At, High Court of Karnataka
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE KRISHNA S. DIXIT
For the Petitioners: T.A. Karumbaiah, Advocate. For the Respondents: R1, G. Narasireddy, AGA., R2 & R3, H.C. Shivaramu, Advocates.
(Prayer: These writ petitions are filed under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India praying to quash Ann-A, the prly. Noti. dated 1.4.1981 & Ann-B the final notification dated 29.3.1984 gazetted on 31.3.84 issued by the R1 and direct the respondents to comply the terms of Ann-E the circular dated 4.12.1997 issued by the R1 within a specified period.)
1. In all these writ petitions, in substance a challenge is laid to the acquisition of the subject lands. After service of notice respondent-State has entered appearance through the learned Addl. Government Advocate Shri Narasi Reddy and the respondent-MUDA and its SLAO have entered appearance through their panel counsel Shri. H.C. Shivaramu.
2. Facts in brief:
Petitioners claim to be the owners of the subject lands that were sought to be acquired vide Preliminary Notification dated 01.04.1981 followed by Final Notification dated 29.03.1984 culminating into passing of the award on 02.04.1986, under the provisions of the Karnataka Urban Development Authorities Act, 1987 r/w the provisions of erstwhile Land Acquisition Act, 1984.
3. Grounds of challenge:
Learned counsel for the petitioners urges the following points for invalidation of the acquisition.
(a) The acquisition having not been accomplished within a reasonable period by taking the physical possession of the subject lands and also by making the payment of the compensation to the land owners, stands vitiated;
(b) till date petitioners have been continuing in the occupation of the subject lands and that respondents claim to the contrary, is not true and correct inasmuch as several structures which even a blind man can see exist in the subject lands even now;
(c) till date no compensation has been paid to the petitioners nor there is any plausible explanation for not making the payment thereof; these lands are the only source of livelihood for the petitioners;
(d) some lands in the very survey number having been denotified, not extending the said benefit to the similarly circumstanced petitioners is discriminatory and therefore violative of the principle of equality enshrined under Article 14 of the Constitution of India; and
(e) the scheme envisaged u/s.27 of the 1987 Act having not been executed within the statutory period has lapsed and that the acquisition having not being preceded by sanction to the scheme, is null & void.
So arguing, the learned counsel sought for allowing the writ petitions.
4. Stand of the respondents:
Learned Addl. Government Advocate and learned panel counsel oppose the writ petitions with the following contentions: (i) the challenge to the acquisition is belated and no plausible explanation is offered for approaching this Court with inordinate delay of more than 30 years;
(ii) the acquisition having been initiated in April 1981, the award having been passed on 02.04.1986, the possession having been taken on 09.10.1992, the layout having been formed soon thereafter, the challenge now is unworthy of scrutiny;
(iii) the alleged de-notification of a piece of the land in the very same survey number even if assumed to be true, the same does not advance the case of the petitioners who have not sought for such denotification; and
(iv) the challenge to the acquisition in respect of the adjoining lands made pursuant to same or similar notifications in several cases has already been negatived by this Court after considering the very grounds urged in these petitions and therefore there is no reason to deviate from those judgments.
So contending the learned counsel sought dismissal of the writ petitions.
5. Since all these writ petitions involve common questions of law and facts, they are taken up for final hearing together as requested by the Bar. I have heard the learned counsel for the petitioners and the learned counsel for the respondents. I have perused the petition papers and adverted to the decisions cited by the learned counsel on either side.
6. This Court is of the considered view that these writ petitions are liable to be dismissed for the following reasons:
(i) admittedly, the acquisition process for the purpose of formation of Vijayanagara III Stage Layout in Mysore began with the issuance of the Preliminary Notification dated 01.04.1981 which was gazetted on 25.06.1981; the Final Notification dated 29.03.1984 was gazatted on 31.03.1984; awards came to be passed on 02.04.1986; these writ petitions are filed in the first half of 2014 i.e., with in inordinate delay of more than 30 years and no plausible explanation has been offered therefor; even otherwise also no circumstances are shown from the record warranting condonation of delay & laches, either;
(ii) although no period of limitation is and can be prescribed by the Legislature for invoking the writ jurisdiction, the consistent view of the Apex Court and of this Court is that delayed challenge to the land acquisition should not be favoured, subject to all just exceptions into which the case of the petitioners does not fit; the identical challenges to the very same acquisition comprising the adjoining lands has been negatived by this Court vide judgment dated 17.09.2007 in W.P.No.6207/2005 in the case of K.SATYANARAYANA & OTHERS vs STATE & OTHERS; the Writ Appeal No.2106/2017 c/w Writ Appeal No.1944/2007 filed against the same also came to be dismissed by the Division Bench of this Court vide judgment dated 28.01.2008; similarly in yet another case between H.N.BASAVARAJU vs STATE & OTHERS in W.P.No.6731 & 7131-35 of 2010 the challenge having negatived by a learned Single Judge vide Order dated 03.08.2010, the Writ Appeal Nos. 3451, 3654-58 of 2010 also came to be dismissed vide judgment dated 08.04.2011; the copies of these judgments are produced by the respondent-MUDA at Annexures-R-1, R-2 & R-3 to its Statement of Objections; there is no reason for this Court to take a different view in these writ petitions which are founded on more or less the very same grounds urged therein;
(iii) the contention of the petitioners that still they have been continuing in the possession of the subject lands does not gain acceptance because the judgments aforementioned speaking of the very same acquisition notifications record a finding as to the possession having been taken by the respondents from the land owners again decades ago and that there is no reason as to why the possession of these lands has been left with the land owners;
(iv) the document at Annexure-R-9 is the letter dated 09.10.1992 given by the petitioners at Annexures R-9 to the Statement of Objections, wherein they have given consent for acquisition at the rate of Rs.50,000/- per acre; it is a settled legal position that a person who consents to acquisition cannot later turn around and lay a challenge thereto; entertaining the writ petitions of such persons virtually amounts to placing premium on unconscionability; thus the petitioners are disentitled to the grant of relief at the hands of this Court in its extraordinary jurisdiction;
(v) yet another reason to deny relief to the petitioner nos. 2 & 3, namely, Mr. Chandre Gowda and Mr. Janardhana had filed W.P.Nos.19116/2006 laying a challenge to the very same notifications of acquisition and the same came to be dismissed vide judgment dated 28.01.2009 by a Co-ordinate Bench of this Court, a copy whereof is at Annexure-R-7 to the Statement of Objections filed in W.P.No.16724-16729/2014; none of the petitioners have whispered one single sentence about they having lost the challenge in the earlier round of litigations; thus all the petitioners have tried to play fraud on this Court vide suppressio veri & suggestio falsi and therefore they are liable to be non-suited; and
(vi) the contentions of the petitioners which are now being urged as to acquisition being bad and the possession having not being taken
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by the respondent-MUDA are hit by the doctrine of constructive res judicata inasmuch as similar contentions having been or could have been urged and rejected, and therefore their re-agitation apart from being impermissible may border the abuse of the process of the Court. For the same reason the reliance placed by them on the decision of the Apex Court in the case of PRAHALAD SINGH vs. UNION OF INDIA, (2011) 5 SCC 386 and of this Court in D. NARAYANAPPA vs. STATE & Others, (2005) 2 KCCR 1134 and BASAVANAPPA vs. DEPUTY COMMISSIONER, (2006) 2 KCCR 808 do not come to their aid. In the above circumstances, these writ petitions being devoid of merits, stand dismissed. The observations made herein above will not come in the way of petitioners seeking the release of the compensation for the lands acquired, after establishing their credentials. No costs.