D.K. Kapur, J.
(1) Several Writ Petitions are concerned with the allotment of alternative sites at a reserve price to the petitioners who claim to be former occupants of the Motia Khan area which was dismantled and cleared in a scheme formulated by the Delhi Development Authority. The purpose of the scheme, which took a number of years, was to remove the metal and scrap dealers in Motia Khan area to a Loha Mandi which was developed in Naraina, this scheme is commonly referred to as the Naraina Ware-housing Scheme.
(2) There were numerous problems regarding the allotment of new sites, particularly as to who were the persons who were to be allotted the sites, and also, some persons were offered allotments at Naraina while others were offered places at a far away place known as Rewari Line Industrial Area. A joint Writ Petition was filed being C.W. No. 317 of 1970, entitled M/s. Madan Iron Stores and v. Delhi Development Authority. This petition was decided on 13th October, 1970, by a Division Bench consisting of Hardy J., and Ansari J., (as they then were), who accepted 'the petition and directed the Authority to make a fresh allotment of plots in accordance with the directions contained in the judgment which is annexed as annexure 'A' to the petition.
(3) It appears that the actual removal of persons in the Motia Khan area started in 1975, but some of the persons were not allotted plots and so there was another Writ Petition, being Suraj Mal and others v. The Delhi Development Authority and others, (C.W. No. 1121/75), arising from the fact that certain persons were not being allotted plots. This petition was decided by another Bench of this Court, viz, (Deshpande J. and Safeer J.) on the basis of certain statements, and eventually, the Delhi Development Authority passed a resolution on 11th October, 1977, regarding the manner in which the allotment was to be made. This is Annexure 'C' to the petition. This Resolution gives certain clarifications regarding the persons who were to be given alternative sites, and also, the rates that they were to be charged. At one time, the policy was that the persons who were removed and were paying damages should be given alternative allotments at a reserve price whereas those who were not assessed to damages should be given the allotments at the average-auction rate. The new policy was to subdivide these two categories further by re-classifying the persons who were not paying the damages. These new categories were- (a) persons against whom proceedings were pending for assessment of damages but no final orders had been passed, and (b) those against whom no such proceedings were initiated although they were in fact doing business in Motia Khan and were occupation there. After analyzing all the facts relating to the categories, the Resolution was as follows : Resolution
'RESOLVED that the evictees of both the categories, mentioned in para 2 of the agenda-note, be allotted alternative plots in 'reserve price', provided they adduce satisfactory proof of their having occupied land at the Loha Mandi (Motia Khan) Clearance Site during 10 years, immediately proceeding their eviction, and also pay damages, plus an interest of 12.5% per annum thereon, for the same.'
Thus, the offer of allotment at a reserve price was extended even to those persons who had actually not paid damages provided they adduced satisfactory proof that they had occupied land in the Motia Khan area during 10 years and they also had to pay damages plus interest for that period.
(4) It appears that a considerable period was taken for making the necessary verification and then the persons who had not been granted the allotments were required to make applications which they did. But, according to the petitioners, no actual plots were allotted in spite of the fact that the petitioners were found to be eligible for alternative allotment.
(5) There was a further question that the alternative plots were not being given in the Naraina Warehousing Scheme. The case of the petitioners is that they have all paid damages for 10 years in accordance with the Policy formulated by the Delhi Development Authority and there was a promissory estoppel.
(6) Now the petitioners want that certain directions should be given regarding the actual allotments. A notice to show cause was issued in this Petition and time was given to file replies. Eventually a Rule was issued and we have proceeded to examine the records regarding the plots in the Naraina Warehousing Scheme to ascertain whether the petitioners could be given plots.
(7) The case of the Delhi Development Authority was that the number of plots was short, so we had directed by order dated 26th May, 1982, that as all the petitioners wanted to be adjusted in the block denoted as 'X' and 'Y' blocks in the plan, thereforee, there should be a modification in the size of plots. We are glad to note that this was all worked out and we were informed that 114 persons could be allotted plots in the 'X' and 'Y' area. We noted in the order passed in the end of December, 1982, that 114 plots were available and they could be allotted. But, at that time, i.e., on 14th December, 1982, we were informed that only 75 plots could be allotted and the remaining 39 plots were defective in some way. Eventually, after some discussion, Mr. S. Sastani stated that he had instructions that 114 plots would be allotted and they will be vacant plots and the Department will resolve the difficulty if any. As a result, the allotment of plots was directed to take place.
(8) It is not necessary to give the details why there were fewer plots at first, because by reduction and re-adjustment, 114 plots which were practically the same for all the petitioners and others like them who were being allotted plots, have been worked out in the 'X' and 'Y' area.
(9) The only other question that remains was, what was the price at the plots should be allotted. It was urged on behalf of the Authority that the market price should be charged because there had been a modification in the policy and for this reliance was placed on a resolution dated 11th August, 1980. This resolution is as follows : Resolution
'RESOLVED that policy decision regarding allotment to Motia Khan Steel Merchants etc., already taken in 1975, be implemented and that there be no further relaxation. Resolved further that persons to whom plots have already been allotted in accordance with the Resolution of Authority passed in 1977 and 1978, be charged full market value for the land, and that the Vice-Chairman may decide other modalities.'
This controversy regarding the rate to be charged tins seeks to go back on the resolution of 19-7. We fail to understand how the Delhi Development Authority can back out of its previous position after accepting the fact that persons who were actually in occupation of Motia Khan plots at the time of clearance should be given plots at a reserve price,
(10) It may be mentioned that the case of the petitioners regarding discrimination has already been dealt with by the Division Bench judgment dated 13th October, 1970. It was made clear by this Court that all the persons who were in occupation in the Motia Khan area and Similarly situated should be treated alike. That was the basis of that decision.
(11) In the present case, and at this stage, the same persons have again been discriminated against. The persons who were paying damages to the Delhi Development Authority were initially treated as different from those who were not paying damages. By its resolution of 1977, the persons who were not paying damages were equated with the other class because it was resolved that the persons against whom damages cases were pending and those who paid damages later, even though no proceedings were pending, should be treated at a par with the persons who were actually paying damages.
(12) . To pin-point these three classes in a different way, firstly, there was a group who was paying damages. This group was to get the plots at a reserve price. The second group was persons against whom cases were pending for assessing damages. On payment of damages, these persons would form the same group as the first. The third class were persons against whom proceedings had not been started, but who were occupying the places in the Motia Khan area and doing business there. This class was to be transformed into the same class by actually paying damages for 10 years and interest thereon.
(13) After, all the three groups had paid damages, there is hardly any difference between them. They would all by persons who were occupying plots in the Motia Khan area and doing business, who had paid damages to the Delhi Development Authority. thereforee, there would not be three classes, but only one class. Necessarily, the groups had to be treated alike and all had to get their plots at a reserve price. Any discrimination between the three groups after they have been converted and equated by payment of damages into one group would be discriminatory. All the members of the three subgroups would be persons who had paid damages to the Delhi Development Authority for getting areas in Motia Khan and had to be equally treated. It is, thereforee, held that the decision to go back on the resolution is clearly discriminatory and vocative of the fundamental right of the petitioners under Article 14 of the Constitution. The plots have to be given to all these persons at the reserve price and not at any different price.
(14) Furthermore, we have no doubt that the resolution creates a promissory estoppel in favor of the petition. It is clearly stated that if the evictees adduced satisfactory proof of having occupied land at the Loha Mandi Motia Khan for 10 years and also paid damages, they are to be allotted plots at the reserve price. This is a clear term which was followed by a period of verification and after verification the petitioners have been found to be entitled to get the plots. They have all paid the damages. There is no contest on the facts. Accordingly, acting on the representation of the Delhi Development Authority, the petitioners have paid the damages, and also, have suffered the disadvantage of being without plots for the last nine years. Surely, this is a case to which the principles of promissory estoppel apply. We are, thereforee, of the view that the decision of the Supreme Court in The Union of India v. M/s Anglo Afghan Agencies etc. A.I.R. 1968 S.C. 718, Century Spinning and . and another v. Ulhasnagar Municipalily, : 3SCR854 , and other similar cases in fully applicable to the fact of this case;
(15) The requirement of law in the application of the principle is that some representation should have been made which has been acted upon by the parties concerned. Here, the representation was restricted to the price at which the alternative plots would be given to the evictees from the Motia Khan area. A certain category of persons, i.e., persons who were paying damages were to get the allotment at a reserve price. They were offered the plots at a reserve price provided they satisfied certain conditions. One of the conditions was payment of damages for 10 years. This is what the petitioners have done- they have paid the damages. If they had not paid the damages and not been verified as having been in occupation for 10 years, they would have to pay the market price. But, having paid the damages and acted on the representation of the Authority, there is no doubt in our minds that the principle of promissory estoppel operates. The Authority cannot now demand the market price from the petitioners. If the Authority cannot now get the market price, then it would mean that the petitioners were in a worse position than they would have been if they had merely taken the plots at the market price initially and not gone through the agony of waiting for several years, and also, paying damages.
(16) We are, thereforee, of the view that the plots have to be allotted to the petitioners at the reserve price and the Authority cannot charge the market value.
(17) We make it dear that according to what has been stated before us, the petitioners have been verified and have paid the damages and it is in those cases that these conditions are fulfillled that the plots have to be allotted at the reserve price.
(18) In view of this discussion, we issue a Writ directing the respondent Delhi Development Authority to allot to the petitioners, and this is restricted only to those petitioners who have been verified and have paid the damages, etc., plots at the reserve price in accordance with the scheme formulated by the resolution Annexure 'C', date 11th October, 1977 in areas 'X' and 'Y' as discussed above. In case any of the petitioners do not fall within the scope of the resolution, i.e., they have not been in occupation for 10 years or have not paid the damages, then they are to pay the market price. The petition is decided accordingly. The petitioners will get their costs. Councel's fee Rs. 500.00 in each case.