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Suresh Chandra C. Mehta Vs. The State of Karnatka [1993] INSC 412 (8 October 1993)

RAMASWAMY, K. RAMASWAMY, K. SINGH N.P. (J) CITATION: 1994 SCC Supl. (2) 511

ACT:

HEADNOTE:

ORDER 1. Leave granted.

2. The appellant claimed that after he purchased the property on July 14, 1965 under a registered conveyance it was converted for urban use. Notification issued under Section 17(1) of the Bangalore Development Authority Act, 1976 for short 'the Act' was published in the State Gazette.

Under Section 17(5), it is enjoined that every person whose name appears in the assessment list of the local authority or land revenue record shall be served with a notice so that he should make necessary objections to the notification published under Section 17(1) of the Act. Though his name has been entered in the revenue record, he has not been served with the notice under Section 17(5). On the other hand when he approached the High Court and filed Writ Petition No. 131812 of 1984 questioning the validity of the notification published under Section 17(1), a direction was issued on August 24, 1984 staying further proceedings yet the declaration under Section 19 was published on January 8, 1985 without hearing him. Thus the declaration is void.

The High Court, therefore, was wrong in dismissing the appellant's writ petition and also the Writ Appeal No. 1721 of 1987 under the impugned order dated November 25, 1987.

Shri P.S. Poti, learned Senior Counsel for the appellant, contended that once his name was entered in the revenue records, the appellant has a right to notice under Section 17(5) and should be heard before declaration under Section 19 was published. The absence thereof renders the notification under Section 17(1) void.

3. We do not find any force in this contention. It is true that the Central Land Acquisition Act 1 of 1894 as amended in 1984 has no application to the acquisition under this Act. The procedure prescribed under Sections 4(1) and 6(2) is not attracted. Therefore, we are concerned only with the procedure prescribed under the Act. Section 17(5) provides thus:

"During the thirty days next following the day on which such notification is published in the Official Gazette the Authority shall serve a notice on every person whose name appears in the assessment list of the local authority or in the land revenue register as being primarily liable to pay the property tax or land revenue assessment on any building or land which is proposed to be acquired in executing the scheme or in regard to which the authority proposes to recover betterment tax requiring such person to show cause within thirty days from the date of the receipt of the 513 notice why such acquisition of the building or land and the recovery of betterment tax should not be made."

4. Its reading clearly envisages that during the 30 days next following of which notification under Section 17(1) was published, the land acquisition authority shall serve a notice on every person, whose name appears in the assessment list of the local authority or in the land revenue register and is primarily responsible to pay land revenue assessment on any land or building which is proposed to be acquired for executing the scheme. Sub-section (5) of Section 17 also enjoins that every person whose name so appears in the above registers shall be served with a notice so that he can file, if so chooses, objections against the acquisition, for the proposed development of the scheme, and after considering his objections, if any, the declaration under Section 19 should be made and published in accordance with the provisions of the Act. But existence of the name of such person in the concerned record before publication of the notification under Section 17(1) is a condition precedent.

The authority is not required to make a roving inquiry as to Who is the person entitled to a notice. The learned Single Judge noted thus:

"The counsel, however, submitted that the conversion certificate as per Annexure 'B', issued by the Deputy Commissioner and the licence of construction issued which it can be inferred that the authorities of the Bangalore Development Authority had the requisite knowledge about the petitioner's ownership in the property. It is also submitted that in the earlier proceedings pertaining to conversion referred to above the Deputy Commissioner had refused to grant conversion at the instance of the Chairman of the C.I.T.B. In my view, these two circumstances cannot be a substitute for the mandatory requirement in sub-section (5) of Section 17 of the Act. That sub-section makes it clear that notice is required to be served on the persons whose names are found in the revenue register and who are primarily responsible for the payment of land revenue. The knowledge of the authority by any other process cannot be treated as making them responsible for serving notice in terms of sub-section (5) of Section 17 of the Act. The knowledge of ownership or interest in collateral proceedings is not the prescribed criteria. One who is responsible for the payment of land revenue or property tax would alone be entitled to the notice, under Section 17(5)."

5. Shri Poti placed on record of this Court an entry in revenue record which would show Sureshchandra C. Mehta, apart from original owner as owners. This document is produced for the first time in this Court without an application under Order 41 Rule 27 CPC. This being primarily a finding of fact, we decline to go into it. We hold that at the relevant time, the appellant's name was not in revenue record and so he was not given notice under Section 17(5) before publication of the notification under Section 17(1) of the Act. The interim direction granted by the High Court was only not to dispossess the appellant and it does not prevent the declaration under Section 19 being published.

Therefore, we do not find any error in the judgment of the learned Single Judge as confirmed on appeal. The appeal is dismissed but without costs.

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