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
Shree Ratnakar Enterprise …. Respondent
J U D G M E N T
Uday U. Lalit, J.
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
(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.
(V. Gopala Gowda)
(Uday Umesh Lalit)
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).
STATE OF GUJARAT & ANR. Petitioner(s)
SHREE RATNAKAR ENTERPRISE Respondent(s)
Date : 19/01/2016 This appeal was called on for pronouncement of JUDGMENT
For Petitioner(s) Ms. Hemantika Wahi,Adv.
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.
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)