HAR DEVI Vs. UNION OF INDIA
HIGH COURT OF DELHI
UNION OF INDIA
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BADAR DURREZ AHMED, J. -
(1.) This is an application for restoration of the writ petition which was dismissed for non-prosecution. After hearing the counsel for the parties, this application stands allowed. The writ petition shall be taken up for disposal today itself. On 07.02.2007 when this matter came up for the first time, the learned counsel for the petitioner questioned the authority of Mr Nitin Wakankar to continue as the Estate Officer in respect of the premises, inter alia, comprised in President's Estate in New Delhi. He had submitted that in view of Section 3 of the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971 (hereinafter referred to as the said Act) the power to appoint an Estate Officer vests with the Central Government. Section 3 of the said Act reads as under:
"3. Appointment of Estate Officers.- The Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette,- (a) appoint such persons, being Gazetted Officers of Government 1[or of the Government of any Union Territory] or officers of equivalent rank of the 2[Statutory Authority], as it thinks fit, to be Estate Officers for the purposes of this Act; 3[xxx] 4[Provided that no officers of the Secretariat of the Rajya Sabha shall be so appointed except after consultation with the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha and no officer of the Secretariat of the Lok Sabha shall be so appointed except after consultation with Speaker of the Lok Sabha: Provided further that an officer of a Statutory Authority shall only be appointed as an Estate Officer in respect of the public premises controlled by that authority; and] (b) define the local limits within which, or the categories of public premises in respect of which, the Estate Officers shall exercise the powers conferred, and perform the duties imposed, on Estate officers by or under this Act."
(2.) The learned counsel further submitted that the Gazette of India No. 29 for the period July 13 " July 19, 2003 contained a notification dated 15.07.2003 issued by the President's Secretariat designating Shri Nitin Wakankar as the Estate Officer for premises comprising the President's Estate in New Delhi, Shimla (Himanchal Pradesh), Dehradun (Uttaranchal) and Bolarum, Secunderabad (Andhra Pradesh). The said notification reads as under:-
"PRESIDENT'S SECRETARIATE New Delhi, the 15th July, 2003 S.O. 1955.- in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 3 of the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971 and in supersession of the then Government of India in the Ministry of Works and Housing Notification No. S.O. 720 dated the 10th March, 1973, the Central Government hereby appoints the officer mentioned in column (1) of the Table below being a Gazetted Officer of the Government to be the Estate officer for the purposes of the said act who shall exercise the powers conferred and perform the duties imposed on Estate officer by or under the said Act within local limits of his respective jurisdiction in respect of the public premises specified in corresponding entry in column (2) of the said table. 1. Designation of the Officer Categories of Public v. Premises and local limits of jurisdiction 2. Shri Nitin Wakankar Premises comprising the Deputy press Secretary president's Estate in New to the President Delhi, Shimla (Himanchal President's Secretariat Pradesh), Dehradun (Uttaranchal) and Bolarum, Secunderabad (Andhra Pradesh) [F.No.D-11020/1/90-EBA] SATISH MATHUR, Director"
(3.) It was further contended on behalf of the petitioner that the above notification was framed by the President's Secretariat and that would not amount to a notification issued by the Central Government which was a requirement under Section 3 of the said Act. He referred to the allocation of Business Rules framed by the President which indicates that the proceedings under the said Act would fall within the purview of Department of Urban Development, Ministry of Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation. It was the submission of the learned counsel for the petitioner that the said Mr Nitin Wakankar ought to have been appointed by the Ministry of Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation, according to the allocation of Business Rules, being part of the Central Government and not by the President's Secretariat. Since, this has not been done, Mr Nitin Wakankar had no authority to be appointed as an Estate Officer and to continue as such and it is for this reason that this writ of quo- warranto has been filed by the petitioner.;
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