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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Estate Abolition Tribunal, Guntur (for short the Tribunal) dated 10.06.1986 in T.A.S.No.1 of 1982. The Tribunal reversed the decision of the Settlement Officer on the appeal preferred by the respondents before the Settlement Officer and declared that Gummanampadu Village, Veenukonda Taluk, Bollampalli Mandal, is not established to be a Inam Estate as defined in Section 2 (7) of the Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act, 1948 (for short the Act).

THE HONBLE SRI JUSTICE P. NAVEEN RAO        

WRIT PETITION.No.10064 of 2002  

12-03-2015

State of Andhra Pradesh Rep. by its District Collector, Guntur &
another..Petitioners

Estate Abolition Tribunal (District Judge),Guntur & others.. Respondents

Counsel for the petitioners: Government Pleader for Revenue (A.P)

Counsel for respondents : Sri G. Krishna Murthy
                           Sri K. Ravindra Kumar

<Gist :

>Head Note :
       
? Citations:
1. AIR 2011 Supreme Court 2161
2. AIR 2009 SC 571

THE HONBLE SRI JUSTICE P.NAVEEN RAO        

WRIT PETITION No.10064 of 2002  

Dated : 12.03.2015


This Court made the following :

THE HONBLE SRI JUSTICE P.NAVEEN RAO        

WRIT PETITION No.10064 of 2002  

ORDER :

      The State preferred this writ petition aggrieved by the decision of
Estate Abolition Tribunal, Guntur (for short the Tribunal) dated
10.06.1986 in T.A.S.No.1 of 1982.  The Tribunal reversed the decision of
the Settlement Officer on the appeal preferred by the respondents before
the Settlement Officer and declared that Gummanampadu Village, 
Veenukonda Taluk, Bollampalli Mandal, is not established to be a Inam
Estate as defined in Section 2 (7) of the Estates (Abolition and Conversion
into Ryotwari) Act, 1948 (for short the Act).
      2.        Sakhamuri Laxmidevamma was the daughter-in-law of
Sakhamuri Venkatadri Naidu and his mother was Radhabayamma.    
Sakhamuri Venkatadri Naidu inherited the property of Laxmidevamma.
      3.        Sri Chirumamilla Rama Krishna Prasad is the maternal grand
son of Sakhamuri Laxmidevamma.  The property that fell to the share of
Shakamuri Venkatakrishnaiah, who was the adopted son of
Laxmidevamma, was purchased by the grand father of Paladugu Krishna  
Prasad in a court auction.  The Settlement Officer conducted suo-motto
enquiry under Section 9 of the Act  and by his order dated 15.07.1950
held that the Gummanampadu village is not Inam estate.  Aggrieved
thereby the District Collector, Guntur filed appeal in T.A.S.No.5 of 1959
before the Tribunal.  The Tribunal by its order dated 11.04.1960 set aside
the order of the Settlement Officer and remanded for reconsideration.  On
such remand the Settlement Officer by his order dated 21.08.1976, held
that Gummanampadu village is an Inam estate.  Aggrieved thereby the
appeal was preferred before the Tribunal in T.A.S.No.2 of 1977.  By order
dated 04.09.1978, the order of Settlement Officer was set aside and the
matter was once again remanded to the Settlement Officer.
      4.        After the 2nd remand, the Settlement Officer by his order dated
30.06.1982 held that Gummanampadu village is an Inam Estate.
Aggrieved thereby Chirumamilla Rama Krishna Prasad and Paladugu  
Krishna Prasad, preferred appeal before the Tribunal in T.A.S.No.01 of
1982.  By order dated 10.06.1986 the Tribunal set aside the order of
Settlement Officer dated 30.06.1982 and declared that Gummanampadu  
village is not established to be an Inam Estate as defined in Section 2 (7) of
the Act, 1948.  Aggrieved thereby the State instituted this writ petition.
      5.        Heard learned Assistant Government Pleader for the State and
Sri G. Krishna Murthy learned counsel appearing for Respondents 5 to 9
and Sri Kanakamedala Ravindra Kumar, learned counsel appearing for
Respondents 10 to 13.
      6.        Learned Assistant Government Pleader contends that the
order under challenge is erroneous and is liable to be set aside on the sole
ground that the Tribunal failed to appreciate the crucial and important
entries made in the Inam Fair Register and has come to a wrong
conclusion.  He further contended that the Inam Fair Register is a public
document.  Several recitals in the register conclusively proves that the
entire village is an Inam Estate.  The Tribunal ought not to have ignored
the entries made more particularly the entry in Column No.12 and erred in
holding that the entire village is not Inam Estate.  He further contends that
the whole of the village was granted by the then Zamindar as a personal
grant for maintenance to a person by name Venkatadri Naidu in F.1213.
After the death of the grantee, it was renewed and this was recorded in
Column No.12 of Inam Fair Register and appropriate remarks were made
by the Inams Deputy Collector in the year F.1220 in favour of one
Venkayya who was the son of the original grantee for maintenance.
      7.        Learned Assistant Government Pleader further contends that
in accordance with the definition provided in Section 3 (2) (d) of the Estates
Land Act, even if subsequent to the grant of such village, hamlet of
Khandrika has been partitioned among the parties, the area which formed
part of the subject land of the grant should be deemed to be an estate,
notwithstanding that it did not include certain lands in the village.  He
therefore, contends that the village is not an Inam Estate is not correct
either on facts or in law and therefore, the decision of the Tribunal has to
be set aside.  He also contends that the Settlement Officer has come to the
correct conclusion and the Tribunal erred in reversing the decision of the
Settlement Officer.
      8.        Sri G. Krishna Murthy, learned counsel appearing for
respondents 5 to 9 raised a preliminary objection on the maintainability of
the writ petition filed after long lapse of time.  He contends that the
decision of the Tribunal was rendered on 10.06.1986, whereas the writ
petition is instituted in March/April 2002. Thus  approximately there was
delay of 16 years in instituting the writ petition.  No sufficient cause is
shown for such inordinate delay.  Merely because no limitation is
prescribed in instituting the writ petition under Article 226 of the
Constitution of India, does not mean that at any time, the writ petition can
be filed.  Unless there is sufficient cause for not approaching this Court
within reasonable time, from the date of arising of cause of action, the writ
petition should not be entertained.  Except for harping on the fact that as
early as in the year 1987 the decision was taken to file writ petition and
appropriate papers were submitted to the Government Pleader,  what steps
were taken thereafter and how the matter was pursued is not explained in
detail and vague assertions were made contending that there was no
response from the office of the Government pleader in the High Court, to
whom the papers were handed over.  Learned counsel placed reliance on
the decision of the Honble Supreme Court in Shankara Co-op. Housing
Society Ltd., Vs M. Prabhakar and others  in support of his contention
that the writ petition is liable to be dismissed only on the ground of delay
and laches.
      9.        Learned counsel further contends that after the order was
passed by the Tribunal, having waited for sufficiently long time, the
contesting respondents herein filed W.P.No.17136 of 1990 praying to issue
direction by way of certiorari to direct the respondents to implement the
orders of the Tribunal dated 10.06.1986 passed in T.A.S.No.01 of 1982.
The said writ petition was disposed of by order dated 21.12.1990 directing
the respondents therein to dispose of the applications/representations of
the petitioners expeditiously and preferably within three (3) months from
the date of receipt of the order.  The present writ petition is instituted by
the District Collector, representing the State as 1st petitioner and Mandal
Revenue Officer, Guntur as the 2nd petitioner, who were respondents
therein.
      10.       Learned Counsel further submits that in pursuance to the
orders passed by this Court in the above writ petition, the contesting
respondents have been pursuing with the authorities and the orders of the
Court were communicated to them.  Thus, if the petitioners were alert at
that point of time they ought to have filed the writ petition immediately.
However, the present writ petition is instituted after lapse of more than 12
years after the said Writ Petition was disposed of.  He submits that it is not
a case where the petitioners were not aware of the said fact.
      11.       Learned counsel further contends that in accordance with
provisions contained in Section 3 (3) of the Andhra Inam Abolition and
Conversion into Ryotwari Act, 1956 a notification was published in the
Gazette dated 07.06.1993 calling for objections to decide whether the land
belongs to the Institution or any Inamdar.  The issue is not finalised till
date.  He further submits that the notification under Survey and
Boundaries Act, 1923 was issued on 13.11.1995 in the process of taking
steps to issue pattas under Inams Abolition Act, 1956 for the entire village
and authorities were aware of these notifications and they should have
been alert in prosecuting the writ petition atleast at that stage.  Thus, the
institution of writ petition in the year 2002 on a decision taken by the
Tribunal on 10.06.1986 is liable to be dismissed only on the ground of
delay and laches and there is absolutely no justification for filing the writ
petition after such a long lapse of time.  On account of the order passed by
the Tribunal, ultimately the issue has been settled, rights have been
accrued to the contesting respondents and if the decision of the Tribunal is
upset at this distance of time, it would cause grave hardship and suffering
and the same would be irreparable.
      12.       Learned Counsel further contended that even on merits there
is no justification shown by the petitioners in assailing the order of the
Tribunal.  Sufficient opportunity was afforded to the petitioners, but they
have not availed to produce the relevant and important documents in
support of their claim that the entire village is an Inam Estate.  He also
contends that the stand of the Government that the Tribunal has not
appreciated the entries made in the Inam Fair register is not correct and
contrary to the record.  The Tribunal has examined dilapidated copy of
Inam Fair Register and the Tribunal has recorded that as per the entries
made in the Inam Fair Register, it does not disclose that the entire village
is treated as Inam Estate. Inspite of granting sufficient time, the proper
document was not produced and Tribunal had no option but to consider
whatever document filed.
      13.       He further contends that it is a well considered order and in
exercise of certiorari jurisdiction, this Court cannot re-appreciate the
evidence and set aside the order.  It is not the case of the petitioners that
the Tribunal has exceeded its jurisdiction nor is incompetent to decide the
issue.
      14.       The point for consideration is whether the Writ Petition is
liable to be dismissed on the ground of delay and laches ?
      15.       The order was passed by the Tribunal on 10.06.1986 reversing
the decision of the Settlement Officer dated 30.06.1982 and held that
Gummanampadu village is not Inam estate.  This writ petition is instituted
after 16 years of the decision rendered by the Tribunal.  In page No.5 of
the affidavit filed in support of the writ petition it is stated that on taking
a
decision to challenge the order of the Tribunal, on 08.03.1987 the affidavit
along with relevant expenses were furnished to the Government pleader
(F&A), High Court, Hyderabad, for filing appeal and thereafter, the matter
was pursued from time to time.  It is also stated that inspite of several
reminders issued in the matter, no writ petition was filed and Government
pleader could not furnish particulars.  Immediately steps were taken to file
writ petition.  Except stating as above, no other details are furnished as to
the efforts made by the competent authority responsible in prosecuting the
litigation. It is not stated when the Government Pleader has replied that no
writ petition was filed.   It is not stated when the Special Officer in
Government Pleaders Office was contacted and when the Special Officer
informed the concerned person that the writ petition was not filed. It is not
stated as to who was prosecuting the matter on behalf of the State.  As
rightly contended by the learned counsel for the respondents that in the
meantime the contesting respondents instituted W.P.No.17136 of 1990
seeking implementation of the very same order, which the petitioners
intend to assail before this Court.  At that time also the Court was not
informed of the decision to challenge the order by way of writ petition.
They blissfully kept quiet even after the order in the writ petition was
received, which was disposed of on 21.12.1990.  As contended by the
learned counsel Sri Krishna Murthy, the Gazette publication was made on
07.06.1993 regarding notice under Section 3 (3) of Inams (Abolition and
Conversion into Ryotwari) Act, and another Gazette publication was made
on 30.11.1995 under Survey and Boundaries Act. Even at that stage also
they have not taken steps to institute the writ petition.  Therefore, it
cannot be said that the petitioners are diligent in prosecuting the
litigation. Except saying that somebody else committed mistake in not
filing the writ petition, no material is brought on record and no details are
furnished on the steps taken by the concerned authority against person
responsible if it was a case that some erring officer was responsible in not
filing the writ petition deliberately, and action taken against such person.
      16.       In Shankara Co-op. Housing Society Ltd., Vs M.
Prabhakar and others, on detail consideration of the various judgments
on the issue of maintainability of the writ petition filed after long lapse of
time, for inordinate delay, the Supreme Court laid down the parameters for
entertaining the writ petition. They read as under :
       The relevant considerations, in determining whether delay
or laches should be put against a person who approaches the
writ court under Article 226 of the Constitution is now well
settled.  They are : (1) there is no inviolable rule of law that
whenever there is a delay, the court must necessarily refuse to
entertain the petition; it is a rule of practice based on sound and
proper exercise of discretion, and each case must be dealt with
on its own facts. (2) The principle on which the court refuses
relief on the ground of laches or delay is that the rights accrued
to others by the delay in filing the petition should not be
disturbed, unless there is a reasonable explanation for the delay,
because court should not harm innocent parties if their rights
had emerged by the delay on the part of the petitioners. (3) The
satisfactory way of explaining delay in making an application
under Article 226 is for the petitioner to show that he had been
seeking relief elsewhere in a manner provided by law.  If he runs
after a remedy not provided in the Statute or the statutory rules,
it is not desirable for the High Court to condone the delay.  It is
immaterial what the petitioner chooses to believe in regard to the
remedy. (4) No hard  and fast rule, can be laid down in this
regard.  Every case shall have to be decided on its own facts. (5)
That representations would not be adequate explanation to take
care of the delay (Para 53).

      17.       In that case also there was delay of 15 years and the court
noticed that there was no serious effort made to prosecute the litigation
and the reasons for delay in instituting the writ petition were not properly
explained and on the ground of inordinate delay in instituting the writ
petition, the issue was answered against the State.
      18.       In the present case also specific objection is raised by the
respondents on the maintainability of the writ petition.  No reply is filed
opposing the said objection raised in the counter affidavit and as noticed
above no material is shown on the cause for delay. Only a bald statement
is made in the affidavit filed in support of the writ petition.
      19.       Though no limitation is prescribed to entertain a writ petition
under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, the principle of law is well
settled that a person, who seeks intervention of the High Court under
Article 226 of Constitution of India, should invoke the jurisdiction of this
Court immediately after arising of cause of action and at any rate within a
reasonable time.  Ordinarily, the reasonable time in prosecuting the writ
remedy is the time available to prosecute civil law remedy. Anything
beyond that cannot be said as reasonable for prosecuting the writ remedy.
Whenever, there is delay in filing writ petition, the detailed reasons must
be assigned with supporting material. The burden is heavy on petitioners
to explain the delay in filing the writ petition when such delay is
unreasonably long. The writ remedy is discretionary remedy and is an
extraordinary remedy available to a person.  A person who intend to assert
his right must be diligent in prosecuting the litigation. Writ Court do not
come to the rescue of a person not diligent in prosecuting legal remedy.
The delay of 16 years cannot be said as reasonable.  Therefore, there ought
to have been detailed explanation for not filing the writ petition
immediately without making vague assertions.  The petitioners miserably
failed in doing so.  Furthermore, on account of long delay rights have
accrued to respondents and if relief claimed in this writ petition is granted,
settled issue for more than 28 years gets affected.  It is not in the interest
of justice and fair play to grant relief on a stale claim.  In City Industrial
Development Corporation V Dosu Aardeshir Bhiwandiwala and  
Others  , the Supreme Court held as under :
A writ of Mandamus is highly discretionary.  The relief cannot be
claimed as of right.  One of the grounds for refusing relief is that the
person approaching the High Court is guilty of unexplained delay and
the laches.  Inordinate delay in moving the court for a writ is an
adequate ground for refusing a writ.  The principle is that courts
exercising public law jurisdiction do not encourage agitation of stale
claims and exhuming matters where the rights of third parties may
have accrued in the interregnum.

      20.       In order to consider the desirability of entertaining the writ
petition even though it is filed after 16 years, I have also heard the learned
Assistant Government Pleader on merits.  As seen from the pleadings in
the affidavit filed in support of the writ petition, the only plea raised is
that
the Tribunal erred in not considering the Inam Fair Register and erred in
ignoring the entries made in Inam Fair Register and thereby came to a
wrong conclusion. The order passed by the Tribunal is minutely read and
it is observed that inspite of granting sufficient opportunity, no material
was placed before the Tribunal indicating that the grant is a named village
or whole village or hamlet or Khandriga of Inam village.  The Inam Fair
register is marked as Ex.P.9.  The Tribunal noticed that the document is in
a very damaged condition.  However, the document was considered and
the Tribunal recorded that in the Inam Fair Register, it is no where
mentioned that the entire village was granted as Inam nor does it give
particulars of the Inams which are already granted for an extent of
Ac.2370.
      21.       The Tribunal further observed that in the absence of a neat
copy of Inam Fair Register, the certified copy of Exs.P.1 and P.9 produced
by the appellant and marked as Ex.P.13 was received in evidence and
considered.  The Tribunal observed that these documents were certified by
the Government and therefore their correctness was not doubted.  There is
no whisper on the said decision of the Tribunal in the writ petition.  Thus,
it is not correct to contend that the Tribunal has not considered the entries
made in the Inam Fair Register. The Tribunal also observed that the
Government was not able to produce the original or atleast certified copy of
the Inam Fair Register, though the document already produced was in a
very damaged condition, inspite of giving sufficient time. The Tribunal
noticed that there is no other evidence to show that it is the named village.
The Tribunal also observed that unless there is proof that it is a named
village, it could not have been presumed as a named village by the
Settlement Officer.  It was further held that there was no proof that the
grant is of a named village as the record indicates that by the time of grant
of this extent, there was more than 2/3rd extent which was not granted to
the predecessors and part of it was already granted to others.
      22.       Whether the Tribunal could have come to such conclusion
based on the material available on record? or the Tribunal ought to have
upheld the decision of the Settlement Officer or inspite of not having a neat
copy of the Inam Fair Register and the entries are not clearly visible, the
Tribunal ought to have held that the entire village is an Inam Village, are
matters of consideration on merits and this Court in exercise of certiorari
jurisdiction cannot re-appreciate the evidence on record and redraw the
conclusions arrived at by the Tribunal. This Court does not sit in appeal
against decisions of Tribunals.  It is not a case where the Tribunal did not
have the jurisdiction nor exceeded the jurisdiction in deciding the matter.
Thus, the petitioners have not made out case on merits also.  It is not a
case of palpably erroneous reasoning of Tribunal to grant the prayer
sought in the writ petition even if delay of 16 years is ignored.
      23.       It is also noticed that at various points of time, the subject
property was propped up, be it a notification under Section 3(3) of Inams
(Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act, 1956 or a notification under
Survey and Boundaries Act, 1923 or filing of W.P.No.17136 of 1990 for
implementation of very order of the Tribunal, but the petitioners did not
wake up from deep slumber and allowed the issue to drift. Thus, the writ
petition fails on the ground of inordinate and unexplained delay in
espousing the cause in the writ petition.
      24.       Accordingly, the writ petition is dismissed. There shall be no
order as to costs.
      Miscellaneous petitions, if any, pending in this writ petition shall
stand dismissed.
__________________  
P.NAVEEN RAO,J  
12th March, 2015

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