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Allahabad High Court expresses displeasure over pendency of trial for 27 years

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The Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court has expressed displeasure over the pendency of trial for 27 years, after receiving a stay order in a civil case. 

The High Court also dismissed the petition, imposing a cost of Rs 25,000 on the petitioners in the case.

A Single-Judge Bench of Justice Dinesh Kumar Singh passed this order, while hearing a petition filed by Arshadullah Khan And Others.

The petition was filed in 1995, praying for a writ of certiorari calling for records to quash judgment and orders dated January 18, 1995 and february 24, 1995  passed by Additional Judge Small Cause Court-I.

The Court admitted the said writ petition on October 27, 1995 and stayed the operation of the orders dated 18.01.1995 and 24.02.1995. The respondents were directed not to disturb the possession of the petitioners from the land in question until further orders.

After obtaining the interim order, the case has been dragged by the petitioners for 27 long years before the Court. Every time when the case got listed before the Court, either counsel for the petitioners was not present or adjournment was sought on one pretext or the other. Looking at the adjournments sought by the petitioners, the Court on 02.12.2015, when no-one remained present on behalf of the petitioners even in the revised call, directed the case to be listed in the next cause list peremptorily. On many dates when the case was listed peremptorily, adjournments had been sought by the counsel for the petitioners with numerous excuses.

The Court said, “Leniency shown by the Court has been thoroughly misused by the counsel(s) for the petitioners. This case was dismissed thrice for want of prosecution. No stone had been left unturned to see that the hearing of the case should not take place before the Court for reasons which would be best known to the counsel(s) representing the petitioners.

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“The Court is at pain to note the conduct of the case of the counsels representing the petitioners. Adjournments are sought as a matter of course. The precious time of the court gets criminally wasted. Litigants suffer as their cases also get dragged on and not decided. This is the main reason for huge pendency/arrears of cases in the Court. The Bar and Bench are two wheels of the chariot of justice. If the Bar does not cooperate, it would be highly difficult and rather impossible to move the chariot of justice. Timely and effective justice to the litigants who come before this Court with a ray of hope would be impossible. The Court hopes that Bar will rise to the occasion and counsels representing the parties in case should come to the Court fully prepared to argue the cases whenever, listed for arguments and should not seek adjournments unless so required under the compelling circumstances.”

Akhilesh Kalra, Counsel for the petitioners, submitted that reference made by the Assistant Custodian order dated 28.08.1984 on which impugned orders dated 18.01.1995 and 24.02.1995 were passed, was without jurisdiction. The petitioners had again tried to reopen the issue regarding the allotment of the land in favour of Major Chandra Bhan Singh and Raghuveer Singh. It was said that the sale certificate in favour of the petitioners on the basis of order dated 16.08.1993 passed by the Assistant Custodian was validly issued.

The Assistant Custodian General misinterpreted the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Major Chandra Bhan Singh v. Latafat Ullah Khan (supra), and assumed certain facts for which there was no material either on record or in the judgment of the Supreme Court.

On the other hand, Raj Kumar Singh, counsel appearing for the Union of India and official respondents has submitted that the writ petition is not only misuse of the process of the Court but relief sought by the petitioners is against the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Major Chandra Bhan Singh v Latafat Ullah Khan (supra), which was rendered between the parties, in which it was conclusively held that order dated 31.08.1955 vesting the property in the Custodian had attained finality under Section 8 of Evacuee Interest (Separation) Act, 1951 and the whole property vested in the Custodian under Section 11 of the Evacuee Interest (Separation) Act, 1951 free from all encumbrances and liabilities for the reasons that any evacuee co-sharers did not file any objection despite personal service of notice. The petitioners’ conduct is such which disentitles them to any relief from this Court. They misled the Assistant Custodian for passing the order dated 16.08.1983 on which the proposal was put by the Assistant Custodian before the Custodian for sale of the 1/3 evacuee interest in favour of the petitioners despite the judgment of the Supreme Court between the parties in the case of Major Chandra Bhan Singh v. Latafat Ullah Khan (supra). They obtained the sale certificate dated 02/03.11.1983. The Supreme Court also held that allotment of the land in favour of the respondents was valid and no interference was called for in the allotment of the land in favour of the respondents by sanad. It has also been submitted that allotment of land in favour of Major Chandra Bhan Singh and Raghubir Singh was made on 04.04.1955.

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Thus, it is submitted that the petitioners themselves were clear that vide order dated 31.08.1955 entire property was vested in the Custodian under Section 11 of the Evacuee Interest (Separation) Act, 1951, and any other interpretation would run contrary to the judgment passed by the Supreme Court in the case of Major Chandra Bhan Singh v Latafat Ullah Khan (supra) and Review Petition No 24 of 1979.

It has been submitted that a person who approaches Court with unclean hands is not entitled for any relief. The matter once got finalized up to highest Court, could not be reopened by undertaking subsequent non maintainable proceedings, and the petitioners got the matter reopened by misleading the Assistant Custodian who made a proposal for sale of the 1/3 evacuee share in favour of the petitioners vide order dated 16.08.1983 on which sale certificate was issued by the Custodian on 2/3.11.1983.

The Court further said that, once the proceedings got concluded by judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Major Chandra Bhan Singh v. Latafat Ullah Khan (supra), any subsequent proceedings on the said issue was barred by principle of res judicata. Moreover, the petitioners’ conduct had been such which completely disentitles them for a writ of certiorari by the Court. In view thereof, the Court has no hesitation in dismissing the writ petition.

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The Court cannot believe that counsels representing the petitioners would not know the implication of the judgment in the case of Major Chandra Bhan Singh v Latafat Ullah Khan (supra) and despite the issue having been got settled by the Supreme Court, counsels for the petitioners have been able to drag this writ petition for almost 27 long years before the Court. Initially, an interim order was also passed. However, once the writ petition was dismissed for non prosecution, the interim order was not extended when the order dismissing the writ petition was recalled. A displaced person who was allotted the land in the year 1955, has been prevented for all these years from enjoying the fruits of allotment by indulging in protracted litigation by the petitioners, the court remarked.

“Thus, the Court found it appropriate to not only dismiss the writ petition, but also impose a cost on the petitioners of Rs 25,000 to be deposited by them within four weeks from today in the account of “Army Battle Casualty Welfare Fund New Delhi”. If the petitioners fail to deposit the cost as directed, District Magistrate, Meerut shall proceed to recover cost as arrears of land revenue and deposit the same in the account of Army Battle Casualty Welfare Fund, New Delhi,” the Court ordered.

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