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Limitation period for filing petitions also applicable to govt offices: Allahabad High Court

The Allahabad High Court has said that the petition filed late cannot be allowed to be heard just because it has been filed by the government department. Like common people, the limitation period for filing petitions is also applicable in government offices.

The Division Bench of Justice Vivek Kumar Birla and Justice Donadi Ramesh heard the petition filed by the Secretary, India Council Of Agricultural Research and Another.

The petition has been filed for quashing the order dated 17.12.2021 passed in Original Application (Ravinder Kumar Tyagi vs UOI and others).

The Stamp Reporter has reported latches of 638 days on the date of reporting of the petition on 15.12.2023. Subsequently, the petition was filed on 18.12.2023.

On a pointed query counsel for the petitioners submitted that latches have been explained in paragraph 15 of the petition, therefore, delay in challenging the order dated 27.12.2021 is not intentional and is liable to be quashed. Paragraph 15 of the petition is quoted as under:-

“15. That due to long departmental procedure the matter has been sent to ICAR head Quarter and after concurrence of Head Quarter it has been decided to challenge the matter on the ground of delay and latches and all these proceedings have taken enough time and there is some delay in challenging the order dated 17.12.2021 which is not intentional and the same is bonafide and therefore the High Court may condone the delay and writ petition may be heard on merits condoning the delay otherwise the petitioners department shall suffer irreparable loss and injury.”

The Court not satisfied with the explanation so offered by the petitioner.

The Court observed that,

In the case of State of Madhya Pradesh and others vs Bherulal 2020 (10) SCC 654, the Special Leave Petition was filed with a delay of 663 days.

In the case of State of Madhya Pradesh and another vs Chaitram Maywade 2020 (10) SCC 654 the Apex Court deprecated practice of filing petitions with such huge delay and has observed that these kinds of cases are only ‘certificate cases’ to obtain a certificate of dismissal from the Supreme Court to put a quietus to the issue. It was also observed that the costs imposed are to be recovered from the officer(s) responsible for the delay in filing and sitting on the files.

Paragraph 3 and 4 of the Chaitram (supra) are quote as under:- “3. We consider it appropriate to direct the Chief Secretary of the State of Madhya Pradesh to look into the aspect of revamping the legal Department as it appears that the Department is unable to file appeals within any reasonable period of time much less within limitation. These kinds of excuses, as already recorded in the aforesaid order, are no more admissible in view of the judgment in Office of the Chief Post Master General & Ors v Living Media India Ltd & Anr – (2012) 3 SCC 563.

4. We have also expressed our concern that these kinds of the cases are only “certificate cases” to obtain a certificate of dismissal from the Supreme Court to put a quietus to the issue. The object is to save the skin of officers who may be in default. We have also recorded the irony of the situation where no action is taken against the officers who sit on these files and do nothing.”

In the case of Majji Sannemma @ Sanyasirao vs Reddy Sridevi and others 2021 SCC Online (SC) 1260 the Apex Court quashed the order passed by the High Court, where High Court has condoned delay of 1011 days.

In view of the law as discussed above, the Court found that the explanation so offered in the petition quoted above is not satisfactory and accordingly the petition stands dismissed on the ground of latches.

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