Doctrine of Laches
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Doctrine of Laches – Indian Polity Notes

The concept of Doctrine of Laches can be traced back to centuries when kings used to rule. In some cases, when someone whose has been victim of unjust behaviour and has spent considerable time before approaching court of King, then relief was denied to him without showing any kind of bias or prejudice against him.


The doctrine is based on the Latin maxim “Vigilantibus Et Non Dormientibus Jura Subveniunt” which means that the equity avails to the vigilant, not the person who sleeps over their rights.

Laches is a fair doctrine or an equitable defence. The courts will not help the person who sleeps over their rights but help those who are aware of their rights. A person is said to be liable for laches when he comes to the court to affirm their rights after a reasonable delay in that respect

Important Cases:

Trilok Chand Motichand vs H B Munshi

  • The critical question before the Court in Trilok Chand Motichand v. H.B. Munshi was whether there is a time limit within which the remedy under Article 32 must be invoked. 
  • In this situation, the appeal was filed after a ten-year delay, and the plea was dismissed due to the delay. 
  • However, the judges on the bench, in this case, disagreed about the time limit after which laches should apply
  • Chief Justice Hidayatullah, on the other hand, believes that there should be no hard and fast rules in this region
  • CJI noted that the matter should be handled on a case-by-case basis by the Court. 
  • This opinion seems to be the most rational in this respect since the matter is best left to judges’ discretion, and the facts and circumstances of each case are never the same 

Gian Singh v. High Court of Punjab and Haryana

  • The petitioners in Gian Singh v. High Court of Punjab and Haryana filed their writ petition eleven years after the date on which they demanded promotions.
  • The petitioners said that they had been busy making representations to various authorities about their grievances during the intervening years.
  • Their claims were rejected by the Court, which claimed that there were no legitimate explanations for the eleven-year wait, and therefore their petitions were dismissed.

Bhasker Rao v. State of Andhra Pradesh

  • In V. Bhasker Rao v. State of Andhra Pradesh, a similar problem emerged when the seniority list was released twelve times over the course of eight years, showing the petitioner below the respondents, but the petitioner never objected. 
  • It was decided that he did not have the right to contest it under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution

Ravinder Jain vs Union of India 

In this case, the apex court held that if there is a delay in filing the writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India without any reasonable or legitimate reason then in such a case Doctrine of Laches will come into the picture the petition will be dismissed on this ground.


Due to emergence of this doctrine, now the affected parties or individuals cannot keep judicial recourse pending and approach courts when it pleased them. But due to this doctrine if they spend unnecessary time before approaching the courts, the courts can outrightly deny any legal remedy to them. As they were not aware about their rights and have spent unreasonable amount of time.

But it must be noted that, most of Indian citizenry is unaware of their own rights, they don’t known where to seek redressal in case their rights have been violated. The doctrine has provided relief when there were justified reasons for delay such as rape survivor might take years to gather courage and seek action against accused, such cases have been heard by the courts.

Courts under this doctrine have promoted the vigilance about own rights in citizenry, while penalising those who delay filing cases in courts for gain some undue advantage.

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