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Sheila Kapur and ors. Vs. the Chief Commissioner, Delhi and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberLetters Patent Appeal No. 7-D of 1966, from judgment of S.K. Kapur J., in C.W. No. 930-D of 1963, D/
Judge
Reported inAIR1968Delhi146a
ActsConstitution of India - Article 14
AppellantSheila Kapur and ors.
RespondentThe Chief Commissioner, Delhi and ors.
Appellant Advocate R.P. Kapur, Adv. (as attorney of Sheila Kapur
Respondent Advocate Deepak Choudhri, Central Govt. Adv., and ; G.D. Gupta, Adv.
Excerpt:
.....subject to the provisions of any law- there was no law that the government must allow alternative pltos of land to the owner whose land had been acquired- the provisions of article 14 of the constitution would nto be attracted, even if the government adopted a policy of pick and choose and alltoted alternative pltos to some owners, as a concession and refused to allto pltos to toher owners - section 13: [altamas kabir & cyriac joseph,jj] custody of child - welfare of child vis--vis comity of courts - the minor girl child of 3 1/2 years was brought to india by her mother. the minor girl was a citizen of u.k. being born in u.k. her parents had set up their matrimonial home in u.k. and had acquired status of permanent residents of u.k. the child with her mother was supposed to return to..........government had also made agreements with the co-operative societies under section 41 and 42 of the land acquisition act, according to which lands acquired were leased out to the societies clause xv(b) of the agreements provided that the societies shall offer their membership to persons whose lands had been acquired and if those persons fulfillled certain conditions, to sub-let them residential pltos, as the chief commissioner may, in his absolute discretion, direct. under this clause, the persons, whose land had been acquired were entitled to get pltos. the government had forwarded to the government servants' co-operative house building society a list of eligible alltotees. relying on the decisions of the government to allto alternative pltos of land, the husband of appellant no. 1 had.....
Judgment:

(1) This appeal is directed against an order of a learned Single Judge of this Court, whereby a petition of the appellants, under Arts. 226 and 227 of the Constitution, for the issue of a writ of mandamus, was dismissed. The petition was based on the following allegations:-

The appellants owned land in village Mohamedpur Manikra, Tehsil Delhi. The land was held for purposes of construction. The Union of India, respondent No. 3, had acquired 1,100 acres of land, including the land of the appellants for a Housing Scheme in 1957. It was the condition of the acquisition that respondent NO. 3 was to alltoe alternative developed pltos of land to the persons, whose land had been acquired and which had been held by the owners for bona fide purposes of construction. This was conveyed by respondent No. 3, to the appellants through his Secretary. The Government had also issued a brouchure, which contained questions and answers. Answer to question No. 4 provided that developed pltos of land would be leased out to the individuals whose land, held for bona fide purposes of construction, had been acquired. The Government had also made agreements with the Co-operative Societies under Section 41 and 42 of the Land Acquisition Act, according to which lands acquired were leased out to the societies Clause XV(b) of the agreements provided that the societies shall offer their membership to persons whose lands had been acquired and if those persons fulfillled certain conditions, to sub-let them residential pltos, as the Chief Commissioner may, in his absolute discretion, direct. Under this clause, the persons, whose land had been acquired were entitled to get pltos. The Government had forwarded to the government servants' Co-operative House Building Society a list of eligible alltotees. Relying on the decisions of the Government to allto alternative pltos of land, the husband of appellant NO. 1 had written to the authorities for the alltoment of plto to the appellants. After some correspondence, the deputy Housing Commissioner by his letter dated the 30th November, 1963, had informed he husband of appellant No. 1 had that alternative pltos could nto be alltoted to the appellants inasmuch as the concession of alltoment of alternative pltos was meant for only those persons whose lands had been acquired under the scheme, 'Large-Scale Acquisition development and Disposal of Land in Delhi' whereas the land of the appellants was acquired under the Housing Scheme. It was further stated, in the letter, that the concession was extended to the persons whose lands had been acquired for the Housing Scheme provided compensation had nto been offered to them before 1-1-1961. The appellants had legal rights to get alternative pltos alltoted to them. The refusal of the Government to allto them alternative pltos on the ground that pltos could only be alltoted to the persons whose lands had been acquired, under the scheme 'Large-Scale Acquisition, Development and Disposal of Land in Delhi' and nto to the appellants whose land had been acquired for the Housing Scheme, was nto reasonable. The appellants were discriminated against, without any reasonable basis. The refusal of the Government to allto alternative pltos to the appellants, thus, violated the provisions of Article 14 of the Constitution. The matters were made worse by the Government by drawing a distinction between those owners to whom compensation had been offered before 1-1-1961 and the rest, though the lands of btoh the groups had been acquired for the same scheme, namely, the Housing Scheme. The date 1-1-1961 was arbitrarily fixed. Some of the persons, e.g., Viswa Nath, who had received compensation before 1-1-1961 were alltoted alternative pltos of land. Thus, the appellants were treated differently from persons, similarly situated as the appellants.

(2) On the above allegations, the appellants prayed that a writ of mandamus be issued, directing the respondents to allto alternative pltos to the appellants, in accordance with law.

(3) The petition was contested on behalf of the respondents. It was admitted that the appellants owned land in village Mohamedpur Manirka and that the land had been acquired for the Housing Scheme. It was denied that it was a condition of the acquisition that the Government was to allto alternative pltos to the owners whose lands had been acquired. It was, further, denied that the Secretary of the Government had ever assured the appellants that alternative pltos will be alltoted to them. Regarding the brouchure, it was stated that it was issued with the object of apprising the public of the salient features of the scheme, 'Large-Scale Acquisition, Development and Disposal of Land in Delhi' and had ntohing to do with the Housing Scheme. It was, further, stated that even to those persons whose lands had been acquired for the 'Large-Scale Acquisition, Development and Disposal of Land in Delhi' Scheme, alternative pltos were alltoted ex gratia and nto as a matter of right and that the brouchure did nto confer any such right. The appellants, whose lands had been acquired, for the Housing Scheme, could nto be alltoted alternative pltos even ex gratia.

It was admitted that as a matter of concession, it was later on decided to allto alternative pltos to persons who had nto been offered compensation before 1-1-1961. The compensation to appellants Nos. 1and 3 had been paid before that date. The compensation to appellant No.2 had nto yet been paid as her title was under dispute and a reference under Section 30 of the Land Acquisition Act was pending. The agreements with the co-operative Societies, were entered into, with respect to the lands acquired under the scheme 'Large- Scale Acquisition Development and disposal of Land in Delhi' and nto with respect to the Housing Scheme. Those agreement did nto confer any vested right on any person to get alternative pltos. The respondents denied that the provisions of Art. 14 of the Constitution were attracted to the facts of the case. The plea of the respondents was that on acquisition, the land absolutely vests in the Government and the owner those land has been acquired has only the right to get alternative pltos. The appellants had, thus, no legal right to get alternative pltos on the acquisition of their land. thereforee, the provisions of Article 14 of the Constitution could nto apply even if the Government alltoted pltos ex gratia to some owners and refused to allto pltos to the appellants.

It was, further, pleaded that the appellants had nto been, in any way, discriminated against in the matter of alltoment of alternative pltos. The name of Shri Vishwa Nath was included in the list of persons to whom alternative pltos were to be alltoted, but later on, his name was excluded as it was found that his land had been acquired for the Housing Scheme and he had been offered compensation before 1-1-1961. So far as the fixing of the date, 1-1-1961, was concerned, the respondents explained that the date was fixed keeping in view the fact that all vacant lands in the urbanizable limits of Delhi were being ntoified for acquisition under the Land Acquisition Act and a ntoification for the acquisition of 34,070 acres of land had already been issued on the 13th November, 1959. Under these circumstances, according to the respondents, it was considered, solely, on administrative grounds, that it may be difficult for such persons whose lands had been acquired in 1959 and subsequently, to purchase pltos for their own housing if they had nto been offered compensation before that date. There was, thus, reasonable basis for fixing the date, 1-1-1961.

(4) The appellants had filed a rejoinder to the reply of the respondents and the respondents had put in reply to that rejoinder.

(5) The learned Single Judge held that, once the land acquired vests in the Government, it is for the Government to deal with it in such a manner as it likes and that the person whose land has been acquired has no legal right to ask the Government to allto some alternative plto. The learned Judge, further, held that in this view of the matter, the appellants had no legal right to get alternative pltos of land and that as there was no legal right vested in the appellants, the provisions of Article 14 of the Constitution were nto attracted. The leaned Judge was, also, of the view that the distinction made, between the owners, whose lands had been acquired for the Housing Scheme and those whose lands had been acquired for the 'Large-Scale Acquisition, Development and Disposal of Land of Delhi' Scheme, with regard to the alltoment of pltos, was reasonable and that there was reasonable basis for fixing the date 1-1-1961. The learned judge concluded that the appellants had nto been unreasonably discriminated against. The plea of the appellants that they were entitled to get alternative pltos on the basis of agreements entered into between the Co-operative Societies and the Government, was rejected by the learned Judge. As a result of his findings, the learned Judge dismissed the petition of the appellants but left the parties to bear their own costs.

(6) In appeal, it was contended, that the learned Judge erred in holding that the appellants had no legal right to get alternative pltos of land on the acquisition of their land. This contention is absolutely without any substance. Before dealing with this contention, it may be pointed out that land measuring 1,100 acres, including the land of the appellants, was acquired in 1957 for the Housing Scheme for the Ministry of Works, Housing and Supply. Later on, antoher Scheme was formulated, known as 'Large-Scale Acquisition, development and Disposal of Land in Delhi'. The land for this scheme was acquired under two ntoifications dated 13th November, 199 and the 24th October, 1961.

(7) The appellants based their right to get alternative pltos on the plea that it was a condition of acquisition of their land that they would get alternative pltos. There is ntohing on the record to show that any such condition was attached to the acquisition of the land. No such condition attaches to the acquisition, under law. The appellants based their right, also, on the marginal comment, made by Shri M. R. Sachdev, Secretary to the Government, on the letter, addressed by the husband of appellant No. 1 to the former, Annexure1. Para 1 of the letter reads:-

'I was most grateful to know from you, during my visit to Delhi on the 14th instant, that a firm decision had been taken to give alternative pltos of land in lieu of lands acquired in village Mohamedpur Munirka subject to the condition that such persons do nto already own a house or a residential house plto elsewhere in Delhi. Information on this aspect was asked for by Shri Dube and has already been supplied to him.'

The marginal comment of Shri M. r. Sachdev on the above para. Was, 'I said that this was our intention.'

(8) Para 2 of the letter requested Shri M. R. Sachdev to look after the interest of the appellants in the matter of the alltoment of alternative pltos as the husband of appellant No. 1 was going abroad.

(9) It is clear that the marginal comment, on the above letter, by Shri M. R. Sachdev, did nto convey any decision of the Government. The letter was merely a request from one officer to antoher brtoher officer to look after the interest of his near and dear ones during his absence from India. The latter did nto ask for any assurance from the Government that alternative pltos would be alltoted to the appellants. No question of the Secretary giving any such assurance could arise. No such assurance was, in fact, given by the Secretary. In this view of the matter, it is unnecessary to consider whether if such assurance had been given by the Secretary it would have conferred a legally enforceable right on the appellants to get alternative pltos.

(10) Reliance was also placed by the appellants on answer to question No. 4 in the brouchure, issued by the Delhi Administration on the 25th March, 1961. Those question and answer are:-

'Question NO. 4.- What categories of people would be able to obtain developed pltos?

Answer.-Developed pltos of land will be leased out at reserved rates of premium to bona fide house-building co-operative societies, industrial co-operatives, individuals in the low-income group, industrialists who are required, in consequence of the Master Plan, to shift their industries to alternative sites, and individuals whose lands, owned by them for bona fide purposes, happen to get acquired under this scheme.'

The brouchure,, containing the above question and answer, related to land, acquired for the scheme 'Large-Scale Acquisition, Development and Disposal of Land in Delhi' and nto to the Housing Scheme for which the land of the appellants was acquired in 1957. Further, the brouchure was issued with the object of apprising the public of the salient features of the Large-Scale acquisition Scheme. The brouchure did nto make any commitment, on behalf of the Government, nor it conferred any right on the owners to get alternative pltos in lieu of the land acquired. This was made clear in the 'Introduction' to the brouchure. The concluding para. Of the Introduction reads:-

'It is needless to point out that when has been attempted here is only to provide general information to the members of the public on the broad features of the scheme in the form of questions and answers so as to help any interested person to pick out his case and find out what he has to do to get a plto alltoted to him. It does nto carry with it any legal sanction or toher commitment.'

(11) It was conceded, on behalf of the respondents, that the Government had taken a decision to allto alternative pltos to the persons whose land had been acquired for the Housing Scheme provided they had nto been offered compensation before 1-1-1961. The plea of the respondents was that this decision was merely a concession given to the owners of the land and that it did nto confer any legal right on the owners to get alternative pltos. It was, further, pleaded that on acquisition, the land vests in the Government and it can dispose of it in any way it likes and that the owner whose land has been acquired cannto comply the government to allto to him alternative pltos of land.

(12) It is well settled that, on acquisition, the land vests in the Government and it can dispose of it in any manner, subject to the provisions of any law. There is no law that the Government must allto alternative pltos of land to the owner whose land has been acquired. Of course, there is ntohing to prevent the Government to allto alternative land, as a matter of concession, to the owner. But in that case, the owner will nto have any legal right to get alternative pltos of land. As alternative pltos were alltoted, as a matter of concession, to the owners, whose lands had been acquired for the Housing Schemes, the owners had no legal right to get alternative pltos, irrespective of the fact whether they had received compensation before or after 1-1-1961.

(13) It was, next urged on behalf of the appellants, that they were entitled to get alternative pltos in pursuance of the agreement, entered into between the Government and the House Building Co-operative Society. It is difficult to see how that agreement helped the appellants. The agreement related to the scheme 'Large-Scale Acquisition, Development and Disposal of Land in Delhi' and nto to the Housing Scheme for which the land of the appellants had been acquired. Further, the appellants were nto parties to the agreement and could nto enforce the terms of the agreement. The agreement, referred to, did nto confer any legal right on the appellants to get alternative pltos.

(14) It follows that the learned Single Judge was right in holding that the appellants had no legal right to get alternative pltos of land on the acquisition of their land by the Government.

(15) As no legal right vested in the appellants to get alternative pltos, the provisions of Article 14 of the Constitution would nto be attracted, even if the Government adopted a policy of pick and choose and alltoted alternative pltos to some owners, as concession, and refused to allto pltos to the appellants. Of course, the Government is expected to act in consonance with the principle of fair play even while extending concessions to citizens and to treat them, as far as possible, an equal basis. But it is a question of propriety and nto of any legal obligation. Any discrimination, in the matter of extending concessions, which the Government is nto under any legal obligation to do, cannto per se attract the provisions of Article 14 of the Constitution.

(16) The respondents had explained the reasons for discrimination between the owners whose lands had been acquired for the Large-Scale Acquisition Scheme and the owners whose lands had been acquired for the Housing Scheme but who had nto been offered compensation before 1-1-1961, on the one hand, and the owners whose land had been acquired for the Housing Scheme but who had been offered compensation before 1-1-1961, on the toher, say the respondents:-

'The owner of the acquired land cannto claim, as a matter of right, the alltoment of an alternative developed plto to him. He is only entitled to compensation in pursuance of the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act. It was decided to allto alternative pltos persons to whom compensation was offered after 1-1-1961 purely on ex gratia basis, because a ntoification for the acquisition of 34,070 acres of land had already been issued and ntoifications for the acquisition of undeveloped lands in the urbanizable limits of Delhi were also to issue. It was considered that it would be difficult for persons who had purchased lands before 1-1-1961 which had been acquired but to whom compensation had nto been offered, either to find residential pltos at reasonable prices for themselves or to spare additional funds for investment for the purchase of alternative lands and , thereforee, an ex gratia concession in terms of the scheme may be offered to them. No such consideration applied to persons whose lands had been acquired and to whom compensation had also been offered before 1-1-1961 . They could purchase land in Delhi with the money received by them as compensation.

(17) As observed by the learned Single Judge, it is unnecessary to pursue the matter about the reasonable classification of owners whose lands had been acquired, any further, as the appellants had no legal right to get alternative pltos of land and the provisions of Article 14 of the Constitution were nto attracted.

(18) The refusal of the government to allto alternative pltos of land to the appellants were also attacked on the ground of mala fides. There is no material on record to show that the respondents were actuated by any mala fides, in fact or in law, in nto alltoting alternative pltos to the appellants.

(19) The result is that the appeal fails and is dismissed. As in case of the petition before the learned Single Judge, so in the present appeal, the parties are left to bear their own costs.

(20) Appeal dismissed.


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