Cyril Lasrado & Ors Vs.
Juliana Maria Lasrado and ANR  INSC 453 (12 August 2004)
PASAYAT & C.K. THAKKER
(Arising out of SLP) No. 21831/2002) ARIJIT
PASAYAT, J Leave granted.
Judgment passed by a Division Bench of the
Karnataka High Court affirming the order passed by a learned Single Judge is
the subject matter of challenge in this appeal.
Factual aspects need to be noted in some
The Land Tribunal, Mangalore, Taluk Mangalore
(in short the 'Tribunal') by order dated 19.10.1978 accepted the prayer of one
Cyril Lasrado (applicant before it) wherein he had prayed for recording his
name as occupant of the concerned land. The applicant was the predecessor-in-
interest of the present appellants. By the said order, the Tribunal directed
registration of Cyril Lasrado as the occupant of the land mentioned in the
order in terms of Section 48-A of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act, 1961 (in
short the 'Act'). Since certain reliefs which were prayed for had not been
granted, Cyril Lasrado filed a Writ Petition No. 29259 of 1992 before the
Karnataka High Court. Respondent who was the General Power of Attorney holder
and the respondent no. 2 filed an application to be impleaded in the writ
petition which was rejected. Suit bearing No.OS. 499 of 1994 were filed by the
appellants alleging encroachment by the respondents. The suit was decreed on
30.11.1995. The power of attorney holder and one of the respondents were the
parties of the aforesaid suit. Cyril Lasrado died in the meantime. A writ
petition was filed by the present respondents questioning correctness of the
Tribunal's order dated 19.10.1978. The same was filed against Cyril Lasrado
though he had died long before. The writ petition was disposed of by a learned
Single Judge by a very strange order. Though the State of Karnataka and its
officials brought to the notice of the learned Single Judge that Cyril Lasrado
had expired, the learned Judge was of the view that there was no necessity to
bring his legal representatives on record.
This was so felt as the learned Judge was of
the view that the matter was to be remitted to the Tribunal and no prejudice
would be caused to the legal representatives. Accordingly, the matter was
remitted to the Tribunal for fresh adjudication. The order of the learned
Single Judge was challenged by the appellants before the Division Bench by
filing a Writ Appeal which by the impugned judgment was dismissed. The Division
Bench only noted the arguments of the parties and observed as follows:
"We have heard the learned counsel for
the parties as well as learned Govt. Advocate and perused the materials placed
On consideration, we find no error or
illegality in the order of the learned Single Judge so as to call for any
interference. However, the Tribunal shall hear the aggrieved parties after
giving them opportunity and pass appropriate orders in accordance with law.
Writ Appeal is disposed of accordingly."
It has to be noted that the present appellants brought to the notice of the
Division Bench that there had been delay of 138 days in filing the Writ Appeal
as they were not aware of filing the writ petition and its disposal and when
they came to know about it they applied for certified copy and after obtaining
the same, filed the writ appeal. On merits also it was submitted that after a
long lapse of about 19 years the writ petition had been filed against a dead
person and even without issuance of notice the writ petition was disposed of.
The stand of the respondents was that the
delay was not properly explained. In any event, there was no prejudice caused
by non-issuance of notice. In essence order of learned Single Judge was
In support of the appeal, learned counsel for
the appellants submitted that this case shows non application of mind by the
learned Single Judge as well as the Division Bench. Without even issuing notice
to the legal representatives the matter was disposed of on a clearly erroneous
ground that no prejudice would be caused if the matter is remanded back, over
looking to the fact that the writ petition was filed after about 19 years
without offering any explanation for the long delay. It is an accepted fact and
is evident from the order of learned Single Judge itself that the State of
Karnataka and its functionaries had clearly brought on record the fact that the
original applicant Cyril Lasrado had died. It is not understood as to how and
on what basis, learned Single Judge concluded that no prejudice would be caused
to the legal representatives. The Division Bench did not even advert to the
question as to how substantial justice has been done and why no interference
was called for. The approach of the learned Single Judge and the Division Bench
clearly does not stand to reason. No reason has been indicated by the Division
Apparently, overlooking the fact that the
writ petition was filed after about 19 years of the disposal of the matter by
the Tribunal, the learned Single Judge disposed of the matter even without
issuance of notice to the legal representatives. The writ petition was filed
after about two decades.
That prima facie made learned Single Judge's
order vulnerable. The Division Bench without indicating any reason as to how
the conclusions of learned Single Judge were in order dismissed the Writ
Learned counsel for the respondents submitted
that substantive justice has been done. The Tribunal's order is prima facie
illegal and, therefore, learned Single Judge felt it desirable to remit the
matter to the Tribunal.
Even the Division Bench has directed that the
aggrieved parties shall be given opportunity of being heard and, therefore,
there is no violation of the principles of natural justice.
The order of learned Single Judge and
impugned judgment of the Division Bench show clearly non-application of mind.
The latter is practically non-reasoned. The basic issue raised by the
appellants was the unexplained delay in filing the writ application. Neither
Single Judge considered that aspect before disposal of the writ petition
without issuance of the notice to the present appellants. Though specifically
urged and argued, the Division Bench has not dealt with it and has not recorded
any conclusion on that issue and no reason has been indicated.
Reasons introduce clarity in an order. On
plainest consideration of justice, the High Court ought to have set forth its
reasons, howsoever brief, in its order indicative of an application of its
mind, all the more when its order is amenable to further avenue of challenge.
The absence of reasons has rendered the High Court's judgment not sustainable.
Even in respect of administrative orders Lord
Denning M.R. in Breen v. Amalgamated Engineering Union (1971 (1) All E.R. 1148)
observed "The giving of reasons is one of the fundamentals of good
administration". In Alexander Machinery (Dudley) Ltd. v. Crabtree (1974
LCR 120) it was observed: "Failure to give reasons amounts to denial of
justice". Reasons are live links between the mind of the decision taker to
the controversy in question and the decision or conclusion arrived at".
Reasons substitute subjectivity by objectivity. The emphasis on recording
reasons is that if the decision reveals the "inscrutable face of the
sphinx", it can, by its silence, render it virtually impossible for the
Courts to perform their appellate function or exercise the power of judicial
review in adjudging the validity of the decision. Right to reason is an
indispensable part of a sound judicial system, reasons at least sufficient to
indicate an application of mind to the matter before Court. Another rationale
is that the affected party can know why the decision has gone against him. One
of the salutary requirements of natural justice is spelling out reasons for the
order made, in other words, a speaking out. The "inscrutable face of a
sphinx" is ordinarily incongruous with a judicial or quasi-judicial
Learned counsel for the respondents in the
present appeal submitted that there were several factors on merits which could
not be highlighted before the learned Single Judge as he chose not to deal with
the matter on merits but directed the matter to be remanded to the Tribunal. In
these circumstances, we feel that it would be appropriate if the matter is
remitted back to the learned Single Judge for a decision afresh on merits. It
would be open to the parties to place materials in support of their respective
The learned Single Judge, it goes without
saying has to dispose of the matter after taking into account the various
materials and evidence already on record or to be brought by the parties on
record. The order of learned Single Judge and the impugned judgment of the
Division Bench in Writ Appeal are accordingly set aside. The appeal is allowed
to the extent indicated with no order as to costs.