Tulip Kanth

Bengaluru, July 01, 2022: The Karnataka High Court has allowed a Review Petition challenging the judgment passed by the Division Bench as the impugned order under review suffered from errors which were apparent on face of record.

On the issue of ambit of review, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Ravi V Hosmani placed reliance on the judgment of the Apex Court in Haridas Das v. Usha Rani Banik and opined, “It is clarified that review proceedings are not by way of an appeal and have to be strictly confined to scope and ambit of principles of Order XLVII Rule 1 of CPC. Review petition cannot be allowed to be an appeal in disguise.”

In this matter,Sri A. Stephen – husband of one of the respondents purchased land from two out of six children of original grantee, under registered sale deeds. However, in 1999, other legal heirs filed a suit seeking for relief of partition and separate possession of granted land. In said suit, purchaser Sri A.Stephen was arrayed as a defendant and the suit came to be dismissed by holding the defendants therein as absolute owners of suit property. Challenging said decree, one application was filed, which was pending before this Court.

Later, in 2013,  an application seeking for restoration of lands was filed under Section 4 of Karnataka Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribes (Prohibition of Transfer of Certain Lands) Act, 1978 (PTCL Act) by review petitioner and as Sri. A. Stephen died, so respondents herein i.e. his wife and son were arrayed as parties to said proceedings. 

The Assistant Commissioner passed an order for restoration of granted land to legal representatives of original grantee and Sale deeds under which granted land were purchased by the respondents were held as null and void.Revenue records were also mutated in name of applicants.Aggrieved by this order of Assistant Commissioner, respondents filed an appeal which was dismissed and a subsequent writ petition was allowed and orders of Deputy Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner were set aside on ground of limitation.

It was noted by the High Court that assumption of duration of delay to be 21 years is on face of record, erroneous as excluding time spent in prosecuting suit, delay might be shortly in excess of 4 years. Also, the Bench referred to the judgment of the Top Court in Satyan Vs. Deputy Commissioner and others wherein it was held that delay of 8 years would not come in the way of competent authority taking action.

According to the Bench, further observation that opportunity to explain delay was available to review petitioners but not availed would be contrary to record as respondents did not raise such plea before Assistant Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner.Thus, considering the fact that respondents had raised ground of application for restoration being belated in Writ Petition for first time, the Bench found that it would be proper to remand the matter back to authorities to afford opportunity to parties to contest on issue of delay and authorities to decide the same.

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