GOPALBHAI PANCHABHAI ZALAVADIA (DEAD) THR LRs VERSUS THE STATE OF GUJARAT AND ORS

GOPALBHAI PANCHABHAI ZALAVADIA (DEAD) THR LRs  VERSUS THE STATE OF GUJARAT AND ORS

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले


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NON-REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
 CIVIL APPEAL NO(S). OF 2022
(Arising out of SLP(Civil) No(s). 27652 of 2015)
GOPALBHAI PANCHABHAI
ZALAVADIA (DEAD) THR LRs ….APPELLANT(S)
VERSUS
THE STATE OF GUJARAT AND ORS. ….RESPONDENT(S)
J U D G M E N T
Ajay Rastogi, J.
1. Leave granted.
2. The present appeal is directed against the judgment and order
passed by the Division Bench of the High Court of Gujarat dated 24th
March, 2015 primarily holding that since the Government took
possession of the subject land in question in the presence of Panchas
after going through the procedure prescribed under Section 10(1),
10(3) and 10(5) of the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976
(hereinafter being referred to as the “Act 1976”) that disentitles the
appellants of seeking any legitimate grievance and there appears no
reason of permitting mutation of the subject land in their favour.
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3. Briefly stated, the facts are that the predecessors of the
appellants were in possession of the agricultural land. In 1976, the
predecessor of the appellants had filled a form under the Act, 1976
disclosing that the lands are agricultural lands and, therefore, cannot
be termed as ‘vacant land’ under the Act 1976. However, the
prescribed authority (Deputy Collector), after affording opportunity of
hearing and holding enquiry in furtherance thereof, under its order
dated 6th May, 1987 recorded a finding that 21,615 sq. meters of land
was ‘surplus’ in the hands of the appellants and after holding further
inquiry under Sections 10(1), 10(3) and 10(5) of the Act 1976, the
State Government took possession of the subject land on 24th
November, 1987 in the presence of Panchas and in furtherance
thereof, the competent authority passed an order dated 29th
February, 1988 of making payment of compensation after
ascertaining the price under Section 11 of the Act 1976.
4. The order passed by prescribed authority was the subject
matter of challenge at the instance of the appellants before the Land
Tribunal and that came to be dismissed by an Order dated 30th May,
1988 and the finding of fact was affirmed about the procedure being
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followed by the State Government while taking possession of the
subject land in question and also with respect to the compensation
paid by the competent authority after ascertaining the price under
Section 11 of the Act, 1976 and indisputedly, no further proceedings
were initiated by the appellants against the order of the Land
Tribunal dated 30th May, 1988 and that has attained finality.
5. What reveals from the record is that after five years down the
line, the other alleged co-parceners filed their appeal(Appeal No.
Rajkot-3/1992) before the Urban Land Tribunal, Ahmedabad which
was not maintainable, still while disposing of the appeal at the
instance of other co-parceners, the Land Tribunal, under its Order
dated 21st September, 1992 while remitting it to the prescribed
authority made it clear that Appeal No. Rajkot-18/88 preferred by
the present appellants and decided by the Land Tribunal has nothing
to do with Appeal No. Rajkot-3/1992 preferred by the other coparceners.
6. It is informed to this Court that so far as the order which was
later passed by the Tribunal dated 21st September, 1992 in Appeal
No. Rajkot-3/1992 preferred at the instance of the other co-
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parceners remitting the matter back to the prescribed authority is
concerned, either party has not been able to inform this Court as to
what steps were later taken by the prescribed authority and the fact
is that the proceedings stood closed because of the Act stood later
repealed. Be that as it may, that may not have a material bearing on
the present matter for the reason that even while remitting the matter
to the prescribed authority by the Land Tribunal under its Order
dated 21st September 1992, the finding recorded by the Land
Tribunal in its earlier order dated 30th May, 1988 passed in Appeal
no. Rajkot-18/88 filed at the instance of the appellants has not been
questioned in reference to the land vested with the State Government
on 24th November 1987, in consequence thereof, mutations were also
opened in favour of the Government.
7. The appellants approached the High Court by filing of the writ
petition with a grievance that mutation which was opened in the
name of the Government, after passing of the order of remand by the
Tribunal in Appeal No. Rajkot-3/1992 nullify the earlier order of the
Tribunal dated 30th May, 1988 passed in Appeal No. Rajkot-18/88,
in consequence, the possession has to be restored back in favour of
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the appellants taking into consideration the latter order of the
Tribunal dated 21st September, 1992 on the premise that by fiction,
the possession is deemed to have been with the present appellants
and that submission was found to be misconceived by the learned
Single Judge and accordingly the petition came to be dismissed by
Order dated 17th July, 2007 which came to be further challenged at
the instance of the appellants in letters patent appeal before the
Division Bench of the High Court which was dismissed by Order
dated 24th March, 2015 holding that the appeal which was later
preferred by the co-parceners before the Land Tribunal was not
maintainable, thus, remitting the matter back to the prescribed
authority in appeal preferred by the other co-parceners of the Land
Tribunal was legally not sustainable in law.
8. Learned counsel for the respondents has brought to our notice
that the statement made by the appellants before this Court of the
notice not being served upon the co-parceners is factually incorrect
as the so-called alleged co-parceners were duly served and their
documents have been placed on record at pages 283, 289, 292 and
294 of the paper book.
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9. Learned counsel for the appellants is unable to justify the
factual statement which has been recorded by this Court in support
of which a sufficient material has been placed on record. Counsel
submits that the appellants are practically in possession of the
subject land in question and this fact can be verified either from the
official records or by holding an inquiry in reference to the person in
possession of the subject land in question.
10. Learned counsel further submits that the appellants are poor
agriculturists and this land is an irrigated land and is their only
source of livelihood and since this question has not been considered
by the Division Bench of the High Court in the impugned judgment,
the matter be remitted back to the High Court for re-consideration
and the letters patent appeal be decided afresh.
11. In addition, learned counsel further submits that the only
question to be examined is that who is in possession of the subject
land in question, although the finding has been recorded by the
Tribunal under its Order dated 30th May 1988, but for all practical
purposes, the appellants are still in physical possession of the
subject land and if that stands verified from the records after inquiry
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being conducted by the respondents, at least once the Act, 1976
stood repealed, divesting the rights of the appellants from the subject
property, in the given circumstances, may not be justified and needs
indulgence of this Court to invoke its jurisdiction under Article 142
of the Constitution to do complete justice with the parties.
12. Per contra, learned counsel for the respondents, while
supporting the impugned judgment, submits that the finding has
been returned by the Land Tribunal noticing the procedure that was
adopted for taking possession of the subject land in question as
prescribed under the Act, 1976 under the impugned order and that
has not been challenged at any later stage and that being the
uncontroverted factual statement on record, no error was committed
by the High Court in passing the impugned judgment which may call
for interference.
13. After we have heard learned counsel for the parties, we are also
of the view that once the Land Tribunal has returned a finding in
reference to the procedure which was followed as contemplated under
Section 10 of the Act, 1976 for the purpose of taking possession of
the subject land on 24th November, 1987 and making payment of
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compensation on 29th February, 1988 after ascertaining the price
under Section 11 of the Act, not being assailed by the appellants at
any stage has attained finality.
14. So far as the appeal preferred by the co-parceners at the later
stage before the Urban Land Tribunal is concerned, we would
restrain from making any comment for the reason that the coparceners have never questioned the earlier proceedings at any later
stage even after the order was passed on 21st September, 1992 and
so far as the case of the present appellants is concerned, the Land
Tribunal had restrained in recording any finding in this regard.
15. That apart, the appellants have failed to place even any
documentary evidence in rebuttal before this Court that the finding
returned by the Tribunal of taking over possession in presence of
Panchas of the subject land on 24th November 1987, and payment of
compensation by an Order dated 29th February 1988, after
ascertaining the price under Section 11 of the Act is factually not
sustainable.
16. In absence thereof, the Court has to proceed on the premise as
to what will be the legal effect if the State authorities having gone
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through a procedure prescribed under Section 10 of the Act, 1976
took possession of the subject land on 24th November, 1987 and the
payment of compensation in furtherance thereof was made over by
order dated 29th February, 1988 and unless the finding remain
undisturbed, the consequential effect would be that the State
Government was justified in holding possession and there appears
no error in the mutation opened in favour of the State Government.
17. So far as the writ petition filed by the appellants before the
learned Single Judge of the High Court is concerned, that was only
in reference to restitution of deemed possession because of the order
of remand passed by the Land Tribunal in appeal preferred by the
co-parceners as referred to in the Order dated 21st September, 1992
but that has not disturbed the finding returned by the Land Tribunal
in the case of the appellants as being reflected from the Order dated
30th May 1988.
18. That albeit being the factual position emerged from the record,
the High Court has rightly dismissed the writ petition and also the
letters patent appeal preferred by the appellants in the instant
proceedings.
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19. The submission made by learned counsel for the appellants that
they are in possession of the subject land in question for all practical
purposes is not substantiated for the reason that the Tribunal has
returned a finding of possession being taken over by the Government,
after due compliance of the procedure prescribed under the law on
24th November 1987. Mere statement, without there being any
factual foundation, is of no substance.
20. The further submission made by learned counsel for the
appellants that the appellants being the poor agriculturists and this
is the only source of their livelihood, we have full sympathy with the
appellants but this Court has to proceed on the basis of pleadings
and in accordance with law. Once the land stood vested with the
Government on 24th November, 1987 and compensation has been
made over in furtherance thereof by the competent authority after
ascertaining the price of the subject land determined under Section
11 of the Act on 29th February 1988, there appears no justification
for the appellants to claim deemed possession of the subject land in
question and even if they are in physical possession, no right could
be claimed in reference to the subject land by the appellants.
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21. Consequently, in our considered view, the appeal fails and is
accordingly dismissed. No costs.
22. Pending application(s), if any, shall stand disposed of.
…………………………….J.
(AJAY RASTOGI)
…………………………….J.
(ABHAY S. OKA)
NEW DELHI
SEPTEMBER 05, 2022.

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