Kumar Vs. Union Territory  INSC 586 (16 November 1994)
S.B. (J) Majmudar S.B. (J) Jeevan Reddy, B.P. (J)
1995 AIR 461 1995 SCC (1) 631 JT 1994 (7) 531 1994 SCALE (4)991
Judgment of the Court was delivered by MAJMUDAR, J.- Leave granted.
have heard learned counsel for the parties in support of their respective
cases. The appellants are the original writ petitioners who filed two writ
petitions in the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh. The appellants are handicapped
persons. Appellant in Civil Appeal No. 7565 of 1994 arising out of SLP (C) No.
12861 of 1994 is also a 1984 riot victim. Both of them were granted licences
under Section 4 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 to operate Angeleems type pay
phone (PCO) by the Commercial Officer, Telephones, Chandigarh. These licences were granted to
them for five years. On the basis of those licences, the appellants applied to
the Administrator, Union Territory, Chandigarh for being allotted suitable sites
on the bus- stand at Chandigarh, where the PCO booths were to be
located. Both of them were allotted suitable sites for one year each. So far as
the appellant in Civil Appeal No. 7565 of 1994 arising out of SLP (C) No. 12861
of 1994 is concerned, he was allotted a site measuring 8 ft x 8 ft on 19-1-1993
at the rent of Rs 200 p.m. for a period of one year. So far as the appellant in
the second appeal is concerned, he was initially allotted a site to locate his
public call booth at Chandigarh bus-stand by the respondent for one
year from 3-5-1991. Subsequently, the licence was
renewed for a further period. However, by a communication dated 31-12-1993, the respondent informed the appellant that the
permission to run the STD pay phone at the bus-stand was cancelled. Appellant
in Civil Appeal No. 7565 of 1994 arising out of SLP (C) No. 12861 of 1994 was
granted licence for one year which was expiring on 25-1-1994. He applied for renewal. His request was not granted. Under
these circumstances, the appellants filed writ petitions in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, as
aforesaid, praying for suitable direction to the respondent-Administration to
permit the appellants to run their STD booths till the entire period of licences
granted to them by the Commercial Officer, Telephones, Chandigarh, expired. The High Court after
hearing the parties came to the conclusion that there was no legal right with
the appellants to get such relief and hence the petitions were dismissed. That
is how, the special leave petitions have been filed.
our view, there is no substance in these appeals. Both these appellants even
though armed with licences from Telephone Department to run PCO (pay phone)
booths at Chandigarh bus-stand, for a number of years,
had to obtain suitable plots from the Chandigarh Administration at the bus- 633
stand to locate their booths. The licences given to them were for a fixed
period. In the licences granted to them by the respondent-Administration, there
is no provision for any right of renewal of the licences so as to run during
the entire period of their respective licences granted to them under the Indian
Telegraph Act by the authorities. The licences were for a fixed period. Learned
counsel for the appellants took us through the relevant clauses of the licences.
They could not pinpoint any clause under which any such right of renewal was
guaranteed or granted to the appellants by the respondent Administration.
Learned counsel for the appellants vehemently relied upon clauses 3 and 14 of
allotment orders which provided that allotment of space will be initially for
one year. However, the Divisional Manager, Chandigarh, reserves the right to
cancel the allotment any time by serving a notice of 30 days. The allottee also
could get the allotment cancelled by serving the notice of 30 days; and it was
further provided in clause 14 that the rent is applicable for the current year
and can be enhanced at any time. Interpreting these clauses, the High Court
rightly held that these clauses gave a discretion to the Chandigarh
Administration to extend the period of licences. But, there is no right to the
licensees to claim for extension of licences for any further fixed period.
no exception can be taken to the view of the High Court that the appellants had
no legal right to force the respondent Administration to enter into and grant
further licences for the plots on which their PCO booths are located.
was next vehemently submitted by learned counsel for the appellants that the
respondents have acted arbitrarily in picking and choosing persons for
extension of such licences.
that connection, they invited our attention to paragraph 15 of the petition
wherein it was pointed out that in similar circumstances, a site was allotted
to M/s Modem Telephone Communication at bus-stand in January 1991 for a period
of one year which expired in January 1992.
Respondent 2 extended the time for allotment of site for a period of four years
i.e. up to January 1996 keeping in view the fact that the licence was granted
by the Telecommunications Department for a period of five years.
Mr Anil Kumar Gupta was also allotted site in August 1992 for a period of one
year which was later on extended for another two years on the same terms and conditions.
Likewise, Respondent 2 has allowed the extension of time to other allottees
keeping in view the fact that the licences had been granted for a period of
five years and there is no reason with the respondent for not extending the
time in case of the appellants. In reply, the respondent-Administration has
pointed out in paragraph 3 of the counter affidavit that the Chandigarh
Administration had taken a policy decision to allot by auction the present and
other similar sites. The Chandigarh Administration had decided that such sites
would be auctioned to handicapped persons and riot victims by inviting bidders
through public notice which will place the appellants with other similarly
placed persons and cause no discrimination. The appellants would be equally
placed and would be afforded proper opportunity to participate in the auction.
6.Learned counsel for the respondent submitted that so far as the appellants
are concerned, they were allotted plots prior to 1994. Earlier the
respondent-Administration used to allot plots to licensees who were having licences
to run PCO booths at Chandigarh bus-stand. But from 1-1-1994, the respondent has taken a policy decision to
auction these plots by public auction so that all similarly situated
handicapped and riot-affected persons can get a fair and equal chance to bid.
It was submitted that apart from the appellants, there were a number of
handicapped and riot- affected persons clamoring for sites to run PCO booths
being armed with licences granted to them under the Indian Telegraph Act, and
in order to have a fair competition amongst them, the procedure decided to be
adopted from January 1994 is to put such sites, which are limited in supply as
compared to the demand, to public auction.
was also contended that so far as the appellant in Civil Appeal No. 7566 of
1994 arising out of SLP (C) No. 15107 of 1994 is concerned, he also took part
in auction held in 1994 and he emerged the second best and this is how he could
not get re-grant of the site for the year 1994-95.
that as it may, the aforesaid stand of the respondent clearly shows that the
earlier policy of allotment of sites to claimants for putting up PCO booths has
been given a go- by and now from January 1994 the respondent Administration is
following a uniform policy of putting such sites to public auction. We asked
the learned counsel for the appellants to point out as to whether there was any
instance in which after 1-1-1994 any of the sites at Chandigarh bus- stand was allowed to anyone
without following the procedure of public auction. He fairly states that there
was no such instance. Consequently, it cannot be held that the respondent has
acted arbitrarily in requiring the appellants to go through the procedure of
public auction for being reallotted these disputed sites for continuing their
PCO booths or that they had treated them in any hostile or discriminatory
manner as compared to the earlier allottees of such sites, namely, M/s Modem
Telephone Communications or Anil Kumar Gupta. It has to be kept in view that
both the aforesaid persons were old allottees who were granted allotment for a
larger period of time prior to 1-1-1994 when the policy was different and under
which even the appellants were allotted plots without undergoing the procedure
of public auction. But, after 1-1-1994 as
seen earlier there is not even a single instance in which the respondents have
departed from the policy of making available the sites at Chandigarh bus-stand only by way of public
it cannot be said that the respondent is guilty of any discriminatory or
hostile treatment qua the appellants.
second contention also has no substance and, therefore, fails. It was lastly
contended that the appellants have put up costly booths relying upon the
promise held out by the respondent that in all probability they will get
renewal of the licence to run parallel to the period of original licence of
five years as granted to them under the Indian Telegraph Act and, therefore,
the respondent on the doctrine of promissory estoppel cannot be permitted to
take up a contrary stand nor can it legally refuse the appellants' request for
635 continuing the licences for further period. It is not possible to agree for
the simple reason that there is no evidence on record to show that any promise
at any time was held out by the respondent to the effect or even a whisper was
made that their licences will be renewed so as to run parallel to the period of
licences granted to them under the Telegraph Act by a separate authority,
namely, Commercial Officer, Telephones, Chandigarh. Even in the licence deeds
as discussed earlier, no such clause or provision is found.
contention, therefore, also is devoid of any substance and is rejected. At the
fag end, it was submitted by the learned counsel for the appellants that their
costly booths are standing on spots and if they have to remove them the booths
would be useless to them and that they have no objection if the booths are
purchased by the successful auction-purchasers. It is for the appellants to
negotiate in this connection with the successful bidders at the auction. No
direction can be given to the respondent- Administration in this behalf.
Successful bidders are also not before us.
before parting with these proceedings we may observe that once the handicapped
persons or riot victims are granted licences to run telephone PCO booths at Chandigarh
bus-stand for a couple of years and if for that purpose they require such sites
to be allotted to them by the respondent-Administration, such licences if
granted in auction for one year would be for too short a period. The
respondent-Administration in its discretion may consider whether it would be
just and proper to auction such sites at least for a period of two years
instead of one year as the licensees concerned especially those who are
handicapped and riot-affected persons have to spend large amounts in putting up
infrastructure by way of booths and telephone connections etc. It is for the
respondent-Administration to consider these aspects objectively and to take its
own policy decision in the interest of all concerned.
the result, these appeals fall and are, therefore, dismissed. No orders as to
costs in each of them.