Bela M. Trivedi, J. -
(1.)THE petitioners have filed the present petition under Article 226 of the Constitution, seeking declaration that the proceedings initiated under the Urban Land (Ceiling & Regulation) Act, 1976 (hereinafter referred to as 'the ULC Act') in respect of the land bearing Khasra No. 194 had lapsed in view of the ULC Repeal Act, 1999, and the declaration that the proceedings initiated under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (hereinafter referred to as 'the L.A. Act') in respect of the said land had also lapsed in view of Section 24(2) of the Right to Fair Compensation & Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation & Resettlement Act, 2013 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act of 2013'). The petitioners have also sought directions against the respondents to pass orders in favour of the petitioners with regard to the conversion applications (Annex. 49 to 54) filed by them under Section 90 -A of the Rajasthan Land Revenue Act, 1956 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Revenue Act') and not to take any coercive measures for taking possession of the land in question from the petitioners. In the alternative, the petitioners have prayed to regularize the said land in compliance of the order dated 10.4.02 passed by the State Level Settlement Committee and to quash and set aside the orders dated 17.11.14 (Annex. 57 and 59) passed by the respondent No. 1 -State of Rajasthan and the orders dated 20.11.14 (Annex. 56 and 58) passed by the respondent No. 2 -JDA.
2(i) The short facts, as emerging from the record of the case, are that originally Khasra No. 194 having an area of 23 Bighas and 8 Biswas situated at Village Beed Khatipura, Jaipur was entered in the name of Dr. Gopal Singh in the year 1966 -69. The said Dr. Gopal Singh sold out the said Khasra number to one Shri Manmohan Lal in the year 1971, in respect of which the mutation No. 16 dated 24.4.1971 was opened in the revenue records. The said Manmohan Lal thereafter sold the said land to the petitioner No. 1 Jhutha Ram and the petitioner No. 2 Shaitan Singh by executing the sale -deed dated 10.11.75, in respect of which mutation No. 77 dated 3.1.76 was opened in the revenue records. Thus the petitioner No. 1 and petitioner No. 2 became the Khatedars of the said Khasra No. 194. The copies of Jamabandi reflecting the entries are annexed to the petition as Annex. 1 and 2 respectively. In the year 1976, the ULC Act having come into force in the State of Rajasthan with effect from 9.3.76, the petitioner No. 1 Jhutha Ram filled in the form under Section 6 of the ULC Act declaring his holdings including Khasra No. 194. According to the petitioners, the said form was filed by the petitioner No. 1 by way of abundant caution and thereafter he was not aware about any proceedings held by the competent authority under the ULC Act. The petitioner Nos. 1 and 2 thereafter were threatened to dispossess by the officers of the JDA somewhere in the month of September, 1991 and at that time they learnt that the competent authority under the ULC Act had proceeded ex -parte against them and the proceedings were pending for service of notices under Section 10(5) of the ULC Act as on 10.9.91. The petitioner No. 1 thereafter filed an appeal being No. 57/91 before the Divisional Commissioner on 18.12.91, which came to be dismissed vide order dated 29.3.93 (Annex. 6) on the ground of being barred by the law of limitation. The petitioner No. 1 on the same day i.e. on 29.3.93 filed SBCWP No. 2011/93 before the High Court challenging the very applicability of ULC Act to the said land. The said writ petition alongwith other writ petitions came to be dismissed by the High Court vide order dated 26.4.97 (Annex. 11).
2(ii) It appears that pending the said proceedings under the ULC Act, the respondent -State initiated the acquisition proceedings under the L.A. Act for acquiring the said land bearing Khasra No. 194, by publishing the notification on 23.10.91 under Section 4 thereof, and thereafter issuing declaration on 5.5.93 under Section 6 thereof. The award was also made on 27.5.95 which was approved by the State Government on 30.6.95 and declared on 3.7.95 (Annex. 12). The petitioner Nos. 1 and 2 after the declaration of the award, challenged the acquisition proceedings by way of filing SBCWP No. 3235/95 on 17.7.95 on the ground that the said acquisition proceedings were initiated in the name of erstwhile Khatedar Shri Manmohan Lal and therefore the said petitioners could not know the factum of acquisition proceedings. The said petition was dismissed by the High Court vide order dated 24.4.97 (Annex. 17), against which the petitioner Nos. 1 and 2 had preferred the DB Special Appeal No. 1398/97. The said appeal also came to be dismissed by the Division Bench vide order dated 26.9.2000 (Annex. 18). The petitioner Nos. 1 and 2 therefore preferred the Special Leave Petition being No. 21538/2000 before the Supreme Court. The said SLP was admitted by the Supreme Court on 12.1.2001, however was subsequently withdrawn by the petitioner Nos. 1 and 2 as per the order dated 8.5.02 (Annex. 22 and 23).
2(iii) It appears that in the meantime the State Level Settlement Committee was constituted by the State Government for settling the disputes between the JDA and other persons under Section 83 -A of the Jaipur Development Authority Act, 1983 (hereinafter referred to as 'the JDA Act'). The petitioner Nos. 1 and 2 alongwith Khatedars of adjoining Khasra Nos. 193 and 193/248 therefore filed an application before the said Committee which came to be registered as the application No. 26/02. The Settlement Committee vide the order dated 10.4.2002 (Annex. 21) directed that the lands bearing Khasra Nos. 193, 193/248 and 194 be regularized as per the State Govt. Circular dated 26.5.2000, after obtaining from the petitioners 25% of the reserved price fixed for the Chitrakoot Scheme or the relevant area. The said petitioners No. 1 and 2 were also directed to withdraw the pending cases from the courts and the JDA was directed to issue demand notices for the said amount within three weeks of the production of orders of withdrawal of the petitions by the petitioners. The petitioners were also directed to deposit the amount of demand notice that may be issued by the JDA, within three weeks of the receipt of the demand notices. The petitioner Nos. 1 and 2 on having withdrawn the SLP, the respondent -JDA issued notices dated 18.5.02 making demand of Rs. 3,81,23,291.25/ - for the regularization of the land in question of the petitioners. The petitioners No. 1 and 2 deposited 1,45,05,000/ - through various challans with the JDA. According to the petitioners, the JDA thereafter did not accept the said amount of the demand notices on one pretext or the other.
2(iv) It is pertinent to note that after passing of the order dated 10.4.02 by the Settlement Committee, one PIL being No. 2658/03 was filed before this court, challenging the constitution of the said committee. The court in the said PIL had orally observed that all the decisions of the State Level Settlement Committee be kept in abeyance during the pendency of the said PIL. According to the petitioners the JDA did not accept the said remaining amount of the demand notices in view of the oral order passed by the court in the said PIL. The petitioners No. 1 and 2 thereafter had approached the JDA showing their willingness to deposit the remaining amount and therefore the erstwhile Commissioner of the JDA had written the letter dated 23.5.07 (Annex. 28), to the Dy. Secretary, UDH seeking permission from the State Government to regularize the land of the said petitioners in the light of the circulars dated 26.5.2000 and 16.5.02 issued by the State Government. The State Government in response to the said letter accorded the permission to the JDA vide letter dated 21.8.07 (Annex. 29) to regularize the land bearing Khasra No. 194 of the Khatedars in compliance of the orders passed by the State Level Settlement Committee and also directed that the lay -out plan of the scheme be released as per rules, after obtaining the payment of the remaining amount of the demand notice dated 18.5.02 with interest. According to the petitioners, the JDA did not accept the remaining amount even after the said letter of the State Government. The petitioner No. 1 thereafter made a representation to the UDH Minister on 13.8.13 (Annex. 31) requesting him to regularize the land of the petitioners in compliance of the order of the Settlement Committee dated 10.4.02 and to place the matter before the empowered committee. The said matter remained pending before the State Government.
2(v) According to the petitioners, the said Khasra No. 194 having khatedari rights of the petitioner Nos. 1 and 2 was subsequently partitioned and accordingly Khasra No. 194/1 having an area of 11 Bighas 10 Biswas was entered in the name of the petitioner No. 1 Jhutharam, Khasra No. 194/2 having an area of 8 Biswas was kept in the joint possession of the petitioner Nos. 1 and 2 and the Khasra No. 194/3 having an area of 11 Bighas 10 Biswas was entered in the name of the petitioner No. 2 Shaitan Singh. On 21.8.14, the petitioner No. 2 Shaitan Singh sold out 6 Bighas 14 Biswas out of Khasra No. 194/3 and 4 biswas of Khasra No. 194/2 (total area of 6 Bighas & 18 Biswas) to M/s. United Land Developers i.e. the petitioner No. 3 vide the registered sale -deed dated 21.8.14 and supplementary amended deed dated 1.9.14 (Annex. 35 & 36 respectively). Similarly the petitioner No. 1 Jhutharam sold out 6 Bighas 9 Biswas out of Khasra No. 194/1 and 0.1 Biswas out of Khasra No. 194/2 (Total 6 Bighas 10 Biswas) to M/s. United Land Developers i.e. petitioner No. 3 vide the registered sale -deed dated 25.8.14 (Annex. 37). The said petitioner No. 3 M/s. United Land Developers sold out different parts of the said land purchased by it, to the other petitioner Nos. 3 to 7 by executing separate sale deeds. It appears that accordingly the mutation entries were also opened in the names of all the petitioners.
2(vi) It is further case of the petitioner that all the petitioners thereafter submitted separate applications (Annex. 49 to 54) on different dates to the JDA under the provisions contained in Section 90 -A of the Land Revenue Act for conversion of their respective lands for residential purposes. However, the JDA did not pass any order on the said applications. The JDA thereafter communicated to the petitioners vide separate letters (Annex. 55 -A to 55 -C) that because of the stay in revenue matter being No. 72/14, titled as JDA Vs. State, pending before the Collector, Jaipur, it was not possible to proceed further in the matter. The JDA also communicated to the petitioners No. 1 and 2 vide letters dated 20.11.14 that the State Government had taken the decision on 17.11.14 to the effect that no further decision for regularizing the petitioners land was required to be taken as the petitioners had not complied with the order of the Settlement Committee, even after the expiry of about eleven years. The copies of the letters dated 20.11.14 and 17.11.14 are produced at Annex. 56 to 59 respectively. According to the petitioners, the respondents -authorities under the garb of the said orders were disputing the ownership of the land bearing Khasra No. 194 of the petitioners and were bent upon taking the possession of the said land from the petitioners and therefore the petition has been filed. According to the petitioners, they have remained in possession of the said Khasra number all through out and were also not paid the compensation of the acquisition proceedings initiated under the L.A. Act and therefore the entire proceedings had stood lapsed in view of the provisions contained in Section 24(2) of the Act of 2013 which came into force with effect from 1.1.2014. According to them the proceedings under the ULC Act had also stood lapsed in view of the ULC Repeal Act of 1999, the physical possession of the said Khasra number having remained with the petitioners. The petitioners have prayed for directing the respondents to pass conversion orders in favour of the petitioners under Section 90 -A of the Land Revenue Act, and not to take any coercive action against the petitioners in respect of the possession of the land in question. The petitioners have also prayed in the alternative to regularize the said land in compliance of the order dated 10.4.02 passed by the Settlement Committee.
Contentions RAISED BY THE RESPONDENTS
3(i) The respondents have resisted the writ petition by filing the reply contending inter alia that the petition suffers from mis -joinder of parties and causes of action and the petition also suffers from suppression of material facts. According to the respondents, pursuant to the form filed by the petitioner No. 1 under Section 6 of the ULC Act in respect of his holdings including the land bearing Khasra No. 194, the proceedings were initiated under the said Act, and the land had vested in the State Government under Section 10(3) of the said Act. Thereafter the appeal filed by the petitioner No. 1 before the Divisional Commissioner was dismissed, against which the petitioner No. 1 had filed the writ petition being No. 2011/93 on 29.3.93 and the said petition was also dismissed by the High Court on 26.4.97.
3(ii) As regards the proceedings under the Land Acquisition Act, it has been contended that the petitioners had deliberately not produced on record the notification issued under the L.A. Act as their names were not mentioned in the said notification as the Khatedar -tenants of the land in question. The petitioners had also not produced the Schedule to the award dated 27.5.95 as the Schedule indicated that the title of the land was yet to be decided. The respondents have produced the notification under Section 4, the declaration under Section 6 and the complete award dated 27.5.95 as Annex. R/1, R/2 and R/3 respectively. It is also contended that the petitioner Nos. 1 and 2 had filed the writ petition being No. 3235/95 challenging the acquisition proceedings on 17.7.95, however had suppressed the material facts with regard to the pendency of proceedings under the ULC Act as well as the writ petition having been filed by them challenging proceedings under the ULC Act. According to the respondents, the proceedings under the L.A. Act were continued by the competent authority oblivious of the proceedings under the ULC Act which were being continued by the different authority.
3(iii) as regards the constitution of Settlement Committee under Section 83 -A of the JDA Act, it has been contended that the findings recorded by the said Committee as regards the possession were erroneous and the same were not binding to the State Govt. It is further contended that the petitioners themselves had submitted an application praying for regularization of their possession upon the land in question, on payment of 25% of the reserved price of the land and therefore the Committee considering the said application had passed the order on 10.4.02 on the conditions mentioned therein, however the petitioner Nos. 1 and 2 had failed to comply with the said directions so far as the deposit of the amount with JDA for regularization of the possession and use of the land in question was concerned. Since it was informed by the JDA to the State Government that the petitioner Nos. 1 and 2 had not deposited the money within the time prescribed by the Committee and even within extended time limit, the State Government had stayed the direction dated 21.8.07 vide its letter dated 16.11.07 (Annex. R/4).
3(iv) It is further contended that the petitioner Nos. 1 and 2 had lost their khatedari/rights with the acquisition of the land in question, and had raised unlawful construction of 43 shops and 4 marriage gardens upon the said land for carrying out commercial activities. It is also contended that the petitioner Nos. 1 and 2 could not have sold out the land in question to the other petitioners when the land had vested in the respondent -JDA and therefore all the transfers were void -ab -initio and did not confer any right upon the petitioner Nos. 3 to 7. According to the respondents, the mutations opened in favour of the said petitioner Nos. 3 to 7 were already quashed and set aside by the District Collector vide the order dated 10.2.15, which order was not disclosed by the petitioners in the writ petition. Since the land did not belong to the petitioners they could not have made applications under Section 90 -A of the Rajasthan Land Revenue Act for conversion of the use from agricultural to residential.
3(v) It is also contended by the respondents that by making application before the Settlement Committee for regularization of land on payment of 25% of the reserved price as per the Government circular, the petitioner Nos. 1 and 2 had accepted the vesting of land in Government and consequently in JDA, and had accepted the completion of acquisition proceedings. By agreeing to make payment of 25% of the reserved price as the cost of regularization without any claim for compensation, the said petitioners had also waived their right to receive the compensation for the land in question and wherefore no further action was required to be taken under the L.A. Act. As regards the lapsing of land acquisition proceedings, it has been contended that the proceedings under the L.A. Act had already stood completed and therefore the question of lapsing did not arise.
(3.)THE petitioners had filed the rejoinder and an additional affidavit for bringing on record the subsequent development namely issuance of notices by the respondent -JDA under Section 72 of the JDA Act. The respondents have filed the counter affidavit to the said additional affidavit for submitting that the petitioners had carried out illegal encroachment and construction over the land in question and therefore, the notices were issued to them under Section 72 of the JDA Act.