Judges Cannot Act Like ‘Mughals’ Of Bygone Era, Writ Courts Must Adhere to Law: Karnataka High Court

In a significant ruling, the Karnataka High Court, comprising Justice Krishna S. Dixit and Justice Ramachandra D. Huddar, delivered a judgement on June 6, 2024, in the case of City Municipal Council, Channapatna vs. Siddaramu (WA No. 1983 of 2016). The case revolved around the lease of a shop to Siddaramu, a person with 80% locomotor disability, under the erstwhile Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995, and the subsequent legal battles that ensued.

Background of the Case

The appellant, City Municipal Council, Channapatna, had issued a notification in 2009 for leasing certain shopping premises through public auction. Siddaramu, the respondent, was allotted a shop based on a 2007 order by the Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, which directed the municipality to allot a shop to him at a concessional rate due to his disability. This order was upheld through various legal challenges, including a Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court.

Legal Issues Involved

1. Lease Tenure Extension: The primary issue was whether the lease tenure for Siddaramu’s shop should be extended from twelve to twenty years, as directed by a Single Judge.

2. Heritability of Lease: Another critical issue was whether the lease could be inherited by Siddaramu’s legal heirs after his death.

3. Compliance with Statutory Provisions: The court examined whether the extension of the lease tenure was in compliance with the Karnataka Municipalities Act, 1964, and relevant government circulars.

Court’s Decision

The High Court set aside the Single Judge’s order, ruling that the extension of the lease tenure to twenty years was not legally permissible. The court emphasized that the lease tenure could not exceed twelve years as per the government circular issued under Section 72(2) of the Karnataka Municipalities Act, 1964.

Important Observations

The court made several notable observations:

– On Judicial Overreach: “Writ Courts in the guise of doing justice cannot transcend the barriers of law, to say the least. Obviously, they 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 bygone era.”

– On Heritability of Lease: The court clarified that the lease granted under a socio-welfare legislation for a specific purpose (disability) is not heritable. “Thus, allotment of the kind comes to an end either by efflux of time or by death of the allottee, whichever is earlier.”

– On Public Interest: The court underscored the importance of adhering to statutory provisions to protect public interest, stating, “No writ can be issued in derogation of law.”

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Parties and Representation

– Appellant: City Municipal Council, Channapatna, represented by Advocate Sri A.V. Gangadharappa.

– Respondent: Siddaramu (deceased), represented by Senior Counsel Smt. Jayna Kothari and Advocate Sri Naveen Chandra V.

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