause, there is also a procedure for granting concession, which reads as follows:- ?.Applications from members of the scheduled castes for lands (other than lands already in their sivaijama occupation) the cultivation of which in the opinion of the Tahsildar involves much labour and expense should be reported to the Divisional Officer for orders on the question whether the lands should be exempted from the payment of assessment for a period of seven yeaRs.The Tahsildar should without reference to the Divisional Officers dispose of all applications for assessed wastelands which are fit for cultivation and therefore not entitled to concession.
Against an order refusing the concession an appeal will lie to the Divisional Officer.?.
23.The relevant clause dealing with Assignment of Lands to Scheduled Tribes, is as follows:- ?.In the matter of assignment of lands for cultivation purposes the concession enjoyed by the scheduled castes as enumerated in R.S.O.15-41, are extended to Scheduled Tribes also, subject to the modification that the maximum extent of land to be assigned to the Scheduled Tribes, will be 1-21-5 hectare of dry land and 60.5 acres of wet land in hilly tracts, if sufficient lands are available.
Any limitations imposed on Scheduled Castes, along with the concessions, are applicable to the Scheduled Tribes also.
The form of order of assignment to be used, is the same as for the Scheduled Castes, mentioned in clause (iii) above, which should be adopted with suitable modifications, wherever necessary.?.
24.Though the 2nd appellant claims that lands have been assigned to his father under BSO15, as stated supra, there is absolutely no document, supporting the contention that either the conditions for grant are complied with or there was cultivation to prove that the purpose, for which, temporary occupation was given, was fulfilled i.e., temporary occupation for agricultural purposes.
25.Though the petitioner has contended that his father has requested the Tahsildar to cancel Ryotwari patta and consequently to issue a regular patta, there is no document to prove possession.
As per the counter affidavit, prior to UDR, classification of the land existed only as odai porombomke.
26.As rightly observed by the Writ Court, claim of the appellants is hit by delay and laches.
It is also well settled that delay defeats equity.
Laches or reasonable time are not defined under any Statute or Rules.
"Laches" or "Lashes" is an old French word for slackness or negligence or not doing.
In general sense, it means neglect to do what in the law should have been done for an unreasonable or unexplained length of time.
What could be the laches in one case might not constitute in another.
The laches to non- suit, an aggrieved person from challenging the acquisition proceedings should be inferred from the conduct of the land owner or an interested person and that there should be a passive inaction for a reasonable length of time.
What is reasonable time has not been explained in any of the enactment.
Reasonable time depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case.
27.The words "reasonable time", as explained in Veerayeeammal V.
Seeniammal reported in 2002 (1) SCC134 at Paragraph 13, is as follows:- "13.
The word "reasonable" has in law prima facie meaning of reasonable in regard to those circumstances of which the person concerned is called upon to act reasonably knows or ought to know as to what was reasonable.
It may be unreasonable to give an exact definition of the word "reasonable".
The reason varies in its conclusion according to idiosyncrasy of the individual and the time and circumstances in which he thinks.
The dictionary meaning of the "reasonable time" is to be so much time as is necessary, under the circumstances, to do conveniently what the contract or duty requires should be done in a particular case.
In other words it means, as soon as circumstances permit.
In P.Ramanatha Aiyar's The Law LexiCo.it is defined to mean: "A reasonable time, looking at all the circumstances of the case; a reasonable time under ordinary circumstances; as soon as circumstances will permit; so much time as is necessary under the circumstances, conveniently too do what the contract requires should be done; some more protracted space than 'directly'; such length of time as may fairly, and properly, and reasonably be allowed or required, having regard to the nature of the act or duty and to the attending circumstances; all these convey more or less the same idea."
28.On the aspect of delay defeats equity, it is worthwhile to refer the following decisions:- (i)In Dilbagh Rai Jarry v.
Union of India, reported in (1974) 3 SCC554 the Supreme Court considered the question of condoning delay of an application filed beyond the statutory period of limitation and on the aspect of delay, the Supreme Court observed thus:- ?.?.?.?..the Authority is competent to devise, consistently with the provisions of the Act and the Rules made thereunder, its own procedure based on general principles of justice, equity and good conscience.
One of such principles is that delay defeats equity.
The Authority found that the applicant was guilty of gross negligence.
He took no steps whatever to carry out the amendment for several months after the order permitting the amendment, and thereafter, when the case was at the final stage, he suddenly woke up, as it were, from slumber, and sought to amend his application.
In the circumstances, the Authority rightly refused to put a premium on this delay and laxity on the part of the appellant.?.
(ii)In G.C.Gupta v.
N.K.Pandey, reported in (1988) 1 SCC316 the Supreme Court at paragraph 16, held as follows:- 16.
Inordinate delay is not merely a factor for the court to refuse appropriate relief but also a relevant consideration it be so minded not to unsettle settled things.
(iii)In Hameed Joharan v.
Abdul Salem, reported in (2001) 7 SCC573 the Supreme court considered the enforceability of a decree, and the limitation thereof.
In the said judgment, the Supreme Court after taking note of the Latin maxim ?.vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt?., explained the use of legal diligence and as to how lapse of time is species for forfeiture of right.
In the words of Supreme Court, the above principle is explained hereunder:- 14.
It cannot but be the general policy of our law to use the legal diligence and this has been the consistent legal theory from the ancient times: even the doctrine of prescription in Roman law prescribes such a concept of legal diligence and since its incorporation therein, the doctrine has always been favoured rather than claiming disfavour.
Law courts never tolerate an indolent litigant since delay defeats equity ?.
the Latin maxim vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt (the law assists those who are vigilant and not those who are indolent).As a matter of fact, lapse of time is a species for forfeiture of right.
Wood, V.C.in Manby v.
Bewicke, reported in 1857 (3) K&J342= 69 ER1140(K&J at p.
352) stated: (ER p.
1144).The legislature has in this, as in every civilized country that has ever existed, thought fit to prescribe certain limitations of time after which persons may suppose themselves to be in peaceful possession of their property, and capable of transmitting the estates of which they are in possession, without any apprehension of the title being impugned by litigation in respect of transactions which occurred at a distant period, when evidence in support of their own title may be most difficult to obtain.?.
(iv)In Board of Secondary Education of Assam v.
Sarifuz Zaman, reported in (2003) 12 SCC408 the Supreme Court has observed as follows:- 12.
Delay defeats discretion and loss of limitation destroys the remedy itself.
Delay amounting to laches results in benefit of discretionary power being denied on principles of equity.
Loss of limitation resulting into depriving of the remedy, is a principle based on public policy and utility and not equity alone?.?..?.
(v)In Pundlik Jalam Patil v.
Executive Engineer, Jalgaon Medium Project, reported in (2008) 17 SCC448 the Supreme Court considered the question of extension of limitation, in matters pertaining to land acquisition proceedings.
The Apex Court explained the meaning of the word ?.limitation?.
scope rationale and the object in the enactments.
While explaining limitation and exercise of power of condonation by courts, at paragraph 14, the Supreme Court held as follows:- 14.
It is true that the power to condone the delay rests with the court in which the application was filed beyond time and decide whether there is sufficient cause for condoning the delay and ordinarily the superior court may not interfere with such discretion even if some error is to be found in the discretion so exercised by the court but where there is no sufficient cause for condoning the delay but the delay was condoned, it is a case of discretion not being exercised judicially and the order becomes vulnerable and susceptible for its correction by the superior court.
The High Court having found that the respondent in its application made incorrect submission that it had no knowledge of the award passed by the Reference Court ought to have refused to exercise its discretion.
The High Court exercised its discretion on wrong principles.
In that view of the matter we cannot sustain the exercise of discretion in the manner done by the High Court.
Holding that laws of limitation are founded on public policy, the Supreme Court extracted Halsbury?.s Laws of England, at paragraph 26:- 26.
Basically, the laws of limitation are founded on public policy.
In Halsbury?.s Laws of England, 4th Edn., Vol.
266, Para 605, the policy of the Limitation Acts is laid down as follows: ?.605.
Policy of the Limitation Acts.?.The courts have expressed at least three differing reasons supporting the existence of statutes of limitation, namely, (1) that long dormant claims have more of cruelty than justice in them, (2) that a defendant might have lost the evidence to disprove the stale claim, and (3) that persons with good causes of actions should pursue them with reasonable diligence.?.
(vi)Again, while referring to statutes of limitation, the Supreme Court described them as statutes of peace.
Paragraphs 27 to 29 would be relevant for the purpose of understanding the rationale behind fixing time limit, under the statutes and also as to how the courts have to exercise their jurisdiction of condonation of delay.
Though the Apex Court referred to statutory limitations, yet the principles are applicable to writ jurisdiction also, for the reason that delay defeats equity, due to negligence of the parties or laches.
Statutes of limitation are sometimes described as ?.statutes of peace?.An unlimited and perpetual threat of limitation creates insecurity and uncertainty; some kind of limitation is essential for public order.
This Court in Rajender Singh v.
Santa Singh, reported in 1973 (2) SCC705 has observed: (SCC p.
712, para 18).18.
The object of law of limitation is to prevent disturbance or deprivation of what may have been acquired in equity and justice by long enjoyment or what may have been lost by a party?.s own inaction, negligence or laches.?.
In Tilokchand Motichand v.
H.B.Munshi, reported in 1969 (1) SCC110 this Court observed that this principle is based on the maxim ?.interest reipublicae ut sit finis litium?., that is, the interest of the State requires that there should be end to litigation but at the same time laws of limitation are a means to ensure private justice suppressing fraud and perjury, quickening diligence and preventing oppression.
It needs no restatement at our hands that the object for fixing time-limit for litigation is based on public policy fixing a lifespan for legal remedy for the purpose of general welfare.
They are meant to see that the parties do not resort to dilatory tactics but avail their legal remedies promptly.
Salmond in his Jurisprudence states that the laws come to the assistance of the vigilant and not of the sleepy.
(vii)In S.S.Balu v.
State of Kerala, (2009) 2 SCC479 the Supreme Court considered a case, where the appellant therein, approached the court, with an inordinate delay, claiming right to appointment.
The proposition of law held by the Apex Court is that there is no indefeasible right to appointment.
A candidate included in rank list cannot obtain a mandamus, unless arbitrariness or discrimination is established.
While addressing the aspect of delay, the Supreme Court, at paragraph 17, held as follows:- 17.
It is also well-settled principle of law that ?.delay defeats equity?.The Government Order was issued on 15-1-2002.
The appellants did not file any writ application questioning the legality and validity thereof.
Only after the writ petitions filed by others were allowed and the State of Kerala preferred an appeal there against, they impleaded themselves as party- respondents.
It is now a trite law that where the writ petitioner approaches the High Court after a long delay, reliefs prayed for may be denied to them on the ground of delay and laches irrespective of the fact that they are similarly situated to the other candidates who obtain the benefit of the judgment.
It is, thus, not possible for us to issue any direction to the State of Kerala or the Commission to appoint the appellants at this stage.
(viii)In Ghulam Rasool Lone v.
State of J&K, reported in (2009) 15 SCC321 the Supreme Court, while considering the scope of equitable relief, considered the following decisions, at paragraphs 14 and 15, which are as follows:- 14.
It is now well settled that who claims equity must enforce his claim within a reasonable time.
For the said proposition, amongst otheRs.we may notice a decision of a three-Judge Bench of this Court in Govt.
Roy, reported in 2004 (1) SCC347= 2004 SCC (L&S) 225, wherein it has been opined: (SCC pp.
359-60, para 34).34.
The respondents furthermore are not even entitled to any relief on the ground of gross delay and laches on their part in filing the writ petition.
The fiRs.two writ petitions were filed in the year 1976 wherein the respondents herein approached the High Court in 1992.
In between 1976 and 1992 not only two writ petitions had been decided, but one way or the other, even the matter had been considered by this Court in Debdas Kumar, reported in 1991 Supp (1) SCC138= 1991 SCC (L&S) 841 The plea of delay, which Mr Krishnamani states, should be a ground for denying the relief to the other persons similarly situated would operate against the respondents.
Furthermore, the other employees not being before this Court although they are ventilating their grievances before appropriate courts of law, no order should be passed which would prejudice their cause.
In such a situation, we are not prepared to make any observation only for the purpose of grant of some relief to the respondents to which they are not legally entitled to so as to deprive others therefrom who may be found to be entitled thereto by a court of law.?.
(emphasis supplied) 15.
The question yet again came up for consideration before this Court in NDMC v.
Pan Singh, reported in 2007 (9) scc 278 wherein it has been observed: (SCC p.
283, para 16).16.
There is another aspect of the matter which cannot be lost sight of.
The respondents herein filed a writ petition after 17 yeaRs.They did not agitate their grievances for a long time.
They, as noticed herein, did not claim parity with the 17 workmen at the earliest possible opportunity.
They did not implead themselves as parties even in the reference made by the State before the Industrial Tribunal.
It is not their case that after 1982, those employees who were employed or who were recruited after the cut-off date have been granted the said scale of pay.
After such a long time, therefore, the writ petitions could not have been entertained even if they are similarly situated.
It is trite that the discretionary jurisdiction may not be exercised in favour of those who approach the court after a long time.
Delay and laches are relevant factors for exercise of equitable jurisdiction.?.
29.In view of the above discussion and decisions, we do not find any infirmity in the order passed by the Writ Court.
Accordingly, the Writ Appeal is dismissed.
Consequently, M.P(MD)No.1 of 2011 is closed.
To 1)The District Collector, Madurai District, Madurai.
2)The Tahsildar, Madurai North Taluk, Madurai.
3)The Head Surveyor, Madurai North Taluk, Madurai.