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Friday, April 4, 2014

Sec. 80 of Andhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act, 1987. - Sale of Temple land - Public notice was given - no objections - G.O. was also passed - 9 writs filed claiming as tenancy - all with drawn - except the one - High court dismissed the writ - D.B. allowed the writ appeal and quashed the G.O. - Apex court held set aside the order of D.B. = A.P.N.G.O.’s Association …Appellant Versus Government of Andhra Pradesh …Respondents & Others= 2014 (Apr.Part) http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41380

Sec. 80  of Andhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu  Religious  Institutions  and  Endowments  Act,
1987. - Sale of Temple land - Public notice was given - no objections - G.O. was also passed - 9 writs filed claiming as tenancy - all with drawn - except the one - High court dismissed the writ - D.B. allowed the writ appeal and quashed the G.O. - Apex court held set aside the order of D.B. =
 The appellant is an association of the non-gazetted  officers  of  the
Government of Andhra Pradesh. Sometime  in  the  year  1995,  the  appellant
herein requested the Executive Officer of the  third  respondent  Temple  to
sell an extent of 18 acres of land (Survey No.221/1) to  provide  houses  to
its members.=
On receipt of the application from the  appellant,  the  Commissioner,
Endowments  Department  (2nd  respondent  herein)  constituted  a  three-men
Committee to inquire and report the probable price that may  be  secured  if
the land is sold in public auction.  The District Collector,  Guntur  within
whose territorial jurisdiction the  temple  (third  respondent)  is  located
addressed a letter dated 26th March 1998  to  the  Commissioner,  Endowments
Department (2nd respondent) suggesting that the Government be addressed  for
according  permission  to  sell  the  land  in  question  to  the  appellant
association at the cost of Rs.3,50,000/- per acre by  private  negotiations.
However, the Commissioner vide letter dated  5th  March,  1998  advised  the
Government and sought the permission of the Government to sell the  land  in
question  in  favour  of  the  appellants  by  private  negotiations  for  a
consideration of Rs.4,00,000/- per acre.

8.    Subsequently, the Commissioner invited  objections  for  the  proposed
sale by publication in the official gazette of Andhra Pradesh on  3rd  April
1999 in compliance of the requirement of section 80(1)(b) of the  Endowments
Act, 1987.

9.    On 14th  December  2000,  the  Government  of  Andhra  Pradesh  issued
G.O.Ms. No.911 purporting the sale of land in  question  in  favour  of  the
appellants as proposed by the Commissioner.=

10.   One year thereafter i.e. on 22nd June 2002, a writ petition  no.  2563
of 2002 came to be filed  challenging  the  G.O.Ms.  No.911  by  17  persons
claiming to be protected tenants of the land  in  question  under  the  A.P.
(Andhra Area) Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act, 1956.  Such  a  claim  was
seriously disputed by the official respondents.=
All the writ petitions are withdrawn - in 9 the petition one Dr. Parthasarathy impleaded and after hearing him the single judge dismissed the writ - but the D.B. allowed the writ and quashed the G.O.=
 In the totality of the circumstances mentioned above, we  are  of  the
opinion that the Division Bench erred in interfering with  the  judgment  of
the learned Single Judge.  We,  therefore,  set  aside  the  judgment  under
appeal, restore the judgment of the learned  Single  Judge  and  uphold  the
validity of G.O.Ms. No.911 dated  14.12.2000.   Appeal  is  allowed.   There
will be no order as to costs.
 2014 (Apr.Part) http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41380
B.S. CHAUHAN, J. CHELAMESWAR

                                                                Reportable
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                       CIVIL  APPEAL NO.4383  OF 2014
      (Arising out of Special Leave to Appeal (Civil) No.4926 of 2006)

A.P.N.G.O.’s Association                           …Appellant

                                  Versus
Government of Andhra Pradesh            …Respondents
& Others


                               J U D G M E N T

Chelameswar, J.


1.    Leave granted.

2.    Aggrieved by the common judgment  dated  28th  January  2006  in  Writ
Petition No.8063 of 2004 and Writ Appeal No.1035 of 2004 of the  High  Court
of Andhra Pradesh at Hyderabad, the third respondent therein  preferred  the
instant appeal.

3.    By the said judgment, the High Court set aside the judgment dated  3rd
March 2004 in Writ Petition No.2563 of 2002 rendered  by  a  learned  Single
Judge and quashed G.O.Ms. No.911 dated  14.12.2000  issued  by  the  Revenue
(Endowments) Department, Government of Andhra Pradesh.

4.    The appellant is an association of the non-gazetted  officers  of  the
Government of Andhra Pradesh. Sometime  in  the  year  1995,  the  appellant
herein requested the Executive Officer of the  third  respondent  Temple  to
sell an extent of 18 acres of land (Survey No.221/1) to  provide  houses  to
its members.

5.    The Administration of Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions  and
Endowments in Andhra Pradesh  is  regulated  by  an  Act  named  the  Andhra
Pradesh Charitable and Hindu  Religious  Institutions  and  Endowments  Act,
1987.  Section 80 of the Act insofar as is relevant for us reads as under:



           “Section 80.  Alienation of immovable property: 1(a)  Any  gift,
           sale, exchange or mortgage of any immovable  property  belonging
           to or given or endowed for the  purpose  of  any  charitable  or
           religious institution, endowment shall be null and  void  unless
           any such transaction, not being a gift,  is  effected  with  the
           prior sanction of the Commissioner.


                 (b)   The Commissioner, may, after publishing in the Andhra
           Pradesh  Gazette  the  particulars  relating  to  the   proposed
           transaction and inviting any  objections  and  suggestions  with
           respect thereto and considering all objections and  suggestions,
           if  any  received  from  the  trustee  or  other  person  having
           interest, accord such  sanction  where  he  considers  that  the
           transaction is—


           i)    prudent and necessary or beneficial to the institution, or
           endowment;


           ii)   in respect of immovable property  which  is  un-economical
           for the institution or endowment to own and maintain; and


           iii)  The consideration therefor is adequate and proper.


                 (c)   Every sale of any such immovable property  sanctioned
           by the Commissioner under clause (b) shall be effected by tender-
           cum-public auction in  the  prescribed  manner  subject  to  the
           confirmation by the Commissioner within a period prescribed:


                 Provided that the Government may, in the  interest  of  the
           institution or endowment and for reasons to be recorded therefor
           in  writing,  permit  the  sale  of  such  immovable   property,
           otherwise than by public auction.


                                  x     x    x ”



6.    It can be seen from the above that normally the sale of any  immovable
property  belonging  to  any  religious  institution,  such  as,  the  third
respondent herein can only be effected by tender-cum-public auction  in  the
prescribed manner and subject to the prior  sanction  of  the  Commissioner.
Such a prior  sanction  can  be  given  by  the  Commissioner  if  only  the
Commissioner first makes a publication in the Andhra  Pradesh  Gazette,  the
particulars relating to the proposed transaction and invites objections  and
suggestions (if any) and on receipt of the objections or suggestions if  the
Commissioner comes to the conclusion:

      1.    it is un-economical for the institution or endowment to own  and
           maintain such immovable property;


      2.    such a sale is  prudent  and  necessary  or  beneficial  to  the
           institution or endowment;


      3.    such a sale is likely to fetch adequate and proper consideration
           for the property.



7.    On receipt of the application from the  appellant,  the  Commissioner,
Endowments  Department  (2nd  respondent  herein)  constituted  a  three-men
Committee to inquire and report the probable price that may  be  secured  if
the land is sold in public auction.  The District Collector,  Guntur  within
whose territorial jurisdiction the  temple  (third  respondent)  is  located
addressed a letter dated 26th March 1998  to  the  Commissioner,  Endowments
Department (2nd respondent) suggesting that the Government be addressed  for
according  permission  to  sell  the  land  in  question  to  the  appellant
association at the cost of Rs.3,50,000/- per acre by  private  negotiations.
However, the Commissioner vide letter dated  5th  March,  1998  advised  the
Government and sought the permission of the Government to sell the  land  in
question  in  favour  of  the  appellants  by  private  negotiations  for  a
consideration of Rs.4,00,000/- per acre.

8.    Subsequently, the Commissioner invited  objections  for  the  proposed
sale by publication in the official gazette of Andhra Pradesh on  3rd  April
1999 in compliance of the requirement of section 80(1)(b) of the  Endowments
Act, 1987.

9.    On 14th  December  2000,  the  Government  of  Andhra  Pradesh  issued
G.O.Ms. No.911 purporting the sale of land in  question  in  favour  of  the
appellants as proposed by the Commissioner.

10.   One year thereafter i.e. on 22nd June 2002, a writ petition  no.  2563
of 2002 came to be filed  challenging  the  G.O.Ms.  No.911  by  17  persons
claiming to be protected tenants of the land  in  question  under  the  A.P.
(Andhra Area) Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act, 1956.  Such  a  claim  was
seriously disputed by the official respondents.

11.   Be that as it may, 16 of the 17  petitioners  eventually  prayed  that
they may be permitted to  withdraw  the  writ  petition  and  the  same  was
permitted to be withdrawn on 26th June 2002 vis-à-vis  all  the  petitioners
except petitioner no.9.

12.   It appears from the judgment of the  learned  Single  Judge  that  the
said 9th petitioner also subsequently filed an  application  being  W.P.M.P.
No.21030 of 2003 seeking permission from the  Court  to  withdraw  the  writ
petition.  However, at  that  stage,  one  Dr.  S.  Parthasarathy  filed  an
impleadment petition which was allowed by order dated 10th September,  2003.
 A learned Judge of the Andhra Pradesh High  Court  by  an  elaborate  order
dated  3rd  March  2004  dismissed  the  writ  petition.  The  newly   added
petitioner Dr. S. Parthasarathy carried the matter in Letters Patent  Appeal
No.1034 of 2004.

13.   In the meanwhile, on 22nd March, 2004 a registered sale deed  came  to
be executed in favour of the appellants herein transferring the property  in
question.  A month thereafter on 24th  April  2004,  another  Writ  Petition
No.8063 of 2004 came to be filed by somebody who is  resident  of  Hyderabad
claiming to be interested in the temple.

14.   Both the abovementioned Writ Petition and the  Letters  Patent  Appeal
came to be disposed of by the judgment under appeal herein.

15.   By the judgment under appeal, the judgment of the learned Single  Jude
in Writ Petition No.2563 of 2002 was set aside and also G.O.Ms.  No.911  was
quashed.

16.   The undisputed facts are that a publication in  the  official  gazette
inviting objections and suggestions for the sale of  the  proposed  property
as required under section 80(1)(b) was made.  Admittedly, none of  the  writ
petitioners before the High Court ever raised  any  objection  or  made  any
suggestion in response  to  the  notification.   The  Government  of  Andhra
Pradesh in exercise of the authority under  the  first  proviso  of  section
80(1) issued G.O.Ms. No.911 permitting the sale  of  the  land  in  question
otherwise than by public auction.

17.   As per the pleadings, the land in question was getting  an  income  of
Rs.1,00,000/- per annum.  On the other hand,  the  Division  Bench  recorded
that in the counter affidavit filed by the Government,  it  is  stated  that
the consideration to be received after the sale in question would  fetch  an
interest of Rs.6,00,000/- per annum.  The learned Single Judge  opined  that
the prospect of increase in the income as  a  consequence  of  the  sale  in
question is a relevant consideration having regard to the scheme of  section
80(b).  The Division Bench thought otherwise on the ground:


           “that the value of land in any part of the State is appreciating
           day  by  day,  whereas  the  value  of  money  is  depreciating.
           Therefore, in our view, even if it was true that the institution
           was receiving only rupees one lakh by way of rent and  it  could
           receive rupees six lakhs by way of interest  after  selling  the
           property, even then, the institution is not in benefit,  because
           the appreciation of the value of land and depreciation of  value
           of money was not taken into consideration.”





18.   Coming to the valuation of the land, it can be seen  from  the  letter
of the concerned District Collector (Guntur) dated 14th June 2000  addressed
to the Government that the market value of the land in the vicinity  of  the
land in question varies from Rs.1,00,000/- to Rs.1,50,000/-  depending  upon
the fertility, texture and location.

19.   We are of the opinion that the approach of the Division Bench  is  not
in tune with the  language  of   Section  80.   The  purpose  of  making  an
endowment in favour of a  deity  is  to  generate  income  for  the  various
services required to be rendered to the deity.  Therefore, the  prospect  of
getting a  higher  income  is  certainly  relevant  consideration  than  the
possibility of an appreciation in the value of the asset endowed.    On  the
other hand, the entire higher annual income  accruing  as  interest  on  the
sale proceeds of the asset need not be utilised  every  year  only  for  the
services but part of it can always be reinvested in  proper  asset  to  beat
the inflation.

20.   Apart from that, the learned single Judge recorded a finding that  all
the original writ  petitioners  withdrew  the  writ  petitions  and  rightly
observed that there are no bona fides  on the part of  the  petitioners  who
pursued the litigation subsequent to the withdrawal of the writ petition  by
the original petitioners.

21.   In the totality of the circumstances mentioned above, we  are  of  the
opinion that the Division Bench erred in interfering with  the  judgment  of
the learned Single Judge.  We,  therefore,  set  aside  the  judgment  under
appeal, restore the judgment of the learned  Single  Judge  and  uphold  the
validity of G.O.Ms. No.911 dated  14.12.2000.   Appeal  is  allowed.   There
will be no order as to costs.

                                                            ……………………………………J.
                                                           (DR. B.S.
CHAUHAN)

                                                            ……………………………………J.
                                                           (J. CHELAMESWAR)
New Delhi,
April 3, 2014
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