Cal HC | Rejecting adjournment prayer is not a breach of principles of natural justice

Calcutta High Court: Debangsu Basak, J., dismissed a petition filed by State Fisheries Development Corporation relating to a land dispute with the State.

The petitioner was a Government of W.B. undertaking engaged in the business of pisciculture. It obtained land from the District Administration. According to the petitioner, the State was now wrongfully seeking to resume possession of land. It was stated that the State was not entitled to do so in view of Section 8 of the W.B. Inland Fisheries Act, 1984. However, the District Magistrate initiated proceedings for eviction of the petitioner. The petitioner filed a writ petition that resulted in requiring the DM to give fresh hearing to the petitioners. Accordingly, the DM heard the parties afresh. The petitioner was represented before the DM. A prayer for adjournment was made which was rejected. Thereafter, the DM ordered the eviction of the petitioner.

 Shanti Das, Advocate for the petitioner submitted that the said rejection resulted in the violation of principles of natural justice and therefore the order of the DM was not sustainable. Per contra, Sakya Sen, Advocate appearing for the respondent supported the eviction order passed by the DM.

Having regard to the rival submissions, the Court found that the State required the subject land for the purpose of eco-tourism project. It was noted that the petitioner was afforded a reasonable opportunity of hearing. Holding that there was no infirmity in rejection of the prayer, the Court observed, “An adjudicating authority is entitled to reject adjudicating authority did not allow the petitioners’ prayer for adjournment. There is no infirmity in the rejection of such prayer. Merely, because the adjudicating authority rejected a prayer for adjournment ipso facto does not mean that, the proceeding stands vitiated by breach of principles of natural justice. The petitioner was afforded a reasonable opportunity of hearing. The petitioner did not avail of the same. That does not tantamount to the adjudicating authority acting in breach of the principles of natural justice warranting intervention by the Writ Court.” Finding no reason to interfere in the decision of the DM, the Court dismissed the present petition. [State Fisheries Development Corpn. Ltd. v. DM, Purba Medinipur, 2019 SCC OnLine Cal 295, dated 01-03-2019]

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