Decided on March 12,1969



- (1.)The forty three petitioners were originally residents of Mudiyar village and owned small extents of land in that village. In connection with the Araniyar Project the Government of Madras, in the year 1953, acquired their lands as well as other lands in the village after due payment of compensation. As most of the villagers were agriculturists the Government of Madras proposed to rehabilitate them by assigning land to them in the bed of an abandoned tank known as Black Tank in the village of Nagalapuram aboufive miles from Mudiyur village. The Government of Madras issued G. O. Ms, No. 2826 dated 16-7-1956 by which they accepted the recommendation of the Board of Revenue that each family should be assigned on payment of value to be determined, land equal to the extent acquired from that family upto a maximum of five acres of dry or two acres of wet land It is suggested by the petitiontrs that in pursuance of G, O Ms. No. 2826, the Government of Madras also prepared a list of displaced persons mentioning the extent of land to be assigned o each of them. A copy of the 1 st has been filed as an annexure to the writ petition, but its authenticity is disputed by the Government. In 1959 the Araniyar Project and the villages of Nagalapuram etc., were tranferred to the State of Andhra Pradesh from the State of Madras under the provisions of the Andhra Madras Boundary Disputes Act 1959, The assignment proposed by the Government of Madras in 1956 was not made, but on 18-3-1964, the Government of Andbra Pradesh issued G. O, Ms, No. 433, accepting the proposals of the Board of Revenue that on payment of value at the rate of Rs. 1000 per acre of wet land, land may be allotted to the displaced persons of Mudiyur village. The maximum extent of land to be assigned to each family was fixed at five acres of dry or 2 1/2 acres of wet land. The value of land was to be recovered from the persons to whom it was allotted in ten annual instalments. Pursuant to G, 0. Ms, No 433 notices were issued to the displaced persons informing them of the proposals to allot land to them and asking them to deposit the first instalment of the value of the land proposed to be assigned to them. The petitioners claim that in pursuance of the notices issued to them all of them deposited the first instalment of the value payable by thorn. The later instalments were not paid as, it is stated, the authorities refused to receive the same. Subsequently on 27-6-67 the Government of Andhra Pradesh issued G. O. Ms. No. 610 by which it dtcided to assign one acre of land to each of the 230 displaced families. It is staled in the G. O. that the total extent of land available under the Black Tank was not sufficient for the assignment of five acres of land or 2 acres of wet land to each family, that no other land was available in the vicinity and the displaced families wanted no land elsewhere except the land in the Black Tank and that the displaced families had expressed their willingness to take the land equally inrespective of the extent of land acquired from them. The present application for the issue of a Writ has been filed on 20-4-1969 quastioning G. 0. Ms, No, 610 dated 27-6-1997.
(2.)The only ground urged before me by the learned counsel for,the petitioners is that G, O. Ms' No. 433, dated 18-3-1963 read with G. 0 Ms. No. 2826, dated 16-7-1956 contains an announcement of the policy of the Government in the matter of rehabilitating the displaced villagers of Mudiyarr by assignment of land equal to the extent acquired from each family subject to the certain maximum limits, that the notices issued in pursuance of G. O. Ms. No 433 invited the villagers to deposit amounts towards cost of the land proposed to be assigned to them, that the petitioners did deposit the amounts as required by the notices and therefore, the Government of Andbra Pradesh is in equity estopped from changing its policy and proposing to assign only one acre of land to each family irres- pective-of the extent acquired from it. The learned Counsel relies upon the oft quoted case of UNION OF INDIA V. ANGLO AFGHAN AGENCIES (1)
(3.)I do not think that the present case is a fit case for the application of the principle of equitable estoppel. G. 0. Ms. No. 610 expressly recites that the displaced families have expressed their willingness to. have the land, available in the Black Tank area to be equally distributed among them irrespective i of the , extent acquired from them" It is not stated in the affidavit filed in support of the Writ petition that this statement is not true. In fact the records produced before me show that the Government took its decision only after the Tahsildar, sub Collector and Collector reported that the displaced families are willing to have the land distributed equally amongst themselves Having agreed to an equal division of the land inespective of the extents acquired from them I see no justifiecation for the present Writ application objecting to the G. O. issued on the basis of that agreement: I am also unable to discover any principle of equity by which the Government can be compelled to assign land in the manner in which it was originally proposed by the G. O. issued by the Madras Government. This is not a case where by the payment of the first instalment of the value of the land the petitioners have suffered any mischief which cannot be Undone. The land proposed to be assigned to the petitioners has not been put in their possession : in fact no particular piece of land has ever been allotted to any of the petitioners. , It is not suggested that the petitioners have done anything, apart from payment of money which has placed them in a position of disadvantage or in a position where they could be said to ,have acted to their detriment. The depposit of the first,instalment in the. instant cases cannot be said to be such an act to the detriment of the petitioners as to entitle them to insist on the Government assigning the land to them. The mischief can be undone by the Government paying the money back to the petitioners. In order to entitle a petitioner to invoke the principles of equity in, a proceeding under Article 226 of the Constitution, he must establish that, he has suffered such detriment as would, make it impossible, to place bim back in the position which he occupied before he acted to bis detriment in pursuance of the announced policy of the Government. Where it is possible to put the petitioner back -in the' sams" position as before, I do not think that it is proper for it is Court exercising its jurisdiction under ArticIe-226 of the Constitution to compel the Government to carry out a policy which has ' been Subsequently changed. It is always open to the Government to "change its policy subject to any rights which citizens may'have acquired in law or in equity on the basis of the policy previously pursued by the Government. Such rights may be enforced by Courts in proceedings Under-Article 226 of the Constitution; The Courts in exercising their discretion will have regard To the fact whether the mischief that has been done to the petitioners'or'the 'detriment that has been 'Suffered by'them cannot be undone or remedied; the case 6f UNION OF INDIA V. ANGLO, AFGHAN AGENCI'ES (1) on which the learned counsel places Reliance is a case where on the facts and in circumstances their Lordships' of the SuPreme'Court thought that there was a departure from the basic concepts of justice and fair play and the citizen had suffered' a serious detriment on the representaion made by the Government The detriment sufffered in that case was such that the citizen could not be placed in the position Which be occupied before be acted to his detriment: Their Lordships did not lay down that in every case where a citizen does something in pursuance of the representation of the Government, the Government is bound to pursue its announced policy without any changes The following observations of their Lordships of the Supreme Court show that a Writ under Article 226 need not issue as a matter of course whenever an equiiy arises in favour of an applicant as a result of action taken bv the applicant in pursuance of a representation made by the Government. "On the facts proved in this case no ground has been suggested before the Court for exempting the Government from the equity arising out of the acts done by the exporters to their prejudice relying upon the representation".

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