LAXMIKANT VS STATE OF MAHARASHTRA - Supreme Court Case

LAXMIKANT VS STATE OF MAHARASHTRA - Supreme Court Case 

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले


REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1965 OF 2022
(ARISING OUT OF SLP (CIVIL) NO. 16033 OF 2021)
LAXMIKANT & ORS. .....APPELLANT(S)
VERSUS
STATE OF MAHARASHTRA & ORS. .....RESPONDENT(S)
J U D G M E N T
HEMANT GUPTA, J.
1. The challenge in the present appeal is to an order dated 6.8.2021
passed by the High Court of Judicature at Bombay, Bench at
Aurangabad, holding that the reservation of land in the Development
Plan stands lapsed as no declaration under Section 126 of the
Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 19661
 was published.
However, the Planning Authority was given one year time to acquire
the land once reserved relying upon the judgment of this Court
reported as Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai & Ors. v.
Hiraman Sitaram Deorukhar & Ors.
2
.
2. A final Development Plan was published under Section 31(6) of the Act
1 For short, the ‘Act’
2 (2019) 14 SCC 411
1
on 2.1.2002 which came into force on 18.2.2002 in respect of land
including the land owned by the appellants such as Latur Reservation
Site bearing No. 217 for playground. The appellants purchased the
land bearing Plot Nos. 1, 2, 9 & 10 admeasuring 1394.05 square
meters out of Survey No. 73, admeasuring 6500 square meters on
21.11.2002. Though the Development Plan was finalized, but the same
was never implemented nor any action was taken for acquisition of the
land under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. After expiry of ten years,
the appellants issued notice on 16.8.2016 under Section 127 of the Act
so as to purchase the reserved land within one year of the date of the
notice. Such notice was acknowledged by the respondent Municipal
Corporation on 20/22.8.2016 to submit measuring plan showing
reservation thereon including the area owned by the appellants.
3. It was thereafter that the appellants filed a writ petition before the
High Court for a writ of mandamus directing the respondents to treat
the land of the appellants bearing Survey No. 73 as released from the
Development Plan of Latur Municipal Corporation and that reservation
of Site No. 217 for playground be declared to have lapsed to the extent
of the land owned by the appellants and that the land is available for
the residential use of the appellants. In the counter affidavit filed by
the Municipal Corporation, it was inter alia submitted that the proposal
was submitted to respondent No. 2 i.e., the Collector, Latur to take
effective steps for acquiring the land bearing Survey No. 73 as the land
2
was reserved for playground. The proposal was returned by the
Competent Authority but no effective decision has been taken over the
said proposal.
4. Thus, it was beyond dispute that the land once included in the
Development Plan under Section 31(6) of the Act was not acquired
within the period of ten years and within additional period of one year
after purchase notice was submitted by the appellants on 16.8.2016
and, in fact, not till the writ petition was decided by the High Court.
The Municipal Corporation is not aggrieved against the declaration
granted by the High Court of the fact that the reservation of the land
stands lapsed. It is only the land owner who has come in appeal before
this Court against the restriction of one year put by the High Court
giving additional time to respondents to acquire the land.
5. This Court in Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai was
examining the reservation of land for a garden in a Development Plan
in the year 1966 but the same was not acquired even after purchase
notice was served by the land owner. However, relying upon the
judgment of this Court reported as Bangalore Medical Trust v. B.S.
Muddappa & Ors.
3 and some other judgments, it was held that the
land reserved for public park cannot be permitted to be converted for
other public purposes.
6. We have heard learned counsel for the parties and find that the liberty
given by the High Court to acquire the land within an additional period
3 (1991) 4 SCC 54
3
of one year is not contemplated by the statute. This Court in
Bangalore Medical Trust, a Public Interest Litigation, interfered with
the decision of the Bangalore Development Authority to convert the
land reserved for public parks for the purposes of construction of a
hospital. It was in these circumstances that this Court intervened,
indicting the land reserved for public parks to be used for other
purposes.
7. This Court in Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai held that
the authorities have been given a duty to act as a cestui que trust
(beneficiary of the trust) with respect to public park and had thus
directed to acquire land under the Right to Fair Compensation and
Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act,
2013 within a period of six months. Such direction was given under
Article 142 of the Constitution of India keeping in view the facts of the
case. Such direction and period for acquisition of land is not a law
declared by this Court which is to be treated as binding precedent for
this Court and the subordinate courts subordinate in terms of Article
141 read with Article 144 of the Constitution. Therefore, once the Act
does not contemplate any further period for acquisition, the Court
cannot grant additional period for acquisition of land. The land was
reserved for a public purpose way back in 2002. By such reservation,
the land owner could not use the land for any other purpose for ten
years. After the expiry of ten years, the land owner had served a
4
notice calling upon the respondents to acquire the land but still the
land was not acquired. The land owner cannot be deprived of the use
of the land for years together. Once an embargo has been put on a
land owner not to use the land in a particular manner, the said
restriction cannot be kept open-ended for indefinite period. The
Statute has provided a period of ten years to acquire the land under
Section 126 of the Act. Additional one year is granted to the land
owner to serve a notice for acquisition prior to the amendment by
Maharashtra Act No. 42 of 2015. Such time line is sacrosanct and has
to be adhered to by the State or by the Authorities under the State.
8. The State or its functionaries cannot be directed to acquire the land as
the acquisition is on its satisfaction that the land is required for a
public purpose. If the State was inactive for long number of years, the
Courts would not issue direction for acquisition of land, which is
exercise of power of the State to invoke its rights of eminent domain.
9. In view thereof, the direction to acquire land within a period of one
year is in fact contravening the time line fixed under the Statute.
Consequently, the direction to acquire the land within one year is set
aside. The appeal is allowed.
.............................................J.
(HEMANT GUPTA)
.............................................J.
(V. RAMASUBRAMANIAN)
NEW DELHI;
MARCH 23, 2022.
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