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Supreme Court of India delivers verdict on Non-Maintainability of Writ Petitions when Civil Suits...


The Supreme Court of India has recently heard a Writ Petition filed by a Pursuant to Withdraw a Civil Suit of the same relief where liberty was not granted to file fresh cases, without being maintainable. It was also reiterated in the principles of constructive res judicata, following what was laid down under Order 23 Rule 1 Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 to apply upon Writ Proceedings. The case was heard by a Bench comprising Justice AS Oka and Justice Rajesh Bindal. They dismissed a Civil Appeal impugning order of the Division Bench from the Odisha High Court, which specified unsettled records of rights with respect to properties finalized in 1962. Apart from applying the principles of constructive res judicata, the Supreme Court of India based the dismissal of the appeal on the concealment of the fact that a civil suit was filed for the same relief and was withdrawn without being granted liberty.

So, in this blog, we will be trying to understand the entire case and the verdict in detail.


Background of the Case

In accordance with Section 12 of the Odisha Survey & Settlement Act 1958, a record of rights with respect to a particular plot of land was finalized in 1962. The respondents claimed of raising objections during the settlement with the owners of the land whose names were not considered by the Settlement Office where all details of the land were recorded in the name of the General Administrative Department (GAD). As this plot was given to the Reserve Bank of India to construct its Staff Quarters, in 2003, a Civil Suit was filed that sought a declaration of title and injunction against the General Administrative Department. Again in 2007, the suit was withdrawn, after which in 2008 another Writ Petition was filed by the respondents, challenging the allotment of the land to the Reserve Bank of India. In return, it challenged the order of the Settlement Office, whereby the Writ Petition was disposed-off in 2008 grabbing the liberty of the respondents from appropriate steps against the final recordings of the rights.


The Division Bench interfered with the final records of rights which were finalized in 1962. New directions were issued under which, the respondents claimed the official recordings to entitle the allotment of land in lieu to the concerned property.


Issues lying before the Supreme Court of India

There are several issues that the Supreme Court of India had faced, the most important of which can be understood in some ways like;

  • Effect of delay and laches in availing remedies against the final publication of the record of rights.

  • Maintainability of Writ Petitions in terms of filing Civil Suits for the same condition when they were being withdrawn without liberty to file a fresh appeal on the concealment of material facts from the Court.

  • Reliance of a party on the noting of Government Files without having prior Communication on any order.

However, in its analysis, the Supreme Court of India emphasized the importance of addressing the delays and laches in availing remedies related to the final publication of the record of rights. In this case, the Court cited several precedents to establish the relief to be denied to individuals who unreasonably delayed seeking legal remedies to act in a timely manner.


Why was the need to deliver such a verdict felt?

Referring to a past Appeal against an Order passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, it was observed that the court dismissed the civil writ petition presented by the appellant to relegate it under the remedy of an appeal under Section 33 of the Haryana Value Added Tax Act, 2003. The division bench of Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice Dipankar Dutta held that there was a mere availability of an alternative remedy of appeal or revision. As the party has not pursued being ousted by the jurisdiction of the High Court under a writ petition for being non-maintainable. It was further held that it is on the basis of the orders passed by the Assessing Authority that suffered from patent illegality.


However, the Court before answering on issues pertaining to orders passed by the High Courts on some cases held Writ Petitions as non-maintainable because of the alternative remedy provided by relevant statutes of not being pursued by parties desirous of invocation. Thus, with the exercise of the Writ Powers under the availability of a remedy on behalf of a statute made from the fact which the petitioner held before the Court in any given case.


Sources Referred

 

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