LUCKNOW: Victory could not have been sweeter for Ganga Devi. The octogenarian won a legal battle spanning four decades to get back her property that was wrongly attached.
Ironically, justice wouldn't have been this delayed if a clerical error had not crept in way back in 1977. Forty-one years on, civil judge (senior division) Lovely Jaiswal spotted the error on August 31 and promptly disposed of the case — much to the relief of the 80-year-old woman.
Trouble began for the Mirzapur resident when her property was attached in 1975 following the district magistrate's order over some dispute. She had successfully challenged the DM's order in the Civil Court (Senior Division) and secured a favourable decision on December 7, 1977.
When Devi, then 37, went to procure a copy of the verdict, she was instructed to deposit a court fee of Rs 312 which she did immediately on April 9, 1977. But the clerk forgot to hand her over the receipt and the case remained 'live' in the legal documents due to non-entry of the fee.
The court had delivered its final order on December 7, 1977, and decree nine days later. The case then landed in a session court nearly two years later as the State challenged the verdict. The sessions court upheld the lower court's order of December 7, 1977 but Devi continued to run from pillar to post as the receipt of the fee deposited by her could not be located.
Devi's refusal to re-pay the fee meant that the case remained 'pending' against her on the plea of non-payment of court fee.
For the last 41 years, Devi's file passed through the desks of 11 judges but none of them could spot the 'problem'. It was left to Jaiswal, who, after having a careful look into the papers of the case, spotted the folly and got the fee receipt located.
“The court observed that no court fee was pending against Ganga Devi and maintained that apparently the justice was denied due to a minor error in the file. Hence, the case is fit for disposal,” the order read, restoring her rights to the disputed property.