Delay and Laches | Baljeet Singh v. State of U.P., S.L.P. (C) No. 30404 of 2017 08-08-2019 SC

SUPREME COURT OF INDIA | Arun Mishra, S. Abdul Nazeer & M.R. Shah, JJJ. S.L.P. (C) Nos. 30404 - 30442 of 2017 08-08-2019

Laches and Delay - If the aggrieved party does not initiate the proceedings within the period of limitation without any sufficient cause, he can be denied the relief on the ground of unexplained laches and delay and on the presumption that such person has waived his right or acquiesced with the order.



It is a very recognised principle of jurisprudence that a right not exercised for a long time is nonexistent. Even when there is no limitation period prescribed by any statute relating to certain proceedings, in such cases, courts have coined the doctrine of laches and delay as well as doctrine of acquiescence and non­suited the litigants who approached the court belatedly without any justifiable explanation for bringing the action after unreasonable delay. In those cases, where the period of limitation is prescribed within which the action is to be brought before the court, if the action is not brought within that prescribed period, the aggrieved party loses remedy and cannot enforce his legal right after the period of limitation is over, however, subject to the prayer for condonation of delay and if there is a justifiable explanation for bringing the action after the prescribed period of limitation is over and sufficient cause is shown, the court may condone the delay. Therefore, in a case where the period of limitation is prescribed and the action is not brought within the period of limitation and subsequently proceedings are initiated after the period of limitation along with the prayer for condonation of delay, in that case, the applicant has to make out a sufficient cause and justify the cause for delay with a proper explanation. It is not that in each and every case despite the sufficient cause is not shown and the delay is not properly explained, the court may condone the delay. To make out a case for condonation of delay, the applicant has to make out a sufficient cause/reason which prevented him in initiating the proceedings within the period of limitation. Otherwise, he will be accused of gross negligence. If the aggrieved party does not initiate the proceedings within the period of limitation without any sufficient cause, he can be denied the relief on the ground of unexplained laches and delay and on the presumption that such person has waived his right or acquiesced with the order. These principles are based on the principles relatable to sound public policy that if a person does not exercise his right for a long time then such right is non­existent. [Para 8]



Land Acquisition - Condonation of Delay - Application for - there is an inordinate delay of approximately 21 years in preferring the special leave petitions.

In the present case, lands were acquired as far back as in the year 1985 and the award by the Special Land Acquisition Officer was declared in the year 1988. The reference Court enhanced the amount of compensation to Rs.30/­ per square yard, which came to be reduced by the High Court by the impugned common judgment and order in the year 1996. It is required to be noted that the lands were acquired for Industrial development purposes. That after the acquisition, the land has been developed, infrastructure and amenities are laid and the developed land has been allotted approximately before 30 years. It is the specific case on behalf of the respondents that the rate of allotment was based on the cost of acquisition and the amount spent on development, laying out the infrastructure. Therefore, if the cost of acquisition is increased now and the State/acquiring body is directed to pay enhanced compensation, in that case, it would be very difficult to recover the difference of amount of compensation from the allottees after decades of allotment. The acquiring body will have to make additional budgetary provision and as observed hereinabove it would be very difficult for the acquiring body to recover the difference of compensation from the allottees after so many years.

Petitioner's Advocate : Rishi Malhotra

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