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Muniyamma & Others v/s The State of Karnataka Represented by Its Secretary Department of Revenue & Others

    W.A. No. 513 of 2022 (SC-ST)
    Decided On, 20 September 2022
    At, High Court of Karnataka
    By, THE HONOURABLE ACTING CHIEF JUSTICE MR. ALOK ARADHE & THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE S. VISHWAJITH SHETTY
    For the Appellants: R.G. Halesha, Advocate. For the Respondents: R1 to R3, S.S. Mahendra, AGA., C/R4, Rahul S. Reddy, Advocate.


Judgment Text
(Prayer: this Writ Appeal is filed U/S 4 of the Karnataka High Court Act praying to set aside the Order dated 08/12/2021 in WP no.14903/204 (SC-ST) passed by the learned single JUDGE whereby quashed the well speaking Order dated 29/08/2011 in PTCL (SHI) 58/08-09 passed by the assistant commissioner, Chikkaballapur Sub-Division, Chikkaballapur And Pleased to Quash The Order Dated 23/12/2013 In Ra/Scst/33/2011-12, Passed by The Deputy Commissioner, Chikkaballapur District, Chikkaballapura, Produced in Writ Petition As Annexures-C And D. Further Pleased To Pass Such Other Appropriate Order or Directions.

1. This intra Court appeal is filed against an order dated 08.12.2021 passed by the learned Single Judge in W.P. No.14903/2014, by which writ petition preferred by respondent Nos.4 to 16 has been allowed and order passed by the Assistant Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner under Karnataka Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prohibition of Transfer of Certain Lands) Act, 1978 (hereinafter referred to as the 'PTCL Act' for short), have been set aside.

2. Facts giving rise to filing of this appeal briefly stated are that land bearing Sy. No.86 (old) Survey No.162 (new) measuring 1 acre and 37 guntas situate at Yennangur Village, Jangamkote Hobli, Shidlaghatta Taluk, Chikkaballapura District, was granted in favour of respondent No.4 on 25.05.1951. The respondent No.4 by a registered Sale Deed dated 14.04.1960 sold the land.

3. Thereafter, in the year 2008, an application under Sections 4 and 5 of the PTCL Act was filed. The Assistant Commissioner by an order dated 29.08.2011 allowed the application filed by respondent No.4. The Deputy Commissioner by an order passed in appeal dated 23.12.2013 directed to restore possession of the land in question in favour of the State Government. The purchasers thereupon filed W.P. No.14903/2014. The learned Single Judge by an order dated 08.12.2021 set side the order passed by the Assistant Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioner and allowed the writ petition. In the aforesaid factual background, this appeal has been filed.

4. Learned counsel for the appellants submitted that question of delay and laches is a question to be decided in the facts of the case and therefore, the appellant should be granted an opportunity to explain the delay of 29 years in filing the application seeking resumption of land under the PTCL Act. In support of aforesaid submissions, reliance has been placed on the division bench decision of this Court in SMT. P. KAMALA v. THE STATE OF KARNATAKA, REP. BY ITS SECRETARY, REVENUE DEPARTMENT AND ORS. (ILR 2019 KAR 3301).

5. We have considered the submissions made by the learned counsel for the appellants and have perused the record. The Hon'ble Supreme Court in NEKKANTI RAMA LAKSHMI Vs. STATE OF KARNATAKA AND ORS. ((2020) 14 SCC 232) has held that Section 5 of the PTCL Act enables any interested person to make an application for having the transfer annulled as void under Section 4 of the Act. The aforesaid Section does not prescribe for any period of limitation. However, it has been held that any action whether on an application of the parties or suo motu, must be taken within a reasonable period of time. The Supreme Court, in the aforesaid decision, held that the application seeking resumption of the land filed after a period of 24 years, suffered from inordinate delay and was therefore, liable to be dismissed on that ground. Similar view was taken by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in VIVEK M.HINDUJA & ANR. Vs. M.ASHWATHA ((2020) 14 SCC 228) and it was held that whenever limitation is not prescribed, the party ought to approach the competent Court or Authority within a reasonable time beyond which no relief can be granted. In the aforesaid case, delay of 20 years in filing the application for resumption was held to be unreasonable.

6. Admittedly, in the instant case, the land in question was alienated on 14.04.1960. The Act came into force in the year 1978. After an inordinate delay of 29 years, an explanation seeking resumption of land was filed, for which, no explanation has been offered. The delay in making the application seeking resumption of the land does not entitle the appellants to seek any relief. However, the aforesaid aspect of the matter has not been appreciated neither by the Assistant Commissioner nor the Deputy Commissioner. The learned Single Judge has rightly set aside the orders passed by the Assistant Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioner. The delay in filing the application for resumption of land is 29 years for which no explanation has been offered.

7. In the instant proceedings also, despite opportunity being afforded, learned counsel for the appellants did not offer any explanation with regard to delay of 29 years in filing the application for resumption. An order of remand, in our considered opinion, would protract the life of the litigation. Therefore, in the absence of even a prima

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facie explanation with regard to inordinate delay of 29 years in filing the application for resumption of land under PTCL Act, we are not inclined to remit the matter to the authorities under the PTCL Act. For the aforementioned reasons, we do not find any ground to differ with the view taken by the learned Single Judge. In the result, the appeal fails and is hereby dismissed. In view of the dismissal of the appeal, the pending interlocutory application does not survive for consideration and is accordingly dismissed.
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