B.N. Kirpal, J.
(1) The petitioner is a co-operative house building society which is registered under the Bombay Cooperative Societies Act, 1925, as extended to the Union territory of Delhi. Initially all the members of the Society were displaced persons but subsequently some non-displaced persons also became members as they happened to be employees or ex-employees of the Ministry of Rehabilitation or its attached or subordinate offices.
(2) In January, 1960 the petitioner requested the Ministry of Rehabilitation to consider allotment of suitable land to it for purposes of rehabilitation of the members for enabling them to construct residential houses. It appears no action was immediately taken by the Ministry. The petitioner also applied to the Delhi Administration for allotment of 60 acres of land for the aforesaid purpose. The land was agreed to be allotted by the Delhi Admn. and the petitioner Society was asked to deposit some money. The petitioner Society deposited the sum of Rs. 4,25,000.00 as part payment towards the lease money in respect of 60 acres of land which had initially been agreed to be allotted by the Delhi Admn. The Delhi Admn., however, allotted only 11 acres of land and not 60 acres. The Society was disappointed with the said allotment of only 11 acres and it thereupon approached the Department of Rehabilitation to allot land to the society from out of the compensation pool.
(3) It is the case of the petitioner-Society that land out of the Compensation pool was allotted to the petitioner in accordance with the provisions of the Displaced Persons (Compensation and Rehabilitation) Act, 1954 (hereinafter referred to as the said Act). This land, measuring 60 acres, was allotted to the Society near Malviya Nagar. According to the petitioner physical possession of the land was handed over to it. It is admitted by the respondents that the land was mutated in favor of the petitioner in the revenue records. The possession which was handed over was only provisional possession. The total amount which had been deposited by the petitioner-Society was approximately Rs. ten lacs.
(4) It is further averred that after the provisional possession was taken over the petitioner-Society got the layout plans prepared. The layout plans were submitted, but have not been approved so far. According to the petitioner some interested persons have tried to put obstacles in their way. Representations were filed by petitioner-Society for the implementation of the decisions which had been taken, namely with regard to the allotment of land. Representations were also to the effect that the D.D.A. should be directed not to put obstructions in the development of the land allotted to the petitioner. It is stated that initially the Minister of Works and Housing and Supply and Rehabilitation on 18th May 1977 passed an order to the effect that the decisions which had been taken should be implemented. Subsequently in a letter sent on 1st March, 1979,by the same Minister to one of the Members of Parliament it was stated that the land had been wrongly allotted to the petitioner.
(5) On 5th May, 1979 the present writ petition was filed in which it was, inter alia, prayed that the respondents should be prohibited from interfering with the work of development of land in question; a writ of mandamus should be issued directing the respondents to execute a deed of perpetual lease in favor of the petitioner and the allotment of land should not be cancelled. After the filing of the writ petition another order was passed on 7th May, 1979 by Deputy Chief Settlement Commissioner. By the said order the allotment 'of land in favor of the petitioner was cancelled and it was further stated that the Government had resumed possession of the land with immediate effect. The validity of this order has also been challenged by a petition filed under order 7 rule 7 read with section 151 Civil Procedure Code . being C.M. 1415 of 1979.
(6) In the reply filed on behalf of the respondent Ministry of Works, it has been, inter alia, stated that there was no allotment of land in favor of the petitioner. It is further stated that the allotment was in violation of and contrary to a Cabinet decision of January, 1967. It is stated that by the said decision it had been decided that all the surplus land which was with the Ministry of Rehabilitation which, according to the respondents, included the land in question should be transferred to Delhi Administration. It is, however, admitted that the land in question did form part of the compensation pool ' and was governed by the provisions of the Displaced Persons (Compensation & Rehabilitation) Act.
(7) Before dealing with the rival contentions of the parties it is necessary to refer to the relevant provisions of the said Act. The Act was enacted with a view to provide for payment of compensation and rehabilitation grants to displaced persons and for matters connected therewith. Section 14 of the said Act provided for the constitution of a compensation pool for the payment of compensation and rehabilitation grants to displaced persons. The compensation pool, according to sub-section (2) of section 14, was to vest in the Central Government who was free to utilise it 'in accordance with the provisions of this Act and the rules made there under'. The property which formed part of the compensation pool could be transferred out of the pool only in accordance with the provisions of section 20 of the said Act. The relevant provisions of section 20(1) are as under :
'20.Power to transfer property out of the compensation pool. (1) Subject to any rules that may be made under this Act,, the Managing Officer or Managing Corporation may transfer any property out of the compensation pool
(A)by sale of such property to a displaced person or any association of displaced persons, whether incorporated or not, or to any other person, whether the property is sold by public auction or otherwise;
(B)by lease of any such property to a displaced person or an association of displaced persons, whether incorporated or not, or to any person ;
(C)by allotment of any such property to a displaced person or an association of displaced persons whether incorporated or not, or to any other person, on such valuation as the Settlement Commissioner may determine;'
According to Rule 101 power is given to the Managing Officer or a Managing Corporation to sell any property in the compensation pool, entrusted to him or it, in pursuance of any general or special order issued by the Chief Settlement Commissioner. Power to vary or cancel lease or allotment of any property is contained in section 19 of the Act. The relevant portions of section 19, namely, sub-sections (1) and (2) read as under:
'19(1).Notwithstanding anything contained in any contract or any other law for the time being in force but subject to any rules that may be made under this Act, the Managing Officer or Managing Corporation may cancel any allotment or terminate any lease or amend the terms of any lease or allotment under which any evacuee property acquired under this Act is held or occupied by a person, whether such allotment or lease was granted before or after the commencement of this Act.
(2)where any person,
(A)has ceased to be entitled to the possession of any evacuee property by reason of any action taken under sub-section (1)or
(B)is otherwise in unauthorised possession of any evacuee property or any other immovable property forming part of the compensation pool; he shall, after he has been given a reasonable opportunity of showing cause against his eviction from such property, surrender possession of the property on demand being made in this behalf by the managing officer or managing corporation or by any other person duly authorised by such officer or corporation.'
The rule which is relevant in this connection is rule 102. The said rule reads as under :
'102.Cancellation of allotments and leases : A Managing Officer or a Managing Corporation may in respect of the property in the compensation pool entrusted to him or to it, cancel an allotment or terminate a lease, or vary the terms of any such lease or allotment of the allottee or lessee as the case may be
(A)has sublet or parted with the possession of the whole or any part of the property allotted or leased to him without the permission of a competent authority, or
(B)has used or is using such property for a purpose other than that for which it was allotted or leased to him without the permission of a competent authority, or
(C)has committed any act which is destructive of or permanently injurious to the property, or
(D)for any other sufficient reason to be recorded in writing: Provided that no action shall be taken under this rule unless the allottee or the lessee, as the case may be, has been given a reasonable opportunity of being heard.'
(8) Broadly speaking, the main contention on behalf of the petitioner is that the land in question admittedly formed part of the compensation pool. It is contended that the land had been validly allotted to the petitioner . This land went out of the compensation pool on such allotment having been made to it. The further contention is that the allotment could not be cancelled. The contention is that the provisions of section 19 and rule 102 have not been complied with while cancelling the allotment. It is further contended that as a valid allotment had been made in favor of the petitioner, necessary relief should be given to it and the respondents should be restrained from interfering with the peaceful possession of the land. The further submission on behalf of the petitioner is that the respondents should be directed to act in accordance with law and complete all the formalities regarding the issuance of lease deed etc. as contemplated by the said act.
(9) The first question which arises for consideration is whether any land was allotted or leased out to the petitioner in accordance with the provisiois of section 20 of the said Act. In order to decide this question it is necessary to refer to, in some detail, the various documents which have been placed on record by the parties.
(10) On a request being made for the allotment of surplus undeveloped piece of land, a letter dated 17th February, 1967 was written on behalf of the Chief Settlement Commissioner to the petitioner. In the said letter it was stated that the petitioner should inform as to whether it would like to have the land in Kalka Ji or Malviya Nagar. In reply to the said letter the petitioner gave its preference for being allotted land in the vicinity of Kalka Ji Colony. By that time, in fact in January, 1967, it appears that the Cabinet had decided that the surplus unutilised land should be handed over to D.D.A. On 19th October, 1969 the then Minister of Rehabilitation Shri Jaisukhial Hathi wrote to the then Minister of Works and Housing Shri K.K. Shah to the following effect :
'THEallotment/disposal of these lands is to be governed by the Policy framed by this Department and Chief Settlement Commissioner is empowered under rule 87 of the Displaced Persons (Compensation & Rehabilitation) Rules, 1955, to dispose of these lands. Since the lands vest in the Department of Rehabilitation, we propose to allot 60 acres of land to the society with reference to our 'commitment' to the Society and hand over the remaining unutilised areas to the Dda according to the Cabinet's decision.'
Thereafter a letter dated 5th December, 1969 was written from the office of the Chief Settlement Commissioner to the petitioner. The letter contained the decision to allot 60 acres of land to the petitioner. It was stated that the land would be either in Malviya Nagar or Lajpat Nagar V. The petitioner Society was asked to intimate its acceptance of the land in either of the two areas. The Society exercised its option and requested for allotment of land in Malviya Nagar. On 26th May, 1970 a letter was written to the petitioner from the office of the Chief Settlement Commissioner. In the said letter it was first stated as follows :
'ANoffer for the allotment of 60 acres of land to the Rehabilitation Ministry of Employees House Building Coopperative Society Ltd. was made vide this office letter of even number dated the 5th December, 1969. The Society having accepted the offer of allotment of land nearabout the existing rehabilitation colony 'Malviya Nagar' on the price to be fixed by the Chief Settlement Commissioner, vide the Society's letter dated the 8th December, 1969, I am directed to say that a license to enter upon the piece of land measuring about 60 acres situated at Malviya Nagar can be granted to your Society initially for the purpose of development, under an agreement. After the completion of development to the satisfaction of the Regional Settlement Commissioner. New Delhi, a lease will be executed with the Society in respect of such residential plots out of the residential plots carved out of that land as may be determined by the Chief Settlement Commissioner, and the Society shall thereafter be required to sub-lease these plots to its members. The proposed drafts of the 'Agreement', the 'Perpetual Lease' and the 'Perpetual sub-lease' are being finalised and will be forwarded to the Society shortly.'
The Society was thereafter asked to deposit Rs. 2 lakhs as a token deposit towards the premium for the lease. It was further stated in the said letter as follows :
'THEexact location of the land to be leased out to the Department of Rehabilitation Employees House Building Co-operative Society is being ascertained in consultation with the Delhi Administration/Delhi Development Authority, who have prepared a Zonal plan for the area and the details of the land will be communicated to the Society shortly.'
The petitioner Society accepted the allotment and by its letter dated 2nd June, 1970 had informed the respondents that a sum of Rs. 2 lakhs had been deposited. By letter dated 23rd June, 1970 the petitioner was informed that the Government had already conveyed to it the Government's decision of leasing out land to the Society on the Society's accepting certain terms and conditions. The Society was asked to convey the said acceptance. These terms and conditions were once again accepted by the Society vide its letter dated 24th June, 1970.
(11) At about this time it appears that some correspondence was exchanged between the Ministeries of Rehabilitation on the one hand and the Ministry of Works & Housing on the other hand. A letter dated 28th August, 1970 was written by the then Minister. of Rehabilitation Shri D. Sanjivayya to the then Minister of Works & Housing Shri K.K. Shah. In the said letter the facts regarding the allotment of the land were set out and it was, inter alia, stated in the said letter as follows :
'ASyou will kindly see from the narration above, the stand of the Department of Rehabilitation has throughout been consistent right from 1966 when the first meeting on this subject was held on 8th March, 1966, in the Ministry of Home Affairs. I find that by allotting the piece of land to the Rehabilitation Employees House Building Cooperative Society, the Department of Rehabilitation has acted correctly in accordance with the provisions of the Displaced Persons (Compensation and Rehabilitation) Act, 1954, and the Rules made there under.'
By letter dated 5th September, 1970 the petitioner was informed about the intention of the Rehabilitation Department to grant license to the Society for the development of the said land. It was, inter aha, stated therein that the Society had to develop the land and the lease would be executed with the Society in respect of such residential plots which are carved out there from and thereafter the Society shall be required to execute sub-leases of those plots in favor of its members.
(12) Unknown to the petitioner, correspondence was going on between the two Ministers, namely. Minister for Works & Housing and Minister for the Department of Rehabilitation. A letter dated 16th September, 1971 was written by the then Minister for Rehabilitation Shri R.K. Khadilkar to Shri 1.K. Gujral, the then Minister of State for Works & Housing. In the said letter the factual background regarding the allotment of the land in question was stated. The letter further stated as follows :
'Ifind that the decision regarding allotment of land from the Compensation Pool of the Department has been endorsed by all my predecessors viz. Sarvashri Hathisi, Jagjiwan Ram and Sanjivayyaji. To reverse this decision at this late stage on mere technical grounds would amount to Government going back from its 'commitment'.
THEeasiest solution to this problem seems to me that while surrendering the land which has become surplus to our requirements for purposes of allotment under the Displaced Persons (Compensation and Rehabilitation) Act, 1955, the Delhi Administration and the D.D.A. may be informed that 60 acres of land in the Malviya Nagar areas have already been allotted to the said Society by virtue to statutory powers vested in Government/ Chief Settlement Commissioner for the disposal of Compensation Pool property. I may add that exercise of this power has also already been upheld by he Ministry of Law. In the circumstances, there is no necessity for going back to the Cabinet as their decision relates only to those lands which are surplus to our requirements'.
As far as the petitioner is concerned it was not aware of the correspondence which was being exchanged between the respective Ministries. The petitioner, however, received a letter dated 6th June, 1972. The relevant portions of the said letter read as under:
'Iam directed to refer to this office letters No. 3(9)/Survey/ CSC/66 dated the 5th December,. 1969 and the 26th May, 1970 and subsequent correspondence resting with your letter dated the 3rd August, 1971, regarding the allotment of land to your Society. A Statement showing the names of Village Khasra numbers and their areas together with 'sajra' plan of the land measuring approximately 60 acres adjacent to the existing Malviya Nagar, provisionally allotted to you, is enclosed. The demarcation of this land may be obtained immediately from the office of Regional Settlement Commissioner, New Delhi.' ** ** ** ** **
YOUare also advised to approach the office of the Regional Settlement Commissioner, New Delhi, for taking possession of the land provisionally.'
After the receipt of the aforesaid letter, provisional possession of the land in question was handed over by the Managing Officer (Rural) to the Vice President of the petitioner-Society. The fact regarding the said possession having been handed over and necessary intimation being sent to the Tehsildar, Mehrauli is contained in the letter dated 22/24th June 1972 written by the Regional Settlement Commissioner (Central) to the Settlement Commissioner (Central). The relevant portion of the said Letter is as under:
'WEwrite to say that the provisional possession (including the demarcation of the land comprised in Khasra numbers and the villages shown in the list sent to this office with the letter under reference measuring 60 acres approximately adjacent to existing Malviya Nagar) has been delivered by our Managing Officer (Rural) to the Vice President of the Society. Shri H.J.L. Goswami, and the Secretary Shri Jia Lal Sharma, on. 13-6-1972 at. 3.30 P.M. at the spot, after completing the formalities. including publicity by beat of drum in the presence of witnesses. Necessary intimation has been sent to the Tehsildar, Mehrauli, for incorporating the eatries to this effect in the revenue record.'
In the said letter it was also stated that a sum of about Rs, 4,00,000.00 towards the premium of land had already been deposited by the Society. A further sum was also deposited, making the total deposit of about Rs. Ten lakhs.
(13) On 16/19th April, 1973 the new Minister of Rehabilitation Shri Raghunatha Reddy once again wrote letter to Shri Bhola Paswan Shastri, Minister of Works & Housing with regard to the said land. In the said letter it was inter alia, stated that in August. 1968 the Ministry of Law's advice had been obtained with reference to the Cabinet note of the Ministry of Works and Housing. The Ministry of Law, it was stated in the said letter, had upheld the right of the Rehabilitation Department to deal with the land in question under the provisions of the Displaced Persons (Compensation & Rehabilitation) Act. In the said letter it is further stated that 'Accordingly, the land was formally allotted by this Department in June, 1972, and its possession handed over to the Society (with a majority of members being displaced persons), who have already deposited a sum of Rs. 10 lakhs with the Department towards the cost of the land'. Shri Shastri was requested by this letter to issue suitable directions to the D.D.A. and other concerned authorities to enable the petitioner Society to go ahead with the land development. On that very day i.e. 16th April, 1973 Shri Raghunatha Reddy also wrote a letter to the then Lt. Governor of Delhi Shri Baleshwar Prasad. Along with the said letter copy of the dated 16/19th April. 1973 addressed to Shri Bhola Paswan Shastri was enclosed. In the letter written to the Lt. Governor it was stated that 'as indicated therein, the land has been allotted by the Chief Settlement Commissioner under the statutory powers vested in him under the provisions of the Displaced Persons (Compensation and Rehabilitation) Act, 1954. The Society has also deposited a sum of Rs. 10 lakhs towards the cost of the land. There is absolutely no doubt about the title of the land which is vested in this Department and Government are committed to the allotment already made.'
(14) It appears that some questions were asked in the Parliament by Members of Parliament with regard to the allotment of the land in question. In answer to Unstarred Question No. 6870 the then Minister of Rehabilitation Shri Raghunatha Reddy on. 12th April, 1973 gave the following answer in Parliament : -
'ABOUT60 acres of land acquired under the Resettlement of Displaced persons (Acquisition) Act of 1948 has been so allotted. The land is mostly lying vacant and hence its annual rental value is not known. About the price to be charged from the Society, the question is under consideration.
POSSESSIONhas been given to the Society of the major portion of the land allotted. However, since a part of this land has been leased out by the Delhi Development Authority to some persons up to April-May, 1973, the Delhi Development Authority has been requested by this Department not to extend the lease'.
It is thus clear that in the Parliament the unequivocal statement of the Minister, which must necessarily mean by the Government, was that the valid allotment of the land in question had already been made in favor of the petitioner-Society.
(15) Thereafter on 1st July, 1974 a letter was written by the Executive Officer (Building) of the Delhi Development Authority to the Secretary of the petitioner Society. In the said letter it was, inter alia, stated that out of the five pockets of land shown in the lay out plan submitted by the Society two pockets fell within the development area of the D.D.A. and the other 3 pockets fell within the jurisdiction of the M.C.D. It was stated therein that the lay out plan with regard to that parcel of land which fell within the jurisdiction of the D.D.A. was under consideration and the petitioner Society was advised to submit a fresh lay out plan in respect of the remaining three pockets to the M.C.D.
(16) Nothing seems to have happened after that and the project of the petitioner 'unfortunately ms.de no further progress. After the elections in the year 1977 a fresh representation was made to the new Minister Shri Sikandar Bakht. On the rep'esentation so made the following order was passed by the Minister on 18th May, 1977
'THEREis no point in creating obstacles in the way of implementing decision. The land in question was sold to them by the Competent Authority, money was deposited, mutation was done. What is the rigmrol about them Release the land to them immediately and please report, sd/- Sikander Bakht 18-5-1977.
Soon thereafter an unstarred question was asked in the Parliament by the then member of Parliament Shri L. L. Kapoor with regard to the allotment of the land in question. The reply of the then Minister Shri Sikander Bakht in Parliament to the question, so asked, was as follows :
'YES,Sir. The land had been allotted by the Department of Rehabilitation to the Society and Rs. 10 lakhs had been deposited by the Society as part payment.
IT is not clear what assurance given in the last Lok Sabha is being referred to.
REGARDINGfinalisation of prices etc., the matter is being looked into by the Department of Rehabilitation.
Despite assurances having been given by the Minister that allotment had been made and that action should be taken for completing the formalities, on progress appears to have been made. Representations were made on behalf of the petitioner to the then Prime Minister Shri Morarji Desai. One such representation was addressed by Shri L.L. Kapoor, Member of Parliament. In reply to the said representation a letter dated 1st March, 1979 was received by Shri Kapoor from the then Minister Shri Sikander Bakht. It was stated in the said letter, and for the first time a stand has taken, which was communicated to the petitioner, that the land had been allotted to the petitioner in apparent violation of the Government's earlier decision. The concluding paragraph of the said letter, which has been impugned in this writ petition, reads as under :
'ONthe facts explained above, the Government are constrained to consider that the allotment has to be rescinded. We are aware that this may cause some hardship to members who ha I been entertaining the hope of this transaction materialising. But you will appreciate Government cannot be a party to an act which on the face of it went beyond the purview of the Department ' of Rehabilitation, and was directly against the policy decisions of theGovernment and was inspired by a few interested employees acting against all canone of rectitude of conduct and norms of a clean and sound administration'.
The reading of the aforesaid documents on the record can lead only to one irresistible conclusion, namely that the valid allotment as contemplated by section 20 of the said Act had been made sometimes in December, 1967 in favor of the petitioner-Society of 60 acres of land. Time and again the Ministers of Rehabilitation, which was the only Ministry which was concerned with regard to the implementation of the said Act, had written in very unequivocal terms that the allotment of land in question had been made. Even in the impugned letter dated 1st March, 1979, it will be seen, the then Minister Shri Sikander Bakht has stated that the allotment already made will have to be rescineded. The validity of the allotment being rescinded will be considered subsequently. What is important is that the said letter unequivocally accepts that the allotment had in fact been made. Whether such an allotment was in conformity with an a dministrative decision of the Government taken in January, 1967 or not is a separate matter. The respondents in their replyaffid avit cannot, by a mere bald statement, say that in fact there was no allotment of the land at all. No document has been placed on the record by the respondents to show that allotment had not taken place. I am not prepared to believe that on two occasions the then Ministers gave false information to the Parliament. I must accept as correct the statements which were made by the then Ministers in the Parliament, namely, that allotment of land in question had in fact been made in favor of the petitioner society.
(17) The very fact that the impugned order dated 7th May. 1979 was passed also shows that an allotment had been made earlier. As already stated hereinabove, by the order dated 7th May, 1979 the allotment which had been made earlier was sought to be cancelled. There can be no requirement to cancel an allotment if a valid allotment had not been made. The said order, thereforee, clearly postulates that an allotment as contemplated by the Act had been made. In ground 2 of the writ petition it has been specifically averred that 60 acres of land had been allotted to the Society out of the compensation pool under the provisions of the Act and the Rules made there under and in particular under sections 14 and 20 of the Act and Rules 87 and 101 of the Rules. In reply to the said ground there is a bald denial. There is no averment in the reply-affidavit, and was sought to be contended at the time of arguments by Shri Lokur, namely, that no allotment had been made by a competent authority. Whether the allotment had in fact been made under section 20 by the Cbmpetent Authority, namely, the Managing Officer or not is purely a question of fact. At no stage was it everredated by the respondents that the Managing Officer had not passed the order of allotment. Even in the return to the writ petition, it was no where stated that the Managing Officer had not passed any order under section 20. In the absence of any pleadings, and in the absence of any evidence on record, Shri Lokur cannot be permitted to contend that no allot- ment was in fact made by the Managing Officer. The effect of accepting this submission would be that the statements which were made by the Ministers in the House of Parliament would be wrong statements. I am not prepared to accept the bald argument without any averment having been made by way of an affidavit and without there being any documents on the record which can show that the Managing Officer did not in fact pass any such order. It must be presumed that the Government had acted in accordance with law. For the last ten years Government had been stating invariably that an allotment had infact been made of the land in question. The Govt. cannot be permitted to resile from the stand already taken by them. I am, thereforee, of the opinion that a valid allotment as contemplated by section 20 of the Act had in fact taken place.
(18) It was next contended on behalf of the respondents that the allotment was invalid because it had been made in disregard of the high policy decision which had been recorded in the Cabinet decision of January, 1967. There is no merit in this submission. The land in question formed part of the compensation pool. It could go out of the compensation pool only in accordance with the provisions of the Act. If no order was passed in accordance with the provisions of section 20 then the land could not go out of the compensation pool, even if a high powered policy decision had been taken. It is, thereforee, not correct to state that because of the policy decision having been taken, namely, that the surplus land should be transferred from the Ministry of Rehabilitation to the Delhi Administration, the allotment could not be made under section 20 of the Act. It has been rightly contended by the petitioner, while relying upon the authority of Bhiru Mal alias Bhoju Mal and another v. The Financial Commissioner, Revenue. Haryana. Chandigarh 69 P.L.R. 656(1) that an administrative decision cannot be at variance with or contrary to the provisions of any Act. In the aforesaid case it was held that if on the basis of any administrative instructions an order is passed such an order would be defective, ft was held that the power to transfer property from the compensation pool is vested in the Managing Officer under section 20 of the Act. The powers have to be exercised subject to the rules that may be made under the Act and the discretion of the Managing Officer cannot be controlled by any administrative decision or instructions. Reliance in this case was also placed on a Bench decision in the case of Bishan Singh v. The Central Government 63 P.L.R. 75(2) wherein it was held that no press note can be issued by the Central Govt. Or by the Chief Settlement Commissioner dealing with the manner for disposal of acquired urban agricultural laud. It was held that such press notes would not be valid and no action could be taken on the basis thereof and that the Central Govt. could not sell such land without framing relevant rules. The import of these decisions clearly is that whether land is to go out of the compensation pool or not is for the Managing Officer to decide. If the Managing Officer acts on the basis of any administrative instructions then such a decision would be quashed as having been passed for extraneous reasons. Where an act. requires a particular action to be taken in a particular manner, no administrative decision can be taken to nullify such a provision of he statute. If the contention of the respondents is accepted it would mean that section 20 of the said Act would have to yield to any administrative decision which is taken by the Government from time to time. This is certainly not permissible. It is well settled that there can be no administrative decision, even by the Cabinet, which would in any way be contrary to the provisions of a statute. If. thereforee, as in the present case, allotment has been made of land, in accordance with the provisions of section 20 of the Act, such an allotment cannot be regarded as invalid merely because the same may be regarded as having been made contrary to the policy decision which had been recorded by the Cabinet on January, 1967.
(19) With regard to the Cabinet decision, it is also contended on behalf of the petitioner that an administrative decision can be varied from time to time. The contention is that. on the principle of collective responsibility of the Cabinet, the subsequent decisions which have been taken by the Minister of Rehabilitation to allot the land in question would supersede the earlier decision of the Cabinet. It has further been contended that by virtue of the transaction of the business .rules, which are framed by the President, the appropriate Minister in charge with regard to the working of the said Act was the Minister of Rehabilitation. Any decision which is taken by the said Minister has to be regarded as much a decision of the Cabinet as a decision which had been taken in a full Cabinet meeting. In law. it is submilted, there would be no difference regarding the competency of the two decisions and the later decision, also being a decision of the Government, would necessarily supersede the earlier decision. It is not necessary to decide this point for the simple reason that I have already held that the Cabinet decision of January. 1967 could not invalidate or prohibit the making of any allotment under section 20 of the said Act.
(20) It has also been contended that the aforesaid Cabinet decision was in any event never given effect to. In the writ petition it has been alleged that even after the said Cabinet decision many lands were allotted or transferred out of the compensation pool. A. list of the sales/transfers/allotments of land so made in Kalkaji, Lajpat Nagar and Malviya Nagar areas to various parties and persons by the respondents has been enclosed. The fact that these allotments were made after the aforesaid Cabinet decision is not devied in the return filed on behalf of the respondents. It will be further seen that on 12th July, 1967 a letter was written by the Ministry of Works, Housing and Supply to Shri Jagmohan the then Secretary, Land and Building, Delhi Administration. In the said letter it was, inter alia, stated that out of 505 acres of land which had been acquired for settlement of displaced persons near about Malviya Nagar, about 195 acres had already been utilised. It was further stated that out of the remaining ing 310 acres, 60 acres of land was proposed to be allotted to the petitioner Society. In addition it was also stated that with regard to 75 acres of land there was some litigation which was pending. It was further stated that the balance of 175 acres of land which had not been utilised had to be transferred to the Delhi Administration presumably as per the aforesaid Cabinet decision. It is evident that by 12th July, 1967, even if the proposed allotment of 60 acres to the petitioner Society is ignored, only 310 acres of land had not been utilised. It is evident, thereforee, that the mention of 479 acres of land stated to be surplus in the aforesaid Cabinet decision cannot be regarded as a correct figure. At the time of arguments it was conceded by Shri Lokur, on behalf of the Government, that till today, notwithstanding the aforesaid Cabinet decision, not a single centimeter of land had been transferred to the Delhi Administration by the Rehabilitation Department. There is thus considerable force in the contention of the petitioner that the Cabinet decision of Jan. 1967, was never meant to be acted upon or, in any case, was in fact not acted upon. This being the case the said Cabinet decision cannot be regarded as on excuse or a reason for the respondents not to abide by the commitments made by them.
(21) It must, thereforee, follow that there had been a valid allotment of the land in question in favor of the petitioner and the allotment was not had or illegal by reason of any alleged contravention of the Cabinet decision.
(22) The allotment of the land having been validly made the same could only have been cancelled under section 19 by the Managing Officer. This is provided by section 19 of the Act read with rule 102 and has been so recognised by the Supreme Court in Major Gopal Singh and others v. Custodian, Evacuee Property, Punjab and others, : 1SCR328 . It was held therein that 'the point is, who, after the coming into force of the 1954 Act, could cancel the allotment. Section 10 says that only a managing officer or a managing corporation can do so. This means that no one else can do so even though some other law may have authorised another person or authority to cancel an allotment.' It appears that the reference to section 10 should in fact have been to section 19 of the Act. It is not disputed that in the present case the impugned order of cancellation has not been passed by the Managing Officer. On this ground alone, thereforee, the order dated 7th May, 1979 passed by the Deputy Chief Settlement Commissioner purporting to cancel the allotment of land in favor of the petitioner has to be quashed. The said order suffers from two other infirmities. Rule 102 makes it obligatory that the affected party should be given an opportunity of being heard before action is taken for cancellation of allotment. The proviso to rule 102, which contemplates such an opportunity being given, has not been complied with in this case. It is not disputed that prior to the issuance of the order dated 7th May, 1979 no opportunity of being heard was given to the petitioner. The petitioner, who was allottee of the land in question was thus deprived, and seriously prejudiced, of their right to be heard prior to the passing of the order of cancellation.
(23) The other reason for holding that the impugned order is bad is that the cancellation can be effected only on the grounds as stated in rule 102. In the present case none of these grounds exist. The only reason given for cancellation is the alleged violation of the Cabinet decision at the time of allotment of the land in question. This is not a ground which is contemplated by rule 102. The cancellation of the allotment, thereforee, being for reasons other than any of those stated in rule 102, has thereforee to be quashed.
(24) In the alternative it has been argued on behalf of the petitioner that, even if there was no valid allotment, the respondents cannot be permitted to resile from the firm commitments which had been made by them. In other words, the petitioner is seeking to invoke the principles of promissory estoppel in thise case. The aforesaid correspondence and documents clearly show that time and again it was being represented to the petitioner and to its members that allotment was being made. On the basis of the representation, the land in question had been mutated in favor of the petitioner. The petitioner Society had collected funds from its members towards part paymet of the price. The fund so collected had been deposited, and accepted by the respondents. in this way approximately Rs. 10 lakhs were paid by the petitioners Society. On account of the allotment having been made, it has been alleged in the writ petition, and not denied by the respondents in the counter-affidavit, 'the members of the Society could neither become the members of any other co-operative house building society nor they got themselves registered for allotment of any plot of land or flat with the Delhi Development Authority or any other agency. The petitioners have all along acted upon their representations, promises and hope given by the Deptt. to their detriment'. It has been further stated that the petitioner waited and hoped that the land in question would be allotted and the petitioner's members did not purchase any other land. The prices of other lands, in the meantime, have sky-rocketed and it is now beyond their means to purchase any land. Reliance is placed by the petitioner on the decisions of Union of India v. Indo Afgan Agencies, : 2SCR366 and M/s. Motilal Padampat Sugar Mills Co. Ltd. v. State of Uttar Pradesh and others, : 118ITR326(SC) .
(25) On behalf of the respondents the only contention which has been raised is that this Court ought not to follow the decision of the Supreme Court in M.P. Sugar Mills case (supra) in view of a later decision of the Supreme Court reported as M/s. Jit Ram Shiv Kumar and others v. The State of Haryana and another, : 3SCR689 in the later case the Supreme Court referred to various decisions of the Supreme Court and of the English Courts, prior to the decision in the case of M.P. Sugar Mills. The Supreme Court then observed as under:
'THEscope of the plea of doctrine of promissory estoppel against the Government may be summed up as follows :
(1)The plea of promissory estoppel is not available against the exercise of the legislative functions of the State.
(2)The doctrine cannot be invoked for preventing the Government from discharging its functions under the law.
(3)When the officer of the Government acts outside the scope of his authority, the plea of promissory estoppel is not available. The doctrine of ultra virus will come into operation and the Government cannot be held bound by the unauthorised acts of its officers.
(4)When the officer acts within the scope of his authority under a scheme and enters into an agreement and makes a representation and a person acting on that representation puts himself in a disadvantageous position, the Court is entitled to require the Officer to act according to the scheme and the agreement or representation. The Officer cannot arbitrarily act on his mere whim and ignore his promise on some undefined and undisclosed grounds of necessity or change the conditions to the prejudice of the person who had acted upon such representation and put himself in a disadvantageous position.
(5)The Officer would be justified in changing the terms of the agreement to the prejudice of the other party on special considerations such as difficult foreign exchange position or other matters which have a bearing on general interest of the State,'
It is no doubt true that the learned Judges did not agree with some of the observations of Bhagwati J. in his judgment in the case of M.P. Sugar Mills (supra). Nevertheless the Court did sum up and enumerate the doctrine of promissory estoppel, as has been quoted hereinabove. The present case clearly comes within the aforesaid 4th proposition. An officer, namely the Managing Officer, within the scope of his authority, namely, in accordance with the provisions of section 20 of the Act, has made a representation by professing to allot the land in question to the petitioner. On the basis of this representation the petitioner and its members have acted to their disadvantage. They have put themselves in the disadvantageous position by, firstly contributing and depositing Rs.10 lakhs towards part payment of the price: secondly the members of the petitioner Society could not and did not purchase any other land in Delhi, and thirdly the said members did not gel themselves registered for allotment of any plot of land or flats with the Delhi Development Authority or any other agency by reason of the allotment of land in question leaving been made to the petitioner Society. In such circumstances the respondents are clearly estopped from going back on the firm commitments made by them. These commitments have been made time and again by officers and authorities at different levels both inside and outside the House of Parliament. In this view of the matter the petitioner is entitled to invoke the doctrine of promissory estoppel and the respondents cannot be permitted to resile from the commitment already made by them.
(26) The Delhi Development Authority, respondent no. 3, in the affidavit which has been filed by them have inter-alia staled that the land in question has been put at their disposal under section 22 of the Delhi Development Act vide a notification dated 22nd February, 1979. It is also stated in the said affidavit that a large parcel of the land in question has already been utilised by the said respondent for purposes of various schemes of public utility and some portion is in the unauthorised occupation of quarters. It is accordingly stated that ultimately only about 10 acres of land is available at the site.
(27) I have already held that the land in question had been validly allotted to the petitioner-society. That land has not been transferred out of the compensation pool. This is also admitted by the Government of India, and was so stated at the bar by Mr. Lokur. This being so, there could not be any transfer of this parcel of land under section 22 by the Delhi Administration to the Delhi Development Authority. The land had never been transferred to the Delhi Administration and thereforee, it had no jurisdiction to issue any notification purporting to transfer the said land to the Delhi Administration. Any use which the Delhi Development Authority might have put the land to, would be an unauthorised user of the land in question. Practical difficulties. however, are likely to arise if the land in question has in fact been used for implementing some public schemes. This factor will have to be taken into consideration and the relief which can be grated to the petitioner will have to be appropriatly moulded the right of the petitioner to the transfer of land of 60 acres, pursuant to a valid allotment having taken place, cannot be defeated by putting the land to some other use. If the respondent arc not in a position to transfer that exact parcel of land, which had been allotted, offered and mutated in favor of the petititioner, the respondents will have to give some other land in the near vicinity of the land which had been originally allotted. It will of course be open to the petitioner-society to accept any other composite parcel of land if so offered.
(28) The writ petition is accordingly allowed. A writ of certiorari is issued quashing the order dated 7th May, 1979 passed by Shri D.N Asija, Deputy Chief Settlement Commissioner purporting to cancel the allotment of land in question. A writ of mandamus is also issue directing the respondents to fulfill their obligations and to act in accordance with law in pursuance of a valid allotment having bee' made under section 20 of the Act. The respondents are further directed to hand over physical possession, if not already handed over, to the petitioner of 60 acres of land in the vicinity of Malviya Nagar, New Delhi and to complete the transfer of the said land in favor of the petitioner-society within three months from today. The petitioner shall be entitled to costs. Counsel's fee Rs. 550.