Yunus (Baboobhai) A.
Hamid Padvekar Vs. State of Maharashtra & Ors.  INSC 184 (28 January
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO. 486 OF 2009 (Arising out
of SLP (C) No. 1160 of 2005) Yunus (Baboobhai) A Hamid Padvekar ...Appellant
Versus State of Maharashtra Through its Secretary and Ors. ...Respondents
Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT,
in this appeal is to the order passed by a Division Bench of the Bombay High
Court dismissing the Writ Petition filed by the appellant on the ground that it
was highly belated. It also noted that the appellant had received compensation
in respect of the land which was acquired.
facts in a nutshell are as follows:
In the year 1971
Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (in short `MIDC') acquired about
1250 acres of agricultural land situated at four villages in Ratnagiri district
of Maharashtra. Thirty eight acres of land belonging to the appellant were
acquired. It is the stand of the appellant that out of the acquired area, about
50% was under paddy cultivation and 25% was under cultivation of mango crops.
In the appellant's land about 175 mango trees were there. In the year 1973, the
Revenue and Forest Department of the Maharashtra Government passed a resolution
inter-alia deciding to take steps in respect of surplus acquired land which
remained unutilized for a period of three years from the date of taking over
possession for resumption of such lands in accordance with the applicable rules
and orders. In 1974, a Writ Petition was filed by the appellant challenging the
Notification for acquisition and an arrangement was worked out in which 20
acres of appellant's land out of 38 acres were released. The lands were
acquired for a Govt. company-Balco for setting up a manufacturing unit.
Since Balco did not
set up any unit, license issued to it was cancelled. In the year 1982,
appellant claims to have made representations alongwith similarly situated land
owners for restoration of the acquired land to the original owners. In the year
1983, compensation was paid to 686 land owners. In 1984, again the appellant
made a representation to the Collector of Ratnagiri for release of the land. On
20.7.1989 a Committee was appointed by the Legislative Assembly for
consideration of the proposal for handing back the acquired land to the original
owners. Certain recommendations were made by the said Committee. On 20.8.1992
the land acquired for Balco was allotted to another industrial group.
Subsequently, the State Government asked the industrial group not to continue
the construction activities in view of pendency of cases. On 12.11.2002,
representations were again made to hand back the land not utilized. It was the
specific stand of the appellant that in view of Section 39(2a) of the
Maharashtra Industrial Development Act, 1961 (in short the `Act') the land
should be restored. The High Court dismissed the writ petition on the ground
that it was highly belated.
support of the appeal, learned counsel for the appellant stated that the
appellant was all through representing to the authorities and because of the
recommendations by the Committee, the appellant waited for some time and
ultimately when no worthwhile action was taken, he filed the writ petition.
counsel for the respondent on the other hand supported the judgment of the High
is pointed out that the recommendations made in terms of the resolution were
not accepted by the Government. It was decided that since definite policy has
been formulated the land is to be utilized for the industrial development, the
same cannot be surrendered to the original owners for cultivation purposes. It
is also pointed out that the so called representations do not in any way assist
the appellant to explain the long delay in filing the writ petition.
is also pointed out that Section 39(2a) is applicable only in respect of the
undeveloped land, and in the instant case the land in question is developed
or laches is one of the factors which is to be borne in mind by the High Courts
when they exercise their discretionary powers under Article 226 of the
Constitution of India, 1950 (in short the `Constitution'). In an appropriate
case the High Court may refuse to invoke its extraordinary powers if there is
such negligence or omission on the part of the applicant to assert his right as
taken in conjunction with the lapse of time and other circumstances, causes
prejudice to the opposite party. Even where fundamental right is involved the
matter is still within the discretion of the Court as pointed out in Durga Prasad
v. Chief Controller of Imports and Exports (AIR 1970 SC 769). Of course, the
discretion has to be exercised judicially and reasonably.
was stated in this regard by Sir Barnes Peacock in Lindsay Petroleum Company v.
Prosper Armstrong Hurde etc. (1874) 5 PC 221 at page 239 was approved by this
Court in Moon Mills Ltd. v. Industrial Courts (AIR 1967 SC 1450) and
Maharashtra State Transport Corporation v. Balwant Regular Motor Service (AIR
1969 SC 329), Sir Barnes had stated:
doctrine of laches in Courts of Equity is not an arbitrary or technical
doctrine. Where it would be practically unjust to give a remedy either because
the party has, by his conduct done that which might fairly be regarded as
equivalent to a waiver of it, or where by his conduct and neglect he has though
perhaps not waiving that remedy, yet put the other party in a situation in
which it would not be reasonable to place him if the remedy were afterwards to
be asserted, in either of these cases, lapse of time and delay are most
material. But in every case, if an argument against relief, which otherwise
would be just, if founded upon mere delay, 5 that delay of course not
amounting to a bar by any statute of limitation, the validity of that defence
must be tried upon principles substantially equitable. Two circumstances always
important in such cases are, the length of the delay and the nature of the acts
done during the interval which might affect either party and cause a balance of
justice or injustice in taking the one course or the other, so far as relates
to the remedy."
would be appropriate to note certain decisions of this Court in which this
aspect has been dealt with in relation with Article 32 of the Constitution. It
is apparent that what has been stated as regards that Article would apply, a
fortiori, to Article 226. It was observed in R.N Bose v. Union of India (AIR
1970 SC 470) that no relief can be given to the petitioner who without any
reasonable explanation approaches this Court under Article 32 after inordinate
delay. It was stated that though Article 32 is itself a guaranteed right, it
does not follow from this that it was the intention of the Constitution makers
that this Court should disregard all principles and grant relief in petitions
filed after inordinate delay.
was stated in State of M.P. v. Nandlal (AIR 1987 SC 251) that the High Court in
exercise of its discretion does not ordinarily assist the tardy and the
indolent or the acquiescent and the lethargic. If there is inordinate delay on
the part of the petitioner and such delay is not satisfactorily explained, the
High Court may decline to intervene and grant relief in exercise of its writ
jurisdiction. It was stated that this rule is premised on a number of factors.
The High Court does not ordinarily permit a belated resort to the extraordinary
remedy because it is likely to cause confusion and public inconvenience and
bring in its trail new injustices, and if writ jurisdiction is exercised after
unreasonable delay, it may have the effect of inflicting not only hardship and
inconvenience but also injustice on third parties. It was pointed out that when
writ jurisdiction is invoked, unexplained delay coupled with the creation of
third party rights in the meantime is an important factor which also weighs
with the High Court in deciding whether or not to exercise such jurisdiction.
view of the aforesaid position we are not inclined to interfere in this appeal
which is dismissed accordingly.
(Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT)