FOOD CORPORATION OF INDIA Vs. BRIHANMUMBAI MAHANAGAR PALIKA
LAWS(SC)-2020-3-101
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
Decided on March 19,2020

FOOD CORPORATION OF INDIA Appellant
VERSUS
BRIHANMUMBAI MAHANAGAR PALIKA Respondents


Referred Judgements :-

GOVERNOR-GENERAL OF INDIA IN COUNCIL VS. CORPORATION OF CALCUTTA [REFERRED TO]
THE CORPORATION OF CALCUTTA VS. THE GOVERNORS OF ST. THOMAS SCHOOL,CALCUTTA [REFERRED TO]
THE CORPORATION OF CALCUTTA VS. UNION OF INDIA [REFERRED TO]
UNION OF INDIA OWNER OF THE EASTERN RAILWAY VS. COMMISSIONER OF SAHIBGANJ MUNICIPALITY [REFERRED TO]
UNION OF INDIA VS. CITY MUNICIPAL COUNCIL BELLARY [REFERRED TO]
ELECTRONICS CORPORATION OF INDIA LIMITED VS. SECRETARY REVENUE DEPARTMENT GOVERNMENT OF ANDHRA PRADESH [REFERRED TO]
FOOD CORPORATION OF INDIA VS. MUNICIPAL COMMITTEE JALALABAD [REFERRED TO]
UNION OF INDIA VS. STATE OF U P [REFERRED TO]
FOOD CORPORATION OF INDIA VS. GANDHIDHAM MUNICIPALITY [REFERRED TO]
SUKUMAR BOSE VS. EMPEROR [REFERRED TO]


JUDGEMENT

ASHOK BHUSHAN,J. - (1.)This appeal has been filed by the Food Corporation of India challenging the judgment dated 05.05.2016 of Division Bench of Bombay High Court in Writ Petition No. 2672 of 2001 by which judgment the writ petition filed by the Food Corporation of India (hereinafter referred to as "FCI") challenging the demand made by Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai of property tax has been dismissed.
(2.)The brief facts necessary to be noted for deciding this appeal are: -
2.1 The Government of Bombay acquired land at Village Poisar and at Village Magathane, Borivali for Government of India prior to the year 1964. Upon completion of the acquisition proceedings, the lands vested in the Government of India and the Government of India constructed the godowns and silos on the acquired land for storage of food grains. 2.2 FCI was set up under the Food Corporations Act, 1964 with the purpose of undertaking the purchase, storage, movement, transport, distribution and sale of food grains and other food stuff.

2.3 on 28.10.1988, a notice demanding non-agricultural tax was issued to the FCI and the FCI protested against the levy of non-agricultural tax and filed a writ petition, which was dismissed by learned Single Judge on 10.11.1988. A Letter Patent Appeal No.259 of 1989 was filed by the FCI, which was allowed by the Division Bench vide its judgment dated 03.12.1992 holding that land vested in Central Government on which godowns were constructed, hence, Central Government was not liable to pay taxes for non-agricultural use of land as per Article 285 of the Constitution of India.

2.4 The Government of India wrote a letter dated 17.02.1992 to FCI, New Delhi stating that the land for godowns was acquired by the erstwhile Government of Bombay for Government of India on which godowns were constructed by the Government of India and when the FCI came into being in 1965, these godowns alongwith other godowns of the Government were transferred to FCI during the period from 1966 to 1969. The Government of India, however, has not executed any conveyance deeds for these godowns with the FCI and legal ownership of these godowns still vests in the Government, the Status of FCI, therefore, is that of an occupier.

2.5 Letters and demands were issued by Municipal Corporation of Greater Bombay (hereinafter referred to as "Corporation") demanding property tax in respect of property situate in Dattapada Road, Borivali owned by FCI. A demand notice dated 04.09.2001 was issued by the Corporation asking to make payment for the period from 01.03.1969 to 31.03.1997 and taxes from 01.04.1997 onwards. The FCI protested the demand claiming exemption from payment of property tax as per Article 285 of the Constitution of India, the property being owned by the Central Government. The plea of the appellant was not accepted and a further notice dated 24.09.2001 was issued asking for payment of property tax. The properties were also attached.

2.6 A Writ Petition No. 2672 of 2001 was filed by the FCI, in which FCI has prayed to declare the demand for payment of property tax as illegal. Prayer was also made to issue a writ of prohibition prohibiting the respondents, their servants and agents in pursuance of letter dated 04.09.2001 and 24.09.2001. The Corporation decided the claim of the FCI. A Division Bench of the Bombay High Court relying on the judgment of this Court in Food Corporation of India Vs. Municipal Committee, Jalalabad and Another, (1999) 6 SCC 74 dismissed the writ petition vide judgment dated 02.02.2002. A review petition was filed by FCI to review the judgment, which too was dismissed on 04.10.2002. The FCI filed a special leave petition against the judgment dated 02.02.2002 as well as against the order dated 04.10.2002 in review petition. It was contended before this Court that High Court erred in relying on the judgment of the Court in Food Corporation of India Vs. Municipal Committee, Jalalabad (supra) without referring to the earlier Division Bench judgment of Bombay High Court in Civil Appeal No. 259 of 1999 dated 03.10.1992 wherein the Division Bench had held that properties in dispute in the present case is owned by the Central Government and not by FCI. This Court after noticing the submissions of both the parties allowed the appeals, set aside the impugned judgment of the High Court observing that since the High Court has not gone into these questions, the matter is remitted back to the High Court for fresh decision in accordance with law. All the contentions were left open.

2.7 After the above judgment of this Court dated 26.07.2006, the Division Bench of the Bombay High Court by judgment dated 05.05.2016 again dismissed the Writ Petition No.2672 of 2001. Special Leave Petition No. 24251 of 2016 was filed questioning the judgment dated 05.05.2016. This Court noticed the submissions made by FCI and by order dated 26.08.2016 observed that it would be more appropriate for the petitioner (FCI) to approach the High Court by filing a review petition. After the judgment of this Court dated 26.08.2016, review petition was filed, which too was dismissed by non-speaking order dated 11.09.2018 by the Division Bench of the Bombay High Court.

2.8 These appeals have been filed against the Division Bench judgment dated 05.05.2016 dismissing the writ petition and order dated 11.09.2018 dismissing the review petition.

(3.)We have heard Shri Neeraj Kishan Kaul, learned senior counsel appearing for the appellant and Shri Pallav Shishodia, learned senior counsel appearing for the Corporation.
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