Judges of High Court not Mughals of a bygone era and cannot transcend law to do justice: Karnataka HC

Updated - June 11, 2024 11:06 am IST

Published - June 10, 2024 10:33 pm IST - Bengaluru

“We are judges and therefore, cannot act like Mughals of a bygone era ... the writ courts in the guise of doing justice cannot transcend the barriers of law,” the High Court of Karnataka observed while setting aside an order of a single judge, who in 2016 had extended the lease of a public premises allotted to a physically challenged person to 20 years contrary to 12-year period stipulated in the law.

“Obviously, they [judges of the High Court] cannot arrogate to themselves the extraordinary power vested in the apex court of the country under Article 142 of the Constitution. After all, we are Judges and therefore, cannot act like Mughals of a bygone era. More is not necessary to specify,” observed a Division Bench, comprising Justice Krishna S. Dixit and Justice Ramachandra D. Huddar.

Pointing out that an allottee of a public premises, as per notifications issued under Section 72(2) of the Karnataka Municipalities Act, 1964 annot claim that the tenure of allotment should be longer than beyond 12 years, the Bench said: “The learned single judge could not have lightly construed such an instrument of law to the prejudice of public interest and conversely to the advantage of a private citizen.

One Siddaramu of Channapatna had secured lease of a shop in a municipal shopping complex, owned by Channapatna City Municipal Council (CMC) in Ramanagara district, after several rounds of litigation, He, in 2015, filed a petition questioning restricting of lease period of the shop for only 12 years instead of 20 years as was done in some other shops. The single judge had directed the CMC to extend the lease to 20 years and the CMC had filed appeal before the Division Bench.

 “A lease being a matter of contract, courts cannot rewrite the same, in the absence of statutory enablement, kind of which avail in labour legislations,” the Bench said, while observing that the courts could not go beyond the lease period fixed in the statutory notification issued by the government. If a lease was granted to others for a tenure not legally permissible that could not be a ground for claiming parity in treatment, the Bench said.

However, the Bench gave time till December 31, 2024 for the legal heirs of the petitioner, who died during the pendency of litigation, to vacate the shop by making alternative arrangements as they possess buildings of their own, and asked the CMC to grant necessary help in grant of licence with leniency for shifting the shop.

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