STATE OF GUJARAT AND ORS. Vs. SHREE RATNAKAR ENTERPRISE
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA (FROM: GUJARAT)
State Of Gujarat And Ors.
Shree Ratnakar Enterprise
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(1.) Leave granted.
(2.) This appeal challenges the judgment and order dated 08.01.2014 passed by the Division Bench of the High Court of Gujarat in Letters Patent Appeal No.218 of 2012 arising out of the dismissal of Special Civil Application No.16050 of 2011 by the Single Judge of the High Court.
(3.) The facts in the present matter are as under:
(a) The respondent preferred an application before the appellant State for grant of lease of land admeasuring 1500 acres out of Survey No.141 of Village Mundra, Taluka Mundra, District Kutch for the purposes of manufacturing salt. That application came to be rejected by the District Collector on 05.06.1993 on the ground "Land not available as asked for". The rejection of the application was challenged in Revision before the Additional Chief Secretary, Revenue Department who remanded the matter back to the Collector for fresh consideration. Thereafter, the Collector again rejected the application vide order dated 18.12.1999 on the ground that the land available with the Government was scattered over various places and land to the tune of 1500 acres as requested was not available in one place. That order was again challenged by filing Revision on 02.02.2005 i.e. more than five years after the rejection of application on 18.12.1999. The revisional authority refused to condone the delay in preferring the Revision and by its order dated 27.04.2005 affirmed the order of rejection passed by the Collector. A copy of the order dated 27.04.2005 was marked to the concerned parties.
(b) Thereafter, a proposal for setting up of Special Economic Zone at Mundra was taken up for consideration. The Central Government vide its order dated 24.05.2009 provided for setting up ofSpecial Economic Zone at Mundra. The notification in question pertained to lands including Survey No.141 of Village Mundra. The coastal lands required for the Special Economic Zone were surrendered by various persons to the Government in order to enable setting up of the Special Economic Zone.
(c) Almost six years after the disposal of Revision on 27.04.2005, the respondent preferred Special Civil Application No.16050 of 2011 in the High Court of Gujarat praying inter-alia that the order dated 27.04.2005 be quashed and appropriate direction be issued to allot land as prayed for by the respondent. It was submitted that the respondent had recently become aware about the order passed on 27.04.2005.
(d) That Special Civil Application was rejected by Single Judge of the High Court vide judgment and order dated 28.11.2011. It was observed that the rejection of Revision in 2005 was challenged by filing Special Civil Application in the year 2011 and that the respondent itself had remained indolent in pursuing its remedy; that because of such delay and latches no indulgence could be shown in favour of the respondent; that no violation of any fundamental right or any legal right was shown by the respondent; and that there was no infirmity in the order passed by the revisional authority.
(e) The decision of the Single Judge was challenged by filing Letters Patent Appeal No.218 of 2012 before the Division Bench of the High Court. During the pendency of this Appeal, an affidavit was filed on behalf of the appellant - State that no land was earmarked for salt production from Survey No.141 but over the years lands situated near coastal area were allotted to various applicants for salt production and that said lands were surrendered by said persons to the appellant - State after the demand for land for Mundra Special Economic Zone came up. The Division Bench by its judgment and order dated 08.01.2014 allowed the appeal. It was observed that there was no delay on part of the respondent as it was prosecuting the matter since the year 1992 and that the delay was actually on part of the appellant - State. The Division Bench further observed that since the respondent had applied in the year 1992 its priority ought to be maintained and that the Collector must ensure that the land for salt cultivation be allotted to the respondent from any survey number within a period of three months from the receipt of the order.;
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