UNION OF INDIA Vs. MAHENDRA GIRJI
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA (FROM: BOMBAY)
UNION OF INDIA
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(1.)This appeal by the Union of India on grant of special leave is directed against the impugned judgment of the division bench of bombay High Court. The question for consideration is, whether on a combined reading of the provisions contained in section 6 (1-A) and section 7 of the Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property Act, 1952 (hereinafter referred to as "the Act") , it is possible to hold that the power to acquire the requisitioned property still subsists when a notice in terms of the proviso to subsection (1) of section 7 of the Act had been issued by the appropriate authority on a date when the requisition had not lapsed by operation of law and that was stayed by the high Court on being approached by the notice invoking the jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, but the requisition itself lapsed while the writ petition was pending. As it appears, the property in question was under requisition under the provisions of the Defence of India rules since 1942 and continued to be so under the Act. On 13/02/1987, the collector, Bombay, who was the competent authority to exercise power under section 7 (1) of the Act, issued notice under the proviso to sub-section (1). The notice-respondent approached the High Court against the said notice and the High Court stayed the operation of that notice by order dated 3.3.1987. Against that order of grant of stay, the union government approached the division bench of the High Court and the division bench having confirmed the same, the acquisition proceeding could not continue any further. The division bench of the High Court finally disposed of the pending writ petition by the impugned order dated 30/06/1995. The division bench came to the conclusion that there was serious infirmity in the notice itself, inasmuch as the condition precedent for exercise of power under clauses (a) or (b) of sub-section (3) of section 7 of the Act had not been indicated in the notice itself. It also further came to the conclusion that the power of acquisition having lapsed on 10/03/1987, in view of the amended provisions of section 6 (1-A) of the Act, the question of revival of that notice would not arise. With these conclusions, the writ application having been allowed and the notice having been quashed, the Union of India is in appeal before us.
(2.)Mr. Mukul Rohatgi, the learned Additional solicitor General argued with vehemence that notwithstanding efflux of time, as provided under section 6 (1-A) of the Act, the notice itself having been issued within the time that was available with the competent authority to acquire the requisitioned property and that notice having been issued and the power of the authority having been interjected by an interim order of the court, preventing the appropriate authority from proceeding with the matter, the High Court committed error in coming to the conclusion that the notice itself would lapse after 10th of March, 1987. He also contended that the conclusion that there were infirmities with the notice is also not correct in view of the definition of "works" in sub-section (5) of section 7 of the Act as well as the statutory form provided for issuance of show cause notice.
(3.)We need not examine the correctness of the second submission, as in our view, on the very first submission of the learned a. S. G. , we do not find any infirmity with the conclusion arrived at by the High Court. The learned A. S. G. , no doubt, placed reliance on the two decisions of this Court under the provisions of the Army Act and the limitation provided therein for a court martial proceeding reported in Union of India v. , ex-Capt.-Harminder Kumar [jt2001 (4) sc 597] and Union of India v. Rajbir singh Khanna and Anr. [jt 2001 (7) SC 50]. But having examined these two decisions, we are of the considered opinion that those two decisions are of no relevance in interpreting the provisions of section 7 (1) of the Act and the effect of lapse of period as provided under section 6 (1 -A) of the Act. On a conjoint reading of the provisions of the Act, we have no manner of doubt, to hold that after 10th of March, 1987 when the requisition itself statutorily lapsed, there will be no power with the requisitioning authority to exercise power under section 7 (1) for acquiring the same. In that view of the matter, the High Court was fully justified in arriving at its conclusion on the question no. 1. Necessarily, therefore, we do not find any merits in this appeal, which accordingly stands dismissed.
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