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Friday, December 20, 2013

Indian Port Act sec. 34 - 2011 Policy - Except Licence , no lease, sale etc., - Since it is Licence - there is no right of renewal - Writ filed for renewal licence etc.,was dismissed by the High court - Apex court confirmed the same - Constitutional court in either granting or declining to grant a relief in exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 136 can take note of developments either of fact or law which leave an impact on the rights and obligations of parties before the Court = Apex court dismissed the SLPs = = Yazdani International P. Ltd. …Appellant Versus Auroglobal Comtrade P. Ltd. & Ors. …Respondents = published in judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41117

 Indian Port Act  sec. 34 - 2011 Policy - Except Licence  , no lease, sale etc., - Since it is Licence - there is no right of renewal - Writ filed for renewal licence etc.,was dismissed by the High court - Apex court confirmed the same - Constitutional court  in  either  granting  or declining to grant a relief in exercise of its  jurisdiction  under  Article 136 can take note of developments either of  fact  or  law  which  leave  an impact on the rights and obligations of parties before the Court = Apex court dismissed the SLPs =

whether  the  respective
allotments  made  in  favour  of  each  of  the  appellants  herein  are  in
accordance  with  law  and  
whether  the   appellants   have   any   legally
indefeasible right of renewal of such allotments or to continue use  of  the
respective plots allotted to them.  =

1) Whether there is any indefeasible legal right in favour of any  one
        of the appellants for renewal of the licence granted  or  continued
        use of plots allotted to them?
     2) Irrespective of the answer to the above question, whether the Board
        is justified to terminate the allotments  on  the  ground  that  it
        proposes to utilise  the  land  in  dispute  for  providing  better
        amenities in connection with the obligations imposed upon the Board
        by law?
     3) Whether this Court would be justified in law  to  decline  granting
        relief in exercise of its jurisdiction under  Article  136  of  the
        Constitution of India either on the ground that the appellants have
        no indefeasible right of renewal or on the ground that irrespective
        of the rights of the appellants, the purpose sought to be  achieved
        by the Board in proposing to resume the disputed lands is a  public
        purpose  which  should  override  the  interest  of  any   of   the
        appellants? =


After securing allotment of the plot, Auroglobal utilised the  same
for about a year and eventually approached the Orissa High Court by  way  of
Writ Petition No. 11785 of 2012, some time in July,  2012  with  prayers  as
follows:-
        I. To hold and declare that the petitioner has a right  of  renewal
           of the allotment with respect to plot NO. I-5  inside  the  Port
           area;


       II. Holding and declaring  that  the  pricing  modality  arrived  at
           through the tender is contrary to the tender conditions and  the
           conditions for renewal in the tender are violative  of  Articles
           14, 16 and 19 of the Constitution of India;


      III. set aside imposing/demanding of licence fee by the opp.  Parties
           for renewal under the tender conditions,


       IV. direct the opposite parties to renew and extend the allotment of
           the plot without demanding additional licence fee under Annexure-
           5;


        V. to quash the letter dated 05.07.2012 under Annexure-9

Pursuant to the order dated 2nd August, 2012  of  the  Orissa  High
Court, the Board cancelled the licences of 48  manually  operated  iron  ore
storage plots and 11 mechanically operated storage plots.  

It appears from the material on  record[5]  that  there  are  three
classes of plot  holders  who  manually  handle  iron  ore  exports  in  the
Paradeep Port; 
(i) 15 plot holders who were allotted  plots  prior  to  May,
2005, 
(ii) 52 plot holders who were allotted plots from June, 2005  to  May,
2011 on the basis of auction; and 
(iii) 13 plot holders who  acquired  plots
under the system of tendering process subsequent to June, 2011.
under Section 34 of the Act,  the  Board  of  a  major
port can lease out ‘its immovable property’. 
   Relevant portion of the notice issued to M/s Yazdani
International (P) Ltd., the petitioner in SLP(C) No.26321/2012
                                 PARADEEP PORT TRUST
                                  TRAFFIC DEPARTMENT

         NO. TD/TM/GEN-01(Pt.1)/2012/3344         Dated: the 21st Aug.,
2012

         To
         M/s. Yazdani International (P) Ltd.
         N-4/135 IRC Village Nayapalli,
         Bhubaneswar – 751 015.

         Sub.:   Cancellation of Manual Iron Ore Storage Plot No. G-8 in
Compliance to order of the Hon’ble High Court of Orissa.

         Dear Sir(s),

         In obedience to order dtd. 02.08.2012 passed by the Hon’ble High
Court of Orissa in Misc. Case No. 110005 of 2012 arising out of W.P.(C)
No.11785 of 2012 (copy enclosed), the manual iron ore storage plot No. G-8
measuring 3000 sq. mts. Which was allotted by auction June 2010 and again
renewed in your favour upto 28.02.2013 is hereby cancelled with immediate
effect.

         Further ……………… hand over the vacant possession of plot within 15
(fifteen) days ……

 However,  under  the  policy,
the Central Government directed that “no lease or sale of  land  inside  the
custom bound area should be permitted”,  but  should  be  given  on  licence
basis only.
Under the 2010 Policy,  it  is  stated  that
“normally land inside custom bound area should be  given  on  licence  basis
only”.    
Thus, it can be seen that while the 2004 Policy prohibited  giving
out of the land inside  the  custom  bound  area  by  any  mode  other  than
licence, the 2010 Policy stipulated licensing is the normal  rule,  implying
there could be exceptions to the rule.

 under  the
2004 policy guidelines the licences granted  by  the  Port  Trust  could  be
renewed without any limitation on the  number  of  renewals  that  could  be
granted.  
However, under  the  2010  policy,  the  number  of  renewals  was
restricted to two.  
From the material on record, it appears  that  each  one
of these appellants (mechanically operated plot licencees) enjoyed a  number
of renewals.  
We see no reason to interfere with the decision of  the  Board
to terminate the licences for the following reasons  - 
 Firstly,  a  licence
does not create any indefeasible legal right.    
Secondly,  we  do  not  see
any irrationality in the decision of the Board, even from the point of  view
of the fact that the Board is a public body (the State  within  the  meaning
of Article 12) and  therefore,  obliged  to  act  rationally.   The  Board’s
decision to terminate the licences is consistent with the policy  guidelines
of 2010.  
Thirdly, in view of the assertion of the Board in  its  additional
affidavit dated 25th November, 2013, “………  the  existing  iron  ore  traffic
which is showing a growth rate of  159.56%  during  current  financial  year
(upto October 2013) in comparison to the iron  ore  traffic  handled  during
the same period of the previous financial year, it is  submitted  that  non-
availability of mechanical plots to the Paradip Port Trust will entail  huge
financial loss to the port which is a major port under Government of  India.

This will also result in idling of the existing  iron  ore  handling  plant
for which significant money has been spent  and  dedicated  facilities  have
been created for efficient and  effective  handling  of  iron  ore  traffic.
This will also result in diversion of iron ore  traffic  to  nearby  private
Ports which is already happening  due  to  non  availability  of  Mechanical
plots to Paradip Port Trust”, we do not see any reason  to  doubt  the  said
assertion.
failed  to  place
before this Court any material to establish that the decision of  the  Board
to  terminate  their  licences  is  otherwise  violative  of  any   of   the
substantive right.  In the circumstances, we decline to interfere  with  the
decision of the Board.  All the appeals are, accordingly, dismissed.
                                                             
 
Reportable




                 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA


             CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                       CIVIL APPEAL NO. 11229  OF 2013
      (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 26321 of 2012)


Yazdani International P. Ltd.                     …Appellant
                                 Versus
Auroglobal Comtrade P. Ltd. & Ors.                …Respondents

                                    WITH


                      CIVIL APPEAL NO. 11230   OF 2013
      (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 26319 of 2012)
         CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11231 OF 2013
      (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 26922 of 2012)
                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11232  OF 2013
      (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 26894 of 2012)
                    CIVIL APPEAL NO. 11233-11234  OF 2013
       (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) Nos. 27013-27014
                                  of 2012)
                       CIVIL APPEAL NO. 11235  OF 2013
        (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) Nos. 27477 of
                                    2012)
                       CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11236 OF 2013
        (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) Nos. 27480 of
                                    2012)
                       CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11237 OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 27481 of
                                    2012)
                       CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11238 OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 27483 of
                                    2012)
                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11239  OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 27484 of
                                    2012)
                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11240  OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 27485 of
                                    2012)
                       CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11241 OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 27486 of
                                    2012)
                       CIVIL APPEAL NO. 11242  OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 27489 of
                                    2012)
                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11243  OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 27491 of
                                    2012)
                       CIVIL APPEAL NO. 11244 OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 27493 of
                                    2012)
                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11245  OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 27492 of
                                    2012)
                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11246  OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 27495 of
                                    2012)
                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11247  OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 27497 of
                                    2012)
                       CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11248 OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 27508 of
                                    2012)
                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11249  OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 27509 of
                                    2012)
                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11250  OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 27510 of
                                    2012)
                       CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11251 OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 27516 of
                                    2012)
                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11252  OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 27517 of
                                    2012)
                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11253  OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 27511 of
                                    2012)
                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11254  OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 27512 of
                                    2012)


                      CIVIL APPEAL NO. 11255   OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 27513 of
                                    2012)
                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11256   OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 27514 of
                                    2012)
                       CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11257 OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 27515 of
                                    2012)
                    CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 11258-11259 OF 2013
       (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) Nos. 27518-27519
                                  of 2012)
                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11260  OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 35226 of
                                    2012)
                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11261  OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 38111 of
                                    2012)
                       CIVIL APPEAL NO. 11262  OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 38900 of
                                    2012)
                       CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11263 OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 13946 of
                                    2013)
                   CIVIL APPEAL NOS.  11264-11265  OF 2013
       (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) Nos. 30071-30072
                                  of 2012)
                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11273  OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 38013 of
                                    2012)
                       CIVIL APPEAL NO. 11266  OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 28840 of
                                    2012)
                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11267   OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 28841 of
                                    2012)
                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11268  OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 28842 of
                                    2012)
                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11269  OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 28844 of
                                    2012)
                   CIVIL APPEAL NOS.  11270-11271 OF 2013
       (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) Nos. 28846-28847
                                  of 2012)


                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11272  OF 2013
      (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 1036 of 2013)
                     CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11278    OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 16946 of
                                    2013)
                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11274  OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 28384 of
                                    2012)
                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11275  OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 28425 of
                                    2012)
                   CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 11276-11277   OF 2013
       (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) Nos. 29458-29459
                                  of 2012)
                       CIVIL APPEAL NO. 11279  OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 32007 of
                                    2012)
                       CIVIL APPEAL NO. 11280  OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 32005 of
                                    2012)
                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11281  OF 2013
         (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 32001 of
                                    2012)
                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11282   OF 2013
       (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 28 of 2013)
                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11283  OF 2013
       (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 36 of 2013)

                               J U D G M E N T

Chelameswar, J.

1.       Leave granted in all the SLPs.

2,       All these SLPs arise out of an order of the Orissa High Court  made
in Miscellaneous Case No. 11005 of 2012 in Writ Petition (Civil)  No.  11785
of 2012  on 2nd August, 2012.   The said writ  petition  was  filed  by  the
appellant in the appeal arising out of Special Leave Petition (C) No.  38013
of 2012 i.e. M/s. Auroglobal Comtrade Pvt. Ltd. (hereinafter referred to  as
Auroglobal).

3.       Since the appeals at hand require examination  of  the  rights  and
obligations arising under the Major  Port  Trusts  Act,  1963,  we  deem  it
appropriate to examine the  scheme  of  the  said  Act,  insofar  as  it  is
irrelevant.

      Paradeep Port is a major port as defined under Section  3  sub-Section
(8)[1] of the Indian Ports Act, 1908.  
The activities of  all  major  ports
including the Paradeep Port are regulated by various enactments such as  the
Indian Ports Act, 1908 and the Major  Port  Trusts  Act,  1963  (hereinafter
referred to as “the Act”) etc.  The Act stipulates under Section 3 that  the
Central Government shall cause to be constituted a Board  of  Trustees  with
respect to each of the major ports.  Such Boards are declared to  be  bodies
corporate. The second  respondent  in  the  appeal  arising  out  of  SLP(C)
No.26321 of  2012  (also  a  respondent  in  all  the  appeals),   described
(wrongly) as Paradeep Port Trust is one such Board of  Trustees  constituted
under Section 3 of the Act.   But for the sake  of  convenience  hereinafter
will be referred to as the ‘Board’.  Each such  Board  is  authorised  under
Section 37  to  compel  any  sea-going  vessel  within  the  port  or  “port
approaches”[2]  to  use  the  various  facilities  provided  by  the  Board.
Section 35 enumerates the various facilities  and    services  at  the  port
which can be undertaken by the Boards.   Section 48 of  the  Act  authorises
the framing of a “scale of rates” for any one of the services rendered by  a
Board.   Such a scale of rate is required to be  notified  in  the  official
gazette.   The scale of rates  is  required  to  be  framed  by  the  Tariff
Authority for Major Ports constituted under Section 47A[3].

4.       Section 49 of the Act, 1963, as it stands today reads as follows:-
          “49. Scale of  rates  and  statement  of  conditions  for  use  of
          property belonging to Board - (1) The Authority shall from time to
          time, by notification in the Official Gazette, also frame a  scale
          of rates on payment of which, and a statement of conditions  under
          which,  any  property  belonging  to,  or  in  the  possession  or
          occupation of, the board, or any place within the  limits  of  the
          port or the port approaches may be used for the purposes specified
          hereunder –


          (a)    approaching or lying at or  alongside  any  buoy,  mooring,
              wharf, quay, pier, dock, land, building or place as aforesaid
              by vessels;


          (b)    entering upon or plying for hire at or on any wharf,  quay,
              pier,  dock,  land,  building,  road,  bridge  or  place   as
              aforesaid by  animals  or  vehicles  carrying  passengers  or
              goods;


          (c)    leasing of land or sheds by owners  of  goods  imported  or
              intended for export or by steamer agents;


          (d)    any other use of any  land,  building,  works,  vessels  or
              appliances belonging to or provided by the Board.


          (2) Different scales and conditions may be  framed  for  different
          classes of goods and vessels.


          (3) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-  section  (1),  the
          Board may, by auction or by inviting tenders, lease  any  land  or
          shed belonging to it or in its possession or occupation at a  rate
          higher than that provided under sub- section (1).”



5.       It is necessary to notice here that sub-Section  (3)  was  inserted
by Act 17 of 1982 with effect from  31.5.1982.    For  the  present,  it  is
sufficient  to  note  that  Section  49  also   authorises   the   authority
constituted under Section 47A to frame a “scale  of  rates”  for  using  any
property either belonging to or in  the  possession  or  occupation  of  the
Board.   The distinction between Sections 48 and 49 is  that  while  Section
48 deals with the scale of rates for the services  to  be  rendered  by  the
Board, Section 49 deals with the scale of rates for the utilisation  of  the
property (both moveable and immovable) of the Board.

6.       However, sub-Section (3) authorises the Board  to  collect  amounts
higher than those prescribed under the scale  of  rates  contemplated  under
sub-Section (1) either by resorting to a  process  of  auction  or  inviting
tenders in the context of the use of the property belonging  to  the  Board.
The relevance of the said sub-Section will be discussed later.

7.       Chapter IX of the  Act  contains  provisions  which  authorise  the
Government of India to exercise supervisory  control  as  specified  in  the
various provisions of the said Chapter over the  activities  of  the  boards
constituted under  the  Act.    
Relevant  in  the  context  of  the  present
litigation is Section 111[4] of  the  Act  which  declares  that  both,  the
authority constituted under Section 47A and  the  Boards  constituted  under
the Act are bound “by  such  directions  on  questions  of  policy”  as  the
Central Government may give in writing from time to time.

8.       In exercise of the authority under Section  111,  it  appears  that
the Central Government issued certain directions  to  all  the  major  ports
except Kolkata and Mumbai styled as Land Policy for  Major  Ports  initially
in the year 2004 which was modified in the year 2011.

9.       In the first of the above-mentioned policies, the  Government  took
note of the fact that under Section 34 of the Act,  the  Board  of  a  major
port can lease out ‘its immovable property’.   However,  under  the  policy,
the Central Government directed that “no lease or sale of  land  inside  the
custom bound area should be permitted”,  but  should  be  given  on  licence
basis only.

10.      In the policy directions issued under the  Land  Policy  for  Major
Ports, 2010, there is a slight  shift  in  the  policy  regarding  the  land
inside the custom bound area.   Under the 2010 Policy,  it  is  stated  that
“normally land inside custom bound area should be  given  on  licence  basis
only”.    
Thus, it can be seen that while the 2004 Policy prohibited  giving
out of the land inside  the  custom  bound  area  by  any  mode  other  than
licence, the 2010 Policy stipulated licensing is the normal  rule,  implying
there could be exceptions to the rule.

Facts leading to the Litigation

11.      Pursuant to the order dated 2nd August, 2012  of  the  Orissa  High
Court, the Board cancelled the licences of 48  manually  operated  iron  ore
storage plots and 11 mechanically operated storage plots.
It  appears  from
the additional affidavit filed by the Board on 25th November, 2013,  of  the
59 licences purported to have been cancelled by the Board, only 38  licences
of the manually operated plots category and 7  of  the  mechanical  category
are before us.

12.      It appears from the material on  record[5]  that  there  are  three
classes of plot  holders  who  manually  handle  iron  ore  exports  in  the
Paradeep Port; 
(i) 15 plot holders who were allotted  plots  prior  to  May,
2005, 
(ii) 52 plot holders who were allotted plots from June, 2005  to  May,
2011 on the basis of auction; and 
(iii) 13 plot holders who  acquired  plots
under the system of tendering process subsequent to June, 2011.

13.      By  notice  dated  2nd  June,  2011,  the  Paradeep  Board  invited
applications from interested iron ore exporters, traders etc. for  allotment
of 20 manual iron ore plots of different sizes.   Auroglobal was one of  the
parties who responded to the said tender notice and  eventually  became  the
successful bidder for one of the plots [plot no. I-5 (C  group)  admeasuring
5,500 sq. mtrs.]

14.      By letter dated 1st August, 2011,[6] the  Paradeep  Board  informed
Auroglobal that it had been declared to be one  of  the  successful  bidders
for the allotment of one manual iron ore storage  plot  subject  to  various
terms and conditions.  Relevant for our purpose are  conditions  Nos.  1,  2
and 4.

15.      After securing allotment of the plot, Auroglobal utilised the  same
for about a year and eventually approached the Orissa High Court by  way  of
Writ Petition No. 11785 of 2012, some time in July,  2012  with  prayers  as
follows:-
        I. To hold and declare that the petitioner has a right  of  renewal
           of the allotment with respect to plot NO. I-5  inside  the  Port
           area;


       II. Holding and declaring  that  the  pricing  modality  arrived  at
           through the tender is contrary to the tender conditions and  the
           conditions for renewal in the tender are violative  of  Articles
           14, 16 and 19 of the Constitution of India;


      III. set aside imposing/demanding of licence fee by the opp.  Parties
           for renewal under the tender conditions,


       IV. direct the opposite parties to renew and extend the allotment of
           the plot without demanding additional licence fee under Annexure-
           5;


        V. to quash the letter dated 05.07.2012 under Annexure-9



16.      Along with the said writ petition, M.C. No. 11005 of 2012  came  to
be filed for certain interim relief.   It is in the  said  M.C.,  the  order
under appeal came to be passed.   By the said order, the High  Court  opined
that the Paradeep Board did not follow a uniform  and  consistent  procedure
in making allotment of various plots of lands to various  parties  and  that
plots could be allotted only on the basis  of  an  auction  to  the  highest
bidders.   It also found fault with the Paradeep Board  for  having  renewed
certain licences granted earlier.[7]
17.      Pursuant to the above-mentioned order of the  High  Court,  notices
were issued by the Board (at least to some  of  the  appellants  herein)[8],
the substance of  which  is  that  the  allotment  order  made  earlier  was
cancelled and called upon the allottee to hand  over  vacant  possession  of
the plot within 15 days from the date of the letter.


18.      Hence, this batch of SLPs by the various allottees.


19.      Auroglobal also preferred an SLP  on  slightly  different  grounds.
We propose to deal with the case of Auroglobal separately.   We  first  deal
with the cases of appellants other than Auroglobal.

20.      It is argued on behalf  of  the  appellants  that  the  High  Court
grossly erred in coming to  the  conclusion  that  the  allotments  made  in
favour of various appellants are in violation of the law  declared  by  this
Court in various decisions relied upon  by  the  High  Court  in  its  order
including Centre for Public Interest  Litigation  and  others  v.  Union  of
India and others (2012) 3 SCC 1  [also  known  as  2G  case].  Most  of  the
appellants (details of which are available on record  and  not  in  dispute)
came to be allotted with plots of land  either  pursuant  to  a  process  of
auction or tender where  each  of  the  appellant  had  to  pay  substantial
amounts to the Board for securing the allotment of  the  plots,  apart  from
agreeing to pay the amounts stipulated by the scale of rates  prescribed  by
the Tariff Authority. Therefore, the assumption of the High Court  that  the
principles of law laid down by this Court in the various judgments  referred
to by the High Court starting from Dayaram Shetty to ‘2G  case’  is  without
any factual basis. The allotments made in favour of the  appellants  are  in
consonance with the law laid down in 2G’s case.


 21.     It is  also  argued  on  behalf  of  the  appellants  that  in  the
subsequent judgment of the Supreme Court in  Natural  Resources  Allocation,
In Re, Special Reference No.1 of 2012, (2012) 10  SCC  1,  the  Constitution
Bench of this Court clearly held that in the matter  of  alienation  of  the
property by the State or conferment of  largesse,  auction  is  a  preferred
mode of securing compliance with the  commands  of  the  Constitution  under
Article 14 of the Constitution but-not the only mode.   It  is  argued  that
even if  auction  is  the  only  mode  of  distributing  State  largesse  or
alienating property of the State which passes the test of Article  14,  most
of the appellants, as already indicated, have  secured  allotment  of  plots
either through the process of auction or of tenders which is nothing  but  a
variant of the system of  auction.   Therefore,  allotments  made  in  their
favour could not be faulted.  It is further submitted  that  the  conclusion
of the High Court that the “licence cannot be granted in favour  of  persons
after expiry of the licence period by way  of  renewal”[9]  is  without  any
basis in law.  Renewal of licence  is  a  matter  of  contract  between  the
parties.   If the initial allotment of a plot on licence basis is  otherwise
in accordance with law, renewal of such arrangement is a matter which  ought
to be governed by the terms of the agreement between the parties.  There  is
nothing in law or in any of the decisions of this Court relied upon  by  the
High Court which requires the State or its instrumentalities  not  to  enter
into any contract or arrangement which is renewable  periodically.   Learned
counsel also submitted that each of the appellants have a right  to  renewal
of the allotment made to them and  there  is  nothing  in  any  one  of  the
judgments of this  Court  relied  upon  in  the  order  under  appeal  which
militates against such right of renewal of the allotment which is  otherwise
validly obtained. It is submitted that any  view  of  law  to  the  contrary
would not only be impracticable but also detrimental to  the  larger  public
interest as such short term arrangements  would  not  be  conducive  to  the
overall economic growth of the country.  It  is  further  submitted  by  the
appellants that none of the appellants were parties before  the  High  Court
and the order of the High  Court  is  in  flagrant  violation  of  the  audi
alteram partem rule.  If only the appellants had an opportunity  to  present
their cases before the High Court,  the  appellants  would  have  placed  on
record  all  relevant  facts  to  substantiate  their  arguments   mentioned
earlier.  Therefore,  on  this  ground  alone  the  order  under  appeal  is
required to be set aside.  Lastly they submitted that the order  is  neither
sought by Auroglobal, who was the petitioner before the High Court,  nor  is
within the scope of the final  relief  sought  by  Auroglobal  in  the  writ
petition.

 22.     With regard  to  the  limited  number  of  plots  allotted  without
following either the auction route or the tender route it is submitted  that
such allotments were made prior to 2005 at which point  of  time  there  was
not much demand  for  allotment  of  plots  by  the  Board,  therefore,  the
allotments were on application basis.   Hence,  such  allotments  cannot  be
faulted.


23.      Mr. Rohinton Nariman, learned  senior  counsel  appearing  for  the
Board argued that (i) none of the appellants have a ‘right  of  renewal’  as
their possession is only a permissive possession (a licence) which does  not
create any interest in the property to enable them to  claim  a  “right”  of
renewal.   (ii) As on  today  the  Board  needs  the  entire  area  of  land
(occupied, by these various appellants by virtue  of  the  allotment  orders
given in their favour earlier) for the purpose of developing  the  port  for
the creation of modern Deep  Draught  Coal  and  Iron  Ore  berths  with  10
millions capacity each.   The submission is based on  the  pleadings  before
this Court.[10] The Board therefore, does not propose to continue  or  renew
the licences of the appellants irrespective of the fact  whether  the  order
under  appeal  is  tenable  or  not,  this  Court  may  not   exercise   its
extraordinary discretion under Article  136  to  enable  the  appellants  to
cling on to the property over which they have no substantive right.


24.      The first question which is to be examined is  whether  this  Court
is required to set aside the order under appeal and also  the  consequential
notices issued by the respondent/Board to  the  various  appellants  on  the
ground that the order under appeal is made in breach of  the  rule  of  audi
alteram partem.

25.      None of the appellants herein (except Auroglobal) was  a  party  to
the proceedings before the High Court.   Therefore, there  was  no  occasion
for the High Court to examine the  twin  questions  whether  the  respective
allotments  made  in  favour  of  each  of  the  appellants  herein  are  in
accordance  with  law  and  whether  the   appellants   have   any   legally
indefeasible right of renewal of such allotments or to continue use  of  the
respective plots allotted to them.    In the normal course, the order  under
appeal is required to be set aside on the simple ground that the same is  in
breach of principles of natural justice.  But we do not  propose  to  do  so
for reasons to follow.

26.      The undisputed facts in these batch of matters  are  that  most  of
the appellants were allotted plots either pursuant to an auction or  through
the process of tender system, the details of which are  already  taken  note
of (See footnote 5).  It is also not in dispute  that  each  of  the  plots,
which are the subject matter of these appeals was allotted on a licence.

27.      Before we deal with the new ground urged by  the  Board,  we  would
like to deal with the question of the legality of the initial  allotment  in
favour of each of these appellants.  In view of the fact that  most  of  the
licences in favour of the appellants herein came to be granted  pursuant  to
a process of either an auction or tender, those  allotments,  in  our  view,
cannot be said to be inconsistent with the principles of law  laid  down  by
this Court in 2G case in the absence of  any  other  circumstance  vitiating
the allotment.  Insofar as  the  allotment  of  plots  made  on  application
(prior to 2005), the Paradip Port Trust came out with  a  clear  explanation
that there was hardly  any  competition  at  that  point  of  time  for  the
allotment of plots.  Therefore, we do not see any reason to find  any  fault
with such allotment on the  ground  that  the  allotment  was  made  without
following the procedure of auction or tender.   More  particularly,  in  the
absence of any dispute regarding the correctness of  the  assertion  of  the
Board that there was hardly any demand at that point of time  for  allotment
of plots.


28.      The opinion of the High Court - that a renewal of  the  licence  in
dispute without following the procedure of auction is inconsistent with  the
principles laid down in the 2G case – as  an  absolute  proposition  of  law
could be examined in appropriate case.   Such a  scrutiny  is  not  required
for the present as the Board does not propose to renew the licences.

29.      However, it is the submission of the Board  that  this  Court  need
not examine the legality of the order under appeal for  two  reasons  – 
 (1) none of the appellants have either any indefeasible right of renewal  or  to
continue the use of the respective plots allotted to them and the  Board  is
entitled in law to revoke the licences at any time and debar the  appellants
from entering and using the plots in  dispute  
(2)  The  Board  proposes  to
revoke the licences and resume possession of  the  land  (manually  operated
iron ore plots) in dispute for  the  purpose  of  developing  the  same  and
providing better facilities connected with the operations of the Board.

30.      To examine the tenability of the above submissions,  the  following
questions are required to be examined.
     1) Whether there is any indefeasible legal right in favour of any  one
        of the appellants for renewal of the licence granted  or  continued
        use of plots allotted to them?
     2) Irrespective of the answer to the above question, whether the Board
        is justified to terminate the allotments  on  the  ground  that  it
        proposes to utilise  the  land  in  dispute  for  providing  better
        amenities in connection with the obligations imposed upon the Board
        by law?
     3) Whether this Court would be justified in law  to  decline  granting
        relief in exercise of its jurisdiction under  Article  136  of  the
        Constitution of India either on the ground that the appellants have
        no indefeasible right of renewal or on the ground that irrespective
        of the rights of the appellants, the purpose sought to be  achieved
        by the Board in proposing to resume the disputed lands is a  public
        purpose  which  should  override  the  interest  of  any   of   the
        appellants?

31.      We therefore, called upon the  appellants  to  address  us  on  the
above questions.

32.      We made it clear to the appellants that this  Court  will  consider
the defence, if any, of each of the appellants to the  proposed  termination
of their licences on a new ground now set up by  the  respondent  Board  and
invited them to make their submissions in that regard.  Such suggestion  was
made in view of the possibility that if the  appellants  did  not  have  any
substantive defence  against  the  proposed  termination  of  the  licences,
interference with the order under appeal on  the  ground  that  there  is  a
procedural lapse would only have the effect of  protracting  the  litigation
thereby enabling the appellants to continue occupation  of  public  property
and deprive the Board of higher revenue.


33.       A  preliminary  objection  is  raised  by   the   appellants   for
examination of the above-mentioned questions.  The  appellants  argued  that
neither of the two grounds, now relied upon by  the  respondent  Board,  are
the grounds on which either the High Court  directed  the  eviction  of  the
appellants nor the quit notices issued by the respondent Board are  founded.
 Therefore,  this  Court  may  not  embark  upon  an  examination  of  those
questions as a Court of 1st instance.  According to the appellants, such  an
examination would take the appellants by surprise.    Without  prejudice  to
the preliminary objection, the  learned  counsel  for  the  appellants  also
argued that they have a right of renewal of the licences and/or to  continue
in possession of the land in dispute.

34.      In response to the preliminary objection, it is  argued  on  behalf
of the Board that this Court in exercise of its jurisdiction  under  Article
142 can undertake such an examination  in  an  appropriate  case  to  render
complete justice in these batch  of  matters.    Shri  Nariman  relied  upon
Pasupuleti Venkateswarlu Vs. The Motor  &  General  Traders  [(1975)  1  SCC
770][11]a and Rameshwar and Others Vs. Jot Ram and Another  etc.  [(1976)  1
SCC 194]1b, in support of this submission.


35.      We reject the preliminary objection for the following reason:-
The jurisdiction under Article 136  is  discretionary.   It  is  settled  by
catena of decisions of this Court that the jurisdiction  under  Article  136
is purely discretionary only  to  be  exercised  in  order  to  ensure  that
injustice  is  not  perpetuated.    One  of  the  important  attributes   of
discretionary jurisdiction is that such jurisdiction is not exercised  where
it is likely to be a futile exercise i.e. where the relief might  be  of  no
use to the applicant because  it  would  still  be  open  to  the  competent
authority to achieve the result  sought  to  be  achieved  by  the  disputed
action leaving the defeat i.e. by following the proper  procedure  etc.[12]a
Though the statement of the principle in the references in the footnote  are
made in the context of the jurisdiction of the Court to issue mandamus,  the
principle applies proprio vigore to  the  discretionary  jurisdiction  under
Article 136 of the Constitution.  Such being the principle of law,  even  if
the present batch of appeals are to  be  allowed,  as  prayed  for,  on  the
ground that the order under challenge is made in breach of the rule of  audi
alteram partem, nothing in law prevents the  Board  from  calling  upon  the
appellants to desist from use of the land in  dispute.   Such  a  course  of
action is the declared intention of the Board. In such an event, once  again
the High Court and this Court would have to  examine  the  questions  framed
above.

36.      Therefore, accepting the  preliminary  objection  and  refusing  to
consider the ground newly raised by the Board would only “drive the  parties
to fresh litigation” rendering the present adjudication  a  futile  exercise
of the jurisdiction of this Court.   The issue can be decided here  and  now
to prevent a possible damage to the programme proposed to be  undertaken  by
the Board and its “speedy accomplishment”.
         The two decisions (See Footnote 11) relied upon by the Board are  a
clear authority for the proposition that this Court in  either  granting  or
declining to grant a relief in exercise of its  jurisdiction  under  Article
136 can take note of developments either of  fact  or  law  which  leave  an
impact on the rights and obligations of parties before the Court.

37.      We shall first deal with the question of element of surprise as  it
is the duty of this Court to scrupulously ensure the “rules of  fairness  to
both sides”, in every case.  Such duty is more rigorous in the instant  case
because of the fact that the respondent  Board  has  come  out  with  a  new
ground for denying the relief to the appellants - the legality of  which  we
will have to consider as the court of first instance.

38.      The Board seeks to debar the appellants  from  using  the  land  in
dispute.  Such a decision of the Board rested  on  the  order  of  the  High
Court under challenge.  But during the pendency of the  present  proceedings
the Board altered the basis of its decision and decided to rest on the  need
of (i) the land in the dispute (covered by the manually operated plots)  for
providing  better  facilities  and  (ii)  mechanically  operated  plots  for
securing better/higher revenue. The legality of such proposed action of  the
Board would depend on (a) the  true  character  of  the  legal  relationship
between the appellants and the Board; (b) whether such relationship  confers
a right on the appellants to continue use of the  disputed  property  either
for eternity or for a definite period; (c) the legal authority of the  Board
to terminate such  relationship;  and  (d)  the  procedure  required  to  be
followed for such termination.

39.      To answer the above question we examine the  nature  of  the  legal
rights flowing from such allotments.   The plots  in  dispute  are  property
vested in a public body (statutory corporation) performing important  public
functions.  In the matter of creating rights  and/or  conferring  privileges
such a body is required to  act  in  public  interest  under  some  rational
policy.   We have already noticed that the Board  is  bound  by  the  policy
directions given by the Government of India under Section 111  of  the  Act,
and  that  the  Government  of  India  from  time  to  time  issued   policy
guidelines.
 In the policy guidelines issued in  2004,  the  following  were
the directives:
       “b) No sale or lease should be permitted.   Land should be given  on
       licence basis only.   The licence may be up to a maximum  period  of
       11 months and shall normally be in accordance with the  Schedule  of
       Rates (SoR)/rates approved by  the  competent  authority.    At  the
       discretion of the Chairman,  such  licence  may  also  be  given  by
       inviting tenders.   The licence can be renewed at the expiry of  the
       previous licence period.   Each renewal of licence shall be  treated
       as fresh licence.”




40.      When  it came to 2010,  it is   specifically  laid  down  that  the
“licence  can  be   renewed  by   the   Chairman   twice”[13]    subject  to
either the prior approval  or subsequent ratification of the board.

41.      It can be seen from the  policy  guidelines  that  while  the  2004
policy forbids sale or lease of land, the 2010 policy makes  it  the  normal
rule subject to exceptions.  The 2004  Land  Policy  guidelines  enable  the
Board only to grant or renew a licence without any limitation on the  number
of renewals.  The 2010 policy guidelines clearly restrict the  authority  of
the Board to renew the licences for only  two  terms.   The  tenure  of  any
licence is stipulated to be for a maximum period of 11  months.   In  either
case, from the language of the  policy  guidelines  it  is  clear  that  the
policy only enables the Board to renew the licences  granted  but  does  not
create any vested right in favour of the  licensor.    Even  the  letter  of
allotment makes it clear that what is granted  is  only  a  licence.    (See
Footnote 6)  Therefore, we are of the opinion that the  allotment  of  plots
in dispute is only by way of a licence, as defined under Section 52  of  the
Easements Act, 1882[14].


42. As rightly pointed out by Shri Nariman, licence by definition  does  not
create any interest in the property[15].  A licence only gives  a  right  to
use the immovable property of the grantor, to  the  grantee.   There  is  no
transfer of any interest in such property in favour of the grantee.  On  the
other hand, under the Transfer of Property Act, an interest  either  limited
or unlimited is created in favour  of  the  transferee  depending  upon  the
nature of the transfer  (sale,  mortgage  or  lease  etc.).   Under  Section
60[16], a licence is revocable at the will  of  the  grantor  which  is  the
essence of a licence. [17] The Easements Act categorically declares  that  a
licence can be revoked by  the  grantor  except  in  the  two  contingencies
specified under Section 60(a) & (b).   No such  exceptions  are  pleaded  or
demonstrated by the appellants.   Therefore, it must be held  that  none  of
the appellants have any indefeasible  right  of  renewal  either  under  the
Easements Act or under the above mentioned policy.


43.      However, that does not mean that a public body like the  respondent
Board can arbitrarily decline to renew a licence. It is well  settled  by  a
catena  of  decisions  of  this  Court  that  no  public  body   under   our
Constitutional system is vested with such arbitrary powers, as  was  pointed
out by this Court in R.D. Shetty  Vs.  Airport  Authorities,  (1979)  3  SCC
489[18].   If the Board  decides  not  to  renew  any  licence  either  with
respect to a class of licences or with reference to a specific area  of  the
land, normally such a decision cannot be said to  be  either  irrational  or
arbitrary unless there are other compelling reasons  to  indicate  that  the
decision has no rational purpose to be achieved.


44.      In the counter filed by the respondent  Board  (in  this  batch  of
appeals), it is stated that the entire parcel of land which was allotted  to
the various appellants who are licencees  of  the  manually  operated  plots
(and others, who are not before us), from time  to  time  by  the  Board  in
favour of iron ore exporters, (except a small portion of the  land  allotted
in favour of the Odisha Mining Development Corporation), is proposed  to  be
utilised by the Board after  terminating  the  licences  of  the  appellants
herein for creating certain  modern  operational  facilities  in  connection
with the activities of the Port.   Such a decision  cannot  be  said  to  be
arbitrary or an irrational exercise of authority of a  public  body,  having
regard to the object sought to be achieved by the Board of  creating  modern
amenities.   The exception  in  favour  of  the  Odisha  Mining  Development
Corporation cannot, in our opinion, amount to  discriminatory  treatment  of
the  appellants,  since  that  Corporation  is  admittedly  a  State   owned
Corporation and forms a class by itself.  Therefore, the proposed course  of
action by the Board to terminate neither infringes any legal  right  of  the
appellants nor amounts to an arbitrary exercise  of  the  authority  by  the
Board.

45.              We also place on record that the appellants submitted  that
the concession  agreements  on  BOT  basis[19]  dated  01.07.2009  ended  in
litigation and therefore the proposed project of the Board is not likely  to
materialise.  In response it is submitted by the  Board  that  even  if  the
parties with whom the BOT arrangement was entered  into  eventually  default
in their obligation, the Board would explore alternatives  to  proceed  with
the project but will not abandon the same.


46.      We  are  left  with  the  question  whether  this  Court  would  be
justified in the above mentioned circumstances  in  declining  to  interfere
with the order under appeal and deny relief to the appellants.


47.      The Board desires to utilise the parcel  of  land  in  dispute  (in
this batch of cases) for a purpose which is authorised  by  law  and  serves
better the larger interests of nation  –  including  the  interests  of  the
exporters and importers such as the appellants.   Setting  aside  the  order
under appeal on the ground of breach of natural justice would  be  a  futile
exercise as explained earlier.  The  respondent  Board/licensor  can  always
terminate/revoke  the  licences.    In  view  of  our  conclusion  that  the
proposed revocation of  licences  would  not  amount  to  an  irrational  or
arbitrary decision, rejecting the new plea of the Board or any ground  would
only lead to protracted litigation consuming considerable time and delay  in
execution of the project, by the Board.  Such a  delay  would  not  subserve
public interest.  This Court shall not  contribute  to  such  delay  on  the
ground of some perceived  procedural  irregularity,  particularly  when  the
appellants  have  no  substantive  right.   The  appellants  were  given   a
wholesome opportunity by this Court  to  establish  their  legal  right,  to
prevent the Board from terminating their licences.

48.      Civil Appeal arising out of SLP(C) No.38013 of  2012  is  filed  by
Auroglobal  Comtrade  Pvt.  Ltd,  which  was  the  petitioner  in  W.P.  (C)
No.11785/2012 in the High Court of Orissa.  The  appellant  was  allotted  a
plot by the Board pursuant to a process of tender  in  which  the  appellant
became the successful bidder  quoting  an  amount  of  Rs.3,06,29,759/-.   A
licence for the use of the plot for 11 months was granted by the  respondent
Board  under  a  letter  dated  1st  August,  2011,  after  collecting   the
abovementioned amount.   The  appellant  made  two  representations  in  the
months of April and June  2012  to  the  Board  seeking  a  renewal  of  the
licence.   The  Board  again  called   upon   the   appellant   to   deposit
Rs.3,06,29,759/- for renewing the  licence.   Challenging  the  demand,  the
appellant approached the High Court seeking reliefs  already  noted  earlier
in the judgment (see para 14).

 49.     The writ petition was filed essentially on the ground that  one  of
the tender conditions contained  in  para  5  of  the  tender  notice  dated
2.6.2011 is violative of Articles 14 and 19 of the  Constitution  of  India,
therefore void ab initio.  Consequently, demand of  the  bid  amount  afresh
for renewal of the licence is also illegal.  Though it is not clearly  spelt
out in the writ petition, the legal basis of attack on para 5 of the  tender
notice is that while the licencees, who secured allotments  prior  to  2005,
continued to pay a fixed licence fee of Rs.9/- per sq. ft  per  month  under
the ‘scale of Rates’ fixed by the Tariff  Authority  created  under  Section
47A of the Act, the appellant  is  compelled  to  pay  substantially  higher
amount, apart from the amount fixed by the Tariff Authority.  The  size  and
use of the plot allotted  to  the  appellant  is  similar  to  that  of  the
allottees prior to 2005.

50.      The above submission of the appellant is sought to be  repelled  by
the Board on the principle that the appellant secured the  licence  pursuant
to tender notice with eyes wide open and in full knowledge of the terms  and
conditions under which licences are offered.   The  petitioner  enjoyed  the
benefit of the licence for a year (and still continues in occupation of  the
property pursuant to the interim orders of this Court, for  about  a  year);
and now the appellant cannot turn back and challenge the conditions  subject
to which the licence was granted to it.  In support of the said  submission,
the Board relied upon the following judgments. Hari Shankar & Ors.  Vs.  Dy.
Excise & Taxation Commissioner & Ors., (1975) 1 SCC 737, Shyam  Lal  &  Ors.
Vs. State of Punjab, (1977) 1 SCC 336 and State Bank of Haryana &  Ors.  Vs.
Jage Ram & Ors., (1980) 3 SCC 599.

51.      We  reject  the  submission  of  the  appellant  for  two  reasons.
Firstly, the appellant acquired the licence knowing  fully  well  the  terms
and conditions subject to which the licence is offered by  the  Board.    So
they cannot take the benefit of the offer  and  renounce  the  corresponding
obligation (approbate and reprobate).  Secondly, the claim of the  appellant
that they are being discriminated against is required to be  rejected  since
those licencees who are paying a  lower  ‘licence  fee’  had  secured  these
licenses at a point of time  when  there  was  no  competition.  The  market
conditions were different.  Things or events seemingly similar  and  at  par
need not always be  so.    There  can  be  facets  which  distinguish.   The
present situation is one of them.

52.      One of the grounds pleaded in the appeal and argued  before  us  by
Shri C.A. Sundaram, learned senior counsel appearing for the appellant  that

        “………. there is distinction between lease and license and  both  are
        dealt with separately.  License comes under Section  49(1)(d)  i.e.
        any other use.  Section 49(3) of the Major Port Trust Act says that
        the board may lease any land at a rate higher  than  that  provided
        under Section 49(1).  Thus, only in respect of lease the port trust
        can change a rate higher than the scale of rates approved by  TAMP.
        Clause 6.1.1(a) of the Land Policy 2010 clearly states that license
        can be granted by inviting tender but renewal will have to be under
        the scale of rates approved by TAMP.”


      It is submitted by learned counsel for  the  appellant  that:  Section
49(1) authorises the collection of  licence  fees  in  accordance  with  the
scale of rates framed by the Tariff Authority for the various uses  (of  the
property of the Board) specified under Clauses (a) to (d) of Section 49 sub-
section(1).  Section 49, sub-section  (3)  authorises  the  Board  to  allot
plots either by following the procedure of auction or inviting  tenders  and
demand amounts higher than those contemplated under  sub-section  (1).   The
learned counsel argued that having regard to  the  language  of  sub-section
(3), once the Board resorts to the process of auction or  inviting  tenders,
the Board can only allot a plot on lease but not a licence.

53.      Though, the Port Trust sought to repel the  submission  on  various
grounds, we do not propose to examine those defences in extenso.

54.      We reject the submission since  we  do  not  see  any  warrant  for
placing such restriction on the authority of the Board,  from  the  language
of Section 49 sub-section (3).  The opening clause of sub-section (3)–
          “Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), the  Board
          may, by auction or by inviting tenders, lease ……”


authorises the Board to  lease  its  properties  either  by  auction  or  by
inviting tenders.  There is no warrant to read into  the  language  of  said
sub-section a legislative intention that  in  every  case  where  the  Board
undertakes the process of auction or inviting tenders, it  is  bound/obliged
to grant a  lease  of  its  properties.   The  expression  ‘the  Board  may’
occurring in the said sub-section, to our mind indicates that the  lease  is
the highest of rights that may be created on the properties,  by  the  Board
under the said provision.  It does  not  eliminate  the  discretion  of  the
Board to permit use of its properties by any arrangement which  transfers  a
lesser or no interest (such as a licence) in the property.

55.      On the above analysis, we  see  no  merits  in  the  claim  of  the
appellant.  For the same reason as given for  dismissing  the  appeals,  the
appeal of the Auroglobal is also dismissed, as the  plot  allotted  to  this
appellant is also required for the  developmental  project  proposed  to  be
undertaken by the respondent Board.


56.      Civil Appeal arising  out  of  SLP(C)  No.28841/2012  is  filed  by
Odisha Mining Corporation Ltd., one  of  the  licensees  of  the  respondent
Board.   This matter can be disposed of in  view  of  a  specific  statement
made at the bar on behalf of the Board that the Board does  not  propose  to
terminate the licence of the appellant as the plot of land allotted  to  the
appellant is not required for the  purpose  of  its  proposed  developmental
project.   Accordingly, this appeal stands disposed of.

57.      Coming to the 7 mechanically operated iron  ore  plots,  they  were
allotted on different dates the details of which are as follows:
|S.No.|Plot Holder & SLP No.      |Initial Allotment   |Renewals    |
|1.   |Bagadiya Brothers          |01.08.2011          |Last renewal|
|     |                           |                    |upto        |
|     |SLP No. 28842/2012         |                    |28.02.2013  |
|     |(Manual Iron Ore plot      |                    |            |
|     |holder)                    |                    |            |
|2.   |Rungta Mines Ltd.          |04.06.2011 and      |Last renewed|
|     |                           |25.07.2005          |on          |
|     |SLP No.27512/2012          |                    |01.04.2012  |
|     |                           |                    |upto        |
|     |                           |                    |28.02.2013  |
|3.   |M/s Core Minerals          |2001 and 2004       |Last renewal|
|     |                           |                    |granted in  |
|     |SLP No.27511/2012          |                    |July 2012   |
|     |                           |                    |upto        |
|     |                           |                    |30.09.2012  |
|4.   |Essel Mining and Industries|Allotment by various|Last renewal|
|     |Ltd.                       |allotment orders    |upto        |
|     |                           |from June 2001 to   |30.09.2012  |
|     |SLP No.27516/2012          |July 2005           |            |
|5.   |JSW Ispat Steel Ltd.       |13.02.2012          |Last renewed|
|     |                           |                    |upto        |
|     |SLP No. 26922/2012         |                    |30.09.2012  |
|6.   |Orissa Mining Corporation  |16.05.1996,         |            |
|     |Ltd.                       |04.04.1997,         |            |
|     |                           |20.08.1997          |            |
|     |SLP No.28841/2012          |                    |            |
|7.   |Taurian Iron & Steel Ltd.  |2003                |Last renewed|
|     |                           |                    |upto        |
|     |SLP No.32005/2012          |                    |30.09.2012  |

Each one of them enjoyed the benefit of the allotment of plot by  virtue  of
successive renewals.  We have already taken note of the fact that under  the
2004 policy guidelines the licences granted  by  the  Port  Trust  could  be
renewed without any limitation on the  number  of  renewals  that  could  be
granted.  
However, under  the  2010  policy,  the  number  of  renewals  was
restricted to two.
From the material on record, it appears  that  each  one
of these appellants (mechanically operated plot licencees) enjoyed a  number
of renewals.
We see no reason to interfere with the decision of  the  Board
to terminate the licences for the following reasons  - 
 Firstly,  a  licence
does not create any indefeasible legal right.    
Secondly,  we  do  not  see
any irrationality in the decision of the Board, even from the point of  view
of the fact that the Board is a public body (the State  within  the  meaning
of Article 12) and  therefore,  obliged  to  act  rationally.   The  Board’s
decision to terminate the licences is consistent with the policy  guidelines
of 2010.  
Thirdly, in view of the assertion of the Board in  its  additional
affidavit dated 25th November, 2013, “………  the  existing  iron  ore  traffic
which is showing a growth rate of  159.56%  during  current  financial  year
(upto October 2013) in comparison to the iron  ore  traffic  handled  during
the same period of the previous financial year, it is  submitted  that  non-
availability of mechanical plots to the Paradip Port Trust will entail  huge
financial loss to the port which is a major port under Government of  India.

This will also result in idling of the existing  iron  ore  handling  plant
for which significant money has been spent  and  dedicated  facilities  have
been created for efficient and  effective  handling  of  iron  ore  traffic.
This will also result in diversion of iron ore  traffic  to  nearby  private
Ports which is already happening  due  to  non  availability  of  Mechanical
plots to Paradip Port Trust”, we do not see any reason  to  doubt  the  said
assertion.

58.              Interfering with the notices of termination of licences  in
each one of these cases on the ground that the notices were initially  based
on a decision of the Orissa High Court to which these  appellants  were  not
parties, would not be in the larger public interest.


59.      We have already made it clear earlier  in  this  judgment  that  we
propose to deal with  these  petitions  as  if  they  were  petitions  under
Article 32 and permitted the appellants to  place  all  the  material  which
would be  available  to  them  in  law  in  defence  even  if  the  impugned
termination orders were not to be based on the decision of the High Court.


60.      Except arguing that the decision of the Orissa  High  Court  is  in
violation of principles of natural justice, the appellants failed  to  place
before this Court any material to establish that the decision of  the  Board
to  terminate  their  licences  is  otherwise  violative  of  any   of   the
substantive right.  In the circumstances, we decline to interfere  with  the
decision of the Board.  All the appeals are, accordingly, dismissed.
                                                            ………………………………….J.
                                                (H.L. GOKHALE)

                                                            ………………………………….J.
                                                (J. CHELAMESWAR )
New Delhi;
December 17, 2013.
















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-----------------------
[1]       3(8) "major port" means any port which the Central Government  may
by notification in the Official Gazette declare, or may under  any  law  for
the time being in force have declared, to be a major port.

[2]       Section 2(r) of Major Port Trusts Act, 1963 – 2(r) " port
approaches", in relation to a port, means those parts of the navigable
rivers and channels leading to the port, in which the Indian Ports Act is
in force;
[3]       47A. Constitution and incorporation of Tariff Authority for  Major
Ports. -  (1) With effect from such date as the Central Government  may,  by
notification in the Official Gazette, appoint  there  shall  be  constituted
for the purposes of this Act an Authority to be called the Tariff  Authority
for Major Ports.
         (2) The Authority shall be a body corporate by the  name  aforesaid
having perpetual succession and a common seal and shall  by  the  said  name
sue and be sued.
         (3) The head office of the Authority shall be at such place as  the
Central Government may decide from time to time.
         (4) The Authority shall consist of  the  following  Members  to  be
appointed by the Central Government, namely:-
             (a)  A Chairperson from amongst persons who is or who has  been
a Secretary to the Government of India or has held any  equivalent  post  in
the Central  Government  and  who  has  experience  in  the  management  and
knowledge of the functioning of the ports;
             (b) A Member from amongst economists having experience  of  not
less than fifteen years in the field of transport or foreign trade;
            (c)  a Member from amongst  persons  having  experience  of  not
less than fifteen years in the field of finance with  special  reference  to
investment  or  cost  analysis  in  the  Government  or  in  any   financial
institution or industrial or services sector.
[4]       111. Power of Central Government to issue directions  to  Board  -
(1) Without prejudice to the  foregoing  provisions  of  this  Chapter,  the
Authority and every Board shall, in the discharge  of  its  functions  under
this Act, be bound by such directions on questions of policy as the  Central
Government may give in writing to it from time to time:
         Provided that the Authority or the Board, as the case may be, shall
be given opportunity to express its views  before  any  direction  is  given
under this sub-section.


         (2) The decision of the Central Government whether  a  question  is
one of policy or not shall be final.

[5]       Page 9 of the counter affidavit filed on behalf of Paradeep Port
in SLP(C) No.26321/2012
         2.13  Prior to cancellation of licence in respect of iron plots
w.e.f. 21.08.2012, there were three types of manual iron ore plot holders
in Paradeep Port Trust namely:

         Sl. No. Type of plotNo. of AllotteesAllotted During 1Non-auction
plot152003 to May 20052Auction plot52June, 2005 to May, 20113.Plots
allotted through tender 13June 2011 onwards
         It is relevant to state that during the initial  period,  the  iron
ore plots were allotted on payment of normal licence fees as per Port  Scale
of Rates (SOR).  Due to surge in demand for iron ore  in  the  international
market, demands for the plots also increased in Paradeep Port.   Accordingly
Paradeep Port Trust vide resolution no. 31/2005-06 dated 28.05.2005  decided
to introduce auction for allotment of manual iron ore plots  for  export  of
iron  ore.   Subsequently  since  there  were  lot  of  interested  parties,
Paradeep Port Trust decided to introduce the system of  allotment  of  plots
through tender w.e.f. June-July 2011.  In all the cases the respective  plot
holders are required to pay licence fees as per  the  Scale  of  Rate  (SOR)
i.e. Rs. 9/- per sq. mtr per month, whereas the plot holders in  the  second
category as mentioned above, the allotees  are  required  to  pay  one  time
premium amount over and above the licence fees and for the  third  category,
the tender value is required to be paid every eleven month  towards  licence
fees apart from the licence fees as per the Scale of Rate (SOR) i.e. Rs. 9/-
 per sqmtr per  month  subject  to  fulfillment  of  other  conditions.    A
statement containing the details of auction price and licence  fee  paid  by
these parties are placed as Annexure-R/2 which runs from page 228 to 230.”
[6]       Relevant portion of the allotment letter issued to the petitioner
in SLP(C) No.26321/2012
          1.  You are allotted plot No. I-5(C group) measuring 5,500 Sq.
mtr. for a period of 11 (eleven) months from 01.08.2011 to 30.06.2012.
[7]       5.   Therefore, from the aforesaid decision, it is clear  that  in
respect of the property which is owned by the Paradeep Port  Trust,  licence
cannot be granted in favour of persons after expiry  of  licence  period  by
way of renewal.   Uniform and  consistent  procedure  must  be  followed  to
auction the plots inviting tenders from general public fixing certain  terms
and conditions.   The plots may be required  to  be  allowed  in  favour  of
eligible persons who offer the highest licence fee in respect of  the  plots
as the same being the public property.   If that  price  is  not  given  the
tender Accepting Authority need not accept it and can  re-tender  it.    The
aforesaid procedure will fetch  more  revenue  to  the  State  Exchequer  to
protect the public interest.   The statement  in  the  additional  affidavit
filed by the Chairman of the  Trust  today  disclose  the  number  of  plots
allotted in favour of certain licencees by way of  renewal.    The  same  is
not permissible in law as laid down by the apex Court  in  catena  of  cases
referred to above.   The petitioners in these  cases  are  discriminated  by
the Port Trust as it has granted licences to the  similarly  placed  persons
by way of renewal whereas these petitioners have participated in the  public
auction got licence to their plots on the bid amount offered by  them  which
amount is much more than the scale of rates fixed in  favour  of  the  other
licencees.   Their only grievance is regarding  the  condition  incorporated
by the traffic manager, apart from the auction price, the  rates  which  are
fixed by the Tariff Authority of Major Ports.   In addition to  the  auction
mentioned in the financial bid by the petitioners that portion according  to
them is arbitrary and it is a discrimination  between  the  petitioners  and
the licencees who have got the benefit of renewal.    There  is  no  auction
price.   They are only paying the rates fixed by the TAMP.    Therefore,  at
this stage we have passed this order to see  that  the  public  property  is
protected for which the Port Trust is required to  look  after  its  affairs
properly and fix the correct revenue to  its  property  for  having  granted
licensing right in favour of the eligible persons.   It is  brought  to  the
notice of this Court that largesse are conferred on the basis of the  policy
of TAMP without auctioning the  property  of  the  Port  Trust  by  granting
licence by way of renewal which is contrary to the  law  laid  down  by  the
apex Court in the aforesaid cases.   That apart in a substantial  number  of
cases interim orders passed by  this  Court  where  the  licence  period  is
expired long back and  the  licencees  are  continuing  in  the  Port  Trust
property, is the submission of Mr. S.K. Padhi, Learned senior counsel  which
shocks the conscience of this Court.   For implementation of our  direction,
Mr. Padhi learned senior counsel appearing for the  opposite  parties  seeks
three weeks time.   The same is granted.

         The amount that may be collected on the basis of the  condition  of
the tender call notice, as mentioned above, will be  subject  to  the  final
decision that may be  rendered  by  this  Court  in  these  cases.    Public
auction price may be given the Port to collect the rates fixed by the TAMP.

         List this matter along  with  W.P.(C)  Nos.  10339,  12295,  12296,
11783 in three weeks

          Urgent  certified  copy  of  this  order  be  granted  on   proper
application.”

[8]       Relevant portion of the notice issued to M/s Yazdani
International (P) Ltd., the petitioner in SLP(C) No.26321/2012
                                 PARADEEP PORT TRUST
                                  TRAFFIC DEPARTMENT

         NO. TD/TM/GEN-01(Pt.1)/2012/3344         Dated: the 21st Aug.,
2012

         To
         M/s. Yazdani International (P) Ltd.
         N-4/135 IRC Village Nayapalli,
         Bhubaneswar – 751 015.

         Sub.:   Cancellation of Manual Iron Ore Storage Plot No. G-8 in
Compliance to order of the Hon’ble High Court of Orissa.

         Dear Sir(s),

         In obedience to order dtd. 02.08.2012 passed by the Hon’ble High
Court of Orissa in Misc. Case No. 110005 of 2012 arising out of W.P.(C)
No.11785 of 2012 (copy enclosed), the manual iron ore storage plot No. G-8
measuring 3000 sq. mts. Which was allotted by auction June 2010 and again
renewed in your favour upto 28.02.2013 is hereby cancelled with immediate
effect.

         Further ……………… hand over the vacant possession of plot within 15
(fifteen) days ……

[9]        See Footnote 7 (supra)
[10]       Counter filed by the Port Trust in SLP(C) No.26321/2012
         “……….It is also  a  matter  of  fact,  that  the  Port  has  signed
Concession Agreements with M/s. Essar Paradeep Terminals Ltd. and  M/s  Blue
Water Iron Ore Terminal Pvt. Ltd. for development of Deep Draught  Coal  and
Iron Ore Berth respectively with  10  Million  tons  capacity  each.   After
completion of the project, the Port  would  be  able  to  handle  cape  size
vessels of 1.25 lakh DWT as against present vessel size  of  maximum  70,000
DWT.  Since both the berths will be fully mechanized with  draught  of  16.1
mtrs. berth-day output will be much more than the  existing  facilities  and
will result in faster turn round of vessels.  However, for  the  purpose  of
development of these two facilities, the entire  area  of  about  2.32  lakh
sq.mtr. allotted to the manual iron ore exporters is required to be  vacated
for handing over the project site to the BOT operators.  Vacating  the  iron
ore plots have become essential in view of Environmental  Clearance  granted
by MOEF for the BOT projects.  Since this is  a  developmental  activity  of
the Port to meet the future traffic requirement, the Port can ill afford  to
delay in vacating the land allotted to the iron ore exporters. ……….”
          Para  6  of  I.A.  No.4  filed  by  the  Port  Trust   in   SLP(C)
No.26321/2012
         “6.  That it is to state that since the  Paradeep  Port  Trust  has
desired to retain the plot in question for its own use and purpose i.e.  for
construction of Iron Ore Berth and Coal Berth respectively, the  port  trust
had entered into an Concession Agreement dated 01.07.2009  with  respect  to
Iron Berth and dated 10.11.2009 with respect to Coal Berth, with  M/s.  Blue
Water Iron Ore Terminal Private Limited and  with  Essar  Paradeep  Terminal
Limited respectively on BOT basis.  The Paradeep  Port  Trust  was  awaiting
the clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MOEF), which  was
granted on 02.07.2012 a copy of MOEF clearance dated 02.07.2012  is  annexed
herewith and marked as Annexure-A/4 which runs from  page  15  to  page  18.
The Paradeep Port Trust was accordingly to take over the plots and  handover
the possession to the above two BOT operators, when the present order  dated
31.08.2012 was passed directing the parties to maintain status quo.”.

[11]     a Rameshwar and Others Vs. Jot Ram and Another etc. [(1976)  1  SCC
194]  –   para  (7)  The  realism  of  our  processual  justice  bends   our
jurisprudence  to  mould,  negate  or  regulate  reliefs  in  the  light  of
exceptional developments having a material and equitable  import,  occurring
during the pendency of the litigation so that the  Court  may  not  stultify
itself by granting what has become meaningless or  does  not,  by  a  myopic
view, miss decisive alterations in fact-situations or  legal  positions  and
drive parties to fresh litigation whereas relief can be  given  right  here.
 The broad principle, so stated, strikes a chord of sympathy in a  court  of
good conscience.   But a seeming virtue may prove a treacherous vice  unless
judicial perspicacity, founded on well-grounded rules, studies the  plan  of
the statute, its provisions regarding subsequent changes  and  the  possible
damage to the social programme of the measure if later  events  are  allowed
to unsettle speedy accomplishment of a  restructuring  of  the  land  system
which is the soul of the whole enactment.    No  processual  equity  can  be
permitted to sabotage a cherished reform,  nor  individual  hardship  thwart
social justice.   This wider perspective explains the rulings cited on  both
sides and the law of subsequent events on pending actions.

         1b   Pasupuleti Venkateswarlu  Vs.  The  Motor  &  General  Traders
(1975) 1 SCC 770 - para (4) – We feel the submissions devoid  of  substance.
First about the jurisdiction and  propriety  vis-à-vis  circumstances  which
come into being subsequent to the commencement of the proceedings.    It  is
basic to our processual jurisprudence that  the  right  to  relief  must  be
judged to exist as on the date a suitor  institutes  the  legal  proceeding.
Equally clear is the principle that procedure is the handmaid  and  not  the
mistress of the judicial process.   If a fact, arising  after  the  lis  has
come to court and has a fundamental impact on the right  to  relief  or  the
manner of moulding it, is brought diligently to the notice of the  tribunal,
it cannot blink at it or be blind to events which stultify or  render  inept
the decretal remedy.   Equity justifies  bending  the  rules  of  procedure,
where no specific provision or fairplay is violated, with a view to  promote
substantial  justice  –  subject,  of  course,  to  the  absence  of   other
disentitling factors or just circumstances.   Nor  can  we  contemplate  any
limitation on this power to take note of updated facts to confine it to  the
trial Court.   If the litigation  pends,  the  power  exists,  absent  other
special circumstances repelling resort to that course  in  law  or  justice.
Rulings on this point are legion, even as  situations  for  applications  of
this equitable rule are myriad.   We affirm the proposition that for  making
the right or remedy claimed  by  the  party  just  and  meaningful  as  also
legally and factually in accord with the current realities, the  Court  can,
and in many cases must, take cautious cognizance of events and  developments
subsequent to the institution  of  the  proceeding  provided  the  rules  of
fairness to both sides are scrupulously obeyed..

[12]     a      In some cases  the  courts  have  refused  applications  for
mandamus to restore to office persons who have been irregularly removed,  on
the ground that the remedy might be of no use to the applicant,  because  it
would still be open to the competent authority to remove him by  the  proper
procedure.   There are also decisions in licensing cases to like effect  (de
Smith’s Judicial Review of Administrative Action, Fourth Edition Pg. 561.)

         12b.   Seervai H.M., Constitutional  Law  of  India  [Bombay:  N.M.
Tripathi Pvt. Ltd., 3rd Edn. Vol.2 (1984) para 16.279 page 1367]

[13]       Normally, land  inside  custom  bound  area  shall  be  given  on
licence basis only.  The licence may be granted by the Chairman.  It may  be
granted up to a maximum period  of  11  months  and  shall  normally  be  in
accordance with the Scale of Rates (SoR)/ rates approved  by  the  competent
authority.  Any concession shall be given only  with  the  approval  of  the
Board.  At the discretion of the Chairman, such licence may  also  be  given
by inviting tenders. The licence can  be  renewed  by  the  Chairman  twice.
Further renewal shall be with the approval of the Board or by the  Chairman,
subject to ratification by the Boards.  Each renewal  of  licence  shall  be
treated as a fresh licence.

[14]       “52. “Licence” defined – Where one person grants to  another,  or
to a definite number of other persons, a right to do, or continue to do,  in
or upon the immoveable property of the grantor, something  which  would,  in
the absence of such right, be unlawful, and such right does  not  amount  to
an easement or an interest in the property, the right is called a licence.”

[15]      Associated Hotels of India Ltd., Vs.  R.N.  Kapoor  [AIR  1959  SC
1262] –  (27)   [There is  a  marked  distinction  between  a  lease  and  a
licence.   S. 105 of the Transfer of Property Act defines  a  lease  out  of
immoveable property as a transfer of a right to  enjoy  such  property  made
for a certain time in consideration for a price paid or promised.  Under  S.
108 of the said Act, the lessee is entitled to be put in possession  of  the
property.   A lease is therefore a transfer of an interest  in  land.    The
interest transferred is called the leasehold interest.    The  lessor  parts
with his right to enjoy the property during the term of the  lease,  and  it
follows from it that the lessee gets that right  to  the  exclusion  of  the
lessor.  Whereas S. 52 of the Indian Easements Act defines a licence thus:
              “Where one person grants to another, or to a  definite  number
of other persons, a  right  to  do  or  continue  to  do,  in  or  upon  the
immoveable property of the grantor, something which would,  in  the  absence
of such right, be unlawful,  and such right does not amount to  an  easement
or an interest in the property, the right is called a licence.”

         Under the aforesaid section,] if a document gives only a  right  to
use the property in a  particular  way  or  under  certain  terms  while  it
remains in possession and control  of  the  owner  thereof,  it  will  be  a
licence.   The legal possession, therefore, continues to be with  the  owner
of the property, but the licencee is permitted to make use of  the  premises
for a particular purpose.   But for the permission his occupation  would  be
unlawful.   It does not create in his favour any estate or interest  in  the
property.    There  is,  therefore,  clear  distinction  between   the   two
concepts.   The dividing line is clear  though  sometimes  it  becomes  very
thin or even blurred………

[16]       “60. Licence when revocable -  A licence may be  revoked  by  the
grantor, unless –
         (a)     it  is  coupled  with  a  transfer  of  property  and  such
transfer is in force;
         (b)     the licencee, acting upon  the  lilcense,  has  executed  a
work of a permanent character and incurred expenses in the execution.”

[17]      Mrs. M.N. Clubwala and another vs. Fida Hussain Saheb  and  others
[AIR 1965 SC 610] -  (12) While it is true that the essence of a licence  is
that it is revocable at the  will  of  the  grantor  the  provision  in  the
licence that the licencee  would  be  entitled  to  a  notice  before  being
required to vacate is not inconsistent with a licence.   [In England it  has
been held that  a  contractual  licence  may  be  revocable  or  irrevocable
according to the express or  implied  terms  of  the  contract  between  the
parties.   It has further been held that if the licencee under  a  revocable
licence has brought property on to the land, he is  entitled  to  notice  of
revocation and to a reasonable time for removing his property, and in  which
to make arrangements to carry on his business  elsewhere.   (see  Halsbury’s
Laws of England, 3rd edn.  Vol. 23, p. 431).   Thus the  mere  necessity  of
giving a notice to a licencee requiring him to vacate the licenced  premises
would not indicate that the transaction was a lease…….”

[18]      Para 10 – “……  It  is  indeed  unthinkable  that  in  a  democracy
governed by the rule of law the executive Government or any of its  officers
should possess  arbitrary  power  over  the  interests  of  the  individual.
Every action of the executive Government must be informed  with  reason  and
should be free from arbitrariness.    That is the very essense of  the  rule
of law and its bare minimal requirement.   And to the  application  of  this
principle it makes no difference whether the exercise of the power  involves
affectation of some right or denial of some privilege.”
[19]       Footnote No.10

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