At, High Court of Judicature at Calcutta
By, THE HONOURABLE MS. JUSTICE MOUSHUMI BHATTACHARYA
For the Petitioners: Biswrup Bhattacharya, Rajdeep Mazumdar, Moyukh Mukherjee, Kriti Mehrotra, Advocates. For the Respondents: Tapan Kumar Mukherjee (AGP), Somnath Naskar, Advocate.
Counsel appearing for the petitioner and the State respondents are present.
The petitioner is a hotel located in a part of Darjeeling Gymkhana Club. The petitioner complains of various actions taken by the State respondents under Section 4(c) of The West Bengal Land Reforms Act. The earlier grievance was in relation to the order passed by the District Magistrate who was of the opinion that the petitioner had taken steps to change the us
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e of land without prior permission of the competent authority. The petitioner approached this Court pursuant to such order and by an order dated 21st May, 2018, the petitioner was directed to go before the appellate forum i.e. The West Bengal Land Reforms Tribunal within a stipulated time-frame. Counsel submits that the petitioner duly approached the Tribunal but did not get any relief except an order of affidavits and the matter was made returnable sometime in April, 2019.
The immediate grievance of the petitioner however appears to be in relation to a third writ petition filed in this Court challenging an action taken by the State respondents with regard to the license which was being enjoyed by the petitioner under The Sarais Act, 1867. Counsel submits that during the course of hearing of the instant writ petition, by an order dated 4th October, 2018, the matter was made returnable on 10th October, 2018 for further consideration. On 11th October, 2018 however, the petitioner came to know that the Additional District Magistrate, Darjeeling had revoked and cancelled the Sarais License issued to M/S. Pine Tree Spa Resort. The writ petitioner is not mentioned in this order. Counsel appearing for the writ petitioner submits that M/S. Pine Tree Spa Resort is being run by the writ petitioner as has been stated in paragraph 8 of the writ petition. Counsel further submits that at 2 p.m. on 12th October, 2018, after the writ petition was taken up for hearing by the Regular Bench, the petitioner was served with an order dated 11th October, 2018 by which the Sarai License issued to M/S. Pine Tree Spa Resort by the authority on 2nd October, 2015 was cancelled. Counsel submits that no opportunity was given to the petitioner to appear at a hearing or make any representation before the decision was taken to cancel the license by the Additional District Magistrate, Darjeeling. Counsel submits that the Additional District Magistrate, Darjeeling has not been made a party in the writ petition since the action complained of and the immediate grievance arising therefrom arose only from events dated 11th October, 2018 onwards. Counsel submits that under The Sarais Act, 1867, there is no provision in relation to cancellation/revocation of license but that the action complained of involves civil consequences since the petitioner’s hotel has been closed.
Mr. Mukherjee appearing for the State respondents points to an order dated 4th May, 2018 which shows that the representative of the petitioner one Mr. Dipak Saria had participated in the hearing in relation to the matter relating to the change in use of the land without prior permission of the competent authority. Mr. Mukherjee submits that all steps required to be taken under Section 4(c) of The West Bengal Land Reforms Act have been taken by the State respondents.
Having heard the submissions of the Counsel this Court is of the view that the petitioner is entitled to some amount of protection to the limited extent of the cancellation of the license given to M/S. Pine Tree Spa Resort under The Sarais Act. This is because such license has been revoked after the petitioner filed the present writ petition on 1st October, 2018. Informing the petitioner at 2 p.m. on 12th October, 2018, after the learned Judge had already heard the writ petition is an instance of the respondents acting in undue haste without any basis for such.
In view of the above, the State respondents and the Additional District Magistrate, Darjeeling is directed not to give any further effect to the order dated 11th October, 2018 until 15th November, 2018. The petitioner as well as the State respondents are free to approach the Regular Bench after Court opens on 12th November, 2018 for the other reliefs prayed for in the writ petition. This order shall remain operative till 15th November, 2018. It is made clear that this order will not authorise the petitioner to undertake any activity which is not the subject-matter of protection granted by this Court until the writ petition is finally heard out.