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Jaswant Singh Vs. the Cantonment Board, Meerut and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSpecial Appeal No. 14 of 1975 with Spl. Appeal Nos. 385 and 386 of 1974
Judge
Reported inAIR1977All204
ActsCantonments Act, 1924 - Sections 52, 181 and 185; Constitution of India - Article 226
AppellantJaswant Singh
RespondentThe Cantonment Board, Meerut and ors.
Appellant AdvocateVishnu Sahai and ;B. Dayal, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateJ.N. Tiwari, Adv. and ;S.C.
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Excerpt:
.....acted wrongly and illegally in issuing notice under section 185 of the act on the direction of the officer commanding-in-chief who in his turn had made orders not to carry into effect the decision of the board granting sanction merely on a letter of the central government, thus, the officer commanding-in chief acted without jurisdiction and without any proper consideration, and failed to apply his own mind. the learned single judge held that sub-section (2) of section 52 of the act vested absolute powers in the officer commanding-in-chief for giving a direction not to carry into effect any decision of the board and his powers not being circumscribed by the statute, even if he was actuated by any policy decision of the central government his order would not be bad in taw and the..........on various dates in 1968. shortly thereafter within about six weeks the officer commanding-in-chief, central command in exercise of his powers under section 52 of the cantonments act 1924 (hereinafter referred to as the act) directed that the decision of the board shall not he carried into effect for three months and called upon the board to show cause why a direction should not be made out (not?) to carry into effect the decision of the board. the cantonment board did not show any cause. after waiting for about two and a half months the officer commanding-in-chief, central command, passed final orders not to carry into effect the decision of the board and directing the board to serve a notice under section 185 of the act on the appellants for demolition of the constructions made......
Judgment:

K.B. Asthana, C.J.

1. These three appeals are decided by a common judgment as the question involved in each of them is similar.

2. Each of the appellants made separate applications for sanction to the Cantonment Board, Meerut for making additional constructions in their houses standing on different Cantonment lands. The Cantonment Board granted sanction on various dates in 1968. Shortly thereafter within about six weeks the Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Central Command in exercise of his powers under Section 52 of the Cantonments Act 1924 (hereinafter referred to as the Act) directed that the decision of the Board shall not he carried into effect for three months and called upon the Board to show cause why a direction should not be made out (not?) to carry into effect the decision of the Board. The Cantonment Board did not show any cause. After waiting for about two and a half months the Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Central Command, passed final orders not to carry into effect the decision of the Board and directing the Board to serve a notice under Section 185 of the Act on the appellants for demolition of the constructions made. Being aggrieved, the appellants filed appeals which were heard and dismissed by the Deputy Director, Military Lands and Cantonments, Central Command. The appellants then filed writ petitions in this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution questioning the validity of the action taken by the Cantonment authorities. It was contended on their behalf before the learned single Judge that the Board acted wrongly and illegally in issuing notice under Section 185 of the Act on the direction of the Officer Commanding-in-Chief who in his turn had made orders not to carry into effect the decision of the Board granting sanction merely on a letter of the Central Government, Thus, the Officer Commanding-in Chief acted without jurisdiction and without any proper consideration, and failed to apply his own mind. The learned single Judge held that Sub-section (2) of Section 52 of the Act vested absolute powers in the Officer Commanding-in-Chief for giving a direction not to carry into effect any decision of the Board and his powers not being circumscribed by the statute, even if he was actuated by any policy decision of the Central Government his order would not be bad in taw and the Cantonment Board being bound by the directions validly issued notice under Section 185 of the Act. The writ petitions were dismissed. The petitioners have now come in special appeal before us.

3. We have heard learned counsel for the appellants. The main contention was that the Officer Commanding-in-Chief in exercise of his power under Section 52(2) could not have given a direction not to carry into effect the decision of the Board unless such a direction was justified under Section 181 of the Act which empowers the Board to grant sanction or not to grant sanction. The submission was that the powers of the Officer Commanding-in-Chief under Section 52 of the Act were not absolute as construed and interpreted by the learned single Judge and his powers in respect of the sanction for construction of a building on the Cantonment land were inhibited by the provisions which applied to the Board itself under Section 181 of the Act. Reliance was placed by the learned counsel on a decision of a learned single Judge of this Court in B. K. Dass v. Deputy Director, Military Lands and Cantonments, Central Command, 1970 All LJ 1275. No doubt the ratio of that decision supports this contention raised on behalf of the appellants but with great respect to the learned single Judge we do not agree with the view expressed by him in Paragraph 6 of the Report wherein the learned Judge observed:

'Even the Officer Commanding-in-Chief was bound by provisions of the Act and could refuse the sanction by suspending the resolution on a ground mentioned in Section 181 but on no other ground.'

4. We do not find in Section 52 of the Act any words of limitation on exercise of power by the Officer Commanding-in-Chief. The very object behind Section 52 of the Act is to vest sufficient power in the Officer Commanding-in-Chief to suspend the operation of any decision or resolution of the Board considered adverse to military interest and that would include any policy decision taken by the Central Government. While the Board has limited jurisdiction and power, the Officer Commanding-in-Chief intentionally and purposely is left free to take decision in military interest. In the instant case the Officer Commanding-in-Chief pointed out that the sanction given by the Board ran contrary to the policy decision of the Central Government not to allow additional constructions on the lands comprised in the old grants. Nothing has been shown to us that this policy decision of the Central Government was unreasonable or arbitrary. The Central Government knows best as to what is to be done in the interest of the military and through the machinery of the Act, such policy decision could only be enforced in the circumstances of the instant case by taking recourse to powers exercisable under Section 52 of the Act. It is not disputed that the terms of the grants of Cantonment land themselves contain such clauses. The appellants cannot complain that their rights to property are being taken away, when after the final direction of the Officer Commanding-in-Chief, a notice is given to the occupants or owners under Section 185 of the Act. It will always be possible for the owner or occupier to challenge that notice by means of an appeal and place his side of the case before the appropriate authority. Thus, the principles of natural justice are fully satisfied and the machinery of the Act does afford an opportunity at some stage. We adopt all the reasons given by the learned single Judge and need not further elaborate upon the matter.

5. We accordingly dismiss these appeals but make no order as to costs.


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