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LAND ACQUISITION BY HOUSING SOCIETIES THROUGH ILLEGAL CONTRACTS CANNOT BE LEGALISED 2012 SC

Justice G.S. Singhvi, and Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly in the case of Bangalore City Cooperative Housing Society Ltd vs State Of Karnataka Decided on 02-02-2012 Discussed following case law on the subject of land acquisition in favour of Housing Societies. In this case also the Estate Agent, namely, M/s. Rejendra Enterprises with whom the appellant had entered into an agreement dated 21.2.1988 had played crucial role in the acquisition of land. The tenor of that agreement does not leave any manner of doubt that the Estate Agent has charged huge money from the appellant for getting the notifications issued under Sections 4(1) and 6(1) of the 1894 Act and sanction of layout plan by the BDA. The respondents could not have produced any direct evidence that the Estate Agent had paid money for facilitating the acquisition of land but it is not too difficult for any person of reasonable prudence to presume that the appellant had parted with crores of rupees knowing fully well that a substantial portion thereof will be used by the Estate Agent for manipulating the State apparatus. Therefore, we do not find any justification to invoke the doctrine of prospective overruling and legitimize what has been found by the Division Bench of the High Court to be ex-facie illegal.


In Narayana Reddy v. State of Karnataka ILR 1991 (3) KAR 2248, the Division Bench of the High Court considered whether the acquisition of land made on behalf of 7 house building cooperative societies including H.M.T. Employees' Cooperative Society and Vyalikaval House Building Cooperative Society was for a public purpose as defined in Section 3(f)(vi) or the same was colourable exercise of power by the State Government. A reading of the judgment shows that when the writ petitions questioning the acquisition of land were placed before the learned Single Judge, he felt that the points which were raised by the petitioners had not been considered in the earlier judgment of the Division Bench in Narayana Raju v. State of Karnataka ILR 1989 KAR 376, which was confirmed by this Court in Narayana Raju v. State of Karnataka ILR 1989 KAR 406 and referred the matter to the Division Bench under Section 9 of the Karnataka High Court Act. The Division Bench first considered whether the acquisition of land on behalf of house building cooperative societies was for a public purpose. After noticing the relevant statutory provisions, the Division Bench referred to the judgments of this Court in State of Gujarat v. Chaturbhai Narsibhai AIR 1975 SC 629, General Government Servants Cooperative Housing Society Limited v. Kedar Nath (1981) 2 SCC 352 and M/s. Fomento Resorts and Hotels Limited v. Gustavo Ranato Da Cruz Pinto AIR 1985 SC 736 and held that the earlier decisions support the writ petitioners' plea that they were entitled to be heard before the Government could grant approval for the acquisition of land on behalf of cooperative societies, but their plea cannot be accepted in view of the latter judgment. The Division Bench further held that the aggrieved person can raise all points during the course of an inquiry held under Section 5A of the 1894 Act. The Division Bench then referred to the averments contained in Writ Petition Nos.7683, 7699/1988 in which the acquisition of land for various House Building Cooperative Societies was challenged, the advertisement issued by the society, agreement entered into between HMT Cooperative Society and the Estate Agent who assured that he will get the acquisition approved at an early date subject to payment of the specified amount, various reports including the one prepared by G.V.K.Rao, order dated 14.1.1991 passed by the State Government and quashed the acquisition. ………. The Division Bench of the High Court held that the whole acquisition was vitiated due to malafides and manipulations done by the House Building Cooperative Societies through the Estate Agent. The Division Bench also referred to Section 23 of the Contract Act, judgment of Supreme Court in Rattan Chand Hira Chand v. Askar Nawaz Jung JT 1991 (1) SC 433 and held as under: “Applying the ratio of the above judgment, there can be no doubt that the Agreements entered into between the six respondent- Societies and their respective agents in which one of the condition was payment of huge sums of money by the Society to the agent in consideration of which the agent had to get the Preliminary and Final Notifications issued by the Government, was for the purpose of influencing the Government and to secure approval for acquisition of the lands and therefore opposed to public policy.” ……. The question however, for our consideration is, whether the impugned Notifications are liable to be quashed. In our opinion, once it is clear that the Agreement entered into between the Societies and the agents concerned, under which the purport of one of the clauses was that the agent should influence the Government and to procure Preliminary and Final Notifications under Sections 4 and 6 of the Act respectively are opposed to public policy, the impugned Notifications being the product or fruits of such an agreement are injurious to public interest and detrimental to purity of administration and therefore cannot be allowed to stand. ………… The irresistible inference flowing from the facts and circumstances of these cases is, whereas the power conferred under the Land Acquisition Act is for acquiring lands for carrying out housing scheme by a housing society, in each of the cases the acquisition of lands is not for a bona fide Housing Scheme but is substantially for the purpose of enabling the concerned office bearers of respondent-Societies and their agents to indulge in sale of sites in the guise of allotment of sites to the Members/Associate Members of the Society and to make money as alleged by the petitioners and therefore it is a clear case of colourable exercise of power. Thus the decision of the Government to acquire the lands suffers from legal mala fides and therefore the impugned Notifications are liable to be struck down. ……….. If requirement of Section 3(f)(vi) is not strictly enforced, every housing cooperative society shall approach the appropriate Government for acquisition by applying Section 3(f) (vi) instead of pursuing the acquisition under Part VII of the Act which has become more rigorous and restrictive. In this background, it has to be held that the prior approval, required by Section 3(f)(vi), of the appropriate Government is not just a formality; it is a condition precedent to the exercise of the power of acquisition by the appropriate Government for a housing scheme of a cooperative society.

CASE LAW ON LAND LAWS

KARNATAKA LAND LAWS