IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. …………. OF 2016
(Arising out of S.L.P.(C) No.5603 of 2008)
President, Vidya Prasarak Samithi, Ramdurg Appellant(s)
Deputy Commissioner, Belgaum District & Ors. Respondent(s)
J U D G M E N T
Pinaki Chandra Ghose, J.
This appeal is directed against the judgment and order dated 29th October,
2007 passed by the High Court of Karnataka at Bangalore in Writ Appeal
No.850 of 2004, whereby the High Court allowed the appeal filed by
Respondent No.3 herein. The High Court by the impugned judgment held that
the orders passed by the Assistant Commissioner (Respondent No.2 herein)
and confirmed by Deputy Commissioner, Belgaum (Respondent No.1 herein), are
not legal and valid and set aside the order passed by the learned Single
Judge affirming the orders passed by the said respondents.
The facts of the case are as follows: The appellant Vidya Prasarak
Samithi, Ramdurg, a Trust registered under the Bombay Public Trusts Act and
Basaveshwar Vidya Vardhak Sangha (“BVVS” for short), respondent No.3
herein, are running educational institutions at Ramdurg. The dispute
between them is in respect of the Government land, being CTS No.1674/1, in
respect of which there are rival claims by Vidya Prasarak Samithi and BVVS
for use as playground for students of their respective institutions. As
there was no playground in the college run by the appellant, it appears
from the facts that on an application made by the appellant, the Assistant
Commissioner, Belgaum, by his order dated 18th February, 1970, granted the
land in question in favour of the appellant. This order was challenged by
Respondent No.3 by filing an appeal before the Deputy Commissioner,
Belgaum. The Deputy Commissioner confirmed the order of the Assistant
Commissioner granting land. The order of the Deputy Commissioner was
further confirmed by the Divisional Commissioner.
Against the said order passed by the Assistant Commissioner granting land
in favour of the appellant herein, an appeal was preferred by BVVS before
the Deputy Commissioner, Belgaum. The Deputy Commissioner dismissed the
said appeal. Further, an appeal was preferred by BVVS before the Divisional
Commissioner, who allowed the appeal, cancelled the grant of land and
further directed that both the institutions, instead of litigating, should
evolve an arrangement for the common use of the playground for the benefit
of their students.
Against the said order, Vidya Prasarak Samithi filed a revision petition
before the Karnataka Appellate Tribunal. The said Tribunal dismissed the
revision petition and confirmed the arrangement suggested by the Divisional
Commissioner. Hence, Vidya Prasarak Samithi filed a writ petition before
the High Court, being Writ Petition No.3314 of 1979. The said writ
petition was disposed of by the High Court by its order dated 20th June,
1980 remanding the matter to the Assistant Commissioner, Belgaum, with a
direction to make an inquiry as to whether BVVS has since acquired a
separate plot for the purpose of playground and whether that land would be
sufficient as required by the institution and if the points are found in
the affirmative, then the Assistant Commissioner would be well advised to
grant the land involved, being CTS No.1674/1, exclusively to Vidya Prasarak
Samithi. It is further held by the High Court that if the plot purchased
by BVVS is not sufficient for its requirement or if there is no such
purchase, then the Assistant Commissioner should work out a satisfactory
arrangement to share CTS No.1674/1, for use as playground on alternative
dates by the said two institutions. The High Court further held that the
Assistant Commissioner should also hold inquiry after affording
opportunities to the parties of being heard.
Pursuant to and in terms of the order of the High Court, the Assistant
Commissioner conducted an inquiry into the matter and after giving
opportunities to the parties of being heard, made the following findings:
BVVS acquired 4 acres of land in Ramdurg town under the Land Acquisition
Act and its possession was handed over to the BVVS on 19th December, 1979.
The BVVS constructed a school building meant for Girls Junior College on
this land. The remaining area (120 Mtr. x 40 Mtr.) is available for
playground. It has been leveled and developed as playground. The playground
developed by BVVS at its newly acquired land is sufficient for its purpose.
The plea taken by BVVS that it cannot be used by the students of Girls
Junior College and Boys Junior College, cannot be accepted, while both the
colleges were run in the same building before acquisition of the said land.
BVVS Ramdurg is not having any land for its playground and in fact the
college itself is being run in a rented building.
Considering the above facts, the Assistant Commissioner by its order dated
14th October, 1990 granted the land being CTS No.1674/1, of Ramdurg Town,
exclusively in favour of Vidya Prasaraka Samithi, Ramdurg. An appeal was
preferred by Respondent No.3 before the Deputy Commissioner which was
dismissed. Respondent No.1 by order dated 22nd January, 1994 confirmed the
order of the Assistant Commissioner dated 14th October, 1990.
Being aggrieved by the order passed by Respondent No.1, Respondent No.3
filed a writ petition before the Karnataka Appellate Tribunal, Bangalore.
The said Tribunal by its order dated 31st January, 1996 set aside the
orders passed by Respondent Nos.1 & 2 and again remanded the matter to
Respondent No.2. Respondent No.2 again conducted fresh inquiry and spot
inspection and further confirmed the grant of land in favour of the
appellant by his order dated 25th October, 1997. BVVS filed an appeal
before Respondent No.1 – The Deputy Commissioner, Belgaum District.
Respondent No.1 by his order dated 23 January, 1999 confirmed the order of
Respondent No.2 and dismissed the appeal. BVVS (Respondent No.3) filed an
appeal being Appeal No.129 of 1999, before the Karnataka Appellate
Tribunal. The Appellate Tribunal by its order dated 27th August, 1999,
modified the orders passed by the Assistant Commissioner and Deputy
Commissioner and ordered the appellant and Respondent No.3 to use the
playground bearing CTS No.1674/1 on alternative days. Respondent No.3 was
given a preference to make use of it on Sunday and alternative days and the
appellant was to use it from Monday and alternative days.
In these circumstances, the appellant feeling aggrieved filed a writ
petition, being Writ Petition No.2325 of 2003, before the High Court of
Karnataka. The learned Single Judge of the High Court by his order dated
24.11.2003 allowed the writ petition filed by the appellant and set aside
the order passed by the Karnataka Appellate Tribunal confirming the grant
of land in favour of the appellant. The reasonings given by the learned
Single Judge of the High Court are:
(a) On remand the Assistant Commissioner duly considered the case afresh
and after inspection of the property in question, found that certain land
measuring 120 Mtr. x 40 Mtr., which is vacant land belonging to BVVS
(respondent No.3), is sufficient for it to use it as playground.
(b) BVVS has not made any application for grant of land before the Revenue
Authorities and in the absence of any such application for grant, BVVS has
no right to challenge the order of grant.
(c) The said point was not considered by the Tribunal.
Furthermore, the learned Single Judge of the High Court held that the
Government at the instance of respondent No.3 has acquired 4 acres of land
for the purpose of playground. Therefore, it was the duty of Respondent
No.3 to reserve sufficient extent of land for use as playground and rest of
the land would have been utilized for construction of the school. On the
other hand, the appellant has no land of its own for use as playground and
BVVS did not ever question the said plea of the appellant. In these
circumstances, the learned Single Judge of the Karnataka High Court allowed
the writ petition and quashed the order passed by the Karnataka Appellate
Tribunal. It appears that the Division Bench of the High Court without
considering such facts and without taking into consideration the land grant
rules, quashed the order of grant of land.
Being aggrieved, BVVS filed an appeal before the Division Bench of the High
Court. The Division Bench noted that by a Government Order dated 23rd July,
1966, the management of the Government School was transferred in favour of
BVVS with certain conditions. One of the important conditions enumerated
therein was that the ownership of the immovable property in question will
vest with the Government. Subsequent thereto the Government passed another
order dated 26.1.1967, wherein it was stated that consequent on the
transfer of administration of the State High School, Ramdurg to the control
and management of BVVS, vide Government order dated 23.7.1966, on a
permanent basis, the Government has carefully considered the question of
transfer of its properties after proper valuation and directed that the
properties including buildings and playground, should be transferred to the
management of the School at the prevailing market rate to be fixed by the
competent valuer of the Public Works Department. Accordingly, the Public
Works Department fixed the market value of the property in question at
Rs.51,600/- vide valuation letter, which was duly paid by BVVS in favour of
the Public Works Department by challan vide document produced at Annexure R-
3 in the office of Bagalkot Treasury on 8.11.1982 which was brought to the
notice of the Public Works Department. Thereafter, a trust deed was
registered by BVVS (Respondent No.3) wherefrom it would be evident that the
property in question though belonged to the Education Department, since the
administration and management of the High School run by the Education
Department was transferred to BVVS, its property, namely, playground was
also transferred in favour of BVVS for its market value. The Division Bench
of the High Court further held that there is clinching documentary evidence
in favour of BVVS to justify its claim of ownership in respect of the
property in question and, therefore, the land in question was not available
for grant as was observed by the learned Single Judge. It was further held
that the land could have been granted if the land was available in the list
of available lands for the purpose of grant in favour of either the
appellant or any eligible person for educational purposes. The High Court
further held that the land was not available at the time of granting the
same in favour of the appellant Vidya Prasarak Samithi. The Division Bench
also held that the undisputed fact was that the said playground was being
used by the Government High School and the said property was one of its
properties, and the same had been transferred to BVVS after fixing the
market value by the Public Works Department and that therefore, Respondent
Nos.1 and 2 have committed illegality in law in granting the land in
question in favour of Vidya Prasarak Samithi, the appellant herein.
Accordingly, the High Court held that the order passed by the second
respondent and confirmed by the first respondent are not legal and valid.
Hence, the said orders and the order of the learned Single Judge of the
High Court were set aside by the Division Bench.
It appears to us, after hearing the parties and after going through the
facts of this case, that the High Court correctly came to the conclusion
that the school was transferred in favour of the Respondent No.3 – BVVS and
since the payment of the land in question has already been made by BVVS,
and once the ownership of the said land has vested in it, it cannot be
granted in favour of any other person or institution. Accordingly, we find
that the reasoning given by the High Court cannot be questioned in the
given facts. We accept the reasoning given by the High Court and uphold the
order passed by the Division Bench of the High Court setting aside the
order passed by the learned Single Judge as also the orders passed by the
second respondent and first respondent. Accordingly, this appeal fails and
is hereby dismissed.
(Pinaki Chandra Ghose)
December 9, 2016.