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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Special Economic Zone = grant of lease of land admeasuring 1500 acres out of Survey No.141 of Village Mundra, Taluka Mundra, District Kutch for the purposes of manufacturing salt. That application came to be rejected by the District Collector on 05.06.1993 on the ground “Land not available as asked for”=The original application simply made a demand that the respondent be allotted 1500 acres of land from Survey No.141 of Village Mundra. It is true that certain allotments were made from and out of Survey No.141 of Village Mundra but after the setting up of Special Economic Zone at Mundra all those applicants have surrendered their lands. The stand of the appellant - State is very clear and categorical that there was no land available at Village Mundra. Further, the application having been rejected by the District Collector on 18.12.1999, Revision was preferred more than five years later. This Revision was rejected on the ground of delay and was taken up in challenge before the High Court again after a delay of five years. In the circumstances the Single Judge of the High Court was right in observing that the respondent had remained indolent in pursuing its remedy and that because of delay and latches on its part, no indulgence could be shown. In our considered view, the Division Bench was not justified in reversing the judgment and order passed by the Single Judge, nor was it right in directing the Collector to allot to the respondent land for salt production from any other survey number.



                                                              Non-Reportable


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION



                         CIVIL APPEAL NO.360 of 2016
                (Arising from the SLP(Civil) No.527 of 2015)



State of Gujarat and Another                        ….Appellants


                                   Versus


Shree Ratnakar Enterprise                     …. Respondent




                               J U D G M E N T


Uday U. Lalit, J.


Leave granted.



This appeal challenges the judgment and order  dated  08.01.2014  passed  by
the Division Bench of the High Court of Gujarat  in  Letters  Patent  Appeal
No.218 of 2012 arising out of the dismissal  of  Special  Civil  Application
No.16050 of 2011 by the Single Judge of the High Court.


The facts in the present matter are as under:

(a)   The respondent preferred an application  before  the  appellant  State
for grant of lease of land admeasuring 1500 acres out of  Survey  No.141  of
Village  Mundra,  Taluka  Mundra,  District  Kutch  for  the   purposes   of
manufacturing salt. That application came to be  rejected  by  the  District
Collector on 05.06.1993 on the ground “Land not  available  as  asked  for”.
The rejection of the application  was  challenged  in  Revision  before  the
Additional Chief Secretary, Revenue Department who remanded the matter  back
to the Collector for fresh consideration. Thereafter,  the  Collector  again
rejected the application vide  order dated 18.12.1999  on  the  ground  that
the land available with the Government was  scattered  over  various  places
and land to the tune of 1500 acres as requested was  not  available  in  one
place. That order was again challenged  by  filing  Revision  on  02.02.2005
i.e. more than five years after the rejection of application on  18.12.1999.
The revisional authority refused to condone  the  delay  in  preferring  the
Revision and by its order dated 27.04.2005 affirmed the order  of  rejection
passed by the Collector. A copy of the order dated 27.04.2005 was marked  to
the concerned parties.

(b)   Thereafter, a proposal for setting up  of  Special  Economic  Zone  at
Mundra was taken up for  consideration.  The  Central  Government  vide  its
order dated 24.05.2009 provided for setting up ofSpecial  Economic  Zone  at
Mundra. The notification in question pertained  to  lands  including  Survey
No.141 of Village  Mundra.  The  coastal  lands  required  for  the  Special
Economic Zone were surrendered by  various  persons  to  the  Government  in
order to enable setting up of the Special Economic Zone.

(c)   Almost six years after the disposal of  Revision  on  27.04.2005,  the
respondent preferred Special Civil Application No.16050 of 2011 in the  High
Court of Gujarat praying inter-alia  that  the  order  dated  27.04.2005  be
quashed and appropriate direction be issued to allot land as prayed  for  by
the respondent. It was submitted that the  respondent  had  recently  become
aware about the order passed on 27.04.2005.

(d)   That Special Civil Application was rejected by  Single  Judge  of  the
High Court vide judgment and order dated 28.11.2011. It  was  observed  that
the rejection of Revision in 2005 was challenged  by  filing  Special  Civil
Application in the year 2011 and that the  respondent  itself  had  remained
indolent in pursuing its remedy; that because of such delay and  latches  no
indulgence could be shown in favour of the respondent; that no violation  of
any fundamental right or any legal right was shown by  the  respondent;  and
that  there  was  no  infirmity  in  the  order  passed  by  the  revisional
authority.



(e)   The decision of the Single Judge  was  challenged  by  filing  Letters
Patent Appeal No.218 of 2012 before the Division Bench of  the  High  Court.
During the pendency of this Appeal, an affidavit was filed on behalf of  the
appellant - State that no  land  was  earmarked  for  salt  production  from
Survey No.141 but over the years  lands  situated  near  coastal  area  were
allotted to various applicants for salt production and that said lands  were
surrendered by said persons to the appellant - State after  the  demand  for
land for Mundra Special Economic Zone came up. The  Division  Bench  by  its
judgment and order dated 08.01.2014 allowed  the  appeal.  It  was  observed
that there was no delay on part of the respondent as it was prosecuting  the
matter since the year 1992 and that the delay was actually on  part  of  the
appellant - State. The  Division  Bench  further  observed  that  since  the
respondent had applied in the year 1992 its priority ought to be  maintained
and that the Collector must ensure that the land  for  salt  cultivation  be
allotted to the respondent from any survey number within a period  of  three
months from the receipt of the order.




4.     The  appellant  State  has  preferred  this  Appeal  challenging  the
decision of the Division Bench of the High Court submitting inter-alia  that
after the establishment of Special Economic Zone  at  Mundra,  no  land  was
available which could be allotted to the  respondent,  that  the  respondent
could not claim the land as a matter of right for  production  of  salt  and
that  there  was  no  infirmity  in  the  order  passed  by  the  revisional
authority.  It  was  further  submitted  that  the  appellant  -  State  had
allotted small pieces of land for salt production and  no  person  was  ever
allotted 1500 acres of land for production of salt.  This Court was  pleased
to issue notice in the matter, whereafter the respondent filed affidavit  in
reply. It was submitted that if 1500 acres of  land  was  not  available  in
Survey No.141, whatever was available could be allotted  from  other  survey
numbers but the application of the respondent could not  and  ought  not  to
have been rejected.





5.    We heard Ms. Jesal Wahi, learned Advocate who appeared in  support  of
the Appeal and Mr. Abhijeet Sinha, learned Advocate  who  appeared  for  the
respondent. After concluding the hearing on 07.12.2015, liberty was  granted
to the parties to file written submissions, if any, within  two  weeks.  The
respondent filed an application for direction submitting inter-alia that  it
wished to rely on the  policy  of  the  State  Government  dated  31.12.1981
governing the matter in issue and that it  be  granted  hearing  to  address
this Court on such document. The respondent further prayed for extension  of
time to file its written submission.





6.    We have gone through the record. At no stage the alleged policy  dated
31.12.1981 was either referred to or relied upon.  No  submission  was  ever
advanced to project  the  entitlement  or  the  extent  thereof  under  this
policy. The original application simply made a demand  that  the  respondent
be allotted 1500 acres of land from Survey No.141 of Village Mundra.  It  is
true that certain allotments were made from and  out  of  Survey  No.141  of
Village Mundra but after the setting up of Special Economic Zone  at  Mundra
all those  applicants  have  surrendered  their  lands.  The  stand  of  the
appellant - State is very clear and  categorical  that  there  was  no  land
available at Village Mundra. Further, the application having  been  rejected
by the District Collector on 18.12.1999, Revision was  preferred  more  than
five years later.   This Revision was rejected on the ground  of  delay  and
was taken up in challenge before the High Court again after a delay of  five
years. In the circumstances the Single Judge of the High Court was right  in
observing that the respondent had remained indolent in pursuing  its  remedy
and that because of delay and latches on its part, no  indulgence  could  be
shown. In our considered view, the  Division  Bench  was  not  justified  in
reversing the judgment and order passed by the  Single  Judge,  nor  was  it
right in directing the Collector to allot to the respondent  land  for  salt
production from any other survey number.





7.    In the circumstances this appeal is allowed. The  judgment  and  order
of the Division Bench of the High Court is set-aside and that was passed  by
the Single Judge of the High Court is restored.  Application for  directions
preferred by the respondent after conclusion  of  hearing  is  rejected.  No
order as to costs.





                                 ………………………J.
 (V. Gopala Gowda)



………………..……J.
(Uday Umesh Lalit)

New Delhi,
January 19, 2016


ITEM NO.1C.- For Judgment        COURT NO.10           SECTION IX

               S U P R E M E  C O U R T  O F  I N D I A
                       RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS

C.A. No.360/2016 @ Petition(s)  for  Special  Leave  to  Appeal  (C)  No(s).
527/2015

STATE OF GUJARAT & ANR.                            Petitioner(s)

                                VERSUS

SHREE RATNAKAR ENTERPRISE                          Respondent(s)

Date : 19/01/2016 This appeal was called on for pronouncement  of   JUDGMENT
today.

For Petitioner(s)       Ms. Hemantika Wahi,Adv.

For Respondent(s)
                     Mr. Mohit Paul,Adv.


      Hon'ble Mr. Justice Uday Umesh Lalit pronounced the judgement  of  the
Bench comprising Hon'ble Mr. Justice V. Gopala Gowda and His Lordship.
      Delay condoned.
      Leave granted.
      The appeal is allowed in terms of the signed non-reportable  judgment.

      Pending application(s), if any,stand(s) disposed of.
|(VINOD KUMAR)                          | |(MALA KUMARI SHARMA)                  |
|COURT MASTER                           | |COURT MASTER                          |



             (Signed Non-Reportable Judgment is placed on the file)

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