Decided on December 31,2013

SAPNA,Harjeet Singh Kochhar Appellant
STATE OF UTTARAKHAND,Collector/District Magistrate, Dehradun Respondents


- (1.) Heard Mr. Gurinder Singh, Mr. Neeraj Garg and Mr. Devesh Ghildiyal, Advocates for the petitioners, Mr. Paresh Tripathi, Additional Chief Standing Counsel for the State of Uttarakhand and Mr. D.S. Patni, & Mr. Piyush Garg, Advocates for the respondent no. 3.
(2.) There is a property bearing No. 10 (new no. 81/10/), at Curzon Road, Dehradun, Uttarakhand. The last occupant and the owner of the property Smt. Krishan Kaur died in the year 1990. Since no one immediately came forward to claim the said property, the Tehsildar recommended that since the property now stands abandoned and has no claimants, the property must be taken over by the Government as it should devolve on the Government. Thereafter, the State Government through the District Magistrate, Dehradun has passed an order on 23.11.2007 taking over the said property by invoking its power of escheat under Section 29 of the Hindu Succession Act (hereinafter referred to as the Act) on ground that there are no legal claimants to the said property. When the petitioners, who claimed to be the heirs of the deceased Smt. Krishan Kaur, were aware of the above order, they claimed rights on the said property and moved a representation before the District Magistrate, but, as they failed to get any relief before him, they filed a writ petition hearing No. 1396/2011 (M/S) before this court in which an interim order was passed staying the operation of the order dated 23.11.2007. Ultimately, the said writ petition was allowed vide judgment dated 15.03.2012 quashing the order of the District Magistrate dated 23.11.2007 and the District Magistrate was directed to give a wide publicity regarding the said property and invite objections from the claimant and consequently, pass an appropriate order therein. Consequently, a notice was issued by the District Magistrate in the newspapers which was only responded by the present petitioners before this Court who claimed to be the legal heirs of the deceased, but, their representation was rejected by the District Magistrate on the ground that there is no evidence on record by which it can be said that they are the heirs of the erstwhile owner of the property as there is no declaration to that effect in their favour. The said order was passed on 11.05.2012. Inter alia, it is this order which has been challenged by the petitioners before this Court.
(3.) The first contention of the petitioners is that before invoking the power under Section 29 of the Act, the District Magistrate should have given wide publicity to the fact and the onus was upon the District Magistrate to show that there are no claimants to the said property and only then it would escheat with the Government. By shifting the onus upon the present petitioners, the District Magistrate has committed an illegality. The second contention of the petitioners is that with regard to the same property, a suit for partition is already pending before the Delhi High Court being Original Suit No. 767/2011, where some of the property lies in the territory of Delhi and the remaining in the territory of Uttarakhand. It has also been argued that the District Magistrate can raise all objections which he would have before the Delhi High Court.;

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