SRINAGAR Anyone who sleeps over his rights is bound to suffer and the law leans in favour of those who are alert and vigilant, the Jammu and Kashmir high court said as it dismissed a petition by a group of employees seeking benefit of 26th February 2008 judgment.
A bench of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey said that the doctrine of delay and laches should not be lightly brushed aside and the Court was required to weigh the explanation offered and its acceptability.
It is well settled that law leans in favour of those who are alert and vigilant. Even equality has to be claimed at the right juncture and not on expiry of reasonable time. Even though there is no period prescribed for filing the writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, yet it should be filed within a reasonable time, the court said while dismissing the petition, seeking direction to the authorities to pay the petitioners the pay and grade attached to the post of Meter Reader (Executive) in the pay scale of Rs.220-430 (pre-revised) w.e.f. the respective dates they have been promoted.
In essence, the petitioners were seeking benefit of judgment dated 26th of February, 2008 passed in Jammu wing of this Court for release of grade of Rs.220-430 (pre-revised) in their favour.
Though, it is not a strict rule, the Courts can always interfere even subsequent thereto, but relief to a person, who allows things to happen and then approaches the Court and puts forward a stale claim in trying to unsettle settled matters, can certainly be refused on account of delay and laches.
Anyone who sleeps over his rights is bound to suffer, the court said. An employee, who sleeps like Rip Van Winkle and got up from slumber at his own leisure, deserves to be denied the relief on account of delay and laches, the court said, adding, The doctrine of delay and laches should not be lightly brushed aside.
The Court is required to weigh the explanation offered and the acceptability of the same. The Court should bear in mind that it is exercising an extraordinary and equitable jurisdiction and that, as a constitutional Court, it has a duty to protect the rights of the citizens, but simultaneously, it is to keep itself alive to the primary principle that when an aggrieved person, without adequate reason, approaches the Court at his own leisure or pleasure, the Court would be under legal obligation to scrutinize whether the lis, at a belated stage, should be entertained or not.
Be it noted, the court said, delay comes in the way of equity. In certain circumstances, delay and laches may not be fatal, but in most circumstances, inordinate delay would only invite disaster for the litigant who knocks at the doors of the court. Delay reflects inactivity and inaction on the part of a litigant- a litigant who has forgotten the basic norms, namely, “procrastination is the greatest thief of time” and that law does not permit one to sleep and rise like a phoenix. Delay does bring in hazard and causes injury to the lis. In the case at hand, there has been 18 years of delay in approaching the Court without any plausible explanation.
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