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National Boards Limited v/s The State of Assam & Others

    Writ Petition (C) No. 675 of 2004

    Decided On, 05 May 2016

    At, High Court of Gauhati


    For the Petitioner: M. Katali, A. J. Das, N. Baruah, Advocates. For the Respondents: M. Bhagabati, Govt. Advocate.

Judgment Text

Order Oral:

1. Heard Mr. M. Kataki, the learned counsel appearing for the petitioner. The respondents are represented by Mr. M. Bhagabati, the learned Govt. Advocate.

2. The petitioner is a company and was earlier known as the Assam Hardboards Limited. When Government notified the Revenue Sale Case No.1/1962-63, for default of land revenue, the Company participated in the auction and purchased about 1055 Bigha 3 Kaha 1 Lecha of land of Fee Sample Grant No.1 in Panikhaiti village in the erstwhile Kamrup District. Another 21 Bigha 1 Katha 6 Lecha of land was also purchased subsequently from private land owners. Thus in the year 1966, the total land holding of the petitioner stood at 1069 Bigha 1 Katha 17 Lecha.

3. Since the petitioners were owning excess land, the Ceiling Case No.1386/1976-77 was instituted under the Assam Fixation of Ceiling on Land Holdings Act, 1956 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Ceiling Act’), by the Kamrup D.C. and eventually on 28.11.1981, the final statement was prepared by the Dy. Commissioner in the CeilingCase, whereby 925 Bigha 0 Katha 12 Lecha of the company’s land of the Fee Sample Grant No.1, was declared as ceiling surplus land.

4. The final statement on the area of excess land, prepared under Section 7 of the Ceiling Act was challenged by the Company through the Revision Petition and much relief was granted to the land owner. The Government passed an order on 9.9.1983 (Annexure-A), whereby the ceiling surplus land area was reduced to 278 Bigha, from the final statement of 925 Bigha 12 Lecha. However it was made clear that the 128 Bigha 1 Katha 3 Lecha land of the Dag No.385 of Fee Sample Grant No.1 is already allotted for establishment of the Central Training Institute for Civil Defence and Home Guards (respondent No.4) and this portion will be separated from the area declared as ceiling surplus land, of the company.

5. Pursuant to the above order of the Government, the company on 20.12.1983 offered to surrender 278 Bigha land of Fee Sample Grant No.1 in Panikhaiti village of Beltola Mouza and the specific Dag Nos. of the surrendered land is reflected in the acceptance order of the Collector passed on 31.12.1983 (Annexure-B).

6. In the meantime, four groups of claimants headed by Binod Biswas, Gopesh Biswas, Girindra Kr. Biswas and Jogendra Biswas respectively, claimed to be in long occupation of the land and they challenged their dispossession in the Eviction Case No.68/1981, through the Civil Rule Nos.287, 288, 289 & 290/1982. The writ petitioners asserted their rights as khatian holders or occupancy tenants under the Assam (Temporarily Settled Areas) Tenancy Act, 1971 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Tenancy Act’). The Division Bench without any observation on the tenancy rights claimed by the petitioners, through the common judgment dated 22.5.1985 (Annexure-C), disposed of all the four cases by directing the State Authorities to determine the status of the petitioners. If the petitioners are found disentitled to reinstatement on the same land or if no land is available, considering their poor status, the Court directed for their rehabilitation on alternate land.

7. As a follow up action to the 22.5.1985 judgment of the Division Bench, the Government passed an order on 31.8.1988 (Annexure-D), whereby the 2nd allotment of additional land measuring 130 Bigha 4 Katha 8 Lecha on 16.11.1981 to D.G., Civil Defence & Commandant, Home Guards (respondent No.4) was cancelled. Thus the possession of the concerned land was ordered to be restored to the original pattadars/former tenants.

8. To implement the above Govt. order, the Addl. D.C., Kamrup issued the notice on 15.5.2002 (Annexure-E) to the company and to the occupancy tenants and in that proceeding, written objection was filed by the company on 3.6.2002 (Annexure-F). Subsequently the Principal Secretary to the Govt. of Assam in the Revenue Department passed the impugned order on 6.9.2002 (Annexure-G). It was observed in this order that M/s. Assam Hardboards Limited offered to surrender 278 Bigha land as ceiling surplus but no such land was found available against the concerned Dag. Nos. mentioned by the company. The obligation to restore possession to the dispossessed occupancy tenants arising out of the judgment of 22.5.1985, in the Civil Rule Nos.287-290/1982 was also taken into account. Following these consideration, the D.C., Kamrup was directed to put Girindra Kr. Biswas and 62 others (occupancy tenants) in possession of 131 Bigha 6 Katha land, after due verification. Simultaneously since M/s. Assam Hardboards Limited had surrendered non-existent land, the D.C., Kamrup was ordered to return back equal share of non-existent land, to the company.

9. Assailing the legality of the impugned order of 6.9.2002 (Annexure-G), Mr. M. Kataki, the learned counsel submits that the direction issued by the Government to return back non-existent land to the Government can hardly be logical and therefore he contends that the said order of 6.9.2002 (Annexure-G) should be quashed.

10.1. On the other hand, Mr. M. Bhagabati, the learned Govt. Advocate representing the respondents refers to the 2 counter affidavit(s) filed by the Principal of the Central Training Institute for Civil Defence and Home Guards (respondent No.4).

10.2. According to the respondents, the very impugned order of 6.9.2002 (Annexure-G) was the subject matter of the WP(C) No.2724/2003, filed be one Baloram Namasudra and 46 others, who asserted their rights as occupancy tenants, in respect of 131 Bigha land, belonging to the petitioner company. Placing reliance on the common judgment rendered by the Division Bench on 22.5.1985 (Annexure-C), they sought implementation of the order passed by the Government on 6.9.2002 (Annexure-G) and prayed for restoration of possession of the 131 Bigha of land referred to in the Govt. order. This WP(C) No.2724/2003 was disposed of on 23.5.2003, with clear direction to the District Magistrate, Kamrup and the D.G. Civil Defence and Home Guards to comply with the Government order dated 6.9.2002 (Annexure-G), which was quoted in entirety, in the Court’s order. Subsequently the Review Petition No.67/2003 was filed by the D.G., Civil Defence and Commandant, Home Guards, where they sought exemption of 16 Bigha 4 Katha 11 Lecha of land under their possession, where permanent structures/barracks were constructed by the organization. This Review Petition was disposed of on 7.4.2004, ordering the Director General to provide a 20 ft. wide path on land covered by Dag No.268 (Part) to facilitate connection of land of Dag No.268 with the land under Dag No.12. The balance portion of the land in possession of the Central Training Institute for Civil Defence and Home Guards (respondent No.4) was allowed to be retained by the organization.

11. The Court is informed that a Writ Appeal was filed by the writ petitioners against the order passed in the WP(C) No.2724/2003, but after the Division Bench remanded back the matter to the Single Judge, the final order of the Court was recorded on 7.4.2004, through disposal of the Review Petition No.67/2003.

12. From the above backdrop, it is apparent that under the direction issued by this Court in the WP(C) No.2724/2003 and in the Review Petition No.67/2003, the impugned order of 6.9.2002 (Annexure-G) is required to be implemented. Since those orders passed on 23.5.2003 and 7.4.2004 have now attend finalit

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y in the absence of any further challenge, quashing of that order in a later case would hardly be justified. In such circumstances, to entertain a challenge to the said impugned order of 6.9.2002 (Annexure-G) is not warranted as that Govt. order was specifically directed to be implemented on 23.5.2003, in WP(C) No.2724/2003. 13. The delivery of possession of land to the occupancy tenants ordered on 6.9.2002 can’t now be disturbed in view of the direction given in the WP(C) No.2724/2003 and also the common judgment of 22.5.1985, in the Civil Rule Nos.287-290/1982. In these circumstances, this case is disposed of without interfering with the impugned order of 6.9.2002 (Annexure-G), passed by the Government. It is ordered accordingly. 14. With the above order, the case is closed without any order on cast.