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Friday, July 15, 2016

for declaration of title in respect of schedule property and for recovery of the same by declaring Respondent Nos.1 to 7 therein as land grabbers. -the Special Tribunal again allowed the petition declaring Respondent Nos.1 to 7 before it as land grabbers and directed them to deliver vacant possession of the land to the applicant. However, the applicant’s claim for compensation was negatived. =The appellants have assailed the judgment of the High Court on two main grounds:- firstly, that the appellants were not parties to the entire proceedings before the Special Tribunal and the Special Court and further the orders were obtained without hearing and impleading them; and secondly, that the Special Tribunal and the Special Court did not adhere to the mandatory requirement of taking cognizance and providing opportunity to the interested parties in issuing notice as per third proviso to Section 7(4) of the Land Grabbing Act read with Rules 7, 8 & 9 and calling of the verification report from the Tehsildar under Rule 6. = Once the title of Respondent No.3 was firmly established, the appellants were duty bound to rebut these evidences and establish their title and possession. The appellants miserably failed to lead any evidence as to their title and only one evidence as to their possession was proved which related to the year 1989 and nothing subsequent was shown to prove the possession of the appellants. Moreover, if the stand of the appellants is perused carefully they have not been clear with their stand on their title. ; suppression of facts by the appellants. The appellants claim that they were not a party to the proceedings before the Special Tribunal and the Special Court. However, upon perusal of the case records it is established that the appellants were not alien to the proceedings under the Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Act, 1982. Appellant No.4 himself filed I.A. No.300 of 1994 before the Special Court to be impleaded as a party. Also in I.A. No.285 of 1994, appellant Nos.1 and 2 were sought to be impleaded as party. The counsel for the appellants in their writ petition before the High Court as well as in their Review Petition vehemently argued that they were not party to the proceedings. However, the fact of filing of the above two applications was suppressed which was a deliberate act on the part of the appellants. The High Court was, therefore, correct in concluding that the appellants did not come before the Court with clean hands. ;the plea of non-compliance of the procedure has no effect on the merits of the case and is therefore of no consequence in the facts and circumstances of the case. The appellants have failed to implead themselves before the Special Court even when the fact of pendency of the case was known to them. The ground of procedural lacunae must fail as well being taken at a belated stage and on that basis, the appellants cannot be allowed to assail the substantive adjudications and the findings arrived at concurrently by the three forums below.

                                                                  REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                        CIVIL APPEAL NO.6409 OF 2016
                  (Arising out of SLP(C) No.24324 of 2008)

M/S. BHARAT FABRICATORS & ORS.   …      APPELLANT(S)

                                  :Versus:

SPL. COURT UNDER A.P. LAND GRABBING
(PROHIBITION) ACT & ORS.                …    RESPONDENT(S)

                                    WITH


                        CIVIL APPEAL NO.6410 OF 2016
                  (Arising out of SLP(C) No.24325 of 2008)



                               J U D G M E N T
Pinaki Chandra Ghose, J.
Leave granted in both the matters.
These appeals, by special leave, are  directed  against  the  judgments  and
order dated 30.04.2007 and 29.10.2007 passed by the  High  Court  of  Andhra
Pradesh at Hyderabad  in  W.P.  No.25273  of  1999  and  Review  W.P.  Misc.
Petition  No.26665  of  2007,  respectively,  whereby  the  High  Court  has
dismissed the writ petition  as  also  the  Review  Petition  filed  by  the
appellants herein.

The brief facts of  the  case  are  that  Respondent  No.3  herein,  namely,
Shirish Dhopeshwarkar, originally filed  O.P.  No.552  of  1988  before  the
Special Tribunal, Ranga Reddy District,  against  eight  persons,  including
the  Cooperative  Industrial  Estate  Limited,  Balanagar,  Hyderabad,   for
declaration of title in respect of schedule property  and  for  recovery  of
the same by declaring Respondent Nos.1 to 7 therein as land  grabbers.   The
said application was allowed by the Special  Tribunal.  However,  the  claim
for compensation was dismissed. Out of seven contesting respondents  in  the
said application, Respondent Nos.1, 2 & 5 to 7 filed an  appeal  before  the
Special Court (L.G.A. No.37 of 1993) assailing  the  order  of  the  Special
Tribunal.

 The applicant of O.P. No.552 of 1988 also filed an appeal (L.G.A. No.43  of
1993) qua that part of the order whereunder his claim for  compensation  was
dismissed.  Both the appeals were heard together and by means  of  a  common
order dated 29.04.1994, the Special Court set  aside  the  judgment  of  the
Special Tribunal and remitted the matter back  for  fresh  disposal,  giving
liberty to the parties to adduce evidence.


Thereafter,  further  evidence  was  adduced  on  either  side   and   after
conducting fresh enquiry, the Special Tribunal again  allowed  the  petition
declaring Respondent Nos.1 to 7 before it  as  land  grabbers  and  directed
them to deliver vacant possession of the land  to  the  applicant.  However,
the  applicant’s  claim  for  compensation  was  negatived.  The  contesting
Respondent Nos.1, 2 & 5 to 7 again filed an appeal before the Special  Court
(L.G.A. No.21  of  1998)  and  the  applicant  filed  cross-objections.  The
Special Court by its judgment dated 27.09.1999 dismissed the appeal as  also
the cross-objections.

The appellants herein, who  were  not  parties  either  before  the  Special
Tribunal or before the Special Court, filed a writ petition before the  High
Court of Judicature of Andhra  Pradesh,  being  Writ  Petition  No.25273  of
1999, for a declaration that the orders of the Special Tribunal as  well  as
the Special Court are not applicable to their industrial units,  maintaining
that they had been in peaceful possession and occupation  of  the  plots  in
dispute for the last more than  50  years,  and  Respondent  No.3,  who  was
allotted a plot of land,  on  lease,  by  the  Government  for  establishing
industrial units, obtained another plot of land to an  extent  of  3000  Sq.
Yds.  and  by  initiating  land  grabbing  proceedings  against  others,  in
collusion with the respondents, wanted to grab the lands of  the  appellants
without impleading them. The said writ petition was dismissed  by  the  High
Court on 30.04.2007.

The appellants thereafter filed a review  petition  before  the  High  Court
which was  also  dismissed.  However,  the  appellants  were  granted  three
months’ time to vacate the premises. Aggrieved by the dismissal of the  writ
petition and subsequently, dismissal of the review petition, the  appellants
have approached this Court.

The appellants have assailed the judgment of the  High  Court  on  two  main
grounds:- firstly, that the  appellants  were  not  parties  to  the  entire
proceedings before the Special Tribunal and the Special  Court  and  further
the orders were obtained without hearing and impleading them; and  secondly,
that the Special Tribunal and the  Special  Court  did  not  adhere  to  the
mandatory requirement of taking cognizance and providing opportunity to  the
interested parties in issuing notice as per third proviso  to  Section  7(4)
of the Land Grabbing Act read with Rules  7,  8  &  9  and  calling  of  the
verification report from the Tehsildar under Rule 6.

In our considered opinion, the Special  Tribunal  as  well  as  the  Special
Court returned a concurrent finding that the land in question  was  allotted
to  Respondent  No.3  by  Respondent   No.2   society.   The   two   reports
independently made  by  Commissioner  Advocate  as  well  as  the  Assistant
Director were correctly relied upon by the two forums below and  was  upheld
by  the  High  Court.   Once  the  title  of  Respondent  No.3  was   firmly
established, the appellants were duty bound to  rebut  these  evidences  and
establish their title and possession. The  appellants  miserably  failed  to
lead any evidence as to their title  and  only  one  evidence  as  to  their
possession was proved which related to the year 1989 and nothing  subsequent
was shown to prove the possession of the appellants. Moreover, if the  stand
of the appellants is perused carefully they have not been clear  with  their
stand on their title.

Another aspect which the High Court categorically dealt  with  was  that  of
suppression of facts by the appellants. The appellants claim that they  were
not a party to the proceedings before the Special Tribunal and  the  Special
Court. However, upon perusal of the case records it is established that  the
appellants were not  alien  to  the  proceedings  under  the  Land  Grabbing
(Prohibition) Act, 1982. Appellant No.4 himself filed I.A.  No.300  of  1994
before the Special Court to be impleaded as a party. Also in I.A. No.285  of
1994, appellant Nos.1 and 2 were  sought  to  be  impleaded  as  party.  The
counsel for the appellants in their writ petition before the High  Court  as
well as in their Review Petition vehemently argued that they were not  party
to  the  proceedings.  However,  the  fact  of  filing  of  the  above   two
applications was suppressed which was a deliberate act on the  part  of  the
appellants. The High Court was, therefore, correct in  concluding  that  the
appellants   did   not   come   before   the   Court   with   clean   hands.



The second contention is non-compliance of the  procedure  as  envisaged  in
the Act and the Rules framed subsequently. We are afraid  that  this  ground
must also fail. The High Court has  at  great  length  discussed  the  legal
provisions which do not require repetition. However, it  is  concluded  that
the plea of non-compliance of the procedure has no effect on the  merits  of
the case and is therefore of no consequence in the facts  and  circumstances
of the case. The appellants have failed to  implead  themselves  before  the
Special Court even when the fact of pendency of the case was known to  them.
The ground of procedural lacunae must fail as well being taken at a  belated
stage and on that basis, the appellants cannot  be  allowed  to  assail  the
substantive adjudications and the findings arrived at  concurrently  by  the
three                             forums                              below.













The present  appeals  therefore  must  fail  and  we  are  not  inclined  to
interfere with the decision arrived at by the High Court which is  based  on
a correct analysis of facts and law and rendered in  the  rational  exercise
of its discretion. These appeals are accordingly dismissed.



….....….……………………J
(Pinaki Chandra  Ghose)





….....…..…………………..J
(Amitava Roy)
New Delhi;
July 15, 2016.

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