Decided on March 22,2022

Chhatra Industries Appellant
STATE OF BIHAR Respondents


- (1.) Shorn of unnecessary details, challenge in the instant proceeding is to the communication dtd. 28/9/2020 issued by the Development Officer of the Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority ('BIADA' for short), communicating decision of the Authority in purported exercise of powers under Sec. 12 of the Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority Act, 1974 ('Act' for short). By the said communication, BIADA has inflicted a penalty of Rs.5.00 lakhs upon the petitioner for continuing to illegally encroach upon the lands for 13 years, even after the allotments were cancelled. At the very outset, this court had expressed its view to the learned counsel for the petitioner that we may not be inclined to exercise our equitable writ jurisdiction in favour of the petitioner since he has been found to be an illegal occupant on the lands in question. Learned petitioner's counsel, however, made a submission that in the instant proceeding, he is assailing the impugned communication dtd. 28/9/2020, as the same is without jurisdiction. The penal provision contained in Sec. 12 of the Act does not empower the BIADA to impose the punishment/penalty for any offence committed under the Act. This Court had thus allowed the respondent-Authority to file its counter-affidavit dealing with this issue. The specific stand of the Authority, in respect of the submission advanced by the petitioner's counsel regarding the communication dtd. 28/9/2020 being without jurisdiction, is to be found in paragraph 26 of the counter-affidavit. Based thereupon, learned counsel for the BIADA has submitted that for violation of any order of BIADA in respect of removal of structure/encroachment, BIADA is well within its jurisdiction to impose a fine of Rs.5.00 lakhs as per the first part of Sec. 12. Punishment of simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, also prescribed under Sec. 12 of the Act, is a punishment for which jurisdiction is vested in a Magistrate of the First Class. The petitioner, being a squatter for the last about 15 years, has obstructed growth of industrial business by continuing to hold on to the land allotted by BIADA, without even starting any industry/unit on the same. Other entrepreneurs who are desirous of setting up their industry/unit, have thus been deprived of a land in the industrial area which has adverse socio-economic effect on the State. The fine imposed on the petitioner is, therefore, not only due but also well within jurisdiction of BIADA.
(2.) We have given our thoughtful consideration to the submission advanced by the parties. Having done so, we consider it useful to reproduce Sec. 12 of the Act which reads as follows: (1) Any person who violates any order of the Authority in respect of removal of any structure, encroachment, uses any land or building in contravention of any regulation framed by the Authority in this behalf shall be punishable with fine of rupees five lakhs or 300% of all costs incurred by the Authority whichever is higher or simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or both and in case of a continuing offence with further fine which may extend to Rupees five thousand per day after conviction.. (emphasis ours) (2) All fines realized in connection with prosecution under this Act shall be paid to the Authority. (3) No Court below the rank of a Magistrate of the First Class shall try any offence under this Act. (emphasis ours ) Sub-sec. 3 of Sec. 12, in unambiguous terms, provides that no court below the rank of Magistrate of First Class shall try 'any offence' under this Act.
(3.) The offence alleged against the petitioner, as per the impugned communication, is that even after cancellation of the allotment in respect of the lands, the petitioner has continued to illegally encroach the same for the last 13 years till issuance of the impugned communication dtd. 28/9/2020.;

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