HYDERABAD: A citizen cannot knock on the doors of the High Court whenever he feels convenient for him though no time limit is prescribed for filing a petition by invoking Article 226 of the Constitution. Filing the case must be within a reasonable time which depends on the facts of a given case.
As no valid reasons assigned or justifiable cause was shown to file a writ petition after 20 years, the High Court has dismissed a case on ground of delay and laches in invoking the jurisdiction of the court under Article 226.
As for the case, the petitioner who approached the High Court was regularly appointed as an APSRTC bus conductor in 1990. While working as conductor, disciplinary proceedings were initiated against him on the allegation of cash and ticket irregularities, which resulted in imposing the punishment of removal from service in 1993. He filed a review petition and the reviewing authority considered it sympathetically and, to give him further opportunity, ordered his reappointment in 1994 as a fresh conductor, duly dispensing with the earlier service. Accordingly, the petitioner was reappointed and was continuing in service. After 20 years he now filed a petition challenging that portion of the order of the reviewing authority in appointing him as a “fresh” conductor.
When the matter came up before Justice P Naveen Rao for hearing, APSRTC’s standing counsel, while raising an objection to the maintainability of the writ petition, pointed out that order of reviewing authority granting reappointment as a fresh candidate in 1994 is assailed for first time in this petition instituted after 20 years. The petition is liable to be dismissed on ground of inordinate delay in invoking jurisdiction of HC, he contended.
On the other hand, the petitioner’s counsel submitted that order of fresh appointment was ex facie illegal. No such punishment is prescribed in the Discipline and Appeal Regulations, and hence cannot impose punishment which is not prescribed in the Regulations. Further, he submitted, the petition cannot be rejected merely on the ground of delay when the action assailed is ex facie illegal.
After purusing material on record and various court judgments, judge found that no valid reasons were assigned or justifiable cause was shown by petitioner to institute this petition after 20 years. Except for contending that court in KC Narayana’s case had taken view that imposing punishment which is not prescribed in Discipline and Appeal Regulations as illegal, no other averments were made to explain why petitioner accepted order of reviewing authority and enjoyed all benefits flowing therefrom without a protest and kept quiet for 20 years, judge pointed out.
The judge said that if the claim of the petitioner was accepted, it would have serious adverse consequences for other employees.