Government Grants Act 1895= State government formulated a scheme to allow conversion of residential leasehold plots under the GA Department within the area of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation into freehold land. The policy, inter alia, contained the following condition: “Lessees who have encroached or unauthorisedly occupied government land anywhere within Bhubaneswar municipal corporation limits would not be eligible to be covered under the scheme unless they vacate the unauthorised occupation.=The submission of an application does not confer a vested right for permission. The applicant must comply with the terms of the policy. One of the terms in the policy in question is that the applicant should not have encroached on government land. An applicant who seeks the benefit of the policy must comply with its terms. In the present case, the policy which was formulated by the State government specifically contained a stipulation to the effect that a lessee, who had encroached upon or unauthorisedly occupied government land anywhere within Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation limits would not be eligible to be covered by the scheme unless the unauthorised occupation is vacated.

1
REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
Civil Appeal No. 9521 of 2019
(Arising out of SLP(C) No 30220 of 2019)
(D No 45004 of 2018)
State of Odisha & Ors …. Appellant(s)

Versus
Bichitrananda Das ….Respondent(s)
J U D G M E N T
Dr Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, J
1 Delay condoned.
2 Leave granted.
3 This appeal arises from a judgment of a Division Bench of the High
Court of Orissa dated 12 January 2018.
4 On 30 September 1981, a lease of a plot bearing No F/37
admeasuring 75 feet by 100 feet described as Drawing No BS-136 (R)
Mouza-Nayapalli, Bhubaneswar, was granted to the respondent by the
State Government in the General Administration Department1
for a period
of ninety years under the Government Grants Act 1895. On 18 July 2003,
1 “GA Department”
2
the State government formulated a scheme to allow conversion of
residential leasehold plots under the GA Department within the area of
Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation into freehold land. The policy, inter
alia, contained the following condition:
“Lessees who have encroached or unauthorisedly occupied government
land anywhere within Bhubaneswar municipal corporation limits would
not be eligible to be covered under the scheme unless they vacate the
unauthorised occupation.
5 On 15 September 2003, the respondent applied for conversion of the
leasehold plot to freehold. In response to the application, the Revenue
Inspector in the GA Department recorded on 22 November 2003 that:
“Order on the above file I have visited to the site of Drawing Plot No. N/4-
37/F (75×100). Drawing No.BS-136 (R), Nayapalli, corresponding to the
1991-92 Final Settlement Revenue Plot No. 100/3090 Area ACO. 172
under Khata no.1020 n Unit XVI, MZ – Jayadev Vihar and Board, two
storied building has been constructed as per approval building plan. But
lessee has encroached Govt. land (which was kept as open space) in
front of the plot, 60 x 63, by way of illegible fence and Garden. Lessee
may be asked to vacate the encroachment.” (Emphasis supplied)
6 On 13 May 2004, the respondent was directed by the Land Officer in
the GA Department to vacate the area of unauthorised occupation,
recording thus:
“In inviting a reference to the subject cited above, I am directed to say
that during the field enquiry it has come to the notice that you have
unauthorizedly occupied Govt. Land measuring 60’ x 63’ by covering
barbed wire fencing and using the same for garden purpose.
You are therefore, requested to vacate the above land immediately and
report compliance within 15 days for consideration of your conversion
application.” (Emphasis supplied)
3
7 Four years later, On 6 August 2008, the respondent addressed a
communication to the Land Officer with reference to the letter dated 13
May 2004, stating that he had already sent a reply on 19 April 2006, a copy
of which was enclosed stating that there existed no barbed wire fencing
and “no encroachment now exists”. The letter dated 19 April 2006,
however, contained a statement that:
“But I am told that in a communication (not received by me) I have been
asked to vacate a portion of Government land reportedly occupied by me
unauthorisedly with barbet wire fencing.” (Emphasis supplied)
Hence, though in his letter dated 6 August 2008, the respondent stated
that he had already furnished a reply on 19 April 2006 to the letter dated 13
May 2004, meaning thereby, that the letter dated 13 May 2004 was in
possession of the respondent when he submitted the reply, the purported
letter dated 19 April 2006 suggested that the communication had not been
received. Be that as it may, on 21 December 2009, the respondent wrote
a letter to the Directorate of Estates stating that no barbed wire fencing or
encroachment existed at present around his plot. On 28 December 2009,
proceedings were initiated against the respondent by issuing a notice
under Section 4(1) of the Orissa Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorized
Occupants) Act 19722
. By the notice, the respondent was called upon to
show cause as to why an order of eviction should not be made.
8 Subsequently, on 30 June 2010, in response to a representation
dated 21 December 2009, the GA Department was directed to re-enquire.
On 30 June 2010, the following position was indicated upon verification:
2 “Act”
4
“Verified the land bearing training Plot No. N-4/F-37 of MT Jayadevihar
Unit No. 16 and on field verification the encroachment reported earlier
has not been vacated now.” (Emphasis supplied)
9 On 11 November 2010, the respondent once again sought a decision
on his application for conversion, stating that:
“I have responded to the above objection clearly indicating that the
reported encroached area is completely outside my pucca compound
wall. This area is not covered with any barbed wire fencing as alleged.
There is no construction whatsoever. The area is covered with some
green plantation. Moreover the vacant area is always available to G.A.
Department” (Emphasis supplied)
10 On 23 February 2011, the Land Officer in the GA Department visited
the site and submitted a report that there was no barbed wire fencing on
the encroached site, but that the respondent had put up a temporary
fencing and a small iron grill gate for access to the encroached area. On 2
August 2013, the respondent once again sought conversion to freehold.
On 2 September 2013, the respondent was directed to file a declaration, in
a communication of the Deputy Secretary to the Government, GA
Department which read as follows:
“In inviting a reference to your application dated 02.08.2013, I am
directed to inform you that, you are required to file a registered
declaration to the effect that, you have not fenced the Govt. land in front
of your lease plot. You should indicate the declaration that, you would
not claim long possession on the said land even after conversion is
allowed. The sketch map of the said land is enclosed herewith for
preparing the declaration. Your request for conversion will be
considered only after submission of the said declaration.”
(Emphasis supplied)
11 On 22 March 2014, the competent officer in the GA Department
submitted a report indicating the following position at the site:
Lessee Sri B.N. Das has made compound wall over his allotted land and
one, single storied RCC building exist over the said land. Lessee with
5
his family is residing there in residential purposes.
Earlier reported regarding encroachment reveals that there is no barbed
fence now. Only open plantation exists over Government land available
in between road and allottee’s plot. The said plantation may not be
treated as encroachment. Copy of photograph is enclosed herewith for
reference.” (Emphasis supplied)
Consequently, the conversion fee was recomputed.
12 Eventually, on 9 April 2014, the Director of Estates called upon the
respondent to submit an affidavit that he had not encroached on
government land nor would he claim possession in future. The respondent
submitted an affidavit on 21 April 2014. Consequently, permission was
granted on 5 May 2014 for conversion of the land from leasehold to
freehold, conditional on a deposit of an amount of Rs 13,25,758.
13 The respondent moved a writ petition3
before the High Court of Orissa
challenging the communications dated 5 May 2014 and 9 December 2014
(the latter having rejected the plea of the respondent for recomputing the
conversion fees on the basis of the rate prevalent in 2003). A counter
affidavit was filed by the State. The High Court, by its impugned judgment
and order, allowed the writ petition and directed the State to recompute the
conversion fees as on the date of the making of the application on 15
September 2003.
14 Aggrieved by the direction of the High Court, the State is in appeal
before us.
3W P (C) No 8159 of 2015
6
15 Mr V Giri, learned senior counsel appearing on behalf of the
appellants, submitted that the rates chargeable for the conversion from
leasehold to freehold would be those which govern on the date when the
application has been decided. Learned counsel relied on the decision of
this Court in Chennai Metropolitan Developoment Authority v Prestige
Estates Project Ltd4
. Mr Giri submitted that as the record would indicate
in the present case, an encroachment had been made by the respondent
adjacent to his leasehold plot and, in terms of the applicable policy, the
respondent was required to remove the encroachment. It was urged,
relying on the correspondence which has been referred to above, that the
respondent responded to the communication dated 13 May 2004 only on 6
August 2008 and that the purported communication dated 19 April 2006
appears to be an ante-dated document. Be that as it may, it was urged
that as a matter of principle it was not open to the respondent to claim that
the conversion charges be computed on the basis of the rate prevalent on
the date of the application. The application for conversion could be
considered only in terms of the policy frame by the government and one of
its conditions was that the applicant should not be in unauthorized
occupation of government land.
16 On the other hand, it has been urged by Mr Santosh Raut, learned
counsel appearing on behalf of the respondent that, as a matter of fact, the
case of the respondent was that there was no encroachment whatsoever
on the land, which was clarified in the letters dated 19 April 2006 and 6
August 2008. Learned counsel submitted that, at the highest, only a
4 2019 SCC OnLine SC 931
7
plantation had been made outside the leasehold plot and this could not
have been treated as an encroachment. Hence, it was urged on behalf of
the respondent that where the State had taken an inordinately long time to
consider the application, there was no justification or reason to saddle the
respondent with the increased rates which were payable as on the date on
which the decision was ultimately taken. Hence, it was further urged that
the High Court was correct in coming to the conclusion that the rate as on
the date of the application must be the governing rate for computing the
conversion charges.
17 In the recent decision of this Court in Chennai Metropolitan
Developoment Authority (supra), this Court relied upon a line of
precedents emanating from the Court, including the decisions in State of
Tamil Nadu v Hind Stone5 and Howrah Municipal Corporation v
Ganges Rope Co Ltd6
. The submission of an application does not confer
a vested right for permission. The applicant must comply with the terms of
the policy. One of the terms in the policy in question is that the applicant
should not have encroached on government land. An applicant who seeks
the benefit of the policy must comply with its terms. In the present case,
the policy which was formulated by the State government specifically
contained a stipulation to the effect that a lessee, who had encroached
upon or unauthorisedly occupied government land anywhere within
Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation limits would not be eligible to be
covered by the scheme unless the unauthorised occupation is vacated.
5 (1981) 2 SCC 205
6 (2004) 1 SCC 663
8
18 The record shows that on 13 May 2004, the Land Officer informed the
respondent that he was unauthorisedly in occupation of land admeasuring
60’ x 63’ which had been covered by barbed wire fencing, which was being
used for the purpose of a garden. The respondent addressed a
communication on 6 August 2008, stating that he had already replied to the
letter dated 13 May 2004 on 19 April 2006. The letter dated 19 April 2006
is carefully worded and states that “no barbed wire fencing and “no
encroachment now exists”. Interestingly, a copy of the earlier letter dated
19 April 2006 was annexed to the communication dated 6 August 2008.
However, the purported letter dated 19 April 2006 contains a statement
that the respondent had been told that in a communication, which had not
been received by him, he had been asked to vacate a portion of the
government land, which had been occupied unauthorisedly with a barbed
wire fencing. The contents of the letter dated 6 August 2008 do not square
up with the purported communication dated 19 April 2006. Be that as it
may, it is evident from the communications that it was his case that no
encroachment existed “at present”. Eventually, a notice to show cause
had to be issued to the respondent under the Act on 28 December 2009.
The State has placed on record a copy of the inspection report of 30 June
2010 which indicates that the encroachment had not been vacated. It was
in this view of the matter that the State called upon the respondent to
furnish a declaration that the encroachment had been removed and that he
would not claim possession of the adjacent land even after conversion was
allowed. Eventually, on 22 March 2014, it was stated that while an open
plantation existed over the land, the plantation may not be treated as an
9
encroachment.
19 In this background, we are of the view that there was no justification
for the High Court to direct that the rate for the computation of conversion
charges should be that which was applicable on the submission of an
application on 15 September 2003. The application for conversion from
leasehold to freehold must necessarily be consistent with and compliant to
the governing provisions of the policy which has been framed by the State
government. Unless compliance is effected, there is no right to claim
conversion of the land to freehold. Consequently, we are of the view that
the High Court was in error in directing the State to recompute the
conversion charges as on 15 September 2003. The respondent would
necessarily have to pay the conversion charges on the date when a final
decision was taken after due verification that there was no encroachment
and after scrutinizing the declaration which was filed by the respondent.
20 A period of nearly twelve years has elapsed in the meantime. It is
significant that the respondent moved the writ proceedings before the High
court only in 2015. If the grievance of the respondent was that the State
had not taken any action on his representations, he ought to have moved
the writ proceedings at an earlier point of time seeking a decision on his
application. Having himself waited until 2015 to seek a declaration from
the High Court, the respondent cannot claim that the conversion charges
should be fixed as on the date of the application, namely, 15 September
2003.
10
20 For the above reasons, we allow the appeal and set aside the
impugned judgment and order of the High Court. The writ petition filed by
the respondent shall stand dismissed. However, we direct that in the event
that the respondent complies with the directions contained in the
communication of the State government by which the conversion charges
were computed and makes the necessary payment, the application shall
be processed expeditiously so as to facilitate the grant of conversion of the
land from leasehold to freehold. There shall be no order as to costs.
………………………….……………………..J.
[Dr Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud]
…..…..…….………..……………….………..J.
[Hrishikesh Roy]
New Delhi;
December 18, 2019
11
ITEM NO.15 COURT NO.8 SECTION XI-A
S U P R E M E C O U R T O F I N D I A
RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS
SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CIVIL) Diary No(s). 45004/2018
(Arising out of impugned final judgment and order dated 12-01-2018
in WPC No. 8159/2015 passed by the High Court of Orissa at Cuttack)
THE STATE OF ODISHA & ORS. Petitioner(s)
VERSUS
BICHITRANANDA DAS Respondent(s)
(WITH IA No. 22402/2019 – CONDONATION OF DELAY IN FILING, IA No.
22403/2019 – CONDONATION OF DELAY IN REFILING / CURING THE
DEFECTS, IA No. 22404/2019 – EXEMPTION FROM FILING C/C OF THE
IMPUGNED JUDGMENT)
Date : 18-12-2019 This petition was called on for hearing today.
CORAM : HON’BLE DR. JUSTICE D.Y. CHANDRACHUD
HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE HRISHIKESH ROY
For Petitioner(s) Mr. V. Giri, Sr. Adv.
Mr. Suvendu Suvasis Dash, AOR
Ms. Swati Vaibhav, Adv.
Mr. Nabab Singh, Adv.

For Respondent(s) Mr. Santosh Raut, Adv.
Mr. Vishwa Pal Singh, AOR
Mr. Rajendra Prasad, Adv.
Ms. Pallavi, Adv.
UPON hearing the counsel the Court made the following
O R D E R
Delay condoned.
Leave granted.
The appeal is allowed in terms of the signed
reportable judgment. There shall be no order as to costs.
Pending application, if any, stands disposed of.
(SANJAY KUMAR-I) (SAROJ KUMARI GAUR)
AR-CUM-PS COURT MASTER
(Signed reportable judgment is placed on the file)