1. The present writ petition is filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India for issue of a Writ of Mandamus to declare the action of 2nd respondent-District Collector (PW), Ranga Reddy, in issuing the impugned Memo No.4505/2019/B1/Pts/1, dated 02.06.2020 directing the respondent Nos.4 and 5 to remove the obstructions in the DTCP LP No.2306/2007/29-2008/H under Sections 53 and 144 of the Telangana State Panchayat Raj Act, 1994 and give compliance report to his office by 10.06.2020 without fail, as being arbitrary, illegal, unconstitutional, against the principles of natural justice and in violation of the fundamental rights of the petitioner company under Articles 14, 21 and 300-A of the Constitution of India and to set aside the said memo, with a consequential directions to i) the respondents 1 to 5 to return/ restore the land belonging to the petitioner in Survey Nos.98 and 99 situated at Mokila Village, Sankerpally Mandal, Ranga Reddy District, on which respondents 2, 4 and 5 illegally laid road in Mokila Village as it was prior to laying of the said road on 06.06.2020; ii) the respondents 2 to 11 not to interfere in the peaceful possession of the petitioner’s land; and iii) take necessary action against the respondents 2 to 11 for abusing their power and for depriving the petitioner of its property by laying illegal road over the same.
2. The above case is taken up for hearing today i.e., 16.07.2020, through Video Conferencing.
3. Heard Sri L. Ravi Chander, learned senior counsel representing Sri Sarang Afzulpurkar, learned counsel for the petitioner company, learned Government Pleader for Panchayat Raj appearing for respondents 1, 2, 3, 8 and 9, Sri Y. Rama Rao, learned standing counsel appearing for 6th respondent-HMDA, Sri G. Narender Reddy, learned standing counsel appearing for respondents 4, 5 and 10, learned Government Pleader for Home appearing for 7th respondent, Sri A. Venkatesh, learned counsel appearing for 11th respondent and Sri A. Purusotham Reddy, learned counsel who initially claimed to be on caveat for Respondent No.11 when the matter came up for admission on 06.07.2020 (though no caveat is placed on record), thereafter claiming to be appearing for the person named in reference no.6 of the impugned order without entering any appearance, and having filed a separate writ petition W.P. No. 8380 of 2020 claiming to be one of the plot owner.
4. It is the case of the petitioner company that the petitioner has purchased total land admeasuring Ac.19.09 guntas in Survey Nos.98 and 99 (i.e., Ac.3.08 guntas in Survey No.98 and entire extent of land of Ac.16.01 guntas in Survey No.99) from the year 1999 onwards till about 2006. It is claimed by the petitioner that subsequently the petitioner obtained conversion of land from agriculture to non-agriculture in February, 2007 and thereafter decided to develop a layout by converting the said land into plots and sought an approval from the 3rd respondent authority-Director of Town and Country Planning (DTCP), Hyderabad by submitting the draft plan, upon which the said authority had issued a draft technical layout pattern approval on 12.03.2008. However, in the meantime, the entire area of Mokila of Shankerpally Gram Panchayat has been brought under the control of HUDA now renamed as HMDA (6th respondent herein) to bring about a regulated development in the area covered by the jurisdiction of the said authority. Upon the said area of Mokila being brought under the jurisdiction of HMDA authorities, the 3rd respondent was directed not to sanction any layouts and the layouts for which sanctions were granted earlier were required to approach HMDA authorities for rectification within the time permitted. However, it is claimed that the petitioner did not approach the HMDA authorities seeking rectification of layout for which the petitioner obtained a draft technical layout pattern sanction in March 2008 and thus the said layout permission obtained stood cancelled and the file was treated as closed. The said fact is also evident from the letter dated 19.11.2010 addressed by the DTCP, Hyderabad to the Principal Secretary to Government, Municipal Administration and Urban Development, Hyderabad.
5. It is further case of the petitioner that since the said draft layout for which technical sanction was granted by the 3rd respondent authority stood closed, no development could be taken up and the entire extent of land in Survey Nos.98 and 99 had reverted back to its original position of a plain land converted from agriculture to non-agriculture. That being the position, the 2nd respondent authority claims to be acting on the complaints received from one M. Ramana and others, resident of Mokila and one K. Purushottam Reddy and others, residents of Kammaguttapally, Gowkanapalle Mandal, Anantapur District, Andhra Pradesh by their petition dated 07.02.2020 and based on the notice of the District Panchayat Officer, dated 22.10.1999 and 21.11.2019, letter of the Public Information Officer and Deputy Director, office of the DTCP, Hyderabad dated 17.02.2020 and proceedings of Metropolitan Commissioner, HMDA, Tarnaka, Hyderabad, dated 11.12.2017, has issued the impugned memo No.4505/2019/B1/Pts/1, dated 02.06.2020, wherein the said authority stated that there is a short cut road to the Thandas and village temple and several villa projects came up and temple also developed and that there is no proper route to proceed to village temple, whereby the farmers’ lands, residents of villa communities and residents of Thanda are facing lot of inconvenience to reach the respective places. By the said Memo, it is further stated that a DTCP layout in Survey Nos.98 and 99 was developed and plots were sold to different people, who have obtained LRS proceedings from the HMDA layout and the developer of the said layout has blocked the roads by digging trenches, due to which farmers and residents of nearby Thandas are facing lot of problems to reach the farm lands and to temple and requested to direct the concerned authority to take necessary steps for opening and laying the road from Survey Nos.98 and 99 of Mokila village.
6. It is the further case of the petitioner that the 2nd respondent authority acting on the said representation without even issuing any notice to the petitioner or without calling for any explanation from the petitioner or ascertaining the correctness or otherwise of the said claim, has issued the impugned memo, assuming the said claim made by the persons shown in the reference, by purported exercise of powers under Sections 53 and 144 of Telangana State Panchayat Raj Act, 1994, and directed respondent no. 4 and 5 to remove the obstruction made to the road in the layout as per the existing Rules immediately and submit a compliance report to his office by 10.06.2020 without fail.
7. The learned senior counsel would further submit that through the said impugned memo issued, while the 2nd respondent authority has given a goby to all the known canons of principles of natural justice, the consequential actions of the respondent no. 4 & 5 also show that the said memo / order has been issued at the behest of the neighboring property developers having vested interest and in particular to benefit the respondent no.11, who is developing a residential project on the north west side of the petitioner property.
8. Per contra, the learned Government Pleader for Panchayat Raj submits that by the impugned memo / order, the 2nd respondent has merely directed the respondent no. 4 and 5 to take necessary action as per the Rules and such a direction cannot be construed as having affecting the right of the petitioner for the reason that the authorities who are directed to take necessary action to remove the obstruction made to the road were directed to do so by following the existing Rules, which would include in its ambit, the authorities causing enquiry at site and also notices if contemplated under the statute.
9. Sri G. Narender Reddy, learned standing counsel appearing for Gram Panchayat justifying the action of respondent authority, would submit that once the petitioner having obtained draft layout and having sold plots in Survey Nos.98 and 99 of which the said owners having obtained regularization under the LRS scheme, on account of the conditions imposed while granting LRS to the respective plots, all the roads which are shown in the draft layout would vest with the Gram Panchayat and thus the roads as shown in the draft layout would be required to be maintained by the Gram Panchayat and since the petitioner has dug of trenches on existing road, based on the directions of the 2nd respondent authority, the said respondent authorities removed the same and re-laid the road (as stated in the counter filed in W.P. No. 8380 of 2020) for providing access therefrom into the other lands.
10. The learned standing counsel would further submit that the claim of the petitioner that he is the owner of the land admeasuring 19.09 guntas in Survey Nos.98 and 99 is also falsified on account of the fact that the petitioner had already sold nearly 80% of the plots to the various buyers and thus the claim of the petitioner that the petitioner is the absolute owner and possessor of the land to an extent of 19 acres is a clear misstatement.
11. The learned standing counsel would also submit that in respect of another layout developed by the petitioner in Survey Nos.100 and 107/P for which the petitioner has obtained permission from the 6th respondent authority, which land is situate on to the west side of Survey no.99, the petitioner has shown access to the said land from the 40 feet wide road shown in Survey No.99, thereby clearly establishing that the said road vested with the Gram Panchayat thus, the claim of the petitioner that the petitioner is the absolute owner of the land in survey no.99 and as such cannot be dispossessed from his land without following due process of law is a false claim and is a self serving statement.
12. The learned standing counsel would further submit that since the petitioner encroached on to the roads, which stood vested with Gram Panchayat, and made obstruction, the authority in exercise of powers conferred under Sections 92 and 97 of the Telangana State Panchayat Raj Act, has removed the said encroachment, for which no notice is required.
13. Sri Y. Rama Rao, learned standing counsel appearing for 6th respondent-HMDA, while mentioning that he is handicapped by not having the entire record of the 6th respondent authority, on the basis of the documents annexed to the writ petition would submit that the petitioner only obtained a draft sanction of layout pattern from DTCP, Hyderabad, the 3rd respondent authority, on the basis of which the petitioner was required to carry out the development of the layout by laying roads of the prescribed width, drainage, street lighting and other basic amenities. After undertaking basic development activities, the developer is required to approach the concerned authority and the said authority on being satisfied about the development having been made in accordance with the draft technical sanction pattern, would approve and release the final lay out plan, on the basis of which the developer can effect sale of the plots in the lay out. It is further submitted by the learned Standing Counsel that the petitioner did not undertake any development activity as per the draft lay out sanction obtained in March, 2008 and not having approached the HMDA authorities seeking ratification of the draft lay out sanction or the DTCP authorities seeking approval and release of final lay out, which would be forwarded to the 6th respondent authority in view of the area being brough under the control of the 6th respondent authority, the draft lay out sanction stood cancelled and no final layout permission was granted.
14. The learned standing counsel would further submit that even assuming that the petitioner is the absolute owner of the land in Survey Nos.98 and 99, even then the neighboring land holders would be entitled to have access to their lands by way of cart way, which the petitioner appears to have blocked, thereby affecting the ingress and egress of the adjoining land holders, and thus, the respondent authority no. 4 and 5 who are empowered to remove encroachment on public roads.
15. Learned Assistant Government Pleader for Home has forwarded to this court by e-mail written instructions dated 08.07.2020 under the signature of Sub-Inspector of Police, Shankerpalli P.S., Cyberabad Commissionerate.
16. By the said written instructions, while denying the writ averments in so far they relate to the respondent police authority, it is stated that on 03.02.2020 at 17.00 hrs, the 7th respondent authority received a petition from Masood Hasan, Countryside Realtors India Pvt. Ltd., viz., the petitioner herein, in which he stated that on 01.02.2020 at about 11.30 hrs onwards people named therein along with Panchayat Secretary, Ms. Lakshmi Thulasi, M. Anil with a mob of around 300 people with JCB and tractors, numbering nine, who’s registration numbers are mentioned therein, tried to trespass into complainant’s property, manhandled, threatened and abused his security person mentioned therein and thrown away his phone and they even throttled the complainant and threatened his staff to bear the dire consequences if the complainant stops them from entering into his premises. They started laying a road in the centre of the complainant’s property and tried to encroach his property. They claimed that they were doing all this on the instructions of few lambadas from Mokila Tanda and EIPL Project (La Paloma). On that a case was registered in Crime No. 25 of 2020 on 01.02.2020 (could be typo error instead of 03.02.2020) and the said case is under investigation.
17. By the above state written instructions it is further stated that 09.06.2020 at 10.00 hrs the said authority received a petition from Smt. Lakshmi Tulasi, Mokila Village Panchayat Secretary, in which she stated that two persons named Mr. Masood and Sri. K.N. Simha, the Developers / Builders, M/s. Countryside Realtors India Pvt. Ltd, Shankerpally Village and Mandal have shown roads and open spaces in the layout but not registered them in favour of Gram Panchayat and violated the Rules issued from time to time and misleading the Gram Panchayat and caused huge loss to the Gram Panchayat exchequer and not obeying the directions of the Gram Panchayat. As such the District Collector (P.W.), R.R. District, has directed the complainant to book a criminal complaint against the builder / developers who have violated the law, by duly following existing Rules. On that a case was registered in Crime No. 239 of 2020, U/s. 447, 427, 341 r/w 34 IPC of Shankerpalli Police Station on 09.06.2020 and the case is under investigation for collection of documentary evidence.
18. It is further stated that the said authority received a petition on 10.06.2020 from the complainant Smt. Laxmi Tulasi, Mokila Village Panchayat Secretary, Shakerpally Mandal, Rangareddy Dist, wherein she stated that as per the orders of District Collector, on 06.06.2020 they laid a public road in the Sy.No. 98 and 99 of Mokila Village. On 09.06.2020 at night 24.00hrs (about 23.30 hours to 10.06.2020 at 00.30 hrs) some persons by name Masood, Vajid and some other came in their car and destroyed the public road with two JCBS, one JCB bearing no. TS 15EV 6197 and another vehicle not having number plate. On that registered a case in Crime No. 243 of 2020 U/s. 447, 427, 431 r/w 34 IPC and Sec. 3 of PDPP Act ( Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1994) of Shankerpalli police Station on 10.06.2020 and the case is under investigation for collection of documentary evidence.
19. It is stated that except registering the above cases and doing investigation the respondent No. 7 is not concerned with any other issues of the petitioner and upon request of the respondent No. 4 and 5 police protection was provided.
20. Sri A. Venkatesh, learned counsel appearing for 11th respondent would submit that the 11th respondent has purchased the land on the north west side of the petitioner’s land, wherein the said respondent had constructed villas and since, the petitioner has shown the land in Survey No.99 as road, which stood vested with the Gram Panchayat authorities and being a public road, the said respondent is entitled to use the same for having access to his land and the constructions made therein. He would further submit that other than the road from the petitioner’s land there is no other access to the respondent no.11 land and the constructions made therein.
21. This court despite objection from the learned Senior Counsel appearing for petitioner stating that what is under challenge is the high handed action of respondent authorities in passing / issuing the impugned memo, wherein an individual claiming to have interest would have no locus, permitted Sri A. Purushotham Reddy, learned counsel appearing for the complainant as referred at reference no.6 of the impugned memo issued by the 2nd respondent authority, to advance his submissions. Learned Counsel would submit that one Sri K. Purushottam Reddy and another are the owners of plot No.60 in the layout developed by the petitioner situated in Survey Nos.98 Part and 99 having purchased the same in the year 2008. As the things stood, the petitioner having an eye over the said land, in view of the escalation of prices in the area is not allowing the petitioner to enter into his part of the land. Thus, it is submitted that the right owner of the plot who having paid total sale consideration and in spite of having a registered deed of sale in his favour, is being prevented/precluded to enter into and enjoy the same. He would also submit that the purchaser having also obtained regularization in respect of the plot purchased by him, under the G.O. issued by the State Government, would be entitled to have the roads for use as shown in the lay out at the time of purchase.
22. Having given due consideration to the submissions made by all the respective counsels in support of their submissions, the questions that this court is called upon to consider are –
i) whether the respondent Gram panchayat can validly claim as to the vesting of roads with the said authority despite the petitioner not taking steps in furtherance of draft technical sanction pattern obtained and the file relating to the said draft sanction having been treated as closed, due to non submission of feasibility report by the Panchayat Secretary, Gram Panchayat, Mokila, as noted in the letter dated 19.11.2010 addressed by the 3rd respondent authority to the Principal Secretary, Municipal Administration ; and
ii) whether the impugned memo dated 02.06.2020 issued by 2nd respondent authority can be sustained as having been validly issued and the consequential actions of the 4th and 5th respondent authority as being legal and valid.
23. Before delving into the details of the matter, it is to be seen that the petitioner admittedly is the owner of land admeasuring Ac. 19.09 Gts. falling in two survey numbers viz., Ac.3.08 guntas in Survey No.98 and Ac.16.01 guntas in Survey No.99. It also seen that the petitioner is the owner of the total extent of land available in Sy. No. 99, while in respect of Survey No. 98 is a part owner, owning land to the extent of Ac. 3.08 Gts abutting the eastern boundary of Sy No. 99. Thus, the land of the petitioner in Sy.No. 98 and 99 is contiguous. From the pleadings of the parties, it is not in dispute that the land was originally an agriculture land and that the petitioner intended to convert the entire extent of the land possessed, from agriculture to Non-agriculture, for which an application to the concerned authorities was made and permission was accorded by the Revenue authorities by the proceeding dated 24.02.2007. It is also not in dispute that the petitioner upon obtaining such approval, sought to develop a lay-out of residential plots therein, for which it appears that the petitioner had made an application to the 3rd respondent authority, upon which the 3rd respondent had issued what is termed as “Draft Technical Layout Pattern” on 07.08.2007 vide L.P. No.2306 of 2007/29-2008/H, though being claimed as “permission”. The scheme of the Act and the Rules in relation to sanction of lay out permission is detailed in the later part of the judgment.
24. The entire dispute emanates on the basis of “Draft Technical Layout Pattern” as issued by the 3rd respondent authority. Since, a lay out “permission” is granted by DTCP, it is being claimed that by the respondent authorities that the roads shown in the plan submitted by the petitioner stand vested with the Gram Panchayat and would thus be public property available for use by the general public at large, while the petitioner claims that the said sanction obtained from the 3rd respondent authority is only a “draft permission” and as the 5th respondent authority failed to send the feasibility report in respect of the petitioner layout proposal, to the 3rd respondent authority, the file relating to the petitioner application was closed as noted in the letter dated 19.11.2010. Thus, there is no layout at all and the claim of the respondent authorities that the roads shown in the plan submitted vesting with the Gram panchayat and to be considered as public property as being claimed would not arise. The said stand of the petitioner was also spelled out in the reply dated 25.10.2019 filed with the 8th respondent authority in response to the notice No. 4505/2019- B1(Pts) dated 22.10.2019, served on 24.10.2019, after which it is claimed that no further action taken.
25. On the other hand the respondent authorities, in particular the submission made on behalf of the 4th and 5th respondent authority is that the petitioner having obtained Draft layout from the 3rd respondent authority is required to execute a gift deed in favour of the Gram Panchayat, which it failed to do. Inspite of such non execution of the gift deed also, by virtue of the provisions of Section 53 of Telangana Panchayat Raj Act, 1994 (Old Act)(applicable at the relevant point of time) and the Telangana Gram Panchayat Land Development (Layout And Building) Rules, 2002, the roads shown in the draft layout would vest with gram panchayat since are public roads. As the petitioner created obstructions on pubic road, the respondent authorities are empowered under the Act to remove the same without issuing the notice.
26. In order to appreciate the above said submission made on behalf of the respondent authorities, it is necessary to look at the scheme of the old Act and the Rules framed thereunder. Under the Old Act, there is no specific provision dealing the Development of land and making of a layout, as in the case of the Telangana Panchayat Raj Act, 2018. However, by virtue of the powers conferred under Section 268 of the Old Act, the Government issued G.O. Ms. No. 67 dated 26.02.2002, where under Andhra Pradesh Gram Panchayat Land Development (Layout and Building) Rules, 2002, (for short Layout Rules) were notified. All permissions, for constructions of houses, taking up development activities were required to be obtained thereunder.
27. Definition of Some of the relevant terms used in the Lay out Rules are as under :
*Rule 2(14) – “Development” means the carrying out of building, engineering, mining, or other operations in, or over, or under land or water, or the making of any material change, in any building or land or in the use of any building or land, and includes redevelopment and layout and subdivision of any land, and “to develop” shall be construed accordingly ;
*Rule 2(18) - “ Executive Authority” as the executive authority of the Gram Panchayat which sanctions and releases the permissions and undertakes to ensure that the construction activity / layout development activity is carried out in accordance with the sanctioned plans, etc.;
*Rule 2(22) - “layout” means the laying out a parcel of lands into building plots with laying of roads/streets with formation, levelling, metaling or black topping or laying of the roads and footpaths, etc., and laying of the services such as water supply, drainage, street lighting, open spaces, avenue plantations etc.;
28. Rule 3 of the Layout Rules deals with “Application for Layout Permission” to be made in the prescribed form, while sub Rule (3) specifies the documents to be enclosed with such form. Rule 4 of Layout Rules deals with the “minimum requirement for approval of layout. Rule 5 of the Lay out Rules, specifies the required specifications and conditions which need to be undertaken after intimation of the layout approval by the executive authority.
29. While Rule 11 of the Layout Rules mandates “Prior Technical Approval from Director of Town and Country Planning (for short “DTCP”) is necessary for certain permissions, the sub Rule (1)(a) specifies the competent authority to be District Town and Country Planning Officer for according Technical approval for the layouts in respect of (i) in the villages with 10,000 or more population ; (ii) in the Urban Centres to be notified separately by the Director of Town and Country Planning ; (iii) in all the Mandal headquarters irrespective of the population of the village. Sub Rule (2) of Rule 11 further deals with the manner and method as to how and through whom the application should be made seeking such permission from the DTCP for according Technical clearance and time lines for processing such applications. Sub-Rule (3) specifies the time period for the “executive authority” to communicate to the applicant the receipt of technical approval from DTCP with such conditions and modifications subject to which the layout will be considered for approval and the estimated cost of development and the amenities. Sub-Rule (4) provides that within 10 days of receipt of communication from executive authority, the applicant shall communicate his agreement in the prescribed form in Annexure-E appended to the Rules along with non returnable deposit of the sum equivalent to 5% of the estimated cost of the works to be executed by the Gram Panchayat as mentioned in the communication issued under Sub-Rule(3). Sub-Rule(5) specifies that the manner in which the sum equivalent to 5% of estimated cost can be deposited and provides that it can also be in the form of Bank guarantee as prescribed in Annexure-D or execute mortgage deed in the form prescribed in Annexure -F appended to the Rules. Sub-Rule (6) mentions the time period under which the applicant is required to communicate his agreement as per sub-Rule (4) and make payment as contemplated in sub-Rule(5). It also further provides that in the event the applicant failing to comply with the requirement of Sub-Rule (4) and (5) in time, the original application shall be treated as having lapsed.
30. As per sub-Rule (7) of lay out Rules all the roads and open spaces in a layout approved by the Gram panchayat shall automatically stand transferred free of cost and vest with the Gram Panchayat. As much emphasis is laid by the standing counsel appearing for the 4th and 5th respondent authority that the roads shown in the Draft Technical Layout Pattern issued by the 3rd respondent authority, the sub-Rule is reproduced reading as below:
* Rule 11(7) - All the roads and open spaces such as parks and playgrounds earmarked in accordance with these Rules in a Layout, which is approved by the Gram Panchayat (emphasis supplied by court) shall automatically stand transferred free of cost, and vest with the Gram Panchayat free from all encumbrances. After such vesting, the Gram Panchayat shall maintain all such open spaces for the purpose for which they have been earmarked.
Further the Note appended to Rule 8 states that the Executive authority shall maintain registers of all layouts, fees and charges collected in prescribed manner.
31. A conjoint reading of Rule 3 and Rule 11 of layout Rules indicate that while prior Technical Sanction from DTCP is mandatory, but ultimately it is the Gram Panchayat which is required to issue permission for a layout by getting the necessary documents in the prescribed form executed and collected charges for issuing such permissions upon which the Gram panchayat would issue what is termed as “Aagnaya Patramu” – which can be considered as equivalent to “Permission Letter”.
32. In the facts of the present case while all the concerned respondents are seeking to claim that upon the petitioner obtaining approval from DTCP and taking up development of layout, all the roads and open spaces vest with the Gram Panchayat and the roads attain the character of “Public property”, it has not been shown any where as to the petitioner being issued with “Permission Letter” by the Gram Panchayat upon the petitioner complying with the requirements as specified in Rule 11 as detailed above in respect of the layout and the respective gram panchayat approving the same after receiving technical clearance for final approval of the layout from DTCP authorities as specified in sub-Rule 11(2) of layout Rules.
33. Further, even in the counter affidavit filed by the 5th respondent in W.P. No. 8380 of 2020 on which the learned Standing counsel placed reliance while arguing, no details as to final approval granted by the Gram Panchayat are forthcoming. The claim of the respondent authorities that on mere sanction of Draft Technical Layout pattern by the 3rd respondent authority, all the roads, open spaces and parks would vest with the Gram Panchayat, is wholly unsustainable, and the said submission made for acceptance by this court, has no legs to stand and is liable to be rejected. The said conclusion arrived at by this court would stand further fortified by a reading of the contents of the letter dated 19.11.2010 addressed by the 3rd respondent authority to the Principal Secretary, Municipal Administration & Urban Development, wherein it is stated that no feasibility report is sent by the concerned Gram Panchayat in response to the letter addressed by the said authority in respect of pending draft layout sanctions accorded by the said authority.
34. The further submission made on behalf of the respondent authority that even otherwise, since some of persons who purchased plots in the petitioner layout on the basis of Draft Technical Layout Pattern, having applied for regularization and the conditions imposed while according such regularization in terms of the G.O. Ms. No. 151 MA & UD, dated 02.11.2015. In support of the said submission, learned Standing counsel has drawn attention of this court to two documents of regularization obtained by the respective plot holders as annexed to the counter affidavit filed in W.P. No. 8380 of 2020.
35. However, the said submission made also does not appeal to this court for being accepted for the reason that a reading of the G.O. Ms. No. 151 firstly indicates that the main intent behind issuing the above G.O. is for regularizing the illegal / un authorized layouts developed by the persons on the basis of claiming as having obtained permission from Gram panchayats in the past or without obtaining any permission. This would be evident from the reading of Rule 2(b) of the Regularization Rules framed under G.O.Ms.No. 151. However, as a concession, in the event of the original developers of layout not coming forward to seek regularization of an illegal / un approved layout, the individual “plot holders” who by the time had purchased a plot in such illegal / unapproved layout could also seeking regularization of the respective plot purchased by them, subject to such plot being regularized as per the layout pattern approved, as evident from a reading of Rule 2(d) of the regularization Rules. This is for the reason that the plot owner can seek regularization in respect of his plot as shown in pattern and to avoid the competent authority being dragged into possible litigation that could arise by some plot holder making claim that the plot purchased by him being located in some other place in the layout and the competent authority having regularized the same under the G.O.
36. Further, a reading of Rule 10 and 11 of Regularization Rules indicates that the conditions specified therein would be applicable in respect of regularization being sought for an illegal / unapproved layout, while Rule 12 of the Regularization Rules being applicable in respect of individual plot holders. Thus, the submission of the learned Standing Counsel that on account of regularization obtained by individual plot holders, the roads and open spaces in the layout would vest with the Gram Panchayat is contrary to the purport and intent envisaged in scheme under the G.O. issued and the submission to the contrary is without merit.
37. Next moving on to the complaint at reference 6 of the impugned memo, claimed to have been lodged by one of the plot owners in the layout of the petitioner, (since the said person had also approached this court by filing WP No. 8380 of 2020, this court called for the bundle and had the benefit to go through the record) it is to be seen that the said complaint is primarily addressed to the police authorities complaining that on 07.02.2020, when the complainant therein visited the plot at 9.30 AM, the persons named therein along with 30 to 40 members of which 10 are bouncers had ploughed the road and common entrance and trying to close the road and sought for taking necessary action against the people named therein. Though a copy of the said complaint is marked to the 2nd respondent authority, the documents as filed into this court does not indicate that the same having been filed with the 2nd respondent authority. However, that does not matter much, but what is interesting is the sequence of dates noted below :
i) As seen from para 16 above, the petitioner lodged a petition with 7th respondent police on 03.02.2020 complaining that people named therein along with 300 other people accompanied by the 5th respondent and one M. Anil have encroached into his land in Sy. No.99 and by using JCB and tractors totaling to nine in number are laying the road in his land, and when asked they said the road is being laid on the instructions of few lambadas from Mokila Tanda and EIPL Project (La Paloma). On that a case was registered in Crime No. 25 of 2020.
ii) The complainant(s) at reference 6 of the impugned memo, who are native of Ananthapur and Nellore Dists. in the State of Andhra Pradesh, claim to have purchased a plot bearing no. 60 in the lay out of the petitioner under an Agreement of Sale Cum GPA from its previous owners on 05.02.2020 registered at SRO, Shankerpally as document No. 1041 of 2020 on 06.02.2020
iii) On 07.02.2020 the said persons claim to have visited the plot purchased by them at 9.30 and find the people of the petitioner company ploughing and digging the road and approach the police and revenue authorities and lodge a complaint by giving their address as in Ananthapur and Nellore dist. A reading of the contents of the petition lodged by the said persons with the police authorities in particular para 4 indicates that the complainants have become fully acquainted with the topography of the area in a single day from the date of purchase despite being from a different districts as apparent from the addresses mentioned in the petition, and also could ascertain as to the usage of the common entrance road by people for ingress and egress to access by many plot owners, Nagulamma Grama Devatha temple, green fields, which they claimed being obstructed by the people named in the complaint as belonging to the petitioner. Further, the person(s) lodging the petition with the respondent police sought to give a communal colour to the incident being complained of.
The sequence of events as narrated above only go to show how genuine is the claim of the said person(s) mentioned at reference 6 in the impugned memo dated 02.06.2020, for being taken in to consideration by the 2nd respondent authority, while issuing the impugned memo.
38. With regard to the submission of Sri. A. Venkatesh, learned counsel appearing for the 11th respondent, that he has been instructed to submit that the access to the 11th respondent site is only from the road laid through the petitioner land in Sy.No.99 and the same being used since the 11th respondent started construction activity in its site which falls on the North-West side of the petitioner’s land, notwithstanding the pleadings of the petitioner stating that petitioner had already granted approach from his land and no further approach road of 40ft as sought to be laid cannot be granted, this court in order to verify the claim made, sought to make use of the Information Technology and took assistance of Imagery services of Google Earth Pro and got images showing the petitioner and 11th respondent site as on 31.12.2016, 14.03.2018 and 09.06.2019 (copies of images are made part of the court record as Annexure A). As per the above images obtained the location of the 11th respondent site is at a latitude and longitude of 1726’09.53” N and 7811’39.76” E, Elev 576 m. The Satellite images of 31.12.2016 shows only formation of layout with mud / metal roads in 11th respondent site, while the image of 14.03.2018 shows that some structures on the North west corner of the 11th respondent site and the image of 09.06.2019 shows that many constructions having come up in the 11th respondent site which appear to be under construction as some of the said structures are in grey colour. This fact stands corroborated with images of the site as shown by the 11th respondent on its website under the progress of the ongoing projects as on 17.06.2019. (Two images taken from the web site are made part of the court record as Annexure B).
39. Further, the satellite images obtained as above show that upon entering onto the road leading to the petitioner land in Sy. No.99 on the south, the approach road takes a turn towards east and proceeds further to take a left turn towards North passing through the boundary of the land of the petitioner in Sy.No.98 and thereafter taking a further turn to left in a western direction reaching the 11th respondent site. The above approach is marked in green in the image dated 09.06.2019 (Image made part of court record marked as Annexure C). Though it is submitted by the learned counsel for the 11th respondent that the said respondent has been using the existing road passing thorough the petitioner’s land in Sy. No. 99, the portion shown in Red in the Annexure C, as being in use by regular movement of construction vehicles, leading to formation of a mud road from the petitioner’s land, similar to as appearing in the portion marked in green or even the approach road for both the petitioner’s land and the other lands in the vicinity. Thus, the claim of the 11th respondent, that the road from the petitioner’s land is being used although being a public road and there is no other access to 11th respondent site does not stand the scrutiny of this court for being accepted.
40. Further, the petition submitted by the 5th respondent with 7th respondent authority on 10.06.2020 upon which a case vide Crime No. 243 of 2020 is registered against the people mentioned therein, which includes one of the director of the petitioner company, also mentions that the said authorities laid a road on 06.06.2020 as directed by the 2nd respondent authority by the impugned memo dated 02.06.2020. It is also to be noted that in the petition lodged by the petitioner with 7th respondent authority on 03.02.2020, it is claimed by the petitioner that the 5th respondent authority had encroached on to the petitioner’s land along with 9 JCB and tractors by mentioning registration numbers of such vehicles and is trying to lay a road in petitioner’s land. Thus, considered from any angle the claim of the 11th respondent of existence of public road for the said respondent to use is a self serving claim. A cursory look at the Annexure C viz., the image dated 09.06.2019 and the portion marked in red falling in petitioner’s land, clearly shows that if the 11th respondent could get access to his project from the land of the petitioner, the same would enhance value of the project, for which instead of resolving through commercial negotiations, it is apparent that the 11th respondent is making use of all means including the obliging official respondent authorities and the impugned memo issued by the 2nd respondent authority and the swiftness with which the 4th and 5th respondent authorities acted thereon (which is normally not found when it comes to solving public issues / problems) only goes to confirm the conclusion arrived at by this court.
41. As the matter stood thus, the 2nd respondent authority has issued the impugned Memo dated 02.06.2020 directing the respondents 4 & 5 to remove the obstruction made to the road as shown in the layout by exercising powers under Sections 53 and 144 of Telangana State Panchayat Raj Act, 1994. However, a perusal of the said impugned order passed by the 2nd respondent indicates the following discrepancies:
i) While it is being claimed that the said memo is issued pursuant to the petitions/representations received from one M. Ramana and others, vide first reference in the memo and K. Purushottam Reddy and others, vide sixth reference in the memo, whereby it is claimed that there is a short cut road to their Thandas and village temple and also various villa projects have come up in the neighborhood for which they need to pass through the land of the petitioner as otherwise it would cause inconvenience, the said memo does not indicate the 2nd respondent authority causing any enquiry or putting the petitioner on notice or seeking an explanation before directing the 4th and 5th respondents to take necessary action and report compliance without fail by the specified date ie.,10.06.2020. In issuing the impugned memo dated 02.06.2020, the 2nd respondent authority has conveniently ignored and turned a blind eye to all the known cannons of Principles of Natural Justice more particularly when the said administrative action of the 2nd respondent authority has civil consequences. The said action of the 2nd respondent authority in issuing the above memo in utter disregard to the principles of natural justice clearly falls short of the law laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Menaka Gandhi v. Union of India (1978) 1 SCC 248) and more particularly when such administrative order involves civil consequences (emphasis supplied by court).
ii) Further, the 2nd respondent authority while issuing the impugned memo directing the 4th and 5th respondent to remove obstructions has referred to the provisions of Sections 53 and 144 of Telangana State Panchayat Raj Act, 1994. It is to be seen that Telangana State Panchayat Raj Act, 1994 (AP Panchayat Raj Act, 1994, as adopted under AP Reorganization Act, 2014) stood repealed by the Act No.5 of 2018 and in place of the same, the Telangana State Panchayat Raj Act, 2018 has been enacted. The reference to the repealed enactment by the 2nd respondent authority, who is the head of the District Administration, clearly goes to show that the impugned memo has been passed by the said authority in haste and prima facie lends credence to the claim of the petitioner that it is at the behest of the neighboring rival realtor project developers. Many more short comings can be noticed from the impugned memo, detailed herein below, which would go to show that the 2nd respondent authority, who is bestowed with the power to enforce law has usurped the same.
iii) Further, the submission of the learned Government Pleader for Panchayat Raj that by the said memo issued, the 2nd respondent authority has merely directed the 4th and 5th respondent authorities to remove the obstruction as per the existing Rules and cannot be considered as a direction by the authority to act in a particular manner, does not appeal to this Court for being accepted, having regard to the language used whereby the 4th and 5th respondent authority are “directed to remove the obstruction” and further direction to “submit a compliance report by 10.06.2020 without fail”, clearly indicates that the 2nd respondent authority wanted the 4th and 5th respondent authority to act in a particular manner and no discretion is left to the said authorities, as sought to be contended by the Learned Government Pleader. The said conclusion of this court stands fortified by the fact that even the 5th respondent authority understood in the same manner, would be evident from the petition filed by the said authority with the 7th respondent police authority against the Director of the petitioner company, wherein it is claimed that basing on the direction of the 2nd respondent authority, the 5th respondent authority claims to have laid the road in the petitioner land in Sy.No. 99 of Mokila village. The said action of the 2nd respondent authority in issuing the impugned memo and the further acts of 4th and 5th respondent authorities in giving effect thereto would go to show that the said authorities have clearly deprived the petitioner of his right over the property in contravention of Article 300-A of the Constitution of India.
42. In one of the earliest judgements of the Hon’ble Supreme Court dealing with adherence of principles of natural justice in relation to administrative actions is in the case of State of Orissa v. Dr.(Miss) Binapani Dei and Ors., (1967 SCR (2) 625). The Apex Court in the said case while dealing with the issue whether an employee can be superannuated by re-fixing the age by an administrative order observed thus –
“It is one of the fundamental Rules of our constitution 'setup that every citizen is protected against exercise of arbitrary authority by the State or its officers. Duty to act judicially would therefore arise from the very nature of the function intended to be perform; it need not be shown to be super-added. If there is power to decide and determine to the prejudice of a person, duty to act judicially is implicit in the exercise of such power. If the tails of justice be ignored and an order to the prejudice of 'a person is made, the order is a nullity. That is a basic concept of the Rule of law and importance thereof transcends the significance of a decision in any particular case.”
By observing so, it was held that –
“It is true that the order is administrative in character, but even an administrative order which involves civil consequences as already stated must be made consistently with the Rules of natural justice after informing the first respondent of the case of the State, the evidence in support thereof and after giving an opportunity to the first respondent of being heard and meeting or explaining the evidence.”
43. In another judgment rendered by the constitution bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of A.K. Kariapak and others v. Union of India  2 SCC 262), it was held that –
“The dividing line between an administrative power and a quasi-judicial power is quite thin and is being gradually obliterated. For determining whether a power is an administrative power or a quasi-judicial power one has to look to the nature of the power conferred, the person or persons on whom it is conferred, the framework of the law conferring that power, the consequences ensuing from the exercise of that power and the manner in which that power is expected to be exercised. Under our Constitution the Rule of law pervades over the entire field of administration. Every organ of the State under our Constitution is regulated and controlled by the Rule of law. In a welfare State like ours it is inevitable that the jurisdiction of the administrative bodies is increasing at a rapid rate. The concept of Rule of law would lose its vitality if the instrumentalities of the State are not charged with the duty of discharging their functions in a fair and just manner. The requirement of acting judicially in essence is nothing but a requirement to act justly and fairly and not arbitrarily or capriciously.”
44. In Menaka Gandhi V. Union of India (1supra), it was held that –
“…… although there are no positive words in the statute requiring that the party shall be heard, yet-the justice of the common law will supply the omission of the legislature"
“Natural justice is a great humanizing principle intended to invest law with fairness and to secure justice and over the years it has grown into a widely pervasive Rule affecting large areas of administrative action.”
“The inquiry must, therefore, always be: does fairness in action demand that an opportunity to be heard should be given to the person affected”. “The law must, therefore, now be taken to be well settled that even in an administrative proceeding, which involves civil consequences, the doctrine of natural justice must be held to be applicable.”
In a concurring judgment rendered by the Hon’ble Jus. H.Beg (CJI), it was held that –
“when an administrative action involving any deprivation of or restriction on fundamental rights is taken, the authorities must see that justice is not only done but manifestly appears to be done as well.”
45. As to what is (Doctrine of) “Natural Justice” has been succinctly been explained by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the judgment rendered in the case of Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam Ltd v. Girija Shankar Pant (2001) 1 SCC 182), as –
“As a matter of fact the doctrine is now termed as a synonym of fairness in the concept of justice and stands as the most accepted methodology of a governmental action.”
46. The term what is “natural justice” could not be more lucidly be stated as done by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the judgment rendered in the case of Dev Dutt v. Union of India and others (2008) 8 SCC 725), where in it is stated that –
“What is natural justice? The Rules of natural justice are not codified nor are they unvarying in all situations, rather they are flexible. They may, however, be summarized in one word : fairness. In other words, what they require is fairness by the authority concerned.”
47. The term “Civil Consequences” has been considered by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Mohinder Singh Gill and Another v. The Chief Election Commissioner, New Delhi and others (1978) 2 SCR 272), wherein the C
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onstitutional Bench was pleased to hold that – “Civil consequences' undoubtedly cover infraction of not merely property or personal rights but of civil liberties, material deprivations and non-pecuniary damages. In its comprehensive connotation, everything that affects a citizen in his civil life inflicts a civil consequence.” 48. This court does not intend to burden this order with more judgments on this aspect of the matter, suffice it to state that the said view of the Hon’ble Supreme court continue to guide this court, while considering as to whether principles of natural justice have been adhered to when a challenge is made to an order or proceeding issued by the authority in exercise of their administrative powers. 49. Applying the principle deduced from the above cases to the facts of the case, it is to be seen that in the impugned memo issued by the 2nd respondent authority, reference has been made to representations from villagers and another at ref.1 and 6. In so far as representation referred at reference 1 is concerned, it is dated 18.10.2019. Acting on the said representation, the 8th respondent authority has issued notice dated 22.10.2019, reference 2 as mentioned in the impugned memo. Admittedly the said notice was issued to the petitioner, in response to which the petitioner has filed his reply dated 25.10.2019 (as detailed in para 24 above) without any further action being taken thereon. Though, the petitioner filed reply to the notice at reference 2, the impugned memo does not make any reference to the same nor deal with the contents and contentions raised therein. Further, having felt the necessity to issue notice to the petitioner at an earlier point of time, it cannot be said that no notice is required to be issued or it can be claimed that the principles of natural justice do not get attracted, when the 2nd respondent authority suddenly chose to issue the impugned memo after a lapse of seven months, having civil consequences by depriving the petitioner of its property. Even otherwise, if only the authority considered the stand taken by the petitioner by its reply filed through its advocate to the notice issued by the 8th respondent as mentioned in reference 2 and gave reasons for not accepting the same, the 2nd respondent authority could have had some justification. However, the impugned memo does not indicate the same. 50. In so far as the claim of the person mentioned at reference 6, if only the authority had afforded an opportunity to all the concerned by issuing notice, the above facts would have come to light, which the 2nd respondent authority failed to do so. The cryptic manner in which the impugned memo is issued by the 2nd respondent authority only goes to show the approach adopted by the said authority, smacking of arbitrariness. 51. In view of the conclusions reached by this Court as above, in relation to the impugned proceedings issued by the 2nd respondent, this Court has no hesitation to hold that the actions of the respondent authorities in particular 2nd to 10th respondents is clearly vitiated with ulterior motive and depriving the petitioner of his right over the property in contravention of Article 300-A of the Constitution of India. Thus, viewed from any angle, the action of the 2nd respondent in passing the impugned memo / order cannot be held to be valid and is liable to be set aside. Accordingly, the impugned memo dated 02.06.2020 issued by the 2nd respondent authority is hereby set aside. If at all the authorities intend to take any action, the authorities should do so by following the due process established by law, by initiating proceedings afresh, after issuing notices to all the concerned including taking steps for acquiring the land for providing amenities to the villagers if the said authorities so consider as required. 52. In normal circumstances, if such kind of aberration in adhering to the principles of natural justice, more particularly when a citizen is being deprived of his property, when brought to the notice of this court, in order to ensure Rule of law is maintained, while censuring the action of such authority, directs that the higher authority to take necessary action by initiating disciplinary action or other calling for explanation and reprimanding. But, in the facts of the present case the aberration is by the highest executive authority of the district administration itself, who is bestowed with power to ensure Rule of law is maintained. Thus, this court deems it appropriate to protect the interest of the petitioner by granting liberty to approach appropriate forum to avail remedies in accordance with law in the event of the personal life and liberty of the members / directors of the petitioner having been affected as a result of the actions of the respondent authorities on the basis of the impugned order, to seek redressal there against including compensation. 53. Subject to the above observations, the writ petition is allowed. No order as to costs. Miscellaneous petitions, if any, pending in this writ petition, shall stand closed in the light of this final order. 54. While the operative portion of the order was being dictated in the open court online, the learned counsel appearing for the complainant referred to at refence 6 of the impugned memo, sought address this court by raising voice and attributing personal knowledge of this court to the claim being made by them, in an intimidating manner, only to be reminded that such a conduct does not go well with the court and as often said – “You can afford to lose a case – but don’t lose the judge”.