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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Repeal Act, 1999.-notice dated 17.2.2005 under Section 10(5) of the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976 (for short ‘ULC Act’) for taking possession of the Appellant’s land bearing Survey Nos.47/10 and 54/4. - Writ to declare that the notice is null & void as issued under repealed Act - High court allowed in respect of one item - in respect of another item directed the parties to civil litigation - Apex court allowed the appeal in respect of second item also - stating that dejuri possession is not equal to that of defacto possession - vested means - vested in rights including dejuri possession but not actual possession which was in the custody of appellant - since no possession was taken before the commencement of repeal of the Act - the present notice under repealed act not maintainable = Gajanan Kamlya Patil .. Appellant Versus Addl. Collector & Comp. Auth. & Ors. .. Respondents = 2014 ( Feb.Part)judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41223

Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Repeal Act, 1999.-notice dated 17.2.2005 under Section 10(5) of the Urban  Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976 (for short ‘ULC  Act’)  for  taking
 possession of the Appellant’s land bearing Survey Nos.47/10 and  54/4. - Writ to declare that the notice is null & void as issued under repealed Act - High court allowed in respect of one item - in respect of another item directed the parties to civil litigation - Apex court allowed the appeal in respect of second item also - stating that dejuri possession is not equal to that of defacto possession - vested means - vested in rights including dejuri possession but not actual possession which was in the custody of appellant -  since no possession was taken before the commencement of repeal of the Act - the present notice under repealed act not maintainable =

 whether
      the High Court was justified in relegating the parties to  file  Civil
      Suits to recover the  lands  covered  by  Survey  No.54/4  and  Survey
      No.53/3,  both  admeasuring  1870  sq.  meters,  situated  at  Village
      Kasarwadavli, Ghodbunder Road, Taluka and Distt. Thane, so as  to  get
      the benefit of Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Repeal Act, 1999.


  Forceful dispossession 
  The Act provides for forceful dispossession but only when  a
           person refuses or fails to  comply  with  an  order  under  sub-
           section (5) of Section 10. Sub-section (6) of Section  10  again
           speaks of “possession” which says,  if  any  person  refuses  or
           fails to comply with the order made under sub-section  (5),  the
           competent authority may take possession of the vacant land to be
           given to the State Government and for that purpose, force—as may
           be  necessary—can   be   used.   Sub-section   (6),   therefore,
           contemplates a situation of a person refusing or fails to comply
           with the order under sub-section (5), in the event of which  the
           competent  authority  may  take  possession  by  use  of  force.
           Forcible dispossession of the land, therefore, is being resorted
           to only in a situation which falls under sub-section (6) and not
           under sub-section (5) of Section 10. Sub-sections (5)  and  (6),
           therefore,  take  care  of  both  the  situations  i.e.   taking
           possession by giving notice, that is,  “peaceful  dispossession”
           and on failure to surrender or give delivery of possession under
           Section 10(5), then “forceful dispossession”  under  sub-section
           (6) of Section 10.


           37. The requirement of giving notice under sub-sections (5)  and
           (6) of Section 10 is mandatory. Though the word “may”  has  been
           used therein, the word “may” in both the sub-sections has to  be
           understood as “shall” because a court charged with the  task  of
           enforcing the statute needs to decide the consequences that  the
           legislature intended to follow from  failure  to  implement  the
           requirement. 
Effect of non-issue of notice under sub-section (5)
           or sub-section (6) of Section 11 is that it might result in  the
           landholder being dispossessed  without  notice,  therefore,  the
           word “may” has to be read as “shall”.”




      13.   We have, therefore, clearly indicated that it was always open to
      the authorities to take forcible  possession  and,  in  fact,  in  the
      notice issued under Section 10(5) of the ULC Act, it was  stated  that
      if the possession had not been surrendered, possession would be  taken
      by application of necessary force.   
For taking  forcible  possession,
      certain procedures had to be followed.   
Respondents have no case that
      such procedures were  followed  and  forcible  possession  was  taken.
      
Further, there is nothing to  show  that  the  Respondents  had  taken
      peaceful possession, nor there is anything to show that the Appellants
      had given voluntary possession. 
Facts would clearly indicate that only
      de jure possession had been taken by the Respondents and not de  facto
      possession before coming into force of the repeal of the Act.    
Since
      there is nothing to show that de facto possession had been taken  from
      the Appellants prior to the execution of  the  possession  receipt  in
      favour of MRDA, it  cannot hold on to the lands in question, which are
      legally owned and possessed by the Appellants.   
Consequently, we  are
      inclined to allow this appeal and quash the notice dated 17.2.2005 and
      subsequent action taken therein in view of the repeal of the ULC  Act.
      
The above reasoning would apply in respect of other  appeals  as  well
      and all proceedings initiated against the Appellants, therefore, would
      stand quashed.


      14.   The Appeals are, accordingly, allowed.   However, there shall be
      no order as to costs.
2014 ( Feb.Part)judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41223
K.S. RADHAKRISHNAN, VIKRAMAJIT SEN

                                                             REPORTABLE
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
                        CIVIL APPEAL NO.2069 OF 2014
                  [Arising out of SLP (C) No.14690 of 2011)




      Gajanan Kamlya Patil                    .. Appellant


                                   Versus


      Addl. Collector & Comp.
      Auth. & Ors.                                 .. Respondents


                                    WITH


                     CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 2070-2071 OF 2014
              [Arising out of SLP (C) Nos.14904-14905 of 2011)






                               J U D G M E N T




      K. S. RADHAKRISHNAN, J.




      1.    Leave granted.




      2.    We are, in these appeals, concerned with  the  question
whether
      the High Court was justified in relegating the parties to  file  Civil
      Suits to recover the  lands  covered  by  Survey  No.54/4  and  Survey
      No.53/3,  both  admeasuring  1870  sq.  meters,  situated  at  Village
      Kasarwadavli, Ghodbunder Road, Taluka and Distt. Thane, so as  to  get
      the benefit of Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Repeal Act, 1999.


      3.    We may, for the disposal of these appeals, refer to the facts in
      Civil Appeal arising out of Special Leave Petition No.14690  of  2011,
      treating the same as the leading  case.  
The  Appellant  herein  was
      issued a notice dated 17.2.2005 under Section 10(5) of the Urban  Land
      (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976 (for short ‘ULC  Act’)  for  taking
      possession of the Appellant’s land bearing Survey Nos.47/10 and  54/4.
      It was stated in the notice that in accordance with  the  notification
      published in Part-I, Page No. – Konkan Division  Supplementary,  dated
      12.12.2002, in the Gazette of Maharashtra, the land notified had  been
      vested in the Government of Maharashtra and that Additional  Collector
      and Competent Authority, Thane (for short “Competent Authority”),  had
      been authorized by the State Government to take possession of the land
      in question, details of which had been published in  the  notification
      under Section 10(3) and the land be handed over or possession be given
      within 30 days from the date of receipt of the  notice.   Further,  it
      was also intimated that if the Appellant had failed to give possession
      of the land, necessary action would be taken for taking possession  by
      application of necessary force.


      4.    The Appellant, aggrieved by the  above-mentioned  notice,  filed
      Writ Petition No.1669 of 2010 before the Bombay High  Court  to  quash
      the notice dated 17.2.2005 and also for  a  declaration,  inter  alia,
      that the land bearing Survey No.54/4 admeasuring 1870 sq. meters is in
      the physical possession of the Appellant and would continue to vest as
      such with the  Appellant  as  true  and  actual  owner  thereof.   The
      Appellant also sought a declaration that in view  of  the  Urban  Land
      (Ceiling and Regulation) Repeal Act, 1999, the proposed action of  the
      Respondents or State or its authorities for taking possession  of  the
      land  be  declared  as  null  and  void  and  also  prayed  for  other
      consequential reliefs.


      5.    The High Court after examining the provisions of the ULC Act  as
      well as the provisions of the  Urban  Land  (Ceiling  and  Regulation)
      Repeal Act, 1999, and also taking note of the affidavit filed  by  the
      State Government and by the  Mumbai  Metropolitan  Region  Development
      Authority (MMRDA) noticed that so far as Survey No.47/10 is concerned,
      the possession had not been taken over by MMRDA.
However, as  far  as
      land in Survey No.54/4 was concerned, after noticing  that  possession
      had been taken over, the High Court disposed of the Petition  granting
      relief to the Appellant in respect of Survey no.47/10, 
but so  far  as
      Survey No.54/4 is concerned, as already indicated, the  Appellant  was
      granted liberty to move the Civil Court  for  establishing  his  claim
      over the property in question.


      6.    Shri Shekhar Naphade, learned senior counsel appearing  for  the
      Appellant, submitted that the issue raised in this case  stands  fully
      covered by the judgment of this Court
in  State  of  UP  v.  Hari  Ram (2013) 4 SCC 280 and
that the High Court has committed a  grave  error
      in holding that the MMRDA is in  possession  of  the  land  in  Survey
      No.54/4 and hence the question  as  to  whether  possession  had  been
      legally taken or not has to be decided by the  Civil  Court.  
Learned
      senior counsel also  submitted  that  the  State  of  Maharashtra  has
      adopted the Repeal Act, 1999 on 1.12.2007 and that Respondent No.1 had
      executed the possession  receipt  in  favour  of  Respondent  No.3  on
      2.7.2008 behind the back of the Appellant, without following  the  due
      process  of  law.  
Learned  senior  counsel  submitted  that   since
      possession had not been taken in accordance with law, the Appellant is
      entitled to the benefit of the Repeal Act, 1999, as was  rightly  held
      in respect of Survey No.47/10.


      7.    Shri A.S. Bhasme, learned counsel appearing for the Respondents,
      on the other hand contended that the High Court has  rightly  come  to
      the conclusion that the land in question had been taken over by  MMRDA
      and being a disputed question of fact, the same cannot be  decided  by
      the High Court under Section 226 of the Constitution of India and  the
      only remedy available to the Appellant is to  file  a  Civil  Suit  to
      establish his right since the dispute is of a civil nature.    Learned
      counsel, therefore, prayed for dismissal of the appeal.


      8.    We may, at the outset, point  out  that  almost  all  the  legal
      issues urged before us stand covered by the judgment of the this Court
      in Hari Ram (supra).  However, reference to few facts is necessary for
      the disposal of these appeals.
The Competent  Authority  published  a
      notification dated 17.1.2000 under Section 10(1) of the ULC Act in the
      Gazette of Government of Maharashtra on 15.6.2000,  wherein  the  land
      held by the Appellant was shown as the land  to  be  acquired  by  the
      Government of Maharashtra.    
Following  that,  a  notification  dated
      14.3.2000 under Sub-Section (3) of Section  10  of  the  ULC  Act  was
      published notifying the public that the land  shown  in  the  schedule
      therein is covered and the land in Survey No.54/4  as  well  would  be
      considered to be acquired by  the  Government  of  Maharashtra  w.e.f.
      15.6.2000 and the said land would be vested  with  the  Government  of
      Maharashtra from the said date.


      9.    The Competent Authority then  issued  yet  another  notification
      dated 2.8.2002 for information of the public that the  land  described
      in the schedule therein which included the land in Survey  No.54/4  as
      well, have been  considered  to  be  acquired  by  the  Government  of
      Maharashtra w.e.f. 15.9.2002 and the said land would be vested for all
      purposes free from all charges to the Government of  Maharashtra  from
      the said date.  
The Competent Authority, as already indicated,  issued
      a show cause notice dated 17.2.2005 under Sub-Section (5)  of  Section
      10 of the ULC Act to the Appellant to hand over possession of the land
      in question within 30 days from the date of receipt  of  that  notice.
      It was also indicated therein that if the  Appellant  failed  to  give
      possession of the land, necessary action would  be  taken  for  taking
      possession by the application of necessary force.


      10.   We may indicate that all the  above-mentioned  proceedings  were
      initiated under  the ULC Act, 1976, but the said Act was  repealed  by
      the Parliament by the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Repeal  Act,
      1999 on 22.3.1999 which came into force w.e.f. 11.1.1999.   The  State
      of Maharashtra vide  its  notification  dated  1.12.2007  adopted  the
      Repeal Act, 1999 w.e.f. 1.12.2007.  
After adoption of the Repeal Act,
      1999, on 1.12.2007, the Circle Office Balkum, Taluka & District Thane,
      executed “possession receipt” on 2.7.2008 of the land  bearing  Survey
      No.54/4 belonging to the Appellant in favour of the Chief Surveyor  of
      MMRDA, pursuant to the orders of the Collector, Thane dated  1.7.2008.
     
No notice, admittedly, was given to the  Appellants  before  executing
      the possession receipt.
In this case, an additional  affidavit  dated
      29.4.2010 was filed by the Competent Authority  stating that he  could
      not find any document like Panchanama or possession receipt in respect
      of the land covered by Survey No.54/4 and few  other  Survey  numbers.
      The operative portion of the affidavit reads as follows :-
           “I have stated in my affidavit in reply dated 20.3.2010 that  on
           2.7.2008 the Circle Officer has delivered the possession of  the
           land bearing Survey No.103/3 area 3890 sq. mtrs., 3/10 area 3600
           sq. mtrs., 98/6 area 1708 sq. mtrs., 53/3 area 2450  sq.  mtrs.,
           54/4 area 1870 sq. mtrs to  the  MMRDA.  I  state  that  I  have
           inspected my record, however, I could not find any document like
           panchanama or possession receipt in respect of  aforesaid  lands
           by which its possession was obtained from the land holder  under
           Urban Land Ceiling Act.”




      11.   We have  another  affidavit  dated  2.7.2010  by  the  Principal
      Secretary, Urban Development Department,  Government  of  Maharashtra,
      wherein he has categorically stated that the possession had  not  been
      handed  over  by  the  landowner  to  the  Competent  Authority.   The
      operative portion of the same reads as under :-
           “The records of right of the said  land  have  been  mutated  in
           favour of the Government on the basis of the notification issued
           under Section 10(3) of the ULC Act.  I say and  submit  that  on
           enquiry, it is revealed that, though the  notice  under  Section
           10(5) was issued on 17.02.2005 for handing  over  possession  of
           the surplus vacant land, the possession of  land  has  not  been
           handed over by concerned landowner to the Competent Authority or
           to his representative.”




      The Affidavit also further reads as under :-


           “Therefore, Government was under impression that since the  land
           has been vested into the  Government  as  per  the  notification
           under Section 10(3) dated 02.08.2002, the Government  has  every
           right to use the said land for public purpose.   I say that,  in
           the aforesaid background, the decision was taken  to  allot  the
           land to Mumbai Metropolitan Region  Development  Authority,  and
           therefore,  as  per  the  directions  of  the   Government   and
           subsequent directions of Collector, Thane, the  Circle  Officer,
           Balukm, Distt. Thane handed over the possession of  the  surplus
           land to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority  on
           02.07.2008.”




      The affidavit also says that actual possession was not taken  over  as
      per the provisions of  the  ULC  Act,  1976  before  29.11.2007.   The
      operative portion of the same reads as under:-
           “I say and submit that, even though the possession of  the  land
           has  been  handed  over  to  the  Mumbai   Metropolitan   Region
           Development Authority by Circle Officer, Balkum  on  02.07.2008,
           the actual possession of said surplus land was not taken over as
           per the provisions of the ULC Act, 1976 before 29.11.2007.”


      12.   We  may  indicate,  apart  from  the  affidavits  filed  by  the
      officials in this case, no other  document  has  been  made  available
      either before the High Court or before this Court, either showing that
      the Appellant had voluntarily surrendered or the Respondents had taken
      peaceful or forcible possession of the lands.  
In  Hari  Ram  (supra)
      this Court examined the meaning and context of Sub-sections (3) to (6)
      of Section 10 of the ULC Act and held as follows :
           “30. Vacant land, it may be noted, is not actually acquired  but
           deemed to have been acquired, in that deeming things to be  what
           they are not. Acquisition, therefore, does not  take  possession
           unless there is an indication to the contrary. It is  trite  law
           that in construing a deeming provision, it is necessary to  bear
           in mind the legislative purpose. The purpose of the  Act  is  to
           impose ceiling on vacant land, for the acquisition  of  land  in
           excess of the ceiling limit thereby to regulate construction  on
           such lands, to prevent concentration of urban lands in the hands
           of a few persons, so as to bring about  equitable  distribution.
           For  achieving  that  object,  various  procedures  have  to  be
           followed for acquisition and vesting.  When  we  look  at  those
           words in the above setting and the provisions to follow such  as
           sub-sections (5) and (6) of Section 10, the words “acquired” and
           “vested” have  different  meaning  and  content.  
Under  Section
           10(3), what is vested is de jure possession not  de  facto,  for
           more reasons than one because we are testing the expression on a
           statutory hypothesis and such an hypothesis can be carried  only
           to the extent necessary to achieve the legislative intent.


           Voluntary surrender


           31. The “vesting” in sub-section (3) of Section 10, in our view,
           means vesting of title  absolutely  and  not  possession  though
           nothing stands in the way of a person  voluntarily  surrendering
           or delivering possession. 
The Court in Maharaj Singh v. State of
           U.P. (1977 (1) SCC 155), while interpreting  Section  117(1)  of
           the U.P. Zamindari Abolition and Land  Reforms  Act,  1950  held
           that “vesting” is  a  word  of  slippery  import  and  has  many
           meanings and the context controls the text and the  purpose  and
           scheme project  the  particular  semantic  shade  or  nuance  of
           meaning. 
The Court in Rajendra Kumar v. Kalyan (2000 (8) SCC 99)
           held as follows: (SCC p. 114, para 28)


                 “28. …  We  do  find  some  contentious  substance  in  the
                 contextual  facts,  since  vesting  shall  have  to  be   a
                 ‘vesting’ certain. ‘To “vest”, generally means  to  give  a
                 property in.’ (Per Brett, L.J. Coverdale v. Charlton (1878)
                 4 QBD 104 (CA): Stroud’s  Judicial  Dictionary,  5th  Edn.,
                 Vol. VI.) Vesting in favour of the unborn person and in the
                 contextual facts on the  basis  of  a  subsequent  adoption
                 after about  50  years  without  any  authorisation  cannot
                 however but be termed to be a contingent event. To  ‘vest’,
                 cannot be termed to be an executory  devise.  Be  it  noted
                 however, that ‘vested’ does not necessarily and always mean
                 ‘vest in possession’ but includes  ‘vest  in  interest’  as
                 well.”


           32. We are of the view that  so  far  as  the  present  case  is
           concerned, the word “vesting” takes in  every  interest  in  the
           property including de jure possession and, not de facto  but  it
           is always open to a person to voluntarily surrender and  deliver
           possession, under Section 10(3) of the Act.


           33. Before we examine sub-section (5)  and  sub-section  (6)  of
           Section 10, let us examine the meaning  of  sub-section  (4)  of
           Section 10 of  the  Act,  which  says  that  during  the  period
           commencing on the date of  publication  under  sub-section  (1),
           ending with the day specified in the declaration made under sub-
           section (3), no person shall transfer by way of sale,  mortgage,
           gift or otherwise, any excess  vacant  land,  specified  in  the
           notification and any such transfer made in contravention of  the
           Act shall be deemed to be null and void. Further, it  also  says
           that no person shall alter or cause to be  altered  the  use  of
           such excess vacant land. Therefore, from the date of publication
           of the notification under sub-section (1) and  ending  with  the
           date specified in the declaration made in sub-section (3), there
           is no question of disturbing the possession  of  a  person,  the
           possession, therefore, continues to be with the  holder  of  the
           land.


           Peaceful dispossession


           34. Sub-section (5) of Section 10, for the first time, speaks of
           “possession” which says that where any land  is  vested  in  the
           State Government  under  sub-section  (3)  of  Section  10,  the
           competent authority may, by notice in writing, order any person,
           who may  be  in  possession  of  it  to  surrender  or  transfer
           possession to the State Government or to any other person,  duly
           authorised by the State Government.


           35. If de facto possession has already passed on  to  the  State
           Government by the two deeming provisions under  sub-section  (3)
           of Section 10, there is no necessity  of  using  the  expression
           “where any land is vested” under sub-section (5) of Section  10.
           Surrendering or transfer of possession under sub-section (3)  of
           Section 10 can be voluntary so  that  the  person  may  get  the
           compensation as provided under Section 11 of the Act early. Once
           there is no  voluntary  surrender  or  delivery  of  possession,
           necessarily the State Government has to issue notice in  writing
           under sub-section (5) of Section  10  to  surrender  or  deliver
           possession. Sub-section (5) of Section 10 visualises a situation
           of surrendering and delivering possession, peacefully while sub-
           section (6) of Section 10 contemplates a situation  of  forceful
           dispossession.


           Forceful dispossession


           36. The Act provides for forceful dispossession but only when  a
           person refuses or fails to  comply  with  an  order  under  sub-
           section (5) of Section 10. Sub-section (6) of Section  10  again
           speaks of “possession” which says,  if  any  person  refuses  or
           fails to comply with the order made under sub-section  (5),  the
           competent authority may take possession of the vacant land to be
           given to the State Government and for that purpose, force—as may
           be  necessary—can   be   used.   Sub-section   (6),   therefore,
           contemplates a situation of a person refusing or fails to comply
           with the order under sub-section (5), in the event of which  the
           competent  authority  may  take  possession  by  use  of  force.
           Forcible dispossession of the land, therefore, is being resorted
           to only in a situation which falls under sub-section (6) and not
           under sub-section (5) of Section 10. Sub-sections (5)  and  (6),
           therefore,  take  care  of  both  the  situations  i.e.   taking
           possession by giving notice, that is,  “peaceful  dispossession”
           and on failure to surrender or give delivery of possession under
           Section 10(5), then “forceful dispossession”  under  sub-section
           (6) of Section 10.


           37. The requirement of giving notice under sub-sections (5)  and
           (6) of Section 10 is mandatory. Though the word “may”  has  been
           used therein, the word “may” in both the sub-sections has to  be
           understood as “shall” because a court charged with the  task  of
           enforcing the statute needs to decide the consequences that  the
           legislature intended to follow from  failure  to  implement  the
           requirement. 
Effect of non-issue of notice under sub-section (5)
           or sub-section (6) of Section 11 is that it might result in  the
           landholder being dispossessed  without  notice,  therefore,  the
           word “may” has to be read as “shall”.”




      13.   We have, therefore, clearly indicated that it was always open to
      the authorities to take forcible  possession  and,  in  fact,  in  the
      notice issued under Section 10(5) of the ULC Act, it was  stated  that
      if the possession had not been surrendered, possession would be  taken
      by application of necessary force.   
For taking  forcible  possession,
      certain procedures had to be followed.   
Respondents have no case that
      such procedures were  followed  and  forcible  possession  was  taken.
      
Further, there is nothing to  show  that  the  Respondents  had  taken
      peaceful possession, nor there is anything to show that the Appellants
      had given voluntary possession. 
Facts would clearly indicate that only
      de jure possession had been taken by the Respondents and not de  facto
      possession before coming into force of the repeal of the Act.    
Since
      there is nothing to show that de facto possession had been taken  from
      the Appellants prior to the execution of  the  possession  receipt  in
      favour of MRDA, it  cannot hold on to the lands in question, which are
      legally owned and possessed by the Appellants.   
Consequently, we  are
      inclined to allow this appeal and quash the notice dated 17.2.2005 and
      subsequent action taken therein in view of the repeal of the ULC  Act.
      
The above reasoning would apply in respect of other  appeals  as  well
      and all proceedings initiated against the Appellants, therefore, would
      stand quashed.


      14.   The Appeals are, accordingly, allowed.   However, there shall be
      no order as to costs.




                                                    eard Hear……………………………..J.
                                         (K. S. Radhakrishnan)






                                                    eard Hear……………………………..J.
                                        (Vikramajit Sen)
      New Delhi,
      February 14, 2014.

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