SC asks writ courts not to adjudicate ‘stale claims’

SC asks writ courts not to adjudicate ‘stale claims’

New Delhi: While setting aside a high court allowing an employee’s appeal seven years after his dismissal by the government, the Supreme of India has directed writ courts not to adjudicate “stale claims unless it would causes grave injustice”.
“The grievance agitated by the (employee) did not deserve to be addressed on merits, for doctrine of delay and laches had already visited his claim like the chill of death which does not spare anyone… even the one who fosters the idea and nurtures the attitude that he can sleep to avoid death and eventually proclaim ‘thanks to God’,” a bench Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant observed while allowing an appeal by the state government against judgment by the high court.
The high court had allowed an appeal filed by the employee, R.K. Zalpur (a senior assistant in Resident Commissioner, J&K, New Delhi) seven years after his dismissal from services by the government.
The government had passed the order on 4 June 1999 following an inquiry which found the employee, R K Zalpur guilty of having embezzled Rs 2,68,317 besides “being responsible for financial misconduct and complete lack of devotion to duties.”
After the order was passed, Zalpur did not prefer any departmental appeal nor did he approach the superior authority for redressal of his grievance, the court observed.
“A writ court while deciding a writ petition is required to remain alive to the nature of the claim and the unexplained delay on the part of the writ petitioner. Stale claims are not to be adjudicated unless non-interference would cause grave injustice. The present case, need less to emphasise, did not justify adjudication. It deserved to be thrown overboard at the very threshold, for the writ petitioner had accepted the order of dismissal for half a decade and cultivated the feeling that he could freeze time and forever remain in the realm of constant present,” the bench said and set aside the high court order.

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