9 Aug 2023 11:10 AM GMT
The Calcutta High Court today directed the West Bengal's Accountant General to refund an amount of Rs 66,000 to a litigant who was made to deposit the said amount in relation to a civil proceeding back in 2004.In rebuking the “procrastination on behalf of the authorities” in refunding the petitioners deposit even after the case had been settled out-of-court in 2008, a single-bench of...
The Calcutta High Court today directed the West Bengal's Accountant General to refund an amount of Rs 66,000 to a litigant who was made to deposit the said amount in relation to a civil proceeding back in 2004.
In rebuking the “procrastination on behalf of the authorities” in refunding the petitioners deposit even after the case had been settled out-of-court in 2008, a single-bench of Justice Shekhar B. Saraf held:
The facts before me present a rather unfortunate scenario wherein the petitioners have had to vie with pain for the refund of the deposit they made in court. As per my order dated July 11, 2023, another report was filed by the District Judge, Paschim Medinipur on July 26, 2023, which further surfaces the rather sorry state of affairs that have unravelled. There appears to be no contestation to the fact that the petitioners deposited the said amount, nor to their right to get a refund of the same.
The procrastination on behalf of the authorities is clearly without any logical reasoning and simpliciter a lackadaisical attitude on the part of the authorities. Counsel on behalf of the respondents have unfortunately tried to support the indefensible without providing any facts whatsoever in their support. The above inaction and ‘shifting the blame game’ by one authority to another is highly deprecated by this court. Administrative inconvenience or lethargy cannot be reason enough to defy a right for fifteen years.
These observations were made in a writ petition filed by an individual who had purchased a plot of land valued at Rs 66,000 in 2004. Subsequently, when a pre-emption case had been filed against him, the petitioner had to deposit the aforesaid sum with the Civil Judge, Junior Division, Garbetah.
It was argued by the petitioners that during the pendency of the aforesaid proceedings, the case was settled out of court, and that a compromise petition had been filed before the district court, leading to the pre-emption case being disposed of with liberty to the petitioners to withdraw their deposit.
It was however submitted that the Court had failed to discharge the amount on the grounds that they were a “lapsed deposit.”
The petitioners argued that the Civil Judge had written to the District Judge, Paschim Mednipur to take steps in refunding the amount of Rs 66000 to the petitioners and that on the same day an application had been sent to the Accountant General for sanction of such amount in the petitioners favour.
Being aggrieved by the inaction of the authorities in refunding the deposit, the petitioners moved the present writ petition.
Upon earlier directions of the Court, a report had been submitted by the Registrar General pointing to Rule 737 of the Civil Rules and Orders for the process of refunding a lapsed deposit, which had been complied with in the present case.
It was argued by the petitioners that a representation had been made to the Judicial Secretary, Government of West Bengal, but no amount had been refunded to the petitioners yet.
The petitioners finally submitted that the respondents being statutory authorities, had an obligation to refund the amount, with interest, and that Rule 424 of the West Bengal Treasury Rules, obligated the Accountant General to sanction amount and refund the same to the claimant.
It was submitted by the respondents that the petition was “misconstrued and prima facie misconceived” and that there were no obligations to refund the petitioners due to the lack of deposit statements, as noted in a reply filed by the Accountant General.
Upon hearing all parties, the Court took exception to the attitude of the authorities in making the petitioner “run from pillar to post” even though the District Judge had “repeatedly harped upon administrative reasons for the lack of deposit statements from 1984-85 onwards, but always re-iterated the right of the petitioners to receive the said deposit.”
In directing refund of the lapsed deposit amount to the petitioners along with interest, it held:
“There appears to be no contestation to the fact that the petitioners deposited the said amount, nor to their right to get a refund of the same. The above deposit should have been given to the petitioner as a matter of course while in the present case it is clear that petitioners have had to run from pillar to post to obtain the same. Accordingly, this Court directs sanction and return the lapsed deposit amount of INR 66,000 along with interest at the rate of 9 percent per annum to the petitioner within a period of six weeks.”
Case: Sri Shubhendu Kumar Goswami & Ors. Versus The State Of West Bengal & Ors.
Coram: Justice Shekhar B. Saraf
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Cal) 220
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