Development Authority Vs. S Ved Prakash Aggarwal  INSC 919 (14 May 2008)
REPORTABL E IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO.794 OF 2001 Ghaziabad
Development Authority ...Appellant Versus Ved Prakash Aggarwal ...Respondent
1. This appeal at the instance of
Ghaziabad Development Authority (in short "the GDA") is filed against
the judgment and order dated 3rd of August, 2000 passed by the Monopolies and
Restrictive Trade Practices Commission, New Delhi (in short `the MRTP
Commission') in R.T.P.E. No.82 of 1998 by which the MRTP Commission had
directed the GDA to deliver possession of a plot of 90 2 sq. mtrs. to the
complainant/respondent in Govindpuram Scheme or any adjacent scheme at a price
prevalent in the year 1988.
2. The dispute in this appeal
pertains to the allotment of certain land by the GDA in its Govindpuram Scheme.
In the complaint filed before the MRTP Commission by the respondent, it was
alleged that the GDA had first allotted certain land to him and after many
years, cancelled the allotment arbitrarily. The respondent also claimed the
refund of the invested amount.
Challenging the cancellation of
allotment as arbitrary and also for refund of the invested money, a proceeding
was initiated at the instance of the respondent before the MRTP Commission
alleging that the cancellation of the allotment by the GDA was not only
arbitrary but also indicative of its monopolistic hold on the land and
therefore, it amounted to an unfair trade 3 practice under the MRTP Act. The
GDA entered appearance and denied the allegations made in the complaint, inter
alia, alleging that no specific allotment order was made by the GDA and,
therefore, cancellation of the same did not arise at all. It was further stated
by the GDA in their written objection to the complaint that the long delay was
attributable to the fact that the scheme was tied up in litigation for many
years and when that litigation was over, the draw prescribed for allotment of
land was held. Since the respondent had failed in this draw, the allotment of
the land could not be made and therefore, the refund was offered. After hearing
the parties and on the basis of the available records, the MRTP Commission held
that the land was indeed allotted to the respondent and the cancellation of the
respondent's allotment when other allottees had been given the plots in the
same 4 circumstances amounted to an "unfair trade practice" under
Section 36 of the MRTP Act.
The MRTP Commission also held that
the respondent had suffered pecuniary losses and damages. Based on these
findings, the MRTP Commission directed the GDA to allot 90 sq. mtrs. of plot to
the respondent in Govindpuram Scheme and in case the plot was not available, to
hand over the possession of vacant plot of the same size to the respondent in
other schemes nearby the Govindpuram Scheme at the previously decided price.
Feeling aggrieved by this order, the GDA has come up in appeal in this Court.
3. Having heard the learned
counsel for the parties and after going through the order of the MRTP
Commission as well as the other available records, two questions crop up before
us for decision of this appeal: - (i) Whether any unfair trade practice was
resorted to by the GDA;
5 (ii) Whether the MRTP Commission
had the jurisdiction to direct the GDA to allot an alternative plot of land to
the respondent at the previously fixed price under the MRTP Act.
4. Before we go into these
questions, we may, at this stage, narrate certain other facts also, which would
be required for decision in this appeal. In October 1988, the GDA had floated a
housing scheme the particulars of which are reproduced as under.
"Col.3.40 - This scheme
relates to pay plan which says that the plots/houses under these schemes are
being constructed under lump sum plan (code 1), self financing plan (code 2)
and hire purchase plan (code 3).
Col.3.43 The reservation amount,
as mentioned in column 8 of table 1 is to be paid within 30 days from the date
of reservation letter.
Col. 3.66 If payment fixed for
such allotment of land is not made within three months after its due date along
with penal interest, if any, the allotment shall be treated as cancelled
without notice. The GDA reserves its right to cancel for non-payment within 6
the time specified in column 3.66 without notice.
Col.8 The allotment will be made
by a manual computerized draw in the presence of applicants who wish to be
present as per the serial Nos. of the application forms. Claim for any
particular house by any applicant will not be acceptable.
Dates of lottery for reservation
and allotment shall be published in the newspaper. Col.9 speaks about
Col.9.10 Those applicants, who
have not been allotted/reserved plots/houses, will be returned their
registration amount without interest if the period of deposit of such money
with the GDA is less than one year.
Col.9.20 If the period of deposit
is more than one year 5% simple interest shall be paid for the entire period of
deposit. Co.9.30 For the purpose of calculation of period of deposit the month
of deposit & refund shall not be counted. Any period after the date of
start of refund of registration amount of unsuccessful applicants, shall not be
counted for the purpose of calculation of `period of deposit'."
Keeping the columns, as noted
herein above, in mind, let us now proceed with the other subsequent relevant
documents. A letter dated 10th of February, 1989 issued by the GDA to the 7
respondent is one of the important documents that needs to be considered by us
in disposing of this appeal. This letter indicates reservation of Plot E in
Govindpuram Scheme and the estimated cost is shown as Rs.55, 800/-. The payment
schedule as appearing from the same is as under: - The due date for payment is
10th of March, 1989 and the amount due indicated in the said letter is Rs.50,
The conditions for taking account
for non- payment is shown in the following manner - (i) The grace period of one
month shall be given for payment of the above amount after the due date.
(ii) If the amounts payable to the
GDA are not paid within the prescribed time limit, penal interest at the rate
of 18% per annum shall be payable along with the payable amounts. If the
payment is not made within three months after its due date along with penal
interest, if any, the 8 allotment shall be treated cancelled without notice.
The reservation of Plot E in
Govindpuram Scheme so far as the respondent was concerned was subject to rules
and regulations in force, prescribed from time to time by the GDA or the State
Government. It was also stated in the letter that the terms and conditions as
stipulated in the brochure of above scheme hold good and the allocation was
subjected to those conditions. Draw for specific plot number was to be held
5. Having considered the relevant
materials, as noted hereinabove, let us now look at the findings of the MRTP
Commission based on which it has passed the impugned order. The findings are as
1. By a reservation letter dated
10.2.1989, the GDA intimated the complainant regarding reservation/allocation
of a plot in Plot E category in Govindpuram Plots Scheme in the name of the
complainant and was allotted/reserved allottee code 9 no. 539 700 0070 for an
approximate area of 90 sq.
2.The complainant deposited Rs.
45000/- vide demand draft dated 10.4.1989 with the GDA within grace period and
the balance Rs. 5000 was paid vide demand draft dated 7.1.1990 with 18 %penal
interest amounting to Rs. 750/- and therefore, the complainant had deposited a
total sum of Rs.
58000/- by the end of January,
3.The order of the Allahabad High
Court in Satya mentioned that the area of the Govindpuran scheme had been
reduced and therefore the reason given by the GDA was not supported by this
order of the Allahabad High Court.
6. We have examined the findings
of the MRTP Commission in the light of the materials on record. Having done
that, it is difficult to conceive that the respondent was unsuccessful in the
draw of lots as alleged by the GDA, which is the excuse given by them for not
giving the 10 possession of the plot to the respondent. It is an admitted fact
that the GDA had already issued a reservation/allocation letter to the
respondent and it is also a finding of the MRTP Commission that the respondent
had paid the full amount of Rs.58000/-. This shows that the respondent was
successful in the draw of lots because otherwise, where was the need for the
GDA to issue the reservation/allocation letter to the respondent which also required
him to make the necessary payments. In this view of the matter, we affirm the
finding of the MRTP Commission that the act of the GDA amounted to an unfair
7.Having decided issue no.1 in the
manner indicated above, the other question that we need to decide is whether
the MRTP Commission had the jurisdiction to direct the GDA to handover
possession of a vacant plot of 90 sq.
mtrs. to the respondent in the
Govindpuram scheme or if not available, an alternative plot in some other scheme.
So far as this question is concerned, we hold that the MRTP Commission 11 was
clearly in error in directing the GDA to handover possession to the respondent.
Under the Act, there are provisions for inquiries that can be instituted by the
MRTP Commission while Section 36D read with Section 12A and 12B lay down the
powers of the MRTP Commission in dealing with instances of Unfair trade
practices. None of the provisions seem to indicate that the MRTP Commission has
the authority to do what it did in this case. The MRTP Commission has the power
to impose damages or give compensation to the respondent as a mode of redressal
for harm caused by the unfair trade practices, but it certainly cannot assume
the powers of the civil court because the action of the MRTP commission in this
case virtually amounts to grant of specific performance.
8.In this view of the matter and
in view of the foregoing reasons, we consider it appropriate to remand this
appeal to the MRTP Commission 12 for decision afresh on the compensation, which
may be given to the respondent in accordance with law along with refund of the
amount deposited by the respondent with the GDA with simple interest. The
appeal is thus allowed to the extent indicated above. No costs.
[HARJIT SINGH BEDI] New Delhi.