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The Executive Engineer, Bihar State Housing Board Vs. Ramesh Kumar Singh & Ors [1995] INSC 722 (22 November 1995)

Paripoornan, K.S.(J) Paripoornan, K.S.(J) Anand, A.S. (J) Paripoornan, J.

CITATION: 1996 AIR 691 1996 SCC (1) 327 JT 1995 (8) 331 1995 SCALE (6)625

ACT:

HEAD NOTE:

Leave granted.

2. This is a typical case where the extraordinary discretionary jurisdiction vested in the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India was improperly invoked, and High Court was pleased to exercise its jurisdiction resulting in an abuse of process.

3. The appellant is the Executive Engineer, Bihar State Hosuing Board and represents the said 'Board' (hereinafter referred to as "Board"). The respondents to this appeal are

(1) Sri Ramesh Kumar Singh (Petitioner in the Writ Petition),

(2) State of Bihar,

(3) Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Saraikella, District Singhbhum (the 'competent authority') and

(4) Sri S.N. Pandey, Adityapur, District Singhbhum (east).

4. The first respondent assailed the show-cause notice - Annexure Ext. P-4-dated 16.12.1992 issued to him by the 3rd respondent herein under Section 59 of the Bihar State Housing Board Act, 1982 in CWJC No. 82/93 - High Court of Patna. By judgment dated 10.2.1993 a Divison Bench of the High Court quashed Annexure Ext. P-4, show cause notice, and also the Eviction proceedings No. 6/92 pending before the 3rd respondent. The Board, party-respondent in the writ petitio, has filed this appeal against the aforesaid judgment dated 10.2.1993.

5. The broad facts relevant for the disposal of the appeal are in a narrow compass. The appellant-Board has allotted quarter No. M-11/(Old) Adityapur, Near Jamshedpur, to the 4th respondent on hire-purchase basis. Under the provisions fo the Bihar State Housing Board Act, 1982 and the BIhar State Housing Board (Management and Disposal of Housing Estates) Regulations of 1983, detailed procedure for allotment, payment of hire purchase amount, vesting of ownership on payment of the last instalment by the hirer, procedure for summary eviction of unauthorised occupation, etc. are provided. The hirer is a tenant of the Board till the last installment is paid where after the ownership is transferred to the hirer by executing an appropriate conveyance. on this basis the 4th respodent, hirer, is a tenat of the Board. Section 58 of the act states that provisions of the Bihar Buildings (Lease, Rent and Eviction) control Act are inapplicable to the tenacy created by the Board. Section 59 of the Bihar State created by the Board.

Section 59 of the Bihar State Housing Board Act enables the Board to evict persons in occupation in cases of sub-tenancy or any other unauthorised occupation, by application to the 'competent authority'. By notification No. 3196/Patna dated 22.11.1973 (Annexure Ext. P-1), the Government f Bihar, in exercise of powers conferred on it by Section 2(10) of the Bihar State Housing Board Ordinance, had authorised all civilian Sub-Divisional Officers and Magistrates, just below the rank of S.D.D.'s, as competent authorities for the purposes of the Act. The 3rd respondent is the competent authrity within whose jurisdiction the instant building- quarter No. M/11(Old) Adityapur, Near Jamshedpur is stituate.

6. The 4th respondent, the allottee of the quarter No. M11/(Old), Adiyapur, Near jamshedpur, complained to the 3rd respondent by communication dated 20.10.1992 (annexure Ext. P-2) that he has been allotted the said abuilding by the Board, and while he was residing with his fmaily in the siad building, the 1st respondent has forcibly and unauthorisedly occupies the first floor of the building. The 3rd respondent forwarded the aforesaid communication to the appellant. The appellant by Annexure Ext. P-3 dated 15.12.1992 informed the 3rd respondent, S.D.O. that house No. MIG M/11 (Old), Adityapur, Near Jamshedpur stands allotted to the 4th respondent and the application of the 4th respondent, which is self-explantory, praying for eviction of the portion unauthorisedly occupied by the 1st respondent, is referred for necessary action. In this back-ground, 'the 3rd respondent issued Annexure Ext. P-4 notice dated 16.12.1992 to the 1st respondent which is to the follwing effect :

"UNDER SECTION OF BIHAR HOUSING BOARD ACT

-----------------------------------------

SHOW CAUSE NOTICE

To, Shri R.K. Singh, Contractor, M-11, Adityapur, JAMSHEDPUR.

It appears from the petition of the Executive Engineer, Bihar State Housing Board (Adityapur) Jamshedpur that you are illegally and unauthorisedly living in HOuse NO. M-11 Old of Housing Board situated at Adityapur Housing Board.

You are hereby directed through this notice that to explain in person or through an Advocate on 28.12.1992 at 10 A.M. in the court of undersigned that why not an order of eviction of the house in question by passed.

Sd/- Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Saraikella 16.12.1992" (emphasis supplied)

7. It is seen that the 1st respondent instead of shwoing cause against Annexure Ext. P-4, straightaway approached the High court by filing CEJC NO. 82/93 and assailedl Annexure Ext. P-4. According to him, 4th respondent is the owner of the building having purchased the same from the Board, that he is a tenant of the first floor under the 4th respondent, that the 3rd respondent is incompetent to initiate proceedings for eviction under the Bihar State Housing Board Act, and that only proceedings under the Bihar Buildings (Lease, Rent & Eviction) Control Act will lie for eviction.

So, he prayed for quashing Annexure Ext. P-4 show-cause ntocie and the eviction proceedings.

8. The High Court heard the parties and took the view that the 1st respondent is not a tenant of the Board, and so the Board will have no jurisdiction to initiate proceedings either on its own motion or at the instance of the 4th respondent and in this view, the proceedings, initiated as per Annexure Ext. P-4, are unjustified and without jurisdiction. The High Court opined that the 4th respondent may seek appropriate remedy by bringing a suit under he Bihar Buildings (Lease, Rent & Eviction) Control Act. In the result, Anexure Ext. P-4 and also the eviction proceedings NO. 6/92 were quashed. It is from the aforesaid judgment of the High Court dated 10.2.1993, the Board has come up on appeal by special leave.

9. We heard counsel. It is common groudn that Quarter No. M/11 (Old) Adityapur, Near Jamshedpur, belongs to Board.

According to the Board and the 4th respondent the hire- purchase transaction is still in force, and the ownsership of the building has not been finally transferred to the 4th respondent. The 1st respondent would say that the 4th respondent is the owner having purchased the building from the Board. The 'basic' or fundamental fact is thus in dispute. The 3rd respondent is the competent authority ntofied by the State Government under the BIhar State Housing Board Act, 1982 to initiate summary proceedings for eviction against the sub-letting, unauthorised occupation by any person, of the premises, etc. belonging to the Board.

Annexure Ext. P-4, notice, is the one so issued by the 3rd respondent. The appellant and the 4th respondent compalined about the forcible or unauthorised occupation by the first respondent of the premises belonging to the Board. The 3rd respondent was competent to initiate the proceedings under the Act if the building still belongs to the Board and the ownersip has not vested in the 4th respondent. It may be, that this basic fact is denied by the 1st respondent when he states that the 4th respondent is the owner having purchased the building from the Board and that he is a tenant under the 4th respondent. The baisc facts, on the basis of which the jurisdiciton of the 3rd respondent to initiate/continue the proceedings, require investigation and adjudication. If, as pleaded by te appellant and the 4th respondent, the Board is the owner and the 4th respodent is the hirer, it cannot admit of any doubt that the 3rd respondent has jurisdiction to initiate the proceedings as per Annexure Ext. P-4. If that basic fact is denied by the 1st respondent, that may require investigation of disputed facts and adjudication by the 'competent authority' - the 3rd respondent. Without showing cause against Annexure Ext. P-4, notice, the 1st respondent straightaway filed the Writ Petition in the High Court and assailed Annexure Ext. P-4 and the eviction proceedngs. The averments in thsi regard, contained in paragraph 13(h) of the Special Leave Petition, are not denied i the detailed ocunter affidavit filed by the 1st respondent in this Court.

10. We are concerned in this case, with the entertainment of the Writ Petition against a show cause notice issued by a competent statutory authority. It should be borne in mind that there is not attack against the vires of the statutory provisions governing the matter. No question of infringement of any fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution is alleged or proved. It cannot be said that Ext. P-4 notice is ex facie a "nullity" or totally "without jurisdiction" in the traditional sense of that expression -- that is to say even the commencement or initiation of the proceedings, on the face of it and without anything more, is totally unauthrised. In such a case, for entertaining a Writ Petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India against a show-cause notice, at power or jurisdiction, to enter upon the enquiry in question. In all other cases, it is only appropariate that the party should avail of the alternate remedy and show cause against the same before the authority concerned and taken up the objection regarding jurisdiction also, then. In the event of an adverse decision, it will certainly be open to him, to assail the same either in appeal or revision, as the case may be, or in appropriate cases, by invoking the jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

11. On the facts of this case, we hold that the 1st respondent was unjustified in invoking the extraordinary jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, without first showing cause against Annexure Ext. P-4 before the 3rd respondent. The appropriate procedure for the 1st respondent would have been to file his objections and place necessary materials before the 3rd respondent and invite a decision as to whether the proceedings initiated by the 3rd respondent under Section 59 of the Bihar State Housing Board Act, 1982, are justified and appropriate. The adjudication in that behalf necessarily involves disputed questions of fact which require investigation. In such a case, proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution can hardly be an appropriate remedy. The High Court committed a grave error in entertaining the Writ Petition and in allowing the same by quashing Annexure Ext. P-4 and also the Eviction proceedings No. 6/92, without proper and fair investigation of the basic facts. We are, therefore, constrained to set aside the judgment of the High Court of Patna in CWJC NO. 82/93 dated 10.2.1993. We hereby do so. The appeal is allowed with costs.

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