SC:High Court can’t disregard statutory limitation period in writ jurisdiction

The Hon’ble Supreme Court, on 6th May 2020, in the matter of Assistant Commissioner (CT) LTU, Kakinada & Ors. v. M/s. Glaxo Smith Kline Consumer Health Care Limited pronounced that if the writ petitioner choses to approach the High Court after expiry of the maximum limitation period, the High Court cannot disregard the statutory period for redressal of the grievance and entertain the writ petition of such a party as a matter of course.

Question before the Hon’ble Supreme Court

Whether the High Court in exercise of its writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India ought to entertain a challenge to the assessment order on the sole ground that the statutory remedy of appeal against that order stood foreclosed by the law of limitation?

The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that:

Even though the High Court can entertain a writ petition against any order or direction passed/action taken by the State under Article 226 of the Constitution, it ought not to do so as a matter of course when the aggrieved person could have availed of an effective alternative remedy in the manner prescribed by law. (Para 11)

Although the power of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution is very wide, the Court must exercise self­-imposed restraint and not entertain the writ petition, if an alternative effective remedy is available to the aggrieved person. (Para 11)

The fact that the High Court has wide jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution, does not mean that it can disregard the substantive provisions of a statute and pass orders which can be settled only through a mechanism prescribed by the statute. (Para 11)

Indubitably, the powers of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution are wide, but certainly not wider than the plenary powers bestowed on the Supreme Court under Article 142 of the Constitution. Article 142 is a conglomeration and repository of the entire judicial powers under the Constitution, to do complete justice to the parties. Even while exercising that power, the Supreme Court is required to bear in mind the legislative intent and not to render the statutory provision otiose. (Para 12)

If the writ petitioner choses to approach the High Court after expiry of the maximum limitation period, the High Court cannot disregard the statutory period for redressal of the grievance and entertain the writ petition of such a party as a matter of course. (Para 15)

Copy of judgement: Judgement_06-May-2020

-Adv. Tushar Kaushik

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