(1.) THIS is a petition under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution filed by Bhan singh, a right holder of village Kha-neke Fateh Garh in district Jullundur challenging the legality of the orders dated 22-8-1963 and 31-1-1964 passed by the Additional Director, Consolidation of Holdings, Punjab, respondent No. 1, under section 42 of the East Punjab Holdings (Consolidation and Prevention of fragmentation) Act (hereinafter called the Act).
(2.) THE consolidation proceedings in the village of the petitioner started in 1956. The notification under Section 14 (1) of the Act was dated 1-9-1956 and it was published in the Gazette on 14th of September, 1956. After the repartition had been carried out under Section 21 (1) of the Act. Hazara Singh and his two brothers. Kartar Singh and Kishan Singh, respondents 5-7, filed objections under section 21 (2) of the Act before the Consolidation Officer to the effect that they had been wrongly fitted by being given one Kurrah, while they had two Khatat and should have been allotted land at two places. The result was that they had been allotted the entire land away from the Abadi, while the petitioner got his holding near the Abadi. These objections were rejected by the Consolidation Officer and on appeal by the Settlement Officer and then by the Assistant Director, But subsequent-ly on revision under Section 42 of the Act, they were accepted by the additional Director by means of the impugned order dated 22-8-1963. He came to the conclusion that the petitioner had been unduly benefited at the expense of respondents 5-7. He was of the view that neither the petitioner nor the respondents should suffer and none of them should gain at the cost of the other. To achieve that he thought that it was desirable that the respondents should Ret at least some land at the second centre near the Abadi and the petitioner should also retain some land at his second centre near the Abadi and get some away from the Abadi where he had got his first centre. The scheme was, therefore, amended to provide for two plots of the fourth grade for both the parties. He, consequently, made certain adjustments in their holdings. Sohan Singh and his six brothers, respondents 8-14 also filed objections to the effect that the major portion of the petitioner had been incorrectly formed by taking into consideration the purchase of land made by him on 11-2-1967 after the notification under Section 14 (1) had been issued, with the result that they had been deprived of their major portion in spite of the fact that they had higher percentage as against the petitioner. This objection did not prevail with the Consolidation Officer. Settlement Officer and the Assistant Director, but it was accepted by the Additional Director under S 42 of the Act by means of the other impugned order dated 31-1-1964. He ha i come to the conclusion that the petitioner had purchased some land on 11-2-1957, and mutation to that effect was sanctioned on 12-7-1959 (1957?) while the notification under Section 14 (1) was dated 1-9-1956, and the same was published in the gazette on 14-9-1956. He, consequently, held that the purchase made after the notification could not be considered for the purpose of determining the major portion of the oetitioner and the respondents' claim to more area at their major portion was justified. The writ petition against both these orders had been filed on 20-3-1965.
(3.) IT may be mentioned that during the pendency of the writ petition in this Court, bhan Singh, petitioner, died and his sons, Resham Singh, Chanan Singh and Puran singh were impleaded as his legal representatives.
(4.) IT would be seen that the writ petition had been instituted in this Court after an inordinate delay i. e. after about 19 months of the first impugned order and about 14 months of the second The explanation for this delay was given by the petitioner in paragraph 16 of the petition where it was mentioned that the petitioner was an old man of about 95 years. He had fallen ill and had remained under the treatment of Dr. Jagjit Sinsh Chohan from 15-1-1964 to 13-2-1965 and was prevented from resenting the writ petition in this Court, as he was unable to move during the period if his illness. A copy of the medical certificate was also attached with the writ petition. That copy did not mention the date in which the said certificate had been issued. Besides, the certificate did not say that the petitioner had been under the treatment of the doctor issuing the said certificate Even if the petitioner was not able to move during the period of his illness, he could have instructed some of his friends or relations to file the writ petition in this Court. This apart, there is no explanation on the record as to why the petitioner could not challenge the impugned order dated 22-8-1963 before 15-1-1964 when he fell ill and secondly no explanation is forthcoming on the record as to why he could not challenge the second impugned order dated 31-1-1964 immediately after 13-2-1965 when he could move about. Under these circumstances. I am not inclined to interfere with the impugnei orders after this inordinate delay.
(5.) LEARNED counsel for the petitioner submitted that in view of the decision in rajinder Parshad v. Punjab State, AIR 1966 Punj 185 (FB) this petition could not, be dismissed on the ground of laches alone. Learned counsel for the respondents, on the other hand, referred to the following passage occurring in the judgment of the Pull Bench and submitted that there was no bar in dismissing the writ petition on that ground:
"so it would not be correct to say that merely looking at the question of some delay, the petition must be dismissed off-hand nor would it be correct to say, as an abstract proposition, that, ignoring delay, the petitioner can insist upon the decision of the case on merits. Such inflexible rules cannot be laid down and what this Court does is, when considering a petition under Article 226, that it takes into consideration the facts and circumstances of the case and delay in one of such circumstances in exercising its judicial discretion for ends of justice in the matter of decision of the petition. The supreme consideration
Please Login To View The Full Judgment!
for the exercise of the power and jurisdiction under Article 226 is the ends of justice, and that provides the approach to the exercise of judicial discretion in the matter, which embraces consideration of various aspects of the controversy, and no limitations as rigid rules or propositions, such as referred to above, can be a fetter to that. . . . . " Keeping these observations and the facts arid circumstances of this case in view. I am of the opinion that the dismissal of this writ petition on the ground of laches would not in any way result in any injustice to the petitioner. (6.) THIS writ petition, therefore, fails and is dismissed, but with no order as to costs.