Decided on April 23,1976



- (1.)These 104 Rules were obtained by the petitioners who are squatters and have erected temporary huts on the metalled portions of the public street known as "Arobinda Road" at Naihati. They challenged a notice dated 31.10.75 issued by the Administrator, Naihati Municipality, by which the petitioners were asked to remove the obstructions on the two sides of the road within 30 days from the date of that notice, in default, the authorities would take action in accordance with law. It is the case of the petitioners that they were refugees and they were forced to leave East Pakistan. From Sealdah Station they shifted to Naihati. By erecting shops on the land situated by the side of Arobinda Road within Naihati Municipality, they started business. It is alleged that the petitioners have been carrying on business since last 28 years. Sometime in 1953 the local police tried to disturb their peaceful possession but at the instance of the union known as Naihati Hawkers' Union formed in 1950, the S.D.O., Barracpore, sent a note to the Officer-in-charge, Naihati Police Station, that so long as alternative arrangements were not made, these poor hawkers should not be disturbed. The petitioners approached the Minister, Refugee Relief and Rehabilitation, Union of India through their Union. The said Union was informed that the allotment of land for rehabilitation was within the purview of the State Government. Ultimately the Commissioner, Refugee and Rehabilitation Department, informed the said union by his letter dated 30.7.58. that steps for earlier acquisition of land were being taken by the Directorate. Sometime in 17.11.75 there was an announcement by beating of drums by the Administrator of the Naihati Municipality whereby the petitioners were informed that they had to remove their shops within 30 days from the date of the announcement. Thereafter the petitioners went to the office of the respondent no. 3 wherein they collector the impugned notice dated 31.10.75 dire-ting the shop keepers to remove their structures. The petitioners being aggrieved, moved this Court and obtained these Rules as also the interim injunction.
(2.)Affidavit-in-opposition has been filed on behalf of respondent no 3 and affirmed by Kartick Chandra Mallick, Acting Executive Officer Naihati Municipality, wherein it has been denied that the petitioners had been carrying on business at the side for the last 28 years or that they possessed any trade licence from the Municipality. It has also been denied that the Municipality gave its consent, express or implied, or permission, to construct the shops or made any promise to the petitioners The Municipality never gave any assurance to any of the hawkers to construct the shops. Another affidavit-in-opposition has been filed on behalf of respondent Nos. 1 and 2 and affirmed by Dipak Kumar Das Gupta, Assistant Secretary, Refugee Relief and Rehabilitation Department, Government of West Bengal, wherein it is stated that one Sri Nityananda Ghosh and 5 others of Naihati submitted a petition dated 25.5.56 to the Minister-in-Charge. Refugee Relief and Rehabilitation Department stating therein that 200 hawkers, stated to be in unauthorised occupation on both sides of Arobinda Road, Naihati had been directed by the local police to remove their shops in pursuance of the order of the SDO. Barrackpore, They prayed for requisition of an adjacent land of a local Zaminder for alternative accommodation for their business The Refugee Relief and Rehabilitation Department after enquiry considered it expedient to acquire the said land under the West Bengal Land Development and Planning Act, 1948, with a view to remove the encroachers from the vital through-fare of Naihati. Accordingly, a notification under section 4 of the said Act was published in the Calcutta Gazette. The Land Acquisition Collector, 24-Parganas (North), enquired into the matter and submitted his report under section 44(2) of the said Act recommending that the scheme of acquisition of the proposed land be dropped. The Refugee Rehabilitation Commissioner could not inform the hawkers that the matter of acquisition had been dropped till the letter from the Land Planning Committee was received in Jan. 1959.
(3.)Mr. Banerjee, appearing on behalf of the petitioners contented that the petitioners were enjoying possession of the land of the Municipality for the last 28 years and as such they could not be evicted by any executive order without taking recourse to law. Mr. Banerjee further contended that the petitioners had been in possession with the knowledge and implied consent of the respondents and as such the respondents were estopped by the doctrine of Promissory Estoppel from evicting the petitioners. In support of his first point Mr. Banerjee relied upon the decisions of the Supreme Court in the cases of Yeshwant Singh Vs. Jagdisk Singh, (AIR 1968 SC 620), Virendra Singh Vs. State of Uttar Pradesh (AIR 1954 SC 447), Bishan Das and ors Vs. State of Punjab (AIR 1961 SC 1571) and also the decision of the Romania in Midnapore Zamindary Company Limited Vs. Naresh Narayan Roy, 51 Ind. App. 293.

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