A freedom fighter from Haryana finally got justice but it came a trifle too late as he passed away 18 years ago.
The petitioner, Nobat Singh, had alleged that he was "harassed" after an excise department official sought "illegal gratification" of Rs 200 from him in 1969.
Singh moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 1991 after a recovery of excise duty arrears was slapped on him.
A division bench of the high court ruled that no recovery of arrears of over Rs 1.6 lakh would be effected from the legal heirs of the petitioner who died on December 12, 2000.
In his petition before the high court in 1991, Singh had said that he was a freedom fighter who was in prison for about seven-and-a-half years during the freedom struggle.
He mentioned that in 1969, he started the business of curing of tobacco leaves but it had to be closed within about a year because of "constant and uncalled for interference and demands of illegal gratification by officials of the Central Excise Department".
Singh, who was from Bhiwani, complained to the Central Bureau of Investigation director general against Excise Inspector S K Khanna in May 1969.
On May 20, 1969, a raid was conducted and Khanna was caught "red handed while accepting an illegal gratification of Rs 200".
This exemplary and praiseworthy act of the petitioner antagonised officials of the department. Under these circumstances, he had to close his business, the bench observed.
On one occasion, in the absence of the petitioner, the department officials impounded a huge quantity of tobacco leaves which he had stocked in his godowns. They took away his entire stock along with the account books and other documents.
On enquiring from the department, the petitioner was told that the stock was impounded for realising the arrears of excise duty due towards him.
The total value of uncured tobacco leaves and 3,000 gunny bags in which they were kept was about Rs 1,80,000 then, he had submitted.
The petitioner protested before the authorities that there was nothing due by way of excise duty or additional excise duty or by way of penalty.
On September 4, 1991, Singh was told an amount of over Rs 1.6 lakh was to be recovered from him.
The high court bench allowed the petition after observing that the recovery could not be effected from the legal heirs after his death 18 years ago.
The bench observed that in the present case, Singh had died during the pendency of the petition and his legal heirs were impleaded.
"After considering the overall facts and circumstances of the case and in view of the position of law... no recovery can be effected from the legal heirs of the petitioner after his death about 18 years back. As a result, the petition is allowed," the bench observed.
The impugned certificates for recovery of arrears amounting to Rs 1,60,271.51 were quashed.
No recovery be effected from the legal representatives of the deceased petitioner, the court held.