A civil dispute between landlords and tenants in New Delhi, India has taken nearly three decades to come to its conclusion.
Judge Abhilash Malhotra admitted that "justice delayed is justice denied", and with that in mind, he accepted responsibility for the prolonged trial, saying: "As I have written this judgment, I shoulder all the responsibility on behalf of all my predecessors for delay caused in the present case and will endeavour in future to give speedy justice to litigants."
Brothers Jai and Virender Singh had started their legal battle back in 1982 when they asked that their tenant give back their land which they had been renting.
The tenant, Dhian Singh, was alleged to have "sublet, assigned or otherwise parted with possession of plot under his tenancy to four private firms without their permission".
Despite the brothers officially terminating the contract on 17 February 1972, their tenant refused to return the land and sublet it to four companies.
The companies tried to contest the case but failed to substantiate their claim and the land was repossessed by the courts and then returned to the landlords.
Judge Malhotra asserted that in future, courts should be expeditious in disposing with cases, no matter how difficult it may be to reach a decision.
He said: "In law, welfare of the people is paramount but giving a decision after such a long period (29 years) could not be said to be a welfare exercise."
He added: "A sincere effort is required on the part of all of us to provide expeditious disposal to old cases. The delay in decisions may kill the legislative intent and there is huge possibility of suit becoming infructuous."
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