14 Jun 2010

No right to continue illegality: Supreme Court

Article 14 of the Constitution of India guarantees equality of treatment to all the persons in India in as much as the State is bound to ensure equal protection of laws and equality before law. Does this imply that if a benefit has been granted to one illegally, the same has to be extended to others as well? While logic would suggest so, the law is otherwise. The Supreme Court in a recent decision, dismissing the claim of an unsuccessful applicant, declared the law to hold that even if a person has been alloted land in violation of law, the same would not entitle similar benefit to be accrued to other applicants. 

The Court explained the in the following terms;

13. The respondent cannot claim parity with D.S. Laungia (supra) in view of the settled legal proposition that Article 14 of the Constitution of India does not envisages for negative equality. Article 14 is not meant to perpetuate illegality or fraud. Article 14 of the Constitution has a positive concept. Equality is a trite, which cannot be claimed in illegality and therefore, cannot be enforced by a citizen or court in a negative manner. If an illegality and irregularity has been committed in favour of an individual or a group of individuals or a wrong order has been passed by a Judicial Forum, others cannot invoke the jurisdiction of the higher or superior court for repeating or multiplying the same irregularity or illegality or for passing wrong order. A wrong order/decision in favour of any particular party does not entitle any other party to claim the benefits on the basis of the wrong decision. Even otherwise Art.14 cannot be stretched too far otherwise it would make function of the administration impossible. [vide Coromandel Fertilizers Ltd. Vs. Union of India & Ors. AIR 1984 SC 1772; Panchi Devi Vs. State of Rajasthan & Ors. (2009) 2 SCC 589; and Shanti Sports Club & Anr. Vs. Union of India & Ors. (2009) 15 SCC 705].
14. Thus, even if some other similarly situated persons have been granted some benefit inadvertently or by mistake, such order does not confer any legal right on the petitioner to get the same relief. (Vide Chandigarh Administration & Anr Vs. Jagjit Singh & Anr., AIR 1995 SC 705; Smt Sneh Prabha Vs. State of U.P. & Ors., AIR 1996 SC 540; Jalandhar Improvement Trust Vs. Sampuran Singh, AIR 1999 SC 1347; State of Bihar & Ors. Vs. Kameshwar Prasad Singh & Anr., AIR 2000 SC 2306; Union of India & Ors. Vs. Rakesh Kumar, AIR 2001 SC 1877; Yogesh Kumar & Ors. Vs. Government of NCT Delhi & Ors., AIR 2003 SC 1241; Union of India & Anr. Vs. International Trading Company & Anr., AIR 2003 SC 3983; M/s Anand Button Ltd. Vs. State of Haryana & Ors., AIR 2005 SC 565; K.K. Bhalla Vs. State of M.P. & Ors., AIR 2006 SC 898; and Maharaj Krishan Bhatt & Anr. Vs. State of Jammu & Kashmir & Ors., (2008) 9 SCC 24).

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