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India Tourism Development Corpn. v/s GS Panwar

    LPA 716 of 2005

    Decided On, 17 November 2005

    At, High Court of Delhi

    By, THE HONOURABLE CHIEF JUSTICE MR. MARKANDEYA KATJU & THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE MADAN B. LOKUR

    For the Appellant: V.K. Rao, Advocate. For the Respondent: Jayant Nath, Advocate.



Judgment Text

Markandeya Katju, C.J.

1. Heard learned Counsel for the parties and perused the record.

2. This Letters Patent Appeal has been filed against the impugned judgment dated 3.3.2005 passed by the learned Single Judge in WP(C) No. 956/2003. The writ petitioner had challenged his transfer order from Bharatpur to Agra dated 10.10.2001. The writ petition challeng

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ng that transfer order was filed in January, 2003. In our opinion, this writ petition was liable to be dismissed on the ground of laches, i.e. unreasonable delay, without going into the merits.3. Learned Counsel for the respondent (writ petitioner) submitted that the petitioner was making representations against the transfer order. It is well settled that mere filing of non-statutory representations does not condone the delay in filing a writ petition,vide J.N. Maltiar v. State of Bihar, AIR 1973 SC 1343. It is only the filing of a statutory representation which can help the petitioner in such cases,vide Sambolo International H.K. v. Union of India, WP(C) No. 8837/2005 decided by a Division Bench of this Court on 8.11.2005.4. Learned Counsel for the writ petitioner then submitted that the petitioner came to know about the true legal position only after the delivery of a judgment dated 9.10.2002 by the High Court of Karnataka in CWP 2501/2002. It is well settled that ignorance of law is no excuse. It is also well settled that if a petitioner seeks a writ, he must come to the High Court within a reasonable time. Writ jurisdiction is discretionary jurisdictionvide Chandra Singh v. State of Rajasthan, IV (2003) SLT 567=(2003) 6 SCC 545 (vide para 43), and one ground for dismissing a writ petition without going into the merits is that the petitioner has come to the Court after unreasonable delay.5. The case law on the point of laches has been discussed in detail by a Division Bench of this Court in Sambolo International H.K. v. Union of India & Others, (WP(C) No. 8837/2005 decided on 8.11.2005). Hence, we are not repeating the same and the same may be referred to.6. Learned Counsel for the writ petitioner relied on an observation of the Supreme Court in Dehri Rohtas Light Rly. Co. Ltd. v. District Board, Bhojpur, (AIR 1993 SC 802) . In para 13 therein the Supreme Court observed:“The principle on which the relief to the party on the grounds of laches or delay is denied is that the rights which have accrued to others by reason of the delay in filing the petition should not be allowed to be disturbed unless there is reasonable explanation for the delay. The real test to determine delay in such cases is that the petitioner should come to the writ Court before a parallel right is created and that the lapse of time is not attributable to any laches or negligence. The test is not the physical running of time.”7. In our opinion, the above observation of the Supreme Court cannot be interpreted to mean that a petitioner can come to the Court at any time simply because no parallel right has been created. A parallel right is just one of the many factors which a Writ Court has to keep in mind while considering the question of delay in filing a writ petition. There are many other considerations, and hence, the above observation in isolation is of no help to the writ petitioner.8. If creation of a parallel or third party rights is regarded the only criterion for considering the question of delay, then a party can come to the High Court even after 25 years of the impugned order if no parallel or third party right has been created. Surely that is not the correct position in law.9. For the aforesaid reasons, the appeal is allowed and the impugned judgment is set aside.
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