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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Writ Petition (Civil) No.245 of 2014 has been filed seeking a declaration that Rule 10(1) and Rule 10(4)(i) of the Search Committee (Constitution, Terms and Conditions of Appointment of Members and the Manner of Selection of Panel of Names for Appointment of Chairperson and Members of Lokpal) Rules, 2014 (hereinafter referred to as the “Search Committee Rules”) framed under the provisions of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 (hereinafter referred to as “the Act”) are ultra vires and for a further direction to restrain the initiation of any process of selection for appointment of Chairperson and Members of the Lokpal under the provisions of the aforesaid Search Committee Rules.= “The pathology of our public law, with its class slant, is that an unmincing ombudsman or sentinel on the qui vive with power to act against those in power, now or before, and offering legal access to the informed citizen to complain with immunity does not exist; despite all the bruited umbrage of political performers against peculations and perversions by higher echelons. Law is what law does, not what law says; and the moral gap between word and deed menaces people’s faith in life and law. The tragedy, then, is that democracy becomes a casualty.” = For the aforesaid reasons, the writ petitions and the transferred cases shall stand allowed as indicated above.

                                                                  REPORTABLE


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                         CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION
                    WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.245 OF 2014
COMMON CAUSE : A REGISTERED SOCIETY    ...PETITIONER


                                   VERSUS


UNION OF INDIA                           ...RESPONDENT


                                    WITH


                     TRANSFERRED CASE(C)        OF 2017
             (Arising out of  TRANSFER PETITION (C) NO.1264/2014


                       WRIT PETITION(C) NO.673 OF 2015
                     TRANSFERRED CASE(C) NO.109 OF 2015




                               J U D G M E N T




RANJAN GOGOI, J.




1.          Writ Petition (Civil) No.245 of 2014 has been  filed  seeking  a
declaration that Rule 10(1)  and  Rule  10(4)(i)  of  the  Search  Committee
(Constitution, Terms and  Conditions  of  Appointment  of  Members  and  the
Manner of Selection of Panel of Names for  Appointment  of  Chairperson  and
Members of Lokpal) Rules, 2014  (hereinafter  referred  to  as  the  “Search
Committee  Rules”)  framed  under  the  provisions  of      the  Lokpal  and
Lokayuktas Act, 2013 (hereinafter referred to as “the Act”) are ultra  vires
and for a further direction to restrain the initiation  of  any  process  of
selection for appointment of Chairperson and Members  of  the  Lokpal  under
the provisions of the aforesaid Search Committee Rules.


2.          There is no manner of doubt that the aforesaid grievance of  the
writ petitioner has been taken care of by the Search  Committee  (Amendment)
Rules, 2014 which has deleted the following words in sub-rule  (1)  of  Rule
10:


           “from amongst the  list  of  persons  provided  by  the  Central
           Government in the Department of Personnel and Training”




      Sub-rule (4) of Rule 10 of the Search Committee Rules  has  also  been
since deleted.


3.          Notwithstanding the above, it is urged on  behalf  of  the  writ
petitioner that the provisions of the Act are yet to be implemented and  the
Selection  Committee/Search  Committee  under  the  Act  are   yet   to   be
constituted so as to further the appointment of the Chairperson and  Members
of the Lokpal.


4.          As in the connected case  i.e.  Writ  Petition  No.673  of  2015
filed by Youth for Equality the prayers made  are  precisely  to  the  above
effect, we have permitted the learned counsel for  the  writ  petitioner  in
Writ Petition (Civil) No.245 of 2014 to address the Court on  the  aforesaid
issue also.

5.          The reliefs sought in Transferred Case No.109  of  2015  and  in
Transferred Case arising out of Transfer Petition (Civil)  No.1264  of  2014
are same and similar to those made in Writ Petition (Civil) No.245 of  2014.


6.          Shri Shanti Bhushan, learned Senior Counsel,  who  has  advanced
the lead arguments, has submitted that the Act had been brought  into  force
on 16th January, 2014 by a notification issued in the  Official  Gazette  by
the Government of India.  Despite efflux  of  a  long  period  of  time  the
provisions of the Act have not been implemented.  It is argued  that  though
the version of the official respondents is that certain  provisions  of  the
Act need to be  altered  to  make  the  provisions  thereof  workable  in  a
meaningful manner, the  very  fact  that  the  Amendment  Bill  [Lokpal  and
Lokayuktas and Other Related Law (Amendment) Bill, 2014] has been  gathering
dust from the date of its introduction in  the  Parliament  (18th  December,
2014) would sufficiently demonstrate the lack of executive/legislative  will
to give effect to a salutary enactment en-grafting a vital   requirement  of
democratic functioning of the  Government,  namely,  accountability  of  the
political executive and those in high echelons  of  public  office,   to  an
independent body i.e. Lokpal.  Shri  Shanti  Bhushan  has  also  urged  that
incongruities, inconsistencies and inadequacies in the Act as  perceived  by
the respondents are primarily with regard to the  absence  of  a  Leader  of
Opposition in the present House of People/Lok  Sabha  (hereinafter  referred
to as “LOP”) who is also to act as  a  Member  of  the  Selection  Committee
under Section 4 of the Act. This, according to Shri Bhushan, is  a  pretence
and/or sham inasmuch as by Section  2  of  the  Salary  and   Allowances  of
Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977 (hereinafter  referred  to  as
“the 1977 Act”) the term 'Leader of the Opposition” is defined  to  mean  as
under:
           “2.   Definition.- In this Act, “Leader of the  Opposition”,  in
           relation to either House of Parliament, means that member of the
           Council of States or the House of the People, as  the  case  may
           be, who is, for the time being, the Leader in that House of  the
           Party in  opposition  to  the  Government  having  the  greatest
           numerical strength and recognised as such by the Chairman of the
           Council of States or the Speaker of the House of the People,  as
           the case may be.


           Explanation.-- Where there are two or more parties in opposition
           to the Government, in the Council of States or in the  House  of
           the People having the same numerical strength, the  Chairman  of
           the Council of States or the Speaker of the House of the People,
           as the case may be, shall, having regard to the  status  of  the
           parties, recognise any one of the Leaders of such parties as the
           Leader of the Opposition for the purposes of  this  section  and
           such recognition shall be final and conclusive.


            Shri Bhushan submits that the  aforesaid  provision  could  have
been easily adopted by the Government of India to clarify the  situation  in
the event any ambiguity is felt.   Shri  Bhushan  has  specifically  pointed
out to the Court the provisions of Section 62 of the Act which  enables  the
Government of India to so act.  As  such  an  exercise  was  not  undertaken
within a period of two years as required, the time frame  therefor,  is  now
over.  Shri Bhushan has pointed out that for reasons which  are  not  known,
the respondents are not interested in implementing  the  provisions  of  the
Act.  Therefore, necessary directions should be  issued  by  the  Court  and
appropriate orders need to be passed.

7.          Supporting the arguments  made  by  Shri  Shanti  Bhushan,  Shri
Gopal Sankaranarayana, learned counsel for  the  writ  petitioners  in  Writ
Petition (Civil) No.673 of 2015 has drawn the attention of the Court to  the
relevant provisions of the other  statutes,  namely,  Right  to  Information
Act, 2005, Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003, etc. to  point  out  that
in all the aforesaid statutes it has been provided that in case there is  no
LOP available, it  is  the  Leader  of  the  Party  in  Opposition   to  the
Government, which has the greatest strength of Members, who is deemed to  be
the Leader of the Opposition.   It  is  also  pointed  out  by  the  learned
counsel  that  under  Section  4(2)  of  the  Act  the  appointment  of  the
Chairperson or a Member of  the  Lokpal  shall  not  be  invalid  merely  on
account of any vacancy in the Selection Committee.  It is, therefore,  urged
that even in the absence of the LOP it is open for the  Selection  Committee
to proceed with the constitution of the Search  Committee.   Same  would  be
the position with regard to the appointment of the  eminent  jurist  who  is
required to be appointed as a Member  of  the  Selection  Committee  by  the
other Members of the Selection Committee enumerated under   Section  4(1)(a)
to (d) of the Act.  The absence of the LOP, therefore, need not  detain  the
constitution of the Selection Committee and the discharge  of  functions  by
the Committee.

9.          It is further argued by the learned counsel that as  legislative
action is not forthcoming to give effect to the provisions of  the  Amending
Bill,  this  Court should read down the provisions  of  Section  4(1)(c)  of
the Act to understand that the LOP mentioned in the said provisions  of  the
Act means the leader of the single largest opposition party in either  House
of Parliament.  Reading down of the provisions of the statute, in the  above
manner, would be justified to give effect to the statute.  In  this  regard,
reliance  has  been  placed  on  the  following  observations  contained  in
paragraph 26 and 46 of the decision of this Court in Vipulbhai M.  Choudhary
vs. Gujarat Coop. Milk Mktg. Federation Ltd.[1] which are extracted below:
           “26.       Where the Constitution  has  conceived  a  particular
           structure on certain institutions, the  legislative  bodies  are
           bound  to  mould   the   statutes   accordingly.   Despite   the
           constitutional mandate, if the legislative body  concerned  does
           not carry out the required structural changes in  the  statutes,
           then, it is the duty of the court to provide  the  statute  with
           the meaning as per the Constitution. “The  job  of  the  Supreme
           Court is not to expound the meaning of the constitution  but  to
           provide it with meaning”[Walter Berns,  ‘Government  by  lawyers
           and  judges’,  Commentary,  June,1987,   18.]    The   reference
           obviously is to United States Supreme Court. As a  general  rule
           of interpretation, no doubt, nothing is to be added to or  taken
           from a statute. However, when  there  are  adequate  grounds  to
           justify an inference, it is the bounden duty of the court to  do
           so.


                 “…It  is  a  corollary  to  the  general  rule  of  literal
                 construction that nothing is to be added to or taken from a
                 statue unless there are adequate  grounds  to  justify  the
                 inference that the legislature intended something which  it
                 omitted  to  express”[Maxwell  on  The  Interpretation   of
                 Statues (12th Edn.) 33.].


           According to Lord Mersey  in  Thompson  (Pauper)  v.  Goold  and
           Co.[[1910] A.C. 409. (HL]: (AC p.420)


                 “...It is a strong thing to read into an Act or  Parliament
                 words, which are not there, and in  the  absence  of  clear
                 necessity, it is wrong to do”.


           In the case of cooperative societies, after the  Ninety  Seventh
           Amendment, it has become a clear or strong necessity to  do  the
           strong thing of reading into the legislation, the constitutional
           mandate  of  the  cooperative  societies  to  be   governed   as
           democratic institutions.


                 45...The constitutional provisions  have  to  be  construed
                 broadly  and  liberally  having  regard  to   the   changed
                 circumstances  and  the  needs  of  time  and   polity”[The
                 Constitutional Bench decision in State of W.B.  v.Committee
                 for Protection of Democratic  Rights,  (2010)  3  SCC  571,
                 p.591, para  45: (2010) 2 SCC (Cri) 401]


                                    * * *


           46.        In the background of the constitutional mandate,  the
           question is not what the statute does say but what  the  statute
           must say. If the Act or the Rules or the  Bye-laws  do  not  say
           what they should say in terms of the  Constitution,  it  is  the
           duty of the court to read the constitutional spirit and  concept
           into the Acts. … “In so far as in its Act  Parliament  does  not
           convey its intention clearly, expressly and  completely,  it  is
           taken to require the enforcement agencies who are  charged  with
           the duty of applying legislation to spell out the detail of  its
           legal meaning. This may be  done  either-  (a)  by  finding  and
           declaring implications in the words used by the  legislator,  or
           (b) by regarding the breadth or other obscurity of  the  express
           language  as  conferring  a  delegated  legislative   power   to
           elaborate  its  meaning  in  accordance   with   public   policy
           (including   legal   policy)   and   the    purpose    of    the
           legislation”[Bennion  on  Statutory  Interpretation  by  Francis
           Bennion, (6th Edn.)136].”




10.         In reply, Shri  Mukul  Rohatgi,  learned  Attorney  General  has
submitted that in the present case the Congress Party had claimed  the  post
of LOP in the present Lok Sabha. However, the said  claim  was  rejected  by
the Hon’ble Speaker on the ground that as per  parameters  of  parliamentary
convention and practice, the Congress Party does not have the requisite  10%
strength of the total membership of the House of the People i.e.  Lok  Sabha
to be entitled to have its leader in the Lok Sabha to be recognized  as  the
Leader of the Opposition.  Shri Rohatgi in this regard  has  relied  upon  a
publication of the Lok Sabha Secretariat which is to the following effect:


                 “At present, there is no recognized Leader of Opposition in
                 Lok Sabha.”


11.         Shri Rohatgi has submitted that the provisions of the  1977  Act
cannot, by itself, constitute to be a part of the Act in  question.   It  is
submitted  that  the  implementation  of  the  provisions  of  the  Act  was
attempted  but  certain  difficulties  arising  from  some  inadequate   and
inconsistent provisions thereof came to  the  fore  which  necessitated  the
Amendment Bill. Referring to the Bill,  the  learned  Attorney  General  has
submitted that the Bill seeks to comprehensively amend different  provisions
of the Act to facilitate the smooth working of the institution brought  into
force under the Act.


12.   It will be necessary at  this  stage  to  take  note  of  the  salient
features of the Amendment Bill along with a very brief  description  of  the
other amendments of the different provisions of the Act which  is  presently
pending legislative  consideration.  The  principal  amendments  which  will
require a specific notice are those contained in Section 2 of the  Amendment
Bill seeking to amend Section 4 [clause (c) and clause  (e)  of  sub-section
(1);  sub-section (2) and sub-section (3)] of the Act in the  manner  stated
below:
                 “2.         In  the  Lokpal  and   Lokayuktas   Act,   2013
                 (hereinafter referred to as the principal Act)  in  section
                 4,-


                 (a)   in sub-section(1),-


                 (i)  for  clause  (c),  the  following  clause   shall   be
                 substituted, namely:-


                       '(c) the Leader of Opposition recognised as  such  in
                 the House of the People or where there is no such Leader of
                 Opposition,  then,  the  Leader  of  the   single   largest
                 Opposition Party in that House – Member.';


                 (ii)  after clause (e),  the  following  proviso  shall  be
                 inserted, namely:-


                       'Provided that the eminent jurist shall be  nominated
                 for a period of three years and shall not be  eligible  for
                 re-nomination.';


                 (b)        for sub-section (2), the  following  sub-section
                 shall be substituted, namely:-




                       '(2)       No  appointment  of  a  Chairperson  or  a
                 Member or the nomination of  an  eminent  jurist  shall  be
                 invalid merely by reason of any vacancy  or  absence  of  a
                 Member in the Selection Committee.';


                 (c)        in sub-section (3), after  the  second  proviso,
                 the following proviso shall be inserted, namely:-


                            'Provided also that no appointment of  a  person
                 in the Search Committee or the proceedings  of  the  Search
                 Committee shall be invalid merely by reason of any  vacancy
                 or absence of  a  Member  in  the  Selection  Committee  or
                 absence of a person in the Search Committee,  as  the  case
                 may be.'




13.         The Amendment Bill was referred to  the  Parliamentary  Standing
Committee on 25th December, 2014 after it was introduced in  the  Lok  Sabha
on 18th December, 2014.  Thereafter, on 3rd December, 2015,  the  report  of
the Parliamentary Standing Committee was submitted.  The  following  extract
from the report would indicate the relevant Sections  in  respect  of  which
amendments have been proposed and the extent thereof.

|S.No.|Area of    |Provision in|Relevant |Provisions  |Releva|Extent of     |
|     |concern    |the Lokpal  |Section  |in the Bill |nt    |Amendment     |
|     |           |and         |         |            |Clause|proposed      |
|     |           |Lokayuktas  |         |            |      |              |
|     |           |Act, 2013 & |         |            |      |              |
|     |           |Delhi       |         |            |      |              |
|     |           |Special     |         |            |      |              |
|     |           |Police      |         |            |      |              |
|     |           |Establishmen|         |            |      |              |
|     |           |t Act, 1946 |         |            |      |              |
|1.   |Composition|Prime       |4(1) of  |Prime       |2(a)(i|Inclusion of  |
|     |of         |Minister,   |Lokpal   |Minister,   |)     |Leader of     |
|     |Selection  |Chief       |and      |Chief       |      |largest       |
|     |Committee  |Justice of  |Lokayukta|Justice of  |      |Opposition    |
|     |           |India or    |s Act,   |India or    |      |Party in Lok  |
|     |           |Judge of    |2013     |Judge of    |      |Sabha in lieu |
|     |           |Supreme     |         |Supreme     |      |of Leader of  |
|     |           |Court,      |         |Court,      |      |Opposition in |
|     |           |Speaker, Lok|         |Speaker, Lok|      |Lok Sabha in  |
|     |           |Sabha,      |         |Sabha,      |      |Selection     |
|     |           |Leader of   |         |Leader of   |      |Committee.    |
|     |           |Opposition, |         |largest     |      |              |
|     |           |Lok Sabha   |         |Opposition  |      |              |
|     |           |and eminent |         |Party, Lok  |      |              |
|     |           |jurist      |         |Sabha and   |      |              |
|     |           |            |         |eminent     |      |              |
|     |           |            |         |jurist      |      |              |
|2.   |Tenure of  |No mention  |4(1)(e)  |Fixed tenure|2(b)  |Limiting      |
|     |eminent    |of tenure   |of Lokpal|of three    |-     |tenure of     |
|     |jurist in  |            |and      |years with  |      |eminent jurist|
|     |Selection  |            |Lokayukta|no          |      |to single term|
|     |Committee  |            |s Act,   |renomination|      |in the        |
|     |           |            |2013     |            |      |Selection     |
|     |           |            |         |            |      |Committee     |
|3.   |Proceedings|Proceedings |4(2) of  |No          |2(b)  |To validate   |
|     |of Search  |not to be   |Lokpal   |invalidation|&     |the           |
|     |and        |invalidated |and      |of          |2(c)  |proceedings of|
|     |Selection  |due to      |Lokayukta|proceedings |      |Search and    |
|     |Committee  |vacancy in  |s Act,   |of Search   |      |Selection     |
|     |           |the         |2013     |and         |      |Committee in  |
|     |           |Selection   |         |Selection   |      |the event of  |
|     |           |Search      |         |Committee   |      |absence or    |
|     |           |Committee   |         |due to      |      |vacancy of any|
|     |           |            |         |vacancy or  |      |member arising|
|     |           |            |         |absence     |      |therein in    |
|     |           |            |         |therein.    |      |future.       |
|4.   |Rank of    |Secretary to|10(1) of |Additional  |3(a)  |Rank reduced. |
|     |Secretary  |Government  |Lokpal   |Secretary to|      |              |
|     |to Lokpal  |of India    |and      |Government  |      |              |
|     |           |            |Lokayukta|of India    |      |              |
|     |           |            |s Act,   |            |      |              |
|     |           |            |2013     |            |      |              |
|5.   |Rank of    |Additional  |10(1) of |Joint       |3(b)  |Rank reduced  |
|     |Director of|Secretary to|Lokpal   |Secretary to|      |by one level  |
|     |Inquiry and|Government  |and      |Government  |      |              |
|     |Director of|of India    |Lokayukta|of India    |      |              |
|     |Prosecution|            |s Act,   |            |      |              |
|     |of Lokpal  |            |2013     |            |      |              |
|6.   |Disclosure |All Public  |44(1) &  |Public      |6(a)  |Immovable     |
|     |of assets  |servants to |44(2) of |servants to |      |assets        |
|     |and        |declare     |Lokpal   |declare the |      |acquired by   |
|     |liabilities|assets  and |and      |(i)         |      |the public    |
|     |by public  |liabilities |Lokayukta|immovable   |      |servant       |
|     |servants   |of self,    |s Act,   |assets      |      |whether in    |
|     |           |spouse and  |2013     |owned/      |      |his/her name  |
|     |           |dependent   |         |acquired/   |      |or in the name|
|     |           |children in |         |inherited by|      |of any family |
|     |           |the manner  |         |the public  |      |member or any |
|     |           |provided    |         |servant in  |      |other person  |
|     |           |under the   |         |his/her     |      |to be         |
|     |           |Act within  |         |name, in the|      |declared.     |
|     |           |30 days of  |         |name of any |      |Movable assets|
|     |           |the Act     |         |member of   |      |of only public|
|     |           |coming into |         |his/her     |      |servant to be |
|     |           |force to    |         |family or in|      |declared.     |
|     |           |their       |         |the name of |      |              |
|     |           |Competent   |         |any other   |      |              |
|     |           |Authority   |         |person; (ii)|      |              |
|     |           |and to file |         |movable     |      |              |
|     |           |Annual      |         |property    |      |              |
|     |           |Return of   |         |owned/      |      |              |
|     |           |movable and |         |acquired/   |      |              |
|     |           |immovable   |         |inherited by|      |              |
|     |           |assets and  |         |him/her and;|      |              |
|     |           |liabilities |         |(iii) Debts |      |              |
|     |           |of self,    |         |and other   |      |              |
|     |           |spouse and  |         |liabilities |      |              |
|     |           |dependent   |         |incurred by |      |              |
|     |           |children as |         |him/her     |      |              |
|     |           |on 31st     |         |directly or |      |              |
|     |           |March by    |         |indirectly. |      |              |
|     |           |31st July of|         |Such        |      |              |
|     |           |that year to|         |declaration |      |              |
|     |           |the         |         |to be made  |      |              |
|     |           |Competent   |         |to Competent|      |              |
|     |           |Authority   |         |Authority   |      |              |
|     |           |which is to |         |under Act/  |      |              |
|     |           |be put in   |         |Rules/      |      |              |
|     |           |public      |         |Regulations |      |              |
|     |           |domain by   |         |governing   |      |              |
|     |           |31st August |         |their       |      |              |
|     |           |of that     |         |appointment/|      |              |
|     |           |year.       |         |election.   |      |              |
|     |           |            |         |The         |      |              |
|     |           |            |         |Competent   |      |              |
|     |           |            |         |Authority to|      |              |
|     |           |            |         |publish the |      |              |
|     |           |            |         |declaration |      |              |
|     |           |            |         |filed by    |      |              |
|     |           |            |         |public      |      |              |
|     |           |            |         |servant in  |      |              |
|     |           |            |         |prescribed  |      |              |
|     |           |            |         |manner by   |      |              |
|     |           |            |         |31st August |      |              |
|     |           |            |         |of that     |      |              |
|     |           |            |         |year.       |      |              |
|7.   |Seat of    |New Delhi   |16(f) of |NCR of Delhi|4     |To facilitate |
|     |Lokpal     |            |Lokpal   |            |      |setting up of |
|     |           |            |and      |            |      |Headquarters  |
|     |           |            |Lokayukta|            |      |in the NCR of |
|     |           |            |s Act,   |            |      |Delhi.        |
|     |           |            |2013     |            |      |              |
|8.   |Eligibility|Rank of     |4BA OF   |Indian Legal|9(a)  |Makes the     |
|     |Criteria of|Director of |DSPE Act,|Service     |      |eligibility   |
|     |Director of|Prosecution |1946     |Officer     |      |criteria more |
|     |Prosecution|is Joint    |         |eligible to |      |stringent.    |
|     |(DoP) of   |Secretary to|         |be appointed|      |Allows only   |
|     |CBI        |Government  |         |as Special  |      |officers with |
|     |           |of India    |         |Public      |      |legal         |
|     |           |            |         |Prosecutor. |      |background to |
|     |           |            |         |In absence  |      |head the      |
|     |           |            |         |of such     |      |prosecution   |
|     |           |            |         |officer, an |      |wing of the   |
|     |           |            |         |advocate    |      |Central Bureau|
|     |           |            |         |having at   |      |of            |
|     |           |            |         |least 15    |      |Investigation |
|     |           |            |         |years of    |      |              |
|     |           |            |         |practice,   |      |              |
|     |           |            |         |and         |      |              |
|     |           |            |         |experience  |      |              |
|     |           |            |         |in handling |      |              |
|     |           |            |         |Government  |      |              |
|     |           |            |         |cases       |      |              |
|     |           |            |         |relating to |      |              |
|     |           |            |         |offences    |      |              |
|     |           |            |         |related to  |      |              |
|     |           |            |         |economic    |      |              |
|     |           |            |         |offences and|      |              |
|     |           |            |         |corruption. |      |              |
|9.   |Difference |No provision| 4BA of  |To be       |9(b)  |New provision.|
|     |of opinion |            |DSPE Act,|settled by  |      |              |
|     |between    |            |1946     |Attorney    |      |              |
|     |Director,  |            |         |General for |      |              |
|     |and        |            |         |India whose |      |              |
|     |Director of|            |         |decision    |      |              |
|     |prosecution|            |         |would be    |      |              |
|     |of CBI     |            |         |binding     |      |              |


14.         From the above, it  is  clear  that  Amendment  Bill  seeks  the
inclusion of Leader of the largest Opposition Party  in  Lok  Sabha  in  the
Selection Committee, in lieu of LOP. The proposed amendments  also  seek  to
limit the tenure of the  eminent  jurist,  as  a  Member  of  the  Selection
Committee. There is also an explicit recital of the fact  that  the  absence
of any Member of the Selection Committee (or a vacancy in the  post  of  any
Member) will not invalidate the recommendations of the  Selection  Committee
for  appointment  of  the  Chairperson  or  Member  of  the  Lokpal  or  the
appointment of the eminent jurist.  Similarly, appointment of  a  Member  of
the Search Committee or the proceedings of the said Committee  will  not  be
invalid by reason of either the absence of a Member of the Search  Committee
or a vacancy in the Selection Committee. The other  provisions  of  the  Act
relate to certain incidental matters under the Act, like, rank of  Secretary
to the Lokpal; rank of Director of Inquiry and Director  of  Prosecution  of
Lokpal; disclosure of assets and liabilities by  public  servants;  seat  of
Lokpal; eligibility criteria for appointment  of  Director  of  Prosecution;
and the provisions  relating  to  resolution  of  difference(s)  of  opinion
between the Director and the Director of Prosecution of CBI.


15.         While the Parliamentary  Standing  Committee  had  made  various
recommendations in respect  of  the  proposed  amendments,  so  far  as  the
amendment relating to substitution of the LOP by the Leader  of  the  single
largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha is  concerned,  the  Parliamentary
Standing Committee had approved the  proposed  amendment.   Insofar  as  the
discharge of functions by the  Search/Selection  Committee  in  a  situation
where there exits a vacancy, the Parliamentary Standing Committee is of  the
view that the  Search/Selection  Committee  should  not  take  any  decision
unless the vacancy in the Search/Selection Committee is filled up.   Rather,
it is suggested that provisions should be made in  the  Amendment  Bill  for
filling up  such  vacancy/vacancies  at  the  earliest.   The  rest  of  the
recommendations of the Committee would not be very material  to  decide  the
question arising in view of the very nature of the  subjects  to  which  the
same relate, which would be evident from a cursory glance  of  the  subjects
delineated  above  in  the  Chart  extracted  from   the   report   of   the
Parliamentary Standing Committee.

16.         As noticed, the report of the Parliamentary  Standing  Committee
is dated 3rd December, 2015. In the hearing of the cases that took place  on
28th March, 2017, Shri Mukul Rohatgi, learned  Attorney  General  for  India
has submitted that at present  the  report  of  the  Parliamentary  Standing
Committee is under scrutiny of the Government and it is  possible  that  the
same may be taken up for consideration by Parliament in the Monsoon  Session
of the current year.  Relying on several pronouncements of this Court,  Shri
Rohatgi has submitted that there can be no direction to the  Legislature  to
frame any law or to amend the existing law  or  to  complete  a  legislative
exercise within any time frame.  As there can be no serious dispute  on  the
above proposition(s) of law it will not be necessary to  burden  this  order
with a detailed reference to  the  judgments  relied  on  except  to  refer,
illustratively,  to the judgment of this Court in Common Cause vs. Union  of
India & Ors.[2].

17.         There can be no manner of doubt that  the  Parliamentary  wisdom
of seeking changes in an existing law by means of an amendment  lies  within
the exclusive domain of the legislature and it is not the  province  of  the
Court to express any opinion on the exercise of the legislative  prerogative
in this regard. The framing of the Amendment Bill; reference of the same  to
the Parliamentary Standing Committee; the consideration thereof by the  said
Committee; the report prepared alongwith further steps that are required  to
be taken and the time frame  thereof  are  essential  legislative  functions
which should not be ordinarily subjected to interference or intervention  of
the Court.  The constitutional doctrine of  separation  of  powers  and  the
demarcation  of  the  respective  jurisdiction   of   the   Executive,   the
Legislature and the Judiciary under the constitutional framework would  lead
the Court to the conclusion that the exercise of the amendment of  the  Act,
which is presently underway, must be allowed to  be  completed  without  any
intervention of the Court.  Any other view and  any  interference,  at  this
juncture,  would  negate  the  basic  constitutional  principle   that   the
Legislature is supreme in the sphere of law making.  Reading down a  statute
to make it workable in a situation where an exercise  of  amendment  of  the
law is pending will not be justified either. A perception,  however,  strong
of the imminent need of the law en-grafted in the  Act  and  its  beneficial
effects on the citizenry of  a  democratic  country,  by  itself,  will  not
permit the Court to overstep its  jurisdiction.   Judicial  discipline  must
caution the Court against such an approach.

18.         But that is not all; there is  a  further  question  that  would
require an answer. The question is whether the Act, as it exists,  sans  the
amendment  proposed,  is  so  unworkable  that  the  Court   should   refuse
enforcement thereof notwithstanding that the Act  has  come  into  force  by
Notification dated 16th January, 2014 issued under Section 1(4) of the  Act.
 If the Act, as it exists, is otherwise workable and  the  amendment  sought
to be introduced by the Legislature is aimed at a more efficient working  of
some of the provisions of the Act, the wholesome principle that a  law  duly
enacted and enforced must be given  effect  to  will  have  to  prevail  and
appropriate directions will have to be issued  by  the  Court  to  the  said
effect.  Herein, we are reminded of the observations of this Court in  Utkal
Contractors and Joinery Pvt.  Ltd.  and  Others  vs.  State  of  Orissa  and
Others[3] which we find appropriate to quote hereinbelow.
           “Just  as  Parliament  is  not  expected  to   use   unnecessary
           expressions, Parliament is also not expected to  express  itself
           unnecessarily. Even as Parliament does not use any word  without
           meaning  something,  Parliament  does  not  legislate  where  no
           legislation is called for.   Parliament  cannot  be  assumed  to
           legislate for the sake of legislation; nor can it be assumed  to
           make pointless  legislation.  Parliament  does  not  indulge  in
           legislation merely to state what it is unnecessary to  state  or
           to do what is  already  validly  done.  Parliament  may  not  be
           assumed to legislate unnecessarily. Again, while the words of an
           enactment are important, the context is no less important.”






19.         To answer the question posed above, the provisions of  the  Act,
as it  exists,  may  now  be  noted.   Under  Section  4  of  the  Act,  the
Chairperson and Members of the Lokpal are required to be  appointed  by  the
President on the recommendations of a  Selection  Committee  consisting  of-

           (a)   the Prime Minister – Chairperson;


           (b) the Speaker of the House of the People – Member;


           (c)   the Leader of Opposition in the  House  of  the  People  –
                 Member;


           (d)   the Chief Justice of India or a Judge of the Supreme Court
                 nominated by him – Member;


           (e) one eminent jurist, as recommended by  the  Chairperson  and
                 members referred to in clauses (a)  to  (d)  above,  to  be
                 nominated by the President – Member.


      Sub-section (2) of Section 4 makes it clear that  the  appointment  of
Chairperson or a Member  of  the  Lokpal  will  not  become  invalid  merely
because of the reason of any vacancy in the  Selection  Committee.   If,  at
present, the LOP is not available, surely, the  Chairperson  and  the  other
two Members of the Selection Committee,  namely,  the  Speaker  of  the  Lok
Sabha and the Chief Justice of India or his nominee may proceed  to  appoint
an eminent jurist as a Member  of  the  Selection  Committee  under  Section
4(1)(e) of the Act.  We also do not see any legal disability in a  truncated
Selection Committee to constitute a Search  Committee for preparing a  panel
of persons for consideration for appointment as the Chairperson and  Members
of the Lokpal and also for such a  truncated  Selection  Committee  to  make
recommendations  to  the  President  of  India  for   appointment   of   the
Chairperson  and  Members  of  the  Lokpal.   True,  there  is  no  specific
provision akin to sub-section (2) of Section 4 of the  Act  insofar  as  the
constitution of the Search Committee by a truncated Selection  Committee  is
concerned. But the  absence  of  such  a  provision,  by  itself,  will  not
invalidate the  constitution  of  the  Search  Committee  by  the  truncated
Selection  Committee  when  the  Act  specifically  “empowers”  a  truncated
Selection  Committee  to  make  recommendations  for  appointment   of   the
Chairperson or Members of the Lokpal.   To  hold  otherwise  would  be  self
contradictory.    The  amendment  to  Section  4(3),  as  proposed,   would,
therefore, be clarificatory and will not amount to  an  attempt  to  cure  a
shortcoming in the Act which is proving to be an inhibition in  law  to  the
appointment of the Chairperson/ Members of the  Lokpal.   The  view  of  the
Parliamentary Standing Committee  with  regard  to  the  expediency  of  the
Search/Selection   Committee   taking   decisions   when   vacancy/vacancies
exists/exist is merely an opinion with which the  Executive,  in  the  first
instance,   has  to  consider  and,  thereafter,   the  legislature  has  to
approve.  The said opinion of the  Parliamentary  Standing  Committee  would
therefore not be sacrosanct. The same,  in  any  case,  does  not  have  any
material bearing on the validity of the existing provisions of the Act.

20.         A consideration of the other provisions of the  Act  in  respect
of which amendments have been proposed, as indicated in the Chart  extracted
above, and the views of the Parliamentary Standing Committee in this  regard
which are available in its report, in our considered view, are  attempts  at
streamlining the  working  of  the  Act  and  in  no  way  constitute  legal
hindrances or bars to the enforcement of the provisions of  the  Act  as  it
stands today.  In this regard, all that the Court  would  like  to  say  and
observe is that such attempts at achieving better results in the working  of
any statute is a perpetual and ongoing exercise dictated by the  experiences
gained on the working of the act. Such attempts cannot  halt  the  operation
and execution of the law which the  Executive  in  its  wisdom  has  already
given effect to and has brought into force by resorting  to  the  provisions
of Section 1(4) of the Act.

21.   At this stage it may not be  out  of  context  to  notice  the  stated
objects  and  reasons  for  the  Legislation  which  highlights  its  unique
character and importance in the contemporary world.
           “The need to have a legislation for Lokpal has been felt for the
           quite some time. In its  interim  report  on  the  ‘Problems  of
           Redressal of  Citizen’s  Grievances’,  submitted  in  1966,  the
           Administrative Reforms Commission, inter alia,  recommended  the
           setting up of an institution of Lokpal at the  Centre.  To  give
           effect to this  recommendation  of  the  Administrative  Reforms
           Commission, eight Bills on Lokpal were introduced  in  the  Loka
           Sabha in the past. However, these Bills  had  lapsed  consequent
           upon the dissolution of the respective Loka Sabha; except in the
           case of 1985 bill, which was subsequently  withdrawn  after  its
           introduction.


           India is committed to  pursue  the  policy  of  ‘Zero  Tolerance
           against  Corruption’.  India   ratified   the   United   Nations
           Convention  against  Corruption  by  deposit  of  Instrument  of
           Ratification on the 9th of May, 2011. This Convention imposes  a
           number of obligations, some mandatory, some  recommendatory  and
           some optional on the Member States. The Convention, inter  alia,
           envisages that State Parties ensure measures in the domestic law
           for criminalization of offences relating to bribery and  put  in
           place  an  effective  mechanism   for   its   enforcement.   The
           obligations of the Convention, with  reference  to  India,  have
           come into force with effect from the  8thof  June,  2011.  As  a
           policy of Zero tolerance against Corruption, the Bill  seeks  to
           establish in the country, a more effective mechanism to  receive
           complaints relating to allegations of corruption against  public
           servants, including, Ministers,  Members  of  Parliament,  Chief
           Ministers, Members of Legislative  Assemblies,  public  servants
           and to inquire into them and take follow up actions. The bodies,
           namely, Lokpal and Lokayuktas which are being  set  up  for  the
           purpose will be constitutional bodies. This setting up of  these
           bodies  will  further  strengthen   the   existing   legal   and
           institutional mechanism thereby facilitating  a  more  effective
           implementation of some of the obligations  under  the  aforesaid
           Convention.”


22.   We, therefore, conclude by quoting Justice Krishna Iyer In  Reference,
the Special Courts Bill, 1978[4] and holding  that  the  Act  as  it  stands
today is an  eminently  workable  piece  of  legislation  and  there  is  no
justification to keep the enforcement of the Act under suspension  till  the
amendments, as proposed, are carried out.


           “The pathology of our public law, with its class slant, is  that
           an unmincing ombudsman or sentinel on the qui vive with power to
           act against those in power, now or before,  and  offering  legal
           access to the informed citizen to complain  with  immunity  does
           not  exist;  despite  all  the  bruited  umbrage  of   political
           performers  against  peculations  and  perversions   by   higher
           echelons. Law is what law does, not what law says; and the moral
           gap between word and deed menaces people’s  faith  in  life  and
           law. The tragedy, then, is that democracy becomes a casualty.”


23.          For  the  aforesaid  reasons,  the  writ  petitions   and   the
transferred cases shall stand allowed as indicated above.



                                                     ....................,J.
                               (RANJAN GOGOI)




                                                     ....................,J.
                                (NAVIN SINHA)

NEW DELHI
APRIL 27, 2017
-----------------------
[1]  (2015) 8 SCC 1
[2]  (2003) 8 SCC 250
[3]  AIR 1987 SC 1454 : (1987) 3 SCC 279
[4] AIR 1979 SC 478 : (1979) 1 SCC 380

Once remedy in the form of civil suits had been resorted to, in our considered opinion, it was not at all proper exercise of power to invoke provisions under Section 30 of the Act with regard to apportionment of the compensation by directing refund of earnest money. It is not mandatory to make a reference to the civil court under Section 30 and adjudication of dispute in an appropriate case can be ordered by way of the civil suit.= a purchaser is entitled to step into the shoes of the owner to claim compensation though could not question the notification for acquisition. In our opinion even if it is held that respondent No.1 was the “person interested” within the meaning of Section 3(b) of the Act its case is not advanced so as to seek adjudication of the questions in the facts of this case in the reference under Section 30 of the Act which remedy was discretionary. - Resultantly, the appeals are allowed. The impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court is hereby set aside. The land owners are entitled for disbursement of the compensation. Obviously, it will be subject to the outcome of the civil suits in which refund of the earnest money along with interest had been sought by the respondent No.1. In case the appellants fail and refund is directed in civil suits, the landowners shall have to pay it as per the judgment and decree which may be passed. No costs.


                                                                  Reportable

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                       CIVIL APPEAL NO. 5598  OF 2017
        (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (C) No.15383 of 2015)

RAMESH CHAND AND ORS.                    …Appellants

                                   VERSUS

M/S. TANMAY DEVELOPERS
PVT. LTD. & ORS.                               …Respondents

                                    WITH

                        CIVIL APPEAL NO. 5600 OF 2017
        (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (C) No.17007 of 2015)


rajinder singh AND ORS.                        …Appellants

                                   VERSUS

M/S. TANMAY DEVELOPERS
PVT. LTD. & ORS.                               …Respondents
                                    WITH

                       CIVIL APPEAL NO. 5601  OF 2017
        (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (C) No.17168 of 2015)

mukhtiar singh AND ORS.                        …Appellants

                                   VERSUS

M/S. capex projects
PVT. LTD. & ORS.                               …Respondents
                                     AND

                       CIVIL APPEAL NO. 5606  OF 2017
 (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (C) No. 13622  of 2017 (CC. No.12759
                                  of 2015)

mehar chand (since Deceased)
thr. lrs. AND ORS.                                  …Appellants

                                   VERSUS

M/S. TANMAY DEVELOPERS
PVT. LTD. & ORS.                               …Respondents


                               J U D G M E N T


ARUN MISHRA, J.

1.    Leave granted.
2.    The appellants-herein are aggrieved by the common judgment  and  order
passed by the High Court  of  Punjab  and  Haryana  at  Chandigarh  in  F.A.
No.1941 of 2013, dated 4th February, 2015.  The High Court by  the  impugned
judgment and order has directed refund of the earnest money by  M/s.  Tanmay
Developers Private Ltd. Five agreements to sell were  entered  into  between
the M/s. Tanmay Developers Pvt. Ltd. and  the  land  owners  on  22.07.2006,
22.07.2006,  22.07.2006,  24.07.2006  and  21.06.2006.   Out  of  the   five
agreements, earnest money of Rs.54,25,000/- was paid out of the  total  sale
consideration of Rs,4,52,81,250/- as per agreement on  22.07.2006.   As  per
agreement dated 22.07.2006, Rs.1,56,000,00/- was paid as earnest  money  out
of total sale  consideration  of  Rs.12,54,37,500/-.   As  per  yet  another
agreement on 22.07.2006, earnest money of Rs.21,00,000/- was paid out  of  a
sum of Rs.1,50,93,750/-. As per agreement dated  24.07.2006,  earnest  money
of  Rs.90,00,000/-  was  paid   out   of   total   sale   consideration   of
Rs.7,71,31,250/-.  As per  agreement  dated  21.06.2006,  earnest  money  of
Rs.2,60,000/- was paid out of a total sale consideration or  Rs.14,29,687/-.
  Period  for  performance  of  agreement  had  expired  in  the  month   of
September/October, 2006. The land-owners on failure of purchaser to get  the
sale deed executed forfeited earnest money.
3.    A notification under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894  (for
short, “the Act”) was issued on 18.3.2008 for acquiring the land  which  was
the subject matter of the agreements.  Three suits were filed  for  recovery
of earnest money in September, 2009 and one  suit  was  filed  for  specific
performance of agreement to sell by the respondent-  M/s.  Tanmay  Developer
in the month of March, 2008 which was decreed on 18.04.2014 and  the  appeal
filed by the land owners was pending at the time when the impugned  judgment
and order was passed by the High Court. Similarly, three other  suits  which
were filed for recovery  of  the  earnest  money  were  pending.   The  Land
Acquisition Officer has passed the award on 19.09.2008.  No reference  under
Section 18 of the Act was sought by M/s. Tanmay Developers; however,  during
the pendency of the suits/appeal the respondent had filed application  under
Section 30 of the Act for referring the  dispute  to  the  Civil  Court  for
refund of earnest money alongwith interest.  The  Land  Acquisition  Officer
accordingly referred the matter.
4.    The Reference Court on 7.12.2012 has passed  an  award  rejecting  the
prayer made by respondent No.1 on the ground that the dispute  with  respect
to the forfeiture of earnest money and whether M/s. Tanmay  Developers  Pvt.
Ltd. was entitled for specific performance could not  be  adjudicated  under
Section 30 of the Act and it would not  be  appropriate  for  the  Reference
Court to decide these disputed issues between the parties in view  of  civil
suits/appeal.  The Reference Court held that the dispute  under  Section  30
of the Act arising out of the apportionment of the compensation or any  part
thereof involved the vexed question of title or  the  civil  rights  of  the
parties arising  out  of  such  transaction  could  not  be  adjudicated  by
substituting the judicial forum into the civil court.  The  Reference  Court
could not decide question  of  refund  of  earnest  money  by  applying  the
provisions of Chapter 2 of Part II of the Specific Relief Act,  1963.   Such
powers can  be  exercised  by  the  Civil  Courts.   Aggrieved  thereby  the
respondent No.1 filed appeals before the High Court which have been  allowed
by the impugned judgment and order.
5.    The respondent No.1 had sought apportionment of the compensation  only
on the ground that agreement for sale had been  entered  into  by  the  land
owners and prayed for refund of the earnest money along  with  the  interest
at the rate of 12 per  cent  per  annum,  since  the  agreement  had  become
incapable of being specifically performed due to the  acquisition  of  land.
It was contended on behalf of the land owners that Respondent No.1  was  not
ready and willing to perform its part of the contract.  Time was essence  of
the contract.  There had been forfeiture of the earnest money on failure  of
respondent No.1 to get the sale  deed  executed  within  stipulated  period.
Respondent No.1  was not having requisite amount of money  hence  could  not
be said to be ready and willing to purchase the property. In the  facts  and
circumstances, the right of forfeiture of earnest  money  had  been  rightly
exercised.  Thus, respondent  No.1  was  not  entitled  for  refund  of  the
earnest money or apportionment of compensation particularly due to  pendency
of the civil suits/appeal.
6.    The learned counsel appearing on behalf of the appellants  urged  that
High Court erred in  directing  refund  of  the  earnest  money  along  with
interest at 6% per annum out of the compensation amount  determined  by  the
Land Acquisition Officer.  The High Court  has  not  decided  various  vital
questions. The  Reference  Court  had  rightly  declined  to  entertain  the
reference application under Section 30 of the Act seeking refund of  earnest
money under guise of apportionment of compensation. As  per  the  agreement,
earnest money had been forfeited much before the  acquisition  of  the  land
which was initiated by virtue of notification issued under Section 4 in  the
year 2008.  Civil Suits had been filed and one of the  matter  first  appeal
had been filed against one of the judgment and decree of  the  Civil  Court,
thus, those questions could not have been taken over  for  decision  by  the
Reference Court. Subsequent to filing of civil  suits  remedy  of  reference
had been sought under Section 30.
7.    On the other hand, it was contended by the learned  counsel  appearing
on behalf  of  the  respondent-developer  that  buyer  would  be  a  “person
interested” within the purview of Section 3  (b)  and  9  of  the  Act.  Any
person interested could have sought the reference which had rightly made  as
the payment of earnest money under agreements was not in dispute.  The  High
Court  has  rightly  exercised  the  power  to  apportion  compensation   by
directing refund of the earnest money along with interest.
8.    It was not rightly disputed that several civil suits with  respect  to
refund of the earnest money and for specific performance  of  the  agreement
to sale were filed by the respondent No.1 before reference was sought  under
Section 30 of the Act. Once remedy in the  form  of  civil  suits  had  been
resorted to, in our considered opinion, it was not at all   proper  exercise
of power to invoke provisions under Section 30 of the  Act  with  regard  to
apportionment of the compensation by directing refund of earnest money.   It
is not mandatory to make a reference to the civil  court  under  Section  30
and adjudication of dispute in an appropriate case can be ordered by way  of
the civil suit.  In the instant case civil suits had already been  preferred
by respondent No.1.  It was not appropriate to  decide  same  dispute  under
Section 30.
9.    In the instant case, there  were  serious  disputed  questions  as  to
whether earnest money had been rightly forfeited by the land owners  due  to
the failure of the respondent No.  1  to  obtain  the  sale  deeds  executed
within stipulated time fixed under the agreements, whether respondents  were
ready and willing to purchase the property and had  arrangement  of  balance
consideration for payment to land owner.  Whether the  power  of  forfeiture
was rightly exercised by the land owners as  claimed  by  them.   The  Civil
Court was already in seisin of  the  matter  as  such  reference  court  had
rightly rejected the reference made under Section 30 of the Act and  rightly
asked parties to await outcome of the regular civil suits.
10.   The High Court in the impugned judgment  has  not  decided   aforesaid
objections raised by the appellants/land owners without examining facts  and
circumstances of the case and due to pendency of civil  suits,  it  was  not
open to the High Court to order refund of the earnest money.
11.   A perusal of Section 18 of the Act makes it clear that  reference  can
be sought to a civil court with respect (i) the  measurement  of  the  land,
(ii) adequacy and quantum of compensation,  (iii)  persons  to  whom  it  is
payable and (iv) the apportionment thereof amongst the  persons  interested.
The application under Section 18 is required to be filed  within  stipulated
time whereas no limitation is prescribed under Section 30 of  the  Act.   It
is discretionary upon the court to refer a dispute under Section 30  of  the
Act. The same is confined to the apportionment of the compensation or as  to
a person to whom the same is payable.  The scope of Section 30  of  the  Act
is narrow as compared to Section 18 as laid down in G.H. Grant v.  State  of
Bihar AIR 1966 SC 237 and in Sharda Devi v. State  of  Bihar  (2003)  3  SCC
128.
12.   We need not go into the  question  whether   holder  of  agreement  is
“person interested” as defined in  Section  3(b)  of  the  Act.  As  we  are
satisfied that respondent No. 1 could not have resorted  to  the  remedy  of
reference for refund of the earnest money as for this very  purpose  he  had
filed civil suit earlier in point of time. In the reference petition  refund
of earnest money had been prayed with interest at the rate of  12  per  cent
per annum.  In civil suit refund had been sought with 18 per  cent  interest
per annum and in one suit specific performance was prayed.
13.   The High  Court  has  relied  upon  the  decision  of  this  Court  in
Thiriveedhi Channiah v. Gudipudi Venkata Subba Rao (Dead)  by  Lrs.  &  Ors.
(2009) 17 SCC 341, in which the appellant demanded  refund  of  the  advance
amount on the premise that due to notification under Section 4(1),  property
could not be sold whereas  the  plea  of  forfeiture  was  advanced  by  the
respondents.  This High Court had ignored and  overlooked  that  case  arose
out of the civil suit in which specific performance  of  agreement  to  sale
was  sought.   This  Court  has  found  that  parties  were  aware  of   the
notification under Section 4(1) as such right of forfeiture could have  been
exercised. The facts in the said case were different and the  said  decision
could not have been utilized by the High Court for setting  aside  the  well
reasoned award passed by the reference  court  declining  to  entertain  the
prayer made by the respondents, in view of the availing remedy of the  civil
suits.  The High Court should have  in  fairness  reflected  that  the  said
decision was rendered by this Court in the context of civil suit.  The  High
Court has referred it in the manner as if it  was  a  case  which  has  been
decided under Section 30 of the Act with respect  to  the  apportionment  of
the compensation.
14.   The learned counsel on behalf of the respondent has  relied  upon  the
decision of Bombay High Court in Mohammad  Akil  Khan  v.  Premraj  Jawanmal
Surana and Anr. AIR 1972 Bom. 217.  The decision is distinguishable  as  the
civil suit had not been filed in the said case.  Thus, we need not  go  into
the correctness of the aforesaid decision.  Reliance has  also  been  placed
on Delhi Development Authority v. Bhola Nath Sharma (Dead) by  Lrs.  &  Ors.
(2011) 2 SCC 54; and Sunderlal v. Paramsukhdas & Ors. AIR  1968  SC  366  to
contend that definition under Section 3(b) of  the  “person  interested”  is
“inclusive” definition. Reliance for this purpose has also  been  placed  on
U.P. Jal Nigam, Lucknow Through Its Chairman & Anr. v. Kalra Properties  (P)
Ltd., Lucknow & Ors. (1996) 3 SCC 124,  laying  down  that  a  purchaser  is
entitled to step into the shoes of the owner to  claim  compensation  though
could not question the notification for acquisition. In our opinion even  if
it is held that respondent No.1  was  the  “person  interested”  within  the
meaning of Section 3(b) of the Act its case is not advanced so  as  to  seek
adjudication of the questions in the facts of this  case  in  the  reference
under Section 30 of the  Act  which  remedy  was  discretionary.   The  land
owners also relied upon Coromandel Indag Products Private Limited v.  Garuda
Chit and Trading Company Private  Limited  and  Another  (2011)  8  SCC  601
wherein this Court dealt with question when time is essence of the  contract
and in what circumstances earnest money could be forfeited.   This  question
has to be gone into in civil suits.
15.   Resultantly, the appeals are allowed. The impugned judgment and  order
passed by the High Court is hereby set aside.  The land owners are  entitled
for disbursement of the compensation.  Obviously, it will be subject to  the
outcome of the civil suits in which refund of the earnest money  along  with
interest had been sought by the respondent No.1.   In  case  the  appellants
fail and refund is directed in civil suits, the  landowners  shall  have  to
pay it as per the judgment and decree which may be passed.  No costs.
                                                              …………………………..J.
                                                               (Arun Mishra)

                                        ..................................J.
                                                   (MOHAN M. SHANTANAGOUDAR)
NEW DELHI
APRIL 26, 2017