THE STATE OF KARNATAKA & ANR VERSUS B.R. MURALIDHAR & ORS.

THE STATE OF KARNATAKA & ANR VERSUS  B.R. MURALIDHAR & ORS.


Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले


1
REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1966 OF 2013 
THE STATE OF KARNATAKA & ANR. …APPELLANT(S)
VERSUS 
B.R. MURALIDHAR & ORS.  …RESPONDENT(S) 
WITH
CIVIL APPEAL NO…….…….. OF 2022
(ARISING OUT OF S.L.P. (C) NO. 18942 OF 2013)
J U D G M E N T
A.M. KHANWILKAR, J.
1. In these appeals, the subject matter is the notification dated
23.6.2005 bearing No. HD 34 KOMAME 2004, Bangalore issued
under Section 17 of the Karnataka Slum Areas (Improvement and
Clearance) Act, 19731
 by the Housing Department of the State of
Karnataka and the constitutional validity of Section 20 of the 1973
1 for short, “the 1973 Act”
2
Act.     The   persons   aggrieved   by   the   issue   of   the   impugned
notification dated 23.6.2005 had filed Writ Petition No.22611 of
20052
, Writ Petition No.20955 of 20053
 and Writ Petition No.21192
of   2005   (GM­Slum)4
  before   the   High   Court   of   Karnataka   at
Bangalore5
.  
2. The challenge to the stated notification was twofold.  The first
is that the impugned notification was issued without adequately
considering the objections taken by the writ petitioners and in
excess of the power vested in the authority.  The second was about
the lapsing of the acquisition which was in furtherance of the show
cause notice issued under the 1973 Act on 14.10.1982.  It was the
case of the writ petitioners that by efflux of time, the stated show
cause   notice   (preliminary   notification)   had   worked   out   and   no
acquisition in furtherance thereof after 23 years could be permitted
in law.  As regards the validity of Section 20 of the 1973 Act, the
2 filed by B.R. Muralidhar, respondent No.1 in Civil Appeal No.1966 of 2013
3 filed by V. Balasubramanya @ Balender Venkta, respondent No.3 in Civil Appeal No.1966 of
2013
4 filed by M/s. Chandra Spinning and Weaving Mills Private Limited, respondent No.4 in Civil
Appeal   No.1966   of   2013   and   also   appellant   in   the   companion   appeal   i.e.,   Civil   Appeal
No……..of 2022 @ S.L.P. (C) No.18942 of 2013
5 for short, “the High Court”
3
challenge   was   essentially   about   the   method   of   determining
payment predicated therein to pay amount at the rate of three
hundred   times   the   property   tax   for   acquiring   the   land   under
Section   17   of   the   1973   Act   and   not   fair   market   value   of   the
property.  Whereas, the amount offered on the basis of property tax
is   inevitably   an   illusory   amount,   including   in   the   teeth   of   the
legislation made by the Parliament, namely the Land Acquisition
Act, 18946
.
3. Learned Single Judge of the High Court of Karnataka vide
common judgment and order dated 20.9.2007 declared Section 20
of the 1973 Act as ultra vires.  He, however, rejected the plea of the
writ   petitioners   that   the   acquisition   pursuant   to   preliminary
notification dated 14.10.1982 had lapsed on the finding that there
was no such provision in the 1973 Act analogous to the provisions
of the 1894 Act.  Learned Single Judge also rejected the plea taken
by the writ petitioners that their objections were not adequately
considered.  Having so held, the learned Single Judge did not set
aside   the   impugned   notification   dated   23.6.2005.     As   learned
6 for short, “the 1894 Act”
4
Single Judge took a view that Section 20 of the 1973 Act was ultra
vires,  it had to then opine that vacuum regarding the method of
determination of amount to be paid to the land losers was created
and until a just method for determination of amount was replaced
by a law made by the State Legislature, the land losers ought to be
paid amount in accordance with Sections 23 and 24 of the 1894
Act.  
4. Against   the   decision   of   the   learned   Single   Judge,   cross
appeals were filed by the writ petitioners as well as by the State of
Karnataka.     Respondent   No.3   herein   (V.   Balasubramanya   @
Balender Venkta), however, later withdrew his appeal.  The appeal
filed by the State of Karnataka for assailing the decision of the
learned Single Judge declaring Section 20 of the 1973 Act  ultra
vires, came to be disposed of vide impugned judgment and order
dated 28.8.2012 passed in Writ Appeal No. 918 of 2008 and Writ
Appeal Nos. 1484­1485 of 2011 (GM­SLUM).  In view of withdrawal
of the cross appeal filed by the writ petitioner (respondent No.3
herein),   the   Division   Bench   was   not   required   to   examine   the
correctness of the finding recorded by the learned Single Judge in
5
respect   of   plea   of   lapsing   of   acquisition   and   inadequate
consideration of the objections pressed into service by the writ
petitioners for challenging the final notification dated 23.6.2005.
As aforesaid, the Division Bench upheld the declaration given by
the learned Single Judge that Section 20 of the 1973 Act was
unconstitutional.     However,   the   Division   Bench   modified   the
operative direction given by the learned Single Judge regarding
method of determining the amount payable to the land losers in
accordance with Sections 23 and 24 of the 1894 Act; and instead,
it observed that such a direction would be beyond the purview of
the Court’s jurisdiction and that it is always open to the State to
bring suitable amendment to Section 20 of the 1973 Act.  Against
this decision of the Division Bench rendered in Writ Appeal No.918
of 2008, the State of Karnataka has filed Civil Appeal No.1966 of
2013.  While granting leave, vide order dated 25.2.2013, this Court
has passed the following order:
“SLP (C) No. 39936/2012
Leave granted.
Operation of the impugned order of the High Court
in so far as the same strikes down Section 20 of the
6
Karnataka Slum Areas (Improvement and Clearance)
Act, 1973 [for short ‘the Act’] shall remain stayed, until
further orders from this Court. The petitioners shall be
free to determine and pay compensation to the land
owners in terms of Section 20 of the Act. Any such
determination  and payment   shall remain  subject   to
ultimate outcome of this appeal.”
5. Respondent No.4 (M/s. Chandra Spinning and Weaving Mills
Private   Limited)   in   the   leading   appeal   filed   by   the   State   of
Karnataka, as aforesaid, filed an independent appeal before the
Division Bench being Writ Appeal No.1492 of 2008 (GM­SLUM),
which came to be rejected on the ground of unexplained delay vide
impugned   judgment   and   order   dated   17.8.2012.     Against   the
decision of the Division Bench, respondent No.4 has filed cross
appeal   arising   from   S.L.P.   (C)   No.18942   of   2013,   essentially
questioning the decision of the Division Bench of the High Court
rejecting the cross appeal filed by the Company on the ground of
laches and unexplained delay.
6. We have heard Mr. Nikhil Goel, learned Additional Advocate
General for the State of Karnataka, Mr. Nikhil Nayyar, learned
senior   counsel   appearing   for   respondent   No.3   and   Mr.   Shyam
Divan, learned senior counsel appearing for respondent No.4.
7
7. Diverse grounds have been raised to question the correctness
of the view taken by the High Court.  The moot question in these
appeals is about the constitutional validity of Section 20 of the
1973   Act.     While   dealing   with   the   relief   claimed   by   the   writ
petitioners in that regard, the learned Single Judge opined that the
method of determining the amount to be paid to the land losers
pursuant   to   acquisition   of   land   was   not   just   and   reasonable.
According to the learned Single Judge, it ought to be as per the
prevailing market value of the land; and not on the basis of three
hundred times the property tax payable in respect of such land, as
predicated   in   Section   20   of   the   1973   Act.     This   method   of
determining the amount on the basis of property tax payable in
respect   of   the   acquired   land,   would   result   in   offering   illusory
amount to the land loser.   Besides being illusory, it would be
arbitrary and discriminatory as the land loser would be denied of
the market value of the land as is provided for in Sections 23 and
24 of the 1894 Act.   To buttress this opinion, the learned Single
Judge   took   note   of   the   decision   of   this   Court   in  The   Deputy
Commissioner  and  Collector,  Kamrup  &  Ors.   vs.  Durganath
8
Sarma7 and proceed to dispose of the challenge to Section 20 of
the 1973 Act in a cryptic manner in the following words:
“18. Thus there has to be equal protection of law.
19. I am also not in a position to give acceptability to
the   submissions   advanced   by   Sri   Nagarajappa,   the
learned   counsel   for   the   respondent   No.3.    Just
because the lands are acquired for discharging the
State’s   social   service   obligations,   proper
compensation to the land losers cannot be denied.
The land losers cannot be fastened with the social
service obligations of the State.
20. In exercise of its eminent domain when the State
acquired the property for public use, but without the
owner’s consent, the same has to be upon paying just
compensation.   The compensation payable must be a
just equivalent of what the owner is deprived of.  What
principles will guide the determination of the amount
payable fall within the legislative province.   But the
same   have   to   meet   the   basic   requirement   of   full
indemnification   of   the   expropriated   owner.     The
compensation scheme under the Slum Areas Act does
not   provide   for   the   payment   of   compensation
equivalent to the market value of the land.   The true
valuation of the land involves both computation and
judgment.
21.  For the aforesaid reasons, I strike down Section 20
of the Slum Areas Act as unconstitutional.   But the
question is, what should follow it.   If the lands are
acquired   under   the   Slum   Areas   Act,   how   the
compensation   is   to   be   determined.     It   is   for   the
legislature   to   decide   and   prescribe   the   reasonable
method   of   determining   the   market   value   for   the
purpose of paying  compensation to  the  land  losers.
However until such time that some legislative provision
replaces  Section  20,  no  vacuum  should  be  created.
During   the   transition   between   today,   the   date   of
7 AIR 1968 SC 394 (5­Judge Bench)
9
striking down of Section 20 of the Slum Areas Act and
the   commencement   of   the   necessary   legislative
amendment, the determination of the market value has
to be in accordance with Section 23 and 24 of the Land
Acquisition Act, 1894, as the provisions of the said Act
have withstood the test of time.”
(emphasis supplied)
8. When the matter travelled before the Division Bench of the
High Court, the manner in which the appeals have been disposed
of, in particular the issue of constitutional validity of Section 20 of
the   1973   Act,   is   no   different.     The   Division   Bench   noted   the
arguments of the parties and of the State in particular that the
provisions of the 1973 Act enjoyed immunity in terms of Article
31C of the Constitution of India.  While dealing with the argument,
the Division Bench noted that the 1973 Act came into force on
29.10.19748
 much before the 44th Amendment to the Constitution
concerning Article 31C — on which date the provisions of Articles
19(1)(f) and 31 were in force.  Having said that, the Division Bench
then articulated the question to be answered in the appeals before
it as follows:
“Whether the Judgment in K.T. PLANTATION PRIVATE
LIMITED9
  can   be   applied   and   based   on   the   same,
8 The 1973 Act received the assent of the President on 1.10.1974
9 K.T. Plantation Private Limited & Anr. vs. State of Karnataka, (2011) 9 SCC 1 (5­Judge
Bench)
10
whether   the   order   of   the   learned   Single   Judge   is
required to the interfered with or not.”
9. For   answering   this   question,   the   Division   Bench   first
reproduced the paragraphs 189, 190 to 193, 198, 201 and 209 of
the  K.T.   Plantation   Private   Limited10 and   disposed   of   the
question under consideration in the following words:
“15.  From the reading of the aforesaid paragraphs of
the Judgment, we are of the opinion that it is for the
State  to demonstrate  before the Court  that  amount
fixed u/s 20 of the Act is not illusory and it is just and
reasonable compensation.
16.    The   present   Act   cannot   get   any   immunity
under   Article   31­C   of   the   Constitution   of   India,
since the present Act has been enacted prior to the
44th Amendment.  If the present Act had been enacted
after the 44th Amendment to the Constitution, we are of
the   view   that   the   Judgment   in   K.T.   PLANTATION
PRIVATE LIMITED Vs. STATE OF KARNATAKA11 would
squarely applicable.  As stated supra, the present Act
is   enacted   prior   to   the   44th  amendment.     In   such
circumstances, it is for the State that the amount fixed
u/s 20 of the Act is the market value and it is clear as
no land looser can be deprived of his property without
paying   the   reasonable   compensation.     But
unfortunately, in this case, State has not made any
efforts before us to show that three hundred times of
the assessment fixed by the Municipality would be the
reasonable compensation or very near to the market
value.  In such circumstances, we are of the view that
if the learned Single Judge has held Sec.20 of the Act
as unconstitutional, we cannot lightly interfere with
the same.”
(emphasis supplied)
10 supra at Footnote No.9
11 supra at Footnote No.9
11
This is the entire discussion regarding the validity of Section 20 of
the 1973 Act.
10. In the appeals before this Court, both sides have extensively
argued   all   aspects   regarding   issue   of   constitutional   validity   of
Section 20 of the 1973 Act.  For the nature of final order that we
propose   to   pass,   it   is   not   necessary   to   dilate   on   the   rival
submissions in extenso.  
11. According   to   the   State,   the   1973   Act   and   the   provisions
therein, in particular Section 20, it ought to enjoy the protection of
Article 31C of the Constitution.  The fact that the 44th Amendment
to the Constitution came into force with effect from 20.6.1979 and
the 1973 Act came into force much before that, would make no
difference.  For, even at that relevant time Article 31C was available
as it had come into effect on 20.4.1972 to the extent, it has been
upheld by the Constitution Bench of this Court in  His  Holiness
Kesavananda Bharati Sripadagalvaru vs. State of Kerala &
Anr.12.  In other words, the expanse of Article 31C, as upheld by
this Court, at the time the 1973 Act came into force was still
12 (1973) 4 SCC 225 (13­Judge Bench)
12
available to give protection and immunity from challenge to the
stated Act being referrable to the tenet enunciated in Article 39(b)
of the Constitution.  Hence, according to the appellant it was open
to   the   State   Legislature   to   prescribe   different   method   for
determination of amount payable to the land loser under the 1973
Act.  To buttress this submission, reliance has been placed also on
The State of Karnataka & Anr., etc. vs. Ranganatha Reddy &
Anr., etc., etc.13; Maharao Sahib Shri Bhim Singhji vs. Union
of India & Ors.14; Rajiv Sarin & Anr. vs. State of Uttarakhand
&   Ors.15; and  K.T.   Plantation   Private   Limited16.     For   that,
learned  counsel  for  the  State   also  invited  our  attention  to   the
Statement of Objects and Reasons, Preamble, and the scheme of
the different provisions of the 1973 Act, including Section 17 which
is to rehabilitate the slum dwellers from their existing squalid living
conditions in the slum area, so as to best subserve the common
good by redeveloping the slum area or slum clearance area, as the
13 AIR 1978 SC 215 : (1977) 4 SCC 471 (7­Judge Bench)
14 (1981) 1 SCC 166 (5­Judge Bench)
15 (2011) 8 SCC 708 (5­Judge Bench)
16 supra at Footnote No.9
13
case may be.  Such rehabilitation of slum dwellers tantamounts to
distribution of the material resources of the community after the
vesting of the land in terms of Section 18 of the 1973 Act, in the
State free from all encumbrances.  In short, the provisions of the
1973   Act   are   referrable   to   the   expanse   of   Article   39(b)   of   the
Constitution; and Section 20 is only a provision (means) to achieve
that goal by following method to compensate the land loser — by
offering amount of three hundred times the property tax payable in
respect of such land.  Reliance is also placed on the exposition in
State of Maharashtra & Anr. vs. Basantibai Mohanlal Khetan
&   Ors.17  which   had   dealt   with   the   question   of   validity   of   the
Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Act, 197618.  This Act
was enacted by the Maharashtra State Legislature to consolidate
the   Bombay   Housing   Board   Act,   1948,   in   the   Bombay   and
Hyderabad areas of the State, the Madhya Pradesh Housing Board
Act, 1950, the Bombay Building Repairs and Reconstruction Board
Act, 1969 and “the Maharashtra Slum Improvement Board Act,
1973”.   This Court upheld the validity of the 1976 Act also in
17 (1986) 2 SCC 516 (2­Judge Bench)
18 for short, “the 1976 Act”
14
reference to Article 31C of the Constitution as it existed at the
relevant   time   (validated   by   the   decision   in  His   Holiness
Kesavananda  Bharati  Sripadagalvaru19), as can be discerned
from   the   discussion   in   paragraphs   13   to   15   of   the   reported
decision.   The State would also argue that while considering the
validity of Section 20 of the 1973 Act, it may be necessary to
consider   the   question   as   to   whether   the   expression   “material
resources of the community” would include private property and
this question has already been referred to a larger Bench (nine
Judges) in  Property  Owners’  Association  &  Ors.   vs.  State  of
Maharashtra   &   Ors.20
,  which   is   pending   consideration.
Therefore, these matters be tagged along with those cases.  
12. Further, in response to the argument canvassed across the
Bar by the learned counsel for the writ petitioners for the first time
before this Court in reference to the purport of Section 17 of the
1973 Act, it is urged by the State that the same ought not to be
countenanced   without   there   being   any   pleading   in   that   regard
19 supra at Footnote No.12
20 (2013) 7 SCC 522 (7­Judge Bench)
15
before   the   High   Court.     The   writ   petitioners,   however,   had
submitted that the land acquired in terms of impugned notification
was neither declared as a slum area under Section 3 nor as a slum
clearance area under Section 11 of the 1973 Act and as such, it
could not be acquired in terms of Section 17.  
13. The learned counsel appearing for the writ petitioners would
further contend that the issue regarding expanse of expression
“material resources of the community”, will not arise in the present
case.     In   that,   the   conclusion   recorded   by   the   High   Court
is that no protection of Article 31C is available to the provisions of
the 1973 Act, in particular Section 20.   That view taken by the
High Court is unexceptionable.  At the same time, it has been fairly
accepted by respondent No.3, including in the written submissions
that the issue as to whether expression “material resources of the
community” would include private owned resources, is pending
consideration before a nine­Judge Bench of this Court and if the
Court so intends, it may take up the matter for hearing along with
pending cases before the nine­Judge Bench.  Learned counsel for
16
the writ petitioners have filed exhaustive written submissions in
addition to oral argument canvassed before this Court.
14. We are of the considered opinion that the High Court has
dealt with the question of validity of Section 20 in a casual manner.
That   cannot   be   countenanced   inasmuch   as   the   Constitutional
Court for answering the assail on this count, in the first place,
need   to  examine   the   scheme   of   the   1973   Act,   its   objects   and
purposes   as   also   the   question:   whether   the   payment   of   amount
specified as three hundred times the property tax payable in respect
of   such   land   on   the   date   of   publication   would   be   a   permissible
method of determination of the amount or is per se unjust, unfair
or unreasonable?  Concededly, there can be different methods for
valuation of property, including the method of capitalisation value.
Further, it has to be considered as to whether it is an objective
method and not illusory (as it is the case of the State that the
amount  determined  under Section 20 is  quite substantial,  i.e.,
Rs.3.52 crore), in the present case.  Additionally, if the 1973 Act
and the provisions are ascribable to the objective predicated in
Article 39(b) of the Constitution, then it would get protection or
17
immunity from challenge in terms of Article 14, 19 or 31 of the
Constitution.   Furthermore, even if the High Court was right in
observing that the 1973 Act came into force prior to coming into
force of 44th Amendment to the Constitution on 20.6.1979, it would
make no difference as Article 31C was already in force with effect
from 20.4.1972 to the extent it has been validated by this Court in
His Holiness Kesavananda Bharati Sripadagalvaru21
.
15. It is indisputable that the State had defended Section 20 of
the 1973 Act on the principle expounded in Article 31C of the
Constitution   as   can   be   discerned   from   paragraph   19   of   the
judgment of the learned Single Judge and also of the Division
Bench, in particular paragraph 16 reproduced hitherto.
16. Suffice it to observe that the High Court disposed of the assail
to the validity of Section 20 of the 1973 Act in a cryptic manner
and more so without analysing all relevant aspects needed to be
considered by a Constitutional Court to declare provisions enacted
by the State Legislature as ultra vires.  For, there is a presumption
21 supra at Footnote No.12
18
about   the   constitutionality   of   the   law   made   by   the
Parliament/State Legislature.  
17. It   was   also   urged   by   the   learned   counsel   for   the   writ
petitioners  that  the  State  had  failed  to explain and justify the
method of determining the value of the land which ought to be
equivalent   to   fair   market   value   and   not   illusory   amount.     As
regards   deficiency   in   the   pleadings   of   the   parties,   the   same
argument can be used against both sides.   We say so because
constitutional validity has been raised obviously as an alternative
plea in  the  writ petition being the  last  ground  of  challenge in
paragraphs 29 and 30 of the Writ Petition No.21192 of 2005 (GMSLUM)22 .  The same reads thus:
“29. Section 20 of the Act provides for payment of
amount   at   the   rate   of   300   times   the   property   tax
payable in respect of the land acquired.   Entry 42 of
List III, 7th  Schedule to the Constitution provides for
acquisition and requisition of property.   By reason of
the fact that the said subject is in the concurrent list,
both   Centre   and   the   States   can   make   laws.     The
Parliament having enacted the Land Acquisition Act
has evinced interest on occupy the entire field relating
to acquisition including payment of compensation and
the field is therefore completely covered.   The Land
Acquisition Act provides for payment of compensation
at the market value of the property.  The Act, which is
later in point of time, though has received the assent of
22 See Footnote No.4
19
the President, Section 20 in so far as it provides for
payment of amount 300 times the property tax payable
on such land which methodology is different from the
methodology provided for under the Land Acquisition
Act is therefore beyond the competence of the State
Legislature and is therefore liable to be declared as
void as being in contravention of the Land Acquisition
Act, 1894 read with Article 300A of the Constitution of
India.
30. Assuming, but not conceding that the impugned
action of the Government in acquiring lands is vitiated,
even so the Government is liable to pay compensation
to the petitioner at the market value of the property
and in accordance with the principles laid down under
the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 and not at 300 times
the property as provided under Section 20 of the Act.”
18. As the focus before the High Court was essentially on the plea
that the acquisition proceedings had lapsed, even the State in its
response filed before the High Court merely stated thus:
“10. …The compensation payable as per Section 20 of
the Act is 300 times of the assessment is correct.  The
Act and its provisions are for the betterment of the
poor   and   downtrodden   slum   dwellers   as   a   social
obligation.   The compensation payable for such land
acquired under Section 17 of the Act is only as per
Section 20 of the Act.  The respondents are having the
obligation of providing shelter to several lakhs of slum
dwellers and the respondents cannot acquire lands as
per Land Acquisition Act and pay huge compensation
as per the provisions of the said act i.e., as per the
market value.  Hence, the provisions of KSA (I & C) Act,
1973 are applied to acquire the lands as per Section 17
and pay the compensation as per Section 20 of the Act.
Hence, Article 300A of the Constitution of India is not
violated.”
20
19. As aforesaid, in addition to the challenge to Section 20 of the
1973 Act being unconstitutional, during the course of argument for
the first time and then restated in the written submission, question
regarding the applicability of Section 17 of the 1973 Act to the fact
situation of the present case has been raised.  There is no pleading
in the writ petitions in that regard.
20. Be that as it may, the High Court had held that in absence of
an express provision regarding lapsing of acquisition in the 1973
Act unlike the 1894 or 2013 Act, it is not open to grant relief of
setting aside impugned notification dated 23.6.2005 on account of
efflux of time.  In that, show cause notice (preliminary notification)
is ordinarily issued when the competent authority is satisfied that
for the purpose of executing any work of improvement in relation to
any “slum area” or any building in such area or for the purpose of
re­developing  any “slum clearance area”, or for the purpose of
rehabilitating slum dwellers, it is necessary to acquire any land
and it has been so decided in pursuance of the said provision.  The
need to develop the slum area and to rehabilitate the slum dwellers
21
is a continuing obligation of the State until it is fully discharged.
The fact that there is some time gap between the preliminary notice
to show cause why the land in question should not be acquired
and in issuance of the final notification under Section 17, by itself,
cannot be a ground to declare the process initiated vide valid show
cause notice as having lapsed by efflux of time.  
20A.   It is, however, urged by the writ petitioners that the stated
power to effectuate a purpose has to be exercised in a reasonable
time frame.  The exercise of power in a reasonable manner inheres
the concept of its exercise within a reasonable time. What would be
the length of reasonable time must be then determined by the facts
of the case in the context of scheme of the Act and the nature of
the power which is to be exercised to prevent miscarriage of justice,
misuse or abuse of power.  Even this plea will have to be examined
by the High Court in the first place.  
21. After cogitating over the matter and in the fact situation of the
present case, we are of the considered opinion that it would be
appropriate   to   relegate   the   parties   before   the   High   Court   for
22
reconsideration of the writ petitions afresh including in relation to
the question of constitutional validity of Section 20 of the 1973 Act.
In the remanded proceedings, it would then be open to the writ
petitioners to amend the writ petition to raise a new plea regarding
inapplicability of Section 17 to the land in question — which had
not been declared as slum area or slum clearance area.   That
question, if answered in favour of the writ petitioners, would go to
the root of the matter and it may then not be necessary to even
examine   the   question   regarding   the   constitutional   validity   of
Section 20 of the 1973 Act.
22. As a result, to do substantial justice to both the parties, we
deem it appropriate to relegate the parties before the learned Single
Judge of the High Court for reconsideration of the writ petitions
afresh on its own merits and in accordance with law with liberty to
both   parties   to   amend   the   writ   petition   or   file   further   better
affidavit to defend the provisions in question and the action of
acquisition, as the case may be.  The parties may do so within six
weeks from today.  The matter after remand to proceed before the
23
learned   Single   Judge   of   the   High   Court   in   the   first   week   of
September 2022 for hearing.  
23. We need to clarify that it will be open to the learned Single
Judge to await the decision of the larger Bench of this Court in
reference made in terms of  Property  Owners’  Association23
, in
the event it becomes necessary to deal with the argument of the
expanse of expression “material resources of the community” in
Article   39(b)   of   the   Constitution   and   its   applicability   to   the
impugned provision of the 1973 Act.  Ordinarily, to observe judicial
propriety   we   would   have   opted   to   keep   these   appeals   pending
before this Court and to be heard along with the connected cases
before the larger Bench of this Court.  However, in that eventuality,
the parties may have to amend their pleadings, if they intend to
urge further grounds of challenge or by way of defence, as the case
may be.   That exercise, therefore, can be undertaken in the first
instance   before   the   High   Court,   where   both   sides   will   get   full
opportunity to plead and argue their case.
23 supra at Footnote No.20
24
24. In view of the above, we set aside the impugned judgment(s)
and order(s) dated 17.8.2012 and 28.8.2012 of the Division Bench
of   the   High   Court   as   well   as   the   common   judgment   dated
20.9.2007 rendered by the learned Single Judge and restore the
Writ Petition No.22611 of 200524, Writ Petition No.20955 of 200525
and Writ Petition No.21192 of 200526 to the file of the High Court
for  being  proceeded   afresh   in  accordance   with   law  after  giving
liberty to the parties to amend the pleadings or file better affidavit
to defend the impugned provisions and the action of the State, as
the case may be.   As the High Court’s impugned decisions have
been set aside, it must follow that the declaration issued by the
High Court regarding Section 20 of the 1973 Act being ultra vires
stands effaced and that provision be given full effect until further
orders of the High Court in the remanded petitions. 
25. All contentions available to both sides are left open.   The
matter may appear before the learned Single Judge of the High
Court of Karnataka in the first week of September 2022.  The High
24 See Footnote No.2
25 See Footnote No.3
26 See Footnote No.4
25
Court may endeavour to dispose of the petitions expeditiously, in
accordance with law.
The appeals are disposed of accordingly.  No order as to costs.
Pending application(s), if any, are also disposed of.
……………………………J.
(A.M. Khanwilkar)
……………………………J.
  (Sanjiv Khanna)
New Delhi;
July 28, 2022.

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