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Union of India and ors. Vs. Ralliaram and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberLetter Patent Appeal Nos. 100 and 105 of 1976
Judge
Reported inILR1980Delhi1259; 1980RLR572
ActsDisplaced Persons (Compensation and Rehabilitation) Act, 1954 - Sections 12
AppellantUnion of India and ors.;ram Piari and ors.
RespondentRalliaram and ors.;ralliaram and ors.
Advocates: C.K. Mahajan,; Daljit Singh and; K.R. Gupta, Advs
Excerpt:
.....that there was no proclamation of the sale of the property and as a result he was not aware of the sale. rallia ram preferred a revision to the central government which also failed. throughout this litigation the stand of rallia ram was that sarab dayal had no locus stand to question the sale because at best he was no more than a prospective bidder. all these facts and circumstances clearly indicate that shri sarab dayal was deprived of an opportunity to bid at the auction and the same constituted a substantial injury in the terms of the provisions of rule 92 of the displaced persons (c & r) rules, 1955.'(11) dissatisfied with this decision rallia ram brought a writ petition in this court in 1967. the learned single judge by order dated august 6, 1976, allowed the writ petition and set..........what was argued before kapur j. was that because of irregularity and fraud in the publication of sale sarab dayal was prevented from making a bid. this is how he claimed that he was an aggrieved person. in our opinion this is the sole question for decision. if sarab dayal was not prevented from bidding at the auction sale no other question will arise for determination. but if he was prevented other questions may arise. (14) 'the question of locus standi has been examined at length by the learned single judge. it is not necessary to go into other questions which he considered. all that we have to see is this. war there a valid publication of the sale it is not disputed that the sale was advertised in the newspaper. this was done in accordance with rule 90(3). mr. daljit singh on behalf.....
Judgment:

Avadh Behari Rohatgi, J.

(1) The property in dispute situated in Gali Pardewali, Nawabganj Delhi, was an evacuee property. Later on it was acquired by the Central Government under s. 12 of the Displaced Persons (Compensation & Rehabilitation) Act, 1954 This property was allotted to displaced persons. On the first floor Pallia Ram, respondent No. 1, with his family was residing. On the ground floor one Sarab Dayal was in occupation. He is now depd. He is succeeded by his widow Smt. Ram Piari and his children. They are appellants in L.P.A. 105 of 1976.

(2) The Rehabilitation authorities ordered the sale of the property. Oil 20th November, 1955 the property was auctioned for the first time. Railk Ram gave a bid of Rs. 21,300. His bid was accepted, He paid 10 per cent of this amount, namely Rs. 2130 at the fall of the hammer. But the remainder of the price he did not pay. As a consequence bids initial payment of 10 per cent was forfeited and the sale was cancelled.

(3) A second time the auction was held on' 11th August, 1961. There was publication of the intended sale. 20 or 25 persons were present at the auction. Rallia Ram was present. He gave a bid for Rs. 11,050. His bid was the highest. He paid 10 per cent of the sale price. His bid was accepted. He was required to pay the balance of the purchase price. Sarab Dayal, the other occupant, was not present at the auction sale.

(4) On 8th September, 1961 Sarab Dayal filed objections to the sale before the Regional Settlement Commissioner. In his objections he stated that he had suffered substantial injury inasmuch as he had been prevented from purchasing the property. He complained that there was no proclamation of the sale of the property and as a result he was not aware of the sale. He said that it was raining on the date of auction and there were no bidders and that the property was sold for a ridiculously low price and that he himself was prepared to pay Rs. 25,000 for the property. He added that 3 or 4 days before the auction the staff of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi had declared that the Corporation would acquire the property and he was misguided in thinking that the property will not be sold. The entire auction he described as 'a mock affair' and illegal. This was the substance of his objection petition under Rule 92 of the Displaced Persons (Compensation and Rehabilitation) Rules, 1955. He asked that the sale be set aside.

(5) Sarab Dayal's objections were dismissed by 'the Assistant Settlement Officer (Sales), He preferred an appeal. The appeal was accepted by the Deputy Chief Settlement Commissioner. He remanded 'the matter. After remand the Assistant Settlement Commissioner accepted the objections. He set aside the sale. It was now Rallia Ram's turn to appeal. Rallia Ram appealed to the Deputy Chief Settlement Commissioner. His appeal was accepted. The matter was again remanded for redecision after recording the evidence of the managing officer. The Settlement Commissioner examined the managing officer. But he arrived at the same conclusion as before. He held that the sale was not properly published and conducted. He set aside the sale. From his decision Rallia Ram preferred an appeal to the Chief Settlement Commissioner. His appeal was dismissed. Rallia Ram preferred a revision to the Central Government which also failed.

(6) Aggrieved by the decision of the Central Government Rallia Ram went to the Punjab High Court (Circuit Bench at Delhi) in 1964 under Article 226 of. the Constitution. S. K. Kapur J. heard the writ petition. He set aside the order of the Central Government on August 25, 1966 and directed it to decide the revision petition of Rallia Ram on merits.

(7) Sarab Dayal's own case was that he was not in Dehi on 11th August, 1961 when the auction was held. This raised a fundamental issue. Was Sarab Dayal a person aggrieved by the sale and competent to move for its setting aside

(8) One of the grievances ventilated before Kapur J. was that Sarab Dayal was not an aggrieved person. Throughout this litigation the stand of Rallia Ram was that Sarab Dayal had no locus stand to question the sale because at best he was no more than a prospective bidder. On the other hand Sarab Dayal argued that he was prevented from making a bid on 11th August, 1961 because there was no publication of the sale. The question thereforee arose whether Sarab Dayal was a person aggrieved and whether he had locus standi to challenge the sale. Kapur J. took the view that Sarab Dayal was in occupation of a part of the premises, and if 'by some fraud or irregularity practiced by the persons concerned, he was deprived of his right to bid, he would certainly be a person aggrieved within the meaning of Rule 92 and thereforee competent to maintain objections.'

(9) It was argued before him that Sarab Dayal did not bid at the auction as he was admittedly out of station on 11th August, 1961. To this the learned judge replied by saying :

'IT is possible that he may not have gone out of Delhi if he knew about the auction. This is not a matter for me to decide.'

(10) The matter went back to the Central Government. Shri H. R. Nair, Joint Chief Settlement Commissioner as the delegate of the Central Government heard the parties. By order dated 11th May 1967 he came to the conclusion that 'there was no auction poster pasted on a conspicuous part of this property. All these facts and circumstances clearly indicate that Shri Sarab Dayal was deprived of an opportunity to bid at the auction and the same constituted a substantial injury in the terms of the provisions of Rule 92 of the Displaced Persons (C & R) Rules, 1955.'

(11) Dissatisfied with this decision Rallia Ram brought a writ petition in this court in 1967. The learned single judge by order dated August 6, 1976, allowed the writ petition and set aside the order of the Central Government dated 17th May, 1967. He could not find any irregularity or fraud in the publication or conduct of the sale. He held that Sarab Dayal was not in any manner prevented from bidding at the auction. His conclusion was that Sarab Dayal had no locus standi to move for setting aside the sale. From his decision these two letters patent appeals have been filed. One is by Smt Ram Piari, the widow of Sarab Dayal (L.P.A. 105 of 1976) and the other is by the Union of India (L.P.A. 100 of 1976).

(12) The single question that arises for decision in these appeals is : Was Sarab Dayal prevented from bidding at the auction sale Was there a denial of opportunity to him to purchase the property Admittedly he was not present on 11th August, 1961. He filed objections on 8th September, 1961. Though the requirement of the rules is that objections to the sale have to be filed within seven days of the acceptance of the bid, the delay in filing the objections was however condoned and with that aspect of the matter we are not. concerned.

(13) What was argued before Kapur J. was that because of irregularity and fraud in the publication of sale Sarab Dayal was prevented from making a bid. This is how he claimed that he was an aggrieved person. In our opinion this is the sole question for decision. If Sarab Dayal was not prevented from bidding at the auction sale no other question will arise for determination. But if he was prevented other questions may arise.

(14) 'THE question of locus standi has been examined at length by the learned single judge. It is not necessary to go into other questions which he considered. All that we have to see is this. War there a valid publication of the sale It is not disputed that the sale was advertised in the newspaper. This was done in accordance with Rule 90(3). Mr. Daljit Singh on behalf of Sarab Dayal says that in addition to publication in the newspaper it was required of the authorities to affix one copy of the notice on a conspicuous part of the property to be sold. He says that as this was not done Sarab Dayal never came to know of the sale. Sub-rule (3) of Rule 90 reads as under:

'(3)Notice of the intended sale shall be given at least fifteen days before the proposed sale and every such notice shall state the date, time and place of the proposed sale, the description of the property to be sold, its location and boundaries where possible, the terms and conditions of the sale and any other particulars which the Settlement Commissioner or other officer considers material One copy of the notice shall be affixed on a conspicaous part of the property to be sold. It shall be within the discretion of the Settlement Commissioner or other officer to advertise the sale in newspaper and in such other manner as he may deem fit.'

(15) As we read the rule, the object is to give wide publicity to the sale. Was Rule (3) complied with The main thrust of the argument on behalf of Sarab Dayal before us, as before the single judge, was that the notice of the intended sale had not been affixed on a conspicuous part of the property to be sold. On this point, contrary to what the authorities had held, the conclusion of the learned single judge was that a proclamation was issued and that the requirement of the rules was fulfillled. We think he was right. In the first place the managing officer in his evidence has stated categorically that all the legal formalities regarding publication of the sale were completed according to the rules. He affirmed that there was no irregularity or illegality in the conduct of the sale. He said :

'THEREwas complete publicity as provided for under the rules ana it was there in the form of drum beating, posters and leaflets. This auction was also advertised in the newspaper according to rules.'

(16) This shows that all the requirements as to the publication of the sale were fulfillled. Sarab Dayal's own witness Uttam Chand admitted this in cross-examination when he said : 'I knew of the auction through a poster.' This conclusively establishes that notice of the intended sale was affixed on the property to be sold.

(17) In the second place, Sarab Dayal did not examine the auctioneer. He was a material witness. Without his evidence Sarab Dayal could not establish his positive case. The managing officer's evidence was dead against him. The written record of sale prepared contemporaneously was contrary to his contention. Nor did Sarab Dayal disclose to the court the date of his departure from or arrival in Delhi. We are left completely in the dark about the state of his knowledge of sale which in fact would depend on the duration of his stay in Delhi.

(18) Thirdly, the sale was advertised in the newspaper. This is admitted in all hands. About 20 or 25 persons were present at the sale. Rallia Ram knew about the sale. Those who attended the sale came to know of the sale through publication and posters. Sarab Dayal cannot plead ignorance. He' cannot complain of substantial injury.

(19) Another objection raised by Sarab Dayal was that the officers of the Municipal Corporation visited the property on 9th August, 1961 and they give the impression that the property was going to be acquired by the Municipal Corporation. Sarab Dayal said that he was misled into thinking that the property will not be sold. There is no substance in this plea. Suppose this to be true. This is neither fraud nor material irregularity in the publication or conduct of the sale. Nor can Rallia Ram be held responsible for this misapprehension. In point of fact we do not think that the story of visit is really true. After the publication of the notice in the newspaper there was no point in visiting the property Though at one time theie was some proposal of acquisition it was abandoned and the authorities decided to sell the property. After the sale had been advertised we do not think there was any room for misconception.

(20) Once we reach the conclusion, as we do, that Sarab Dayal was not denied the opportunity of purchasing the property at the auction sale his other objections need not be enquired into. Sarah- Dayal was not entitled to a personal notice. If he did not choose to attend the sale fixed for August 11, 1961 it did not concern him whether the sale was a 'mock affair', as he called it or an 'organized affair' as the managing officer described it in his evidence. How does it matter to one who does not go to the sale that the bidders join hands or outsiders do not attend to bid. Nor this ought to make any difference to him that the property fetched a low price. because of the rains, whether a downpour or a drizzle. Mere inadequacy of price, it is well established, is not a ground for setting aside the sale. .

(21) Counsel for Ram Piari and the Union of India both stressed one principal point. They said that it was not open to the learned single judge to reappraise or reweigh the evidence led before I he authorities and to upset their conclusion on question of fact. We do not agree. There was no evidence before the authorities to arrive at the conclusion that there was no publication or affixation of notice of sale on the property to be sold. In de Smith Judicial Review of Administrative Action (4th ed.) p. 133 it is said :

'Atribunal which had made a finding of primary fact wholly unsupported by evidence, or which has drawn an inference wholly unsupported by any of the primary facts found by it will be held to have erred in point of law. The 'no evidence' rule is well established; and it has established itself because superior courts exercising appellate of supervisory jurisdiction in respect of errors of law need to have power to intervene wherever manifest and gross error is revealed.'

(22) Findings of fact are the domain where a deciding authority or tribunal can fairly expect to be master in its own house provided the facts are not collateral or jurisdictional. (Wade- -Administrative Law 4th ed. pp. 274 282). In our opinion the findings of the authorities must be held to be erroneous in point of law. Both in perception and evaluation they were wrong in jurisdictional facts.

(23) The findings of the rehabilitation authorities were coloured by the consideration that Rallia Ram's bid was too low. As the learned judge put it 'all the authorities below were doubtlessly inspired by the laudable desire of receiving the maximum gain for compensation pool.' That Rallia Ram himself was prepared to pay Rs. 21,300 in 1955 for this very property dominated their thinking. Then there were the alluring offers of Rs. 25,000 and Rs. 17,000 of Sarab Dayal which enticed the authorities. They were caught in the bait which he dangled. But they were mistaken in law. A sale cannot be set aside either because a previous or a subsequent offer was for a higher price than what the property actually fetched at the sale.

(24) There was a reserve price for the property. There is no evidence that the price was not satisfactory to the seller or to the auctioneer at the time the property was knocked down to the purchaser, Rallia Ram. Simply because the Government property was. sold it did not follow that it was sold below the fair value with the necessary result that the department was defrauded. We would require to knew much more of the value of properties in that region at the material time before we could profitably express any opinion on the practical rights and wrongs of the sale in question.

(25) Sarab Dayal had no case for setting aside the sale. In the pleadings he took no clear cut stand. He was not sure of his ground. He was striking in the dark in the hope that some blow will get home. As regards evidence that he produced it is sufficient to say that it was worthless.

(26) On the whole case we are of the view that Sarab Dayal was not prevented from making a bid. He was not an aggrieved person. He did not sustain any injury, much less substantial. He cannot question the sale made in favor of Rallia Ram.

(27) For these reasons the appeal of Smt. Ram Piari (L.P.A. 105/76) is dismissed. The appeal of the Union of India (L.P.A. 100/76) is also dismissed as they have taken substantially the same grounds.


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