State Of Gujarat vs Lajbarkhan Sherdalkhan Pathan on 12 April, 2023
Bench: Honourable Justice Sandeep N. Bhatt
R/SPECIAL CIVIL APPLICATION NO. 18903 of 2021
The respondent possessed a plot of land and his name was shown in the revenue record as a farmer. In the year 1989, the present petitioner – Government Authority came to the plaintiff’s place and issued notice for vacating the said land within seven days, without following any procedure, and removed some part of the hut. Therefore, the plaintiff filed a suit before the competent Civil Court for declaration and permanent injunction, along with an application for injunction. However, the Government Authority had chosen not to appear and contest the said suit. The trial Court therefore, allowed the suit ex-parte and granted permanent injunction and directed the Government Authority not to take possession of the land in question from the plaintiff, without following due process of law. There was no challenge by the State Authority against the same before any higher forum till date and hence the judgement attained finality
The respondent then filed another suit before the competent Civil Court to declare him the owner of the land in view of adverse possession as he was in its possession for the past 61 years as well as for permanent injunction. However, no appearance was made by the Government authority and therefore, the trial Court directed to hear the suit ex-parte. Ultimately, the trial Court passed the judgment in favour of the respondent and decreed the suit
After a delay of 3230 days, the State Authority then finally filed an application for condonation of delay and preferred an appeal against the judgment passed by the trial Court.
However, the Government Authority / Government Pleader failed to appear and therefore, the rights of the State were closed at each stage of the proceeding, after giving ample opportunity and thus the appellate Court rejected the application made by the Government authority for condonation of the delay. It is this order impugned, which is challenged by the State Authority before the present Court in the petition after about 9 years.
The counsel for the Government authority submitted that there was a revenue distribution of territorial jurisdiction of Ahmedabad which bifurcated it into 4 zones due to which an urgent requirement of establishment of authorities for all 4 zones had arisen. The bifurcation of the zones consumed some time and only then did the authorities have a chance for the demarcation of the revenue jurisdiction. Hence, in the process of establishment of the offices, the records, documents and all the other connected things were either shifted or were in process of being shifted which took considerable time.
He contended that the appellate Court below had not rightly appreciated the facts and circumstances of the case and the reasons given by the Government authority in the application for condonation of delay and that the delay should be considered liberally
The Court after going through the case held that despite sufficient opportunities having been given, theState Authorities had not appeared before the trial Court which compelled it to hear the matter exparte. Even after the verdict, the Government authority failed to challenge it and thus it attained finality which shows the marked incompetence of the authority to act in a timely manner.
The Court held that all these facts signify that there are wilful latches and negligence on the part of the state authority and for these reasons, the present petition is devoid of merits and therefore, the Court dismissed it accordingly.
JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY AMIT ARAVIND
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