Manish Devdhara’s son mysteriously went missing 38 years ago, and it is only now that Devdhara will finally receive his death certificate. The deceased’s father had to put up a decade-long battle to declare his son, Jitendrasinh dead. The judiciary was of the opinion that Devdhara was pretty late to approach the courts and hence, his plea was rejected by the law of limitation.
But, the Gujarat High Court did not agree to the decision of the lower courts, saying it was a human tendency to wait for several years for a family member due to the proximity of the bond. Hence, the law of limitation is not valid in such cases.
The disappearance took place in January 1984, when Jitendrasinh was staying at his cousin’s house in Surat for his college studies. Following the disappearance, the family had taken the steps such as informing the police and publishing advertisements in the daily newspaper, but all in vain.
After a long period of not receiving any news, the father went to a civil court to get an official declaration of Jitendra’s death. This was important, as an official entry in the records would help avoid illegitimate claims on the property.
When Devdhara’s father went to court, the court sought evidence of Jitendrasinh’s disappearance, to which he replied the Surat flood had washed away the police records.
In 2016, Devdhara’s suit was rejected as he did not approach the court within 10 years, which is the limit for approaching the courts. The law of limitation restricted his case with respect to Section 108 of the Evidence Act.He was again unsuccessful when he visited the district court.
Unlike the civil and district courts, the Gujarat High Court was kinder to Devdhara’s situation as Justice AP Thacker asked the government to declare Jitendra’s death as on the day he went missing. He said that we can’t put a limit on how long will the family wait for a missing person, so Devdhara’s actions were not invalid and completely understood.