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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 8577 OF 2014 Executive Officer, Antiyur Town Panchayat ... Appellant (s) Versus G. Arumugam (D) by LRs. ... Respondent (s)



                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                       CIVIL  APPELLATE  JURISDICTION



                        CIVIL APPEAL NO. 8577 OF 2014


Executive Officer, Antiyur Town Panchayat         ... Appellant (s)


                                   Versus

G. Arumugam (D) by LRs.                           ... Respondent (s)









                               J U D G M E N T


KURIAN, J.:




Appellant is aggrieved by the  impugned  order  passed  by  the  High  Court
declining to condone the delay of 1373 days in  filing  the  appeal  against
the judgment dated 14.11.2000 in A.S. No. 108 of 1999 on  the  file  of  the
Subordinate  Judge,  Bhavani,  Erode  District,  Tamil   Nadu.   The   first
respondent herein filed O.S. No. 267 of 1992 on the file of  the  Additional
District Munsif Court, Bhavani, Tamil Nadu for  declaration  and  possession
of the suit land. The Gram Panchayat, defendant in the suit, contended  that
the suit land is Natham Poramboke and the possession and  records  of  title
are in the name of the Panchayat. The trial  court  dismissed  the  suit  by
judgment dated 11.07.1997. The  complainant-first  respondent  herein  filed
first appeal as A.S. No. 108 of 1999. The appeal was allowed  and  the  suit
was decreed by judgment dated 14.11.2000.

It appears, no steps were taken by the Executive Officer  of  the  Panchayat
at the relevant time. When the Executive Officer, at the time of filing  the
second appeal, came to know of the proceedings when steps for eviction  were
taken in execution, he immediately took steps and filed  an  application  on
26.10.2004 for certified copy of the judgment  and  decree.  The  same  were
issued on 15.12.2004, and after obtaining  the  necessary  sanction  and  on
completing the other procedural formalities, the second appeal was filed  on
05.01.2005 along with application for condonation of delay. By the  impugned
order, the High Court declined to condone the delay. According to  the  High
Court, the delay is not properly explained.  It  is  also  observed  in  the
impugned order that though the certified copies were issued  on  15.12.2004,
the second appeal  is  filed  only  on  05.01.2005  and  that  there  is  no
explanation even for that delay.

In the additional affidavit filed on behalf of the appellant on  12.12.2006,
it is brought to the notice of this Court that Shri K. G. Ramasamy, who  was
working as Executive Officer of the  Panchayat  at  the  relevant  time  was
suspended from service w.e.f. 12.07.2002 on allegations  of  corruption.  Be
that as it may, after going  through  the  records  and  after  hearing  the
counsel on both sides, we are satisfied that the delay  occasioned  only  on
account of the deliberate lapses on the part of  the  Executive  Officer  of
the Panchayat at the relevant time. Who else are involved  in  the  process,
is not quite clear.

As held by this Court in State of Nagaland v. Lipok Ao  and  others[1],  the
court must always take a  justice-oriented  approach  while  considering  an
application for condonation of delay. If the court is convinced  that  there
had been an attempt on the  part  of  the  government  officials  or  public
servants to defeat justice by causing delay,  the  court,  in  view  of  the
larger public interest, should take  a  lenient  view  in  such  situations,
condone the delay, howsoever huge may be the  delay,  and  have  the  matter
decided on merits.

Accordingly, we set aside the impugned order and condone the delay  of  1373
days in filing the second appeal. The case is remitted  to  the  High  court
for  further  consideration  in  accordance  with  law.  The   Interlocutory
Application No. 2 of 2014 is accordingly disposed of.

The appeal is allowed as above. There is no order as to costs.


                                                ..........................J.
                               (M. Y. EQBAL)


                                                ..........................J.
                         (KURIAN JOSEPH)
New Delhi;
January 19, 2015.



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[1]    (2005) 3 SCC 752

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                                                                  REPORTABLE


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