Velagacharla Jayaram Reddy vs M.Venkata Ramana

Velagacharla Jayaram Reddy vs M.Venkata Ramana

REPORTABLE
   IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
   CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
   CIVIL APPEAL NOS.11015­11016 OF 2017  
Velagacharla Jayaram Reddy & Ors.             .…Appellant(s)
Versus
  M.Venkata Ramana & Ors .Etc.              ….Respondent(s)
J U D G M E N T
A.S. Bopanna,J.
1. The   respondents   No.4,   6   and   7   in   W.P.
No.6212/2006 are before this Court in this appeal. They
claim   to   be   aggrieved   by   the   order   dated   20.04.2010
passed by the High Court of Judicature, Andhra Pradesh
at Hyderabad. By the said order, the learned Division
Bench of the High Court has allowed the writ petition and
quashed   the   award   dated   28.01.2004   passed   by   the
Divisional Co­operative Officer, Cuddapah acting as an
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Arbitrator in deciding the dispute raised under Section
61(1) (b) of the Andhra Pradesh Co­operative Societies
Act, 1964 (“APCS Act” for short). The said award had
been   affirmed   by   the   Andhra   Pradesh   Co­operative
Tribunal   at   Hyderabad,   through   its   judgment   dated
27.02.2006. 
2. The   facts   necessary   to   be   noted   for   disposal   of
these appeals are as follows:­ The Government of Andhra
Pradesh   through   its   G.O.   Ms.   No.956,   Revenue
Department, dated 22.08.1970, allotted land situate in
Sy.No.752/2 and 91/1, Kondayapalli Tank bund to the
N.G.O. Co­operative Building Society Ltd. for the purpose
of formation of Layout and to allot sites to its members.
The area was within the jurisdiction of Chinnachowk,
Gram   Panchayat   at   that   point   in   time.   The   said
Panchayat   was   later   on   merged   in   the   Municipal
Corporation,   Kadapa,  which  presently   has   jurisdiction
over the area.
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3. There is not much dispute to the fact that in the
said land a layout was formed and 625 members were
allotted plots. The layout also consisted of specific areas
earmarked for parks, playground, school, religious place,
shopping   area   and   parking   place.   The   instant   appeal
relates to the respective plots which were allotted to the
respondents No.1 in C.A.No.11015 and 11016/2017. The
respondent   No.1   in   C.A.   No.11016/2017   who   died
subsequently, was deleted from the array of parties. As
such, the entire consideration in this appeal is limited to
the plot measuring 3.2 cents allotted to the respondent
No.1 (Mr. M.V. Ramana) in C.A. No.11015/2017. Since
there has been an amendment to the cause title and
certain   parties   who   were   parties   to   the   original
proceedings   before   the   Divisional   Co­operative   Officer
have been deleted, henceforth the parties will be referred
to   in   the   rank   they   were   arrayed   in   the   original
proceedings for completeness and clarity.
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4. The   plaintiffs   before   the   Divisional   Co­operative
Officer raised a grievance with regard to the allotment of
plot   to   defendant   No.2   therein   (Mr.   M.V.   Ramana)
alleging that the said plot was reserved as parking area
in   the   layout   plan.   The   plaintiffs   were,   a   Welfare
Association which was a part of the same layout, former
President and Vice­President of the N.G.O Society which
allotted the plot and a couple i.e. plaintiff Nos.4 and 5
who own shop premises in the layout which is situated
opposite the plot in issue. The said plaintiffs No.4 and 5
are not members but were persons who were interested
in   purchasing   the   same   plot   that   was   allotted   to
defendant No.2, ostensibly to retain the same as parking
area in front of their shops on plot Nos.27, 35 and 36. 
5. The Divisional Co­operative Officer, on perusal of
the material and evidence, noted the said plot to be a
vacant commercial plot as denoted in the plan. However,
on providing his own analysis, he has proceeded to term
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the plot in issue as a ‘parking area’ and has accordingly
passed   the   award   dated   28.01.2004   in   favour   of   the
plaintiffs.   The   defendants,   more   particularly,   the
respondent herein (Mr. M.V. Ramana)  filed an  appeal
before   the   Andhra   Pradesh   Co­operative   Tribunal   at
Hyderabad,   which   affirmed   the   award   through   its
judgment dated 27.02.2006. The respondent filed a writ
petition before the High Court assailing the order dated
24.04.2010 in W.P.No.212/2006. The High Court on a
detailed consideration, more particularly with regard to
maintainability   of   a   proceeding   of   the   present   nature
before   the   Co­operative   Officer,   held   it   against   the
appellants herein, allowed the writ petition and set aside
the award of the Divisional Co­operative Officer as also
the order of the Co­operative Tribunal. The appellants
are therefore aggrieved by the order passed by the High
Court.
6. We have heard Mr. B. Narayana Reddy, learned
senior   counsel   for   appellants,   Mr.   Annam   D.N.   Rao,
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learned   counsel   for   the   respondent   No.1   and   Mr.   K.
Ravindra Kumar, learned Senior Counsel appearing for
respondent No.5 and perused the materials available on
record.
7.  From a perusal of the proceedings, it is noted that
the   appellant   along   with   the   others   had   raised   the
dispute   before   the   Divisional   Co­operative   Officer
invoking Section 61 of the APCS Act. The said provision
reads as hereunder:
“61.   Disputes   which   may   be   referred   to   the
Registrar: ­
(1) Notwithstanding anything in any law for the
time being in force, if any dispute touching the
constitution,   management   or   the   business   of   a
society, other than a dispute regarding disciplinary
action   taken   by   the   society   or   its   committee
against a paid employee of the society, arises­
(a) among members, past members and persons
claiming   through   members,   past   members   and
deceased members; or (b) between a member, past
member  or   person   claiming  through   a   member,
past member or deceased member and the society,
its committee or any officer, agent or employee of
the   society;   or   (c)   between   the   society   or   its
committee, and any past committee, any officer,
agent or employee, or any past officer, past agent
or   past   employee   or   the   nominee,   heir   or   legal
representative   of   any   deceased   officer,   deceased
agent or deceased employee of the society; or (d)
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between the society and any other society, such
dispute   shall   be   referred   to   the   Registrar   for
decision.
Explanation: ­ For the purposes of this sub­section
a dispute shall include­ (i) a claim by a society for
any debt or other amount due to it from a member,
past   member,   the   nominee,   heir   or   legal
representative   of   a   deceased   member,   whether
such debt or other amount be admitted or not; 
(ii) a claim by surety against the principal debtor
where the society has recovered from the surety
any amount in respect of any debt or other amount
due to it from the principal debtor as a result of
the default of the principal debtor whether such
debt or other amount due to be admitted or not;
  (iii) a claim by a society against a member, past
member,   or   the   nominee,   heir   or   legal
representative   of   a   deceased   member   for   the
delivery   of   possession   to   the   society   of   land   or
other immovable property resumed by it for breach
of   the   conditions   of   assignment   or   allotment   of
such land or other immovable property;
(xxx)
(2)   If   any   question   arises   whether   a   dispute
referred to the Registrar under this section is a
dispute touching the constitution, management or
the business of a society, such question shall be
decided by the Registrar.
[(3)   Every   dispute   relating   to,   or   in   connection
with, any election to a committee of a society shall
be   referred   for   decision   to   the   Tribunal   having
jurisdiction over the place where the main office of
the   society   is   situated,   whose   decision   thereon
shall be final.]
(4) Every dispute relating to, or in connection with
any election 2 [shall be referred under sub­section
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(3) only after the date of declaration of the result of
such election.]”
8. The Act has made a provision for members of a Cooperative   Society   to   approach   the   co­operative   Officer
designated,   when   there   is   a   dispute   amongst   the
members of a society or the member/members against
the Society etc.
9.  In the instant case, at this stage before this Court,
certain parties have been deleted as indicated supra and
the appellant who was a former President of the Society
is alone prosecuting these appeals. However, what will
have to be noted is the frame of the dispute, the parties
to the dispute at the point in time when it was raised and
the  context  in which  it was done. Defendant No.2, a
member of the society who was allotted a plot in another
layout   formed   by   the   N.G.O.   Society,   sought   for   an
exchange of the plot. Accordingly, the earlier allotted plot
was surrendered to the Society by the defendant No.2. In
lieu thereof, the Society allotted the plot measuring 3.25
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cents   to   defendant   No.2   and   a   sale   deed   dated
07.04.2000  was  also   executed  and   registered.  Former
office bearers of the Society who were members of the
N.G.O society, were amongst the plaintiffs. Jayanagar
Housing   Welfare   Society   was   a   society   in   the   larger
layout plan and therefore seeking to sustain the facilities
available   in   the   layout   by   contending   that   the   plot
allotted to the defendant No.2 was a vacant area reserved
as parking area. Plaintiffs No.4 and 5 were however not
the   members   of   the   Society   but   were   purchasers   of
commercial   plots   bearing   No.   27,   35,   36   and   had
constructed   shops   thereon.   The   plot   allotted   to   the
defendant No.2 is located in front of the shops belonging
to the plaintiffs No.4 and 5 in plots No.27, 35 and 36.
Though they contend that it is a vacant plot retained in
the layout as parking area and are seeking to espouse a
cause, their conduct needs to be noted. They had earlier
requested   the   NGO   Society   to   allot   the   plot   in   their
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favour but are presently aggrieved when it is allotted to
another claimant. 
10. Plaintiffs No.4 and 5 however seek to explain their
conduct by stating that they had sought to purchase the
plot and retain it as a parking area. Such an explanation
cannot be accepted on face value. If in fact a plot was
earmarked in the layout plan as a parking area, it is the
bounden duty of the authorities concerned to maintain
the same as such. It is difficult to fathom that a private
individual who owns shop premises in the layout would
invest money and purchase the vacant plot to retain it as
a parking area for the benefit of the general public. If
that be so, plaintiffs No.4 and 5 apart from being nonmembers who could not have invoked the provisions of
the APCS Act, were also rival claimants and competitors
for allotment of the same plot which is the subject matter
of dispute. The members i.e. former office bearers had
made a common case with the non­members who were
otherwise interested in allotment of the same plot. In
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furtherance of the same, the plaintiffs had sought for a
declaratory relief to declare the registered sale deed dated
07.04.2000   as   null   and   void.   Hence,   keeping   in
perspective the subject matter, the relief sought and the
parties   involved,   the   High   Court   was   justified   in   its
conclusion.
11. Be   that   as   it   may,   whether   it   was   before   the
authorities under the A.P.C.S Act or if the parties were
relegated   to   the   jurisdictional   Court   under   the   Civil
Procedure Code, grant of relief would have arisen only if
there was definite material to indicate that the plot in
question was reserved as a parking area in the layout
plan and that the same therefore being a civic amenity
area,   had   on   formation   of   the   layout,   vested   in   the
Municipal Corporation along with the roads, drains and
open areas for the purpose of retaining it as such and
maintaining the same. There is no such document on
record.   Secondly,   the   person   seeking   relief   from   the
Court should approach the Court with clean hands, as
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per   well­established   legal   norms.   In   the   instant   case,
plaintiffs   No.4   and   5   had   made   attempts   to   secure
allotment of the same plot allotted to the defendant No.2,
in   their   favour   though   presently,   it   is   sought   to   be
explained that it was to be retained for parking, which,
as   already   indicated   above,   is   an   explanation   which
cannot be accepted. Therefore, the challenge by the said
plaintiffs   to   the   allotment   made   in   favour   of   the
defendant and the same cause being supported by the
other plaintiffs, cannot be considered to be bonafide.
12. That apart, as noted, there is no definite material
to delineate from the layout plan that it was a parking
area.   As   per   the   case   set   up   and   also   the   finding
recorded   by   the  original  authority,   the   plot   has  been
shown as commercial plot/vacant plot. Keeping in view
the location of the property owned by the plaintiffs No.4
and 5, the original authority had deemed it fit to keep the
disputed plot vacant for being maintained as a parking
area which is only an assumption based on the own
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analogy   of   the   Divisional   Co­operative   Officer   and
amounts   to   modifying   the   approved   layout   plan.   The
consideration   in   that   regard   made   by   the   original
authority, based on the said assumption is as hereunder:
­
“(27)   In   order   to   conclude   that   the   vacant   site
shown as the southern boundary was meant only
to be a parking place although recited as vacant
place the following points may well be appreciated.
a) On the southern side of the shop rooms,
particularly for the plots 27, 36 and 35
there is no other place to connect with
the road. 
b)   For   visitors   coming   to   the   shopping
complex by  bicycles,  scooters,  or  cars
there  must be  some space  for parking
the vehicles, particularly because it is
obviously   a   commercial   area.   Vacant
site  viewed in  the  proper  context  and
from   a   correct   perspective   means
necessarily   a   parking   place   because
parking   place   is   a   ‘must’   in   a
commercial area.
c)     The   Sub­Divisional   Cooperative   officer
who   was   the   inspecting   authority
prepared a defect sheet which is worth
perusal in this context. In para 5 of the
said   sheet   the   said   officer   had   clearly
made a note that the society sold away
site   for   parking   place   to   the   Second
defendant i.e., M. Venkata Ramana. The
said Venkata Ramana is a member of the
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Society   and   had   taken   a   plot   in   the
satellite   city   of   the   NGO's   Cooperative
House Building Society Ltd., Kadapa on
dip system on 26.10.1996. The Society is
also   having   surplus   plots   near
Kondayapalli   village.   The   present
managing   committee   of   the   D1   Society
has cancelled his plot in the satellite city
and executed the impugned reg. sale deed
in favour of M. Venkata Ramana for 3.2.
cents   which   is   the   parking   place   in
question. 
d)  What is important to note in this context
is that the first defendant Society has not
taken   any   prior   permission   from   the
Divisional   Cooperative   officer,
Cuddapah/District   Cooperative   Officer,
Cuddapah   during   the   year   1998/1999
and 1999/2000 to effect sale in favour of
the   2nd   defendant.   The   society   has
regularized   the   several   encroachments
made   by   some   members,   taking
permission   duly   from   the   Cooperative
Dept. But the two cases relating to the
plaintiffs 4 and 5 were not brought to the
notice   of   the   Divisional   Cooperative
Officer, Cuddapah /District. Cooperative
Officer,   Cuddapah,   appropriate   action
was also recommended in the defect sheet
to   be   taken   against   the   managing
committee. 
e)   One   more   important   factor   to   be
appreciated in this context is that the
southern   boundary   is  mentioned  only
as a vacant site but not as the vacant
site   of   the   1st   defendant   Society.   If
really the 1st default Society retained
its ownership on the vacant site on the
southern side it would not have failed
to  mention   that   the   said   vacant   side
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belonged   to   itself.   It   is   significant   to
note that the boundaries on the other
three   sides   show   to   whom   the
properties belonged.
f)   It is therefore but reasonable to opine
that   plot   No.   27,   35   &   36   were
purchased   only   under   the   impression
that   the   vacant   site   in   question   was
meant   for   parking   of   vehicles.
According   to   the   principles   of   town
planning  there  must  be  parking  place
in any commercial area. In this context
the   judgment   of   the   learned   IV   ADJ,
Cuddapah in O.S. No. 477 of 1996 and
the   Judgment   of   the   learned   1st
ADJ/Cuddapah   in   O.S.   No.   44/98
deserve to be considered with great care.
(28) In the residential area, a site of two cents
being part of a larger area earmarked for public.
park   and   playground   was   sold   by   the   1st
defendant building society to one of the members
of the said society consequently Jayanagar Welfare
association   filed   0.S   No.  477  of   1996  in  public
interest and succeeded in getting a decree. The
contention in the suit was that the extent of 2
cents being part of the area earmarked for play
ground the sale was illegal.  In  the  instant case,
the   extent   of   3.2   cents   is   a   vacant   site   left
obviously for the purpose of parking of vehicles
on the southern side of plots 27, 36, 35 in the
commercial  complex  and  so  the  analogy  holds
good.
(29) Plaintiffs 2 and 3 are no doubt ex­presidents
of the 1st Defendant building society but they are
now members of the welfare association, which is
the 1st defendant in the arbitration reference. The
1st   plaintiff   Kotla   Rama   Subbaiah   was   the   1st
president of the Society.  The  very  fact  that  the
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plaintiffs   l   to   3   who   are   ex­presidents   of   D­1
building  Society  have   filed  this  dispute  shows
that 3.2 cents must be a parking place because
they  are  well  acquainted  with  all  the  relevant
facts   from   the   beginning.   There   is   no   selfish
interest   for   them   in   questioning   the   sale   in
favour of  the second defendant otherwise.”
       (Emphasis supplied)
13. Notwithstanding the above analogy based on an
assumption which is unsustainable, in order to render a
quietus to the issue, this Court through the order dated
29.10.2021, had sought for a report from the District
Judge, Kadapa on the whole conspectus of the matter.
An   exhaustive   Report   dated   06.11.2021   has   been
submitted on all aspects of the matter which we have
carefully   perused.   The   said   Report   nowhere   indicates
that the plot in question was reserved or earmarked as a
parking area. On the other hand, it has been referred to
as   the   area   earmarked   for   commercial   purpose.   It   is
stated that as per the given layout plan it is in one of the
commercial   areas   out   of   three   slots   allotted   for
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commercial purpose. Hence, the said report coupled with
the   discussion   by   the   Divisional   Co­operative   Officer
extracted supra, will disclose that it was not earmarked
as   a   parking   area   in   the   layout   plan   but   was   only
deduced so by the Divisional Co­operative Officer in the
course of his discussion in the award.
14. Insofar as the allotment of the plot made to the
defendant   No.2   (Mr.   M.V.   Ramana)   is   concerned,   the
learned District Judge has noted that the defendant No.2
was a member of the Society and Rule 42 relating to the
allotment   procedure   has   been   noted   in   detail.   The
procedure followed in that regard by seeking permission
from the Divisional Co­operative Officer vide letter dated
07.05.1999 and the permission accorded to proceed in
terms of Rule 42 (4) of the Society Rules is referred.
Pursuant to the same, the Board of Directors held a
meeting on 06.04.2000, wherein allotment was made by
passing a resolution to that effect. The decision to allot
was made after cancelling the allotment of plot No.3354
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which had been made earlier in favour of the defendant.
Since   Rule   42   (4)   required   that   Board   Resolution   be
approved by General Body and the resolutions for the
years   1995­2000   were   not   traced,   it   has   been
commented in the Report that the Board resolution is
without authorisation.
15. In our view, non­availability of the General Body
resolution at this juncture, as observed by the Learned
District Judge, cannot be held to be fatal in the facts and
circumstances of this case. That is for the reason that
the competent authority in appropriate proceedings has
not referred to this aspect. The undisputed position is
also that the defendant No.2 (respondent herein­ M.V.
Ramana) is a member of the Society and being entitled to
allotment of a plot, had earlier been allotted plot No­3354
at another location. It is on surrender of that plot that
the present allotment was made in his favour, though the
plot is of a slightly bigger dimension. The order of the
Divisional Co­operative Officer indicates that the price for
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allotment was fixed keeping in view the market value.
The allotment being of the year 2000, construction has
also been raised. More than two decades have elapsed by
now. Any intervention or action at this juncture will not
be justified for all the afore­stated reasons.
16. Therefore, taking a holistic view of the matter, the
appeals are dismissed with no order as to costs. 
….…………………….CJI.
(N.V. RAMANA)
..……………………….J.
                                       (A.S. BOPANNA)
          …….……………………J.
  (HIMA KOHLI)
New Delhi,
January 11, 2022 
19

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले

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