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Supreme Court refuses to condone delay of 21 years in filing SLP.

Supreme Court of India

Justice Arun Mishra, Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice M R Shah

The question falling for consideration before the SC was whether the delay of approximately 21 years in filing the special leave petition before it, can be condoned, or the sufficient grounds are made out by the appellants for condoning the extra ordinary delay in filing the SLP?

The matter {Baljeet Singh (Dead) through Lrs. and Others etc. v. State of U.P. and Others} was pertaining to land acquisition by government, and the SLP was filed, inter alia, seeking enhancement of compensation. It was held:

"9........It is also required to be noted that as such in none of the aforesaid decisions, this Court had dealt with and/or   considered   the   adverse   impact/effect   on   the State/acquiring   body   if   after   inordinate   delay/laches   the State/acquiring body is directed to pay the enhanced amount of compensation.   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. All these aspects and the cascading effect on the State/acquiring body if they are directed to pay the additional compensation after number of years, have not been considered by this Court in the aforesaid decisions relied upon by the learned Advocate for the petitioners. Even if the petitioners are denied the interest and/or the other statutory benefits for the delayed   period   as   requested   by   the   learned   counsel   for   the petitioners, in that case also, to direct the State/acquiring body to pay the enhanced amount of compensation after number of years (21 years) would be unreasonable and would have a financial burden upon them and as observed hereinabove it would be very difficult for the State/acquiring body to recover the same from the allottees.     Under   the   circumstances,   none   of   the   aforesaid decisions shall be applicable to the facts of the case on hand and/or the same shall not be of any assistance to the petitioners."

In the said case the appellants had failed to plead sufficient grounds for not filing the appeal within limitation. Even they had not stated and it was not their case in application for condonation that due to poverty or illiteracy they were not able to approach the SC. Therefore, the appeal was dismissed on ground of limitation. The merits of the matter were not touched upon by the SC.

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