1. TheBangalore City Improvement Trust Board (hereinafter referred to as the Trust Board) formed a lay-out called 'the West of Chord Road, II Stage Lay-out' in Rajajinagar, Bangalore. The Trust Board called for applications from persons intending to obtain sites therein. The petitioner as well as respondcnt-2 had applied for site No. 1251. That site was allotted to respondent-2.
2. In this Writ Petition under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution, the petitioner has prayed for quashing the allotment of that site to respondent-2. She has also prayed for a mandamus directing the Chairman of the Trust Board (respondent-1) to allot that site to her.
3. Mr. M. C. Narasimhan, learned counsel for the petitioner, contended that in allotting that site the petitioner should have been preferred to respondent-2, because she (the petitioner) had purchased a site from a private person under a registered sale deed dated 21-11-1968 and that the site had been subsequently acquired by the Trust Board.
4. Sub-rule (1) of Rule 10 of the City of Bangalore Improvement (Allotment of Sites) Rules. 1964, (hereinafter referred to as the Rules') sets out four principles to which regard should be had in making selection of applicants and fixing the priority for allotment of sites. Clause (i) of that Sub-rule reads :--
(i) applicants whose lands or houses have been acquired by the Board provided they are otherwise qualified for allotment.
5. The site, purchased by the petitioner from a private person, was situate in Survey No. 171/3 of Kethamaranahalli, which was one of the several Survey numbers acquired for an improvement scheme of the Trust Board under the final notification dated 18-11-1967 issued under Section 18 of the City of Bangalore Improvement Act, 1945, (hereinafter referred to as the Act). Admittedly the petitioner's purchase of that site, was not only subsequent to that final notification but also subsequent to the preliminary notification dated 3-2-19(34 under Section 16 of the Act which preceded that final notification.
6. Mr. Vasanth Ron, learned counsel for the Trust Board, contended that a person who purchases from a private person a land or a site after the issue of a preliminary notification under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act or Section 16 of the Act proposing to acquire that land, cannot be said to be a bona fide purchaser and cannot claim any special consideration or priority under Clause (i) of Rule 10 (1) of the Rules. Mr. Ron added that the petitioner who purchased the site after the final notification was issued, could not claim any benefit under Clause (i) of Rule 10 (1).
7. On the other hand, Mr. Narasimhan contended that the words 'applicants whose lands or houses have been acquired' occurring in Clause (i) of Rule 10 (1), are not subject to any qualification or restriction that such applicants should have been owners of lands or houses prior to the issue of a preliminary notification proposing to acquire such lands or houses, or prior to the issue of a final notification declaring that such lands or houses are needed for a public purpose. Mr. Narasimhan added that a land proposed to be acquired under a preliminary notification, may or may not be acquired ultimately and that the proposal to acquire it may be dropped subsequently. It was also submitted by Mr. Narasimhan that the petitioner was not aware of those preliminary and final notifications when she purchased the site in 1968.
8. No doubt Clause (i) of Rule 10 (1) does not contain any express words excluding the application of that clause to cases of applicants who become owners of lands or houses after the issue of a preliminary notification or a final notification for acquiring such lands or houses. As stated by Lush, L. J., in his separate and concurring judgment in Ex parte Walton. In re: Lew ((1881) 17 Ch. D 746 at p. 757), where a literal construction of a section defeats its object or leads to manifest absurdity, the Court may qualify the generality of words in order to carry out object of that section.
9. In Kanwar Singh v. Delhi Administration : 1SCR7 , the Supreme Court quoted with approval the following statement of law in Maxwell on Interpretation of Statutes, 11th Edn. pp. 221-224 and 266:
'It is the duty of the Court in constructing a statute to give effect to the intention of the legislature. If, therefore, giving a literal meaning to a word used by the draftsman, particularly in a penal statute, would defeat the object of the legislature, which it is to suppress a mischief, the Court can depart from the dictionary meaning or even the popular meaning of the word and instead give it a meaning which will advance the remedy and suppress the mischief.'
10. The publication of a preliminary notification under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act or Section 16 of the Act, is a notice to the public that the land or lands mentioned therein are proposed to be compulsorily acquired. Likewise, the publication of a final notification under Section 6 of the Land Acquisition Act or Section 18 of the Act, is a notice to the public that the land or lands mentioned therein are needed for a public purpose.
11. If the expression 'applicants whose lands or houses have been acquired by the Board' is construed literally so as to include persons who acquire ownership of lands or houses after the same have been included in a preliminary notification under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act or under Section 16 of the Act, or in a final notification under Section 6 of the Land Acquistion Act or Section 18 of the Act there will be a scramble to purchase sites in a land or lands included in a preliminary or final notification in order to claim preferential treatment in allotment of sites in the lay-outs that may later be formed by the trust Board in such land or lands, and persons who do not join in such scramble, will have little or no chance of being allotted sites in such lay-outs. Surely, the rules could not have been intended to give preference to persons who resort to such speculative transactions and to deprive chances of allotment of sites to persons who respect law. As a literal construction of Clause (i) of Rule 10 (1) would defeat the object of that Rule, we think it is reasonable to qualify the words 'lands or houses' so as to exclude lands or houses the ownership of which is acquired by persons after the publication of a preliminary notification under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act or Section 16 of the Act. in which; such lands or houses are included.
12. As the petitioner's purchase of the site from a private person in Survey No. 172/1, was subsequent to issue of the preliminary and the Final notifications under Sections 16 and 18 of the Act, which included that survey number, she could not claim any preference or priority under Clause (i) of Rule 10 (1) in regard to allotment of the site applied for by her.
13. Mr. Narasimhan submitted that on many earlier occasions when the Trust Board acquired lands in which private persons owned sites the Trust Board reconveyed or allotted those very sites to them and that in the case of this petitioner also the Trust Board should have reconveyed or allotted to her the very site she had purchased from a private person. But Mr. Narasimhan was not able to point out any provision of law under which the erstwhile owner of a land acquired by the Trust Board, can claim as of right, that such land or any portion thereof should be reconveyed or allotted to her, Hence there was no obligation on the Trust Board to reconvey or to allot the site which she had purchased from a private person.
14. Lastly, It was contended by Mr. Narasimhan that the petitioner had a better claim than respondent-2 for being allotted site No. 1251. Mr. Ron has produced before us the applications made by the petitioner and respondent 2 for allotment of that site. It is seen from these applications that respondent-2 had made applications to the Trust Board on five previous occasions for allotment of a site to him and that those applications were unsuccessful On the other hand, the petitioner has not stated in her application that she had applied to the Trust Board on any earlier occasion for allotment of a site to her.
15. Under Clause (iv) of Rule 10 (1). one of the principles guiding the the selection of applicants and fixing the priority for allotment, is the number of years the applicant has been waiting for allotment of a site, that is, that he did not secure a site earlier though he was eligible and had applied for the same. In view of this principle the Trust Board was justified in preferring respondent-2 to the petitioner in regard to allotment of that site. Hence, we do not see any good ground to interfere with the allotment of site No. 1251 to respondent-2.
16. Before concluding, we may advert to the submission made by Mr. Narasimhan that in future allotments of sites, the application of the petitioner should receive due consideration. On this point it is not necessary to express any opinion in this petition, because if the petitioner should make an application in future, for allotment of a site by the Trust Board, such application will have to be considered on its merits and in accordance with the Rules.
17. In the result, this petition fails and is dismissed. In the circumstances of this petition, we direct the parties to bear their own costs.