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Relief sought for refund of money, involving complex nature, the Writ Petition is not maintainable: SC

The SC on May 6, 2020 {Punjab National Bank & Ors. v. Atmanand Singh & Ors.} held that when   the   petition   raises questions of fact of complex nature, such as in the present case, which may for their determination require oral and documentary evidence to be produced and proved by the concerned party and also because the relief sought is merely for ordering a refund of money, the High Court should be loath in entertaining such writ petition and instead must relegate the parties to remedy of a civil suit. It was observed that had it been a case where material facts referred to in the writ petition are admitted facts or indisputable facts, the High Court   may   be   justified   in   examining   the   claim   of   the   writ petitioner on its own merits in accordance with law.

It was further held by the SC Bench, comprising of Justice A.M. Khanwilkar & Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, that even if the impugned judgments were to be read as a whole, there is no analysis of the relevant documents and in particular, the stand taken by the appellant ­Bank expressly denying the existence of the stated agreement and genuineness thereof, which plea was reinforced from the affidavits of the concerned Bank officials and the report of the District Magistrate. It was observed that the District Magistrate in the affidavit filed in compliance of the order dated 18.3.2016 had clearly denied the existence of the stated proceedings for want of contemporaneous official record in that regard. It was held that this aspect has not been taken into account by the High Court at all.   The SC, therefore, held that the High Court committed manifest error in disregarding the core jurisdictional issue that the   matter   on   hand   involved   complex   factual   aspects,   which could not be adjudicated in exercise of writ jurisdiction.

The SC observed that despite having noticed the objection regarding maintainability of the writ petition taken by the appellant ­Bank, the learned single Judge,   by   a   cryptic   judgment   and   order, allowed   the writ   petition   filed   by the   respondent   No.   1. It was further held that despite   the   specific   plea   taken   by   the   appellant ­Bank, disputing the transactions and documents in question, on the basis of which the respondent had sought relief by way of writ petition, the Division Bench proceeded to dismiss the LPA filed by the Bank

A priori, the SC held that in the facts of the present case, the High Court should have been loath to entertain the writ petition filed by the respondent No. 1 and should   have   relegated   the   respondent   No.   1   to   appropriate remedy for adjudication of all contentious issues between the parties.

Accordingly, the SC allowed the appeal.   As a consequence, the impugned decisions of the learned single Judge and the Division Bench were set aside and the writ petition filed by the   respondent   No.   1    stood   dismissed  by the SC,  with   liberty   to respondent No. 1 to take recourse to other alternative remedy as may be permissible in law.

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