ASSOCIATED CEMENT COMPANIES LTD Vs. COLLECTOR JAMNAGAR
HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT
ASSOCIATED CEMENT COMPANIES LTD
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A.P.RAVANI, J. -
(1.) In the case of Peoples Union v. Union of India reported in AIR 1982 SC 1473 the Supreme Court has inter alia observed:
"The Rule of Law does not mean that the protection of law must be available only to a fortunate few or that the law should be allowed to be prostituted by the vested interests for protecting and upholding the status quo under the guise of enforcement of their civil and political rights". It is rarely that a judgment should start with the observations made by the Supreme Court in some other case. But in this case a public limited company has been able to withhold the payment of rent of the land occupied by it for a period of 25 years out of the total period of 30 years of lease. Hence one is reminded of the aforesaid observations made by the Supreme Court and one is tempted to ask Has the legal process been not misused and the Rule of Law not perverted under the guise of protection and enforcement of civil rights ? Has it not become possible for a public limited company in private sector to retain public money for private gains for a period of about quarter of a century on account of wonderful working of the Laws Delay and on account of relatively `soft attitude of the bureaucracy ?
(2.) The petitioner-Associated Cement Companies Ltd. is a well-known public limited company carrying on business of manufacturing of cement at Dwarka. The cement unit is known as Dwarka Cement Works. It is not in dispute that the petitioner-Company got the land admeasuring 337 acres and 30 gunthas from the erstwhile State of Baroda on lease. The lease was for a period of about 30 years. It commenced from December 24 1929 From the record of the petition it is clear that even according to the petitioner the land was granted to the petitioner-Company for the purpose of manufacture of portland cement and natural cement and for purposes connected therewith (See para 3 of Annexure B to the petition). The impugned order passed by the Collector Jamnagar also very clearly mentions that the land has been leased for the purpose of manufacturing of portland cement and natural cement. The initial period of lease expired in the year 1961. The lease was to be renewed for a further period of 30 years. The amount of lease was required to be determined but the matter remained being tossed up from the office of Mamlatdar Dwarka to the office of the Collector Jamnagar then to the office of State Government at Gandhinagar and then to the office of the petitioner-Company.
(3.) The Government ultimately as per its order dated 3-5-1975 decided that the total land held by the petitioner was 337 acres and 30 gunthas. Out of this much land 4 acres and 563 41 gunthas of land be deducted and the remaining land i.e. land admeasuring 333 acres and 49 gunthas be given on further lease for 30 years. The lease amount should be determined at the prevailing rate i.e. the Consulting Surveyor should determine the market rate as in the year 1981 and the rent should be charged at the rate of 6% of the market rate so arrived at. Pursuant to the aforesaid Government order the Collector Jamnagar passed an order dated April 14 1977 two years after the order dated 3-5-1975 passed by the State Government. The Collector Jamnagar determined the rent as follows:
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