Satish Sabharwal & Ors Vs. State of
Maharashtra  INSC 277 (20 December 1986)
OZA, G.L. (J) OZA, G.L. (J) BHAGWATI, P.N.
(CJ) KHALID, V. (J)
CITATION: 1987 SCR (1) 892 1986 SCC Supl. 686
JT 1987 (1) 63 1986 SCALE (2)1231
Maharashtra Land Revenue Code, 1966; ss.44
& 257--Government--Whether has power to revise suo motu order passed by
Collector--Cancellation of permission to use land for non-agricultural
purposes--State to pay compensation for cost incurred on project set up on the
The petitioner-appellant carrying on the
business of exporting frozen meat of buffaloes, sheep and goat, sought to
establish an abattoir, meat processing plant and a cold storage in a riots
prone area near Bombay. The site was situated on the bank of a river whose
water is used for purposes of drinking and washing, besides religious usage, by
the inhabitants of the surrounding villages. The Sarpanch of the Group Gram
Panchayat granted no objection certificate. The District Collector granted
permission to use the land for non-agricultural purposes for the said plant
under s.44 of the Maharashtra Land Revenue Code, 1966 on April 5, 1982.
At this stage the villagers raised objections
to the setting-up of the plant and made a representation to the Revenue
Minister alleging that construction of the abattoir and discharge of effluent
from the abattoir into the river would pollute the river water which was used
for drinking purposes. The Government issued a show cause notice to the
appellants on October 7, 1983 under s.2S7 of the Code for ,cancellation of the
order of the District Collector. The Minister heard the revision and by his
order dated November 25, 1983 set aside the order of the District Collector.
Aggrieved by the said order the appellants
fried a petition in the High Court under Arts. 226 and 227 of the Constitution
for quashing the decision of the Government cancelling the permission.
The High Court upheld the order of the
Government but directed it to pay compensation for the cost incurred in setting
up the project up to October 7, 1983, being the date when show cause notice was
893 The petitioners appealed to this Court by
special leave against upholding of the impugned order while the State preferred
the appeal' by special leave against the direction for payment of the
Dismissing the cross appeals this Court
confirmed the judgment of the High Court upholding the order of the Goverment.
It also held the appellants entitled to compensation in lieu of costs incurred
on the project and interest on the compensation amount for the period
subsequent to October, 7, 1983.
Pronouncing the reasons, the Court,
HELD: The High Court has examined the scope
of ss.44 and 257 of the Maharashtra Land Revenue Code, 1966 in detail and after
considering all the facts and circumstances came to the conclusion that the
Government had the power to revise even suo moto orders passed by the Collector
and found that the grounds on the basis of which the Government acted existed
and, therefore, the action on the part of the Government was bona fide and in
public interest, although it did not act diligently, but still in public
interest the High Court maintained the order passed by the Government with the
direction to compensate the persons concerned. The view taken by the High Court
appears to he correct. There is no reason to interfere with it. [879D-F]
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal Nos.
256 of 1985 and 4875 of 1984.
From the Judgment and Order dated 24th
August, 1984 of the Bombay High Court in Writ Petition.No. 4232 of 1983.
Ram Jethmalani, Khatu Cooper, S.B. Bhasme,
Ms. Rani Jethmalani, Tushad Cooper, G. Subramaniam, Ashok Sharma, Ajai Singh
Chandal, V.S. Desai, A.S. Bhasme, A.M. Khanwilkar for the appearing parties. K.
Parasaran, Attorney General, P.H. Parekh and Ms. Indu Malhotra for the
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
OZA, J. These two appeals were heard by us and by our order dated March 10,
1986 we maintained the judgment of the High Court and dismissed both the
appeals, by this order we modified the order 894 for compensation which was
passed by the High Court. Our reasons for the same are:
The necessary facts for the disposal of these
appeals are that the appellant in one of the appeals before this Court who was
the third petitioner before the High Court is a private limited company
incorporated for the purposes of carrying among others the business of
exporting frozen meat of buffaloes, sheep and goats. The Al Kabeer Exports Pvt.
Ltd. alongwith other two took initiative in the business and obtained an import
licence, a project being 100% exportoriented. The licence they obtained
stipulated the entire production of the plant to be exported for 10 years and
the construction and the operation of the project were to be according to the
standards of hygiene prevailing in the European Economic Community Countries
and of the U.S. Foods and Drugs Administration. The plant was to be equipped
with the most modern equipments. The petitioners selected a site of
agricultural lands in village Savandhe in Bhiwandi Taluka of Thane District,
comprised in Survey No. 40/2, 41, 42, 44, 45 and 70 totally admeasuring about
68,327 square metres.
This site was included in "U" Zone
in the Bombay Metropolitan Regional Plan for the period from 1970 to 1991
prepared under the Bombay Metropolitan Region Development Authority Act, 1974,
"U" Zone denoting that the land was future urbanisable area.
The site is situated at a distance of 2
kilometres from Bhiwandi Town having Muslim majority which has been a trouble
spot for communal riots for past some years, with the surrounding villages of
Savandhe, Gorsai, Shelar, Chavindra, Pogoan and Bhorpada situate at a distance
of 1/2 kin, 1 km, 1/2 Inn, 11/2 km, 2 km, and 2kms. respectively. These villages
have a population of about 400, 1500, 3000, 2500, 500 and 1500 respectively,
majority of the population of all these villages being Hindus. This site is
situated on the bank of river Kamawari whose water is used for the purposes of
drinking and washing by the inhabitants of the surrounding villages and where
the Hindus from Bhiwandi and the aforesaid surrounding villages immerse their
Ganesh idols on the Ganpati Immersion Day.
After selecting the site the petitioners
obtained the requisite permission from the relevant authorities and on 4.4.1980
they obtained permission from the Sarpanch of the Group Gram Panchayat of
Savandhe which certificate stated that if the land comprised in the site of the
plant was converted into non-agricultural plot in favour of the petitioner, the
Panchayat would not have any objection whatsoever as it will increase the
income of the Panchayat.
Petitioners (High Court). obtained the
consent from the Maharashtra Prevention of Water Pollution Board under Section
28 of the Maharashtra Prevention of Water Pollution Act, 1969 to discharge the
effluents from the proposed plant in the water pollution prevention area of
Ulhas River basin as notified under Section 18 of the Act subject to certain terms
and conditions. The proposed plant was registered as an industry by' the
Director General of Technical Development on 8th January 1981. On 11.8.80
Collector Thane was approached for permission to use the land for non-agricultural
purposes for the said plant under Section 44 of the Maharashtra Land Revenue
Act, 1966. Collector granted the said permission by his order dated 5.4.1982
subject to certain terms and conditions.
It appears that thereafter some trouble
started and the villagers round about Bhiwandi town which included also the
villages mentioned above addressed a complaint to one Shri Sadanand Varde,
M.L.A. from Bombay, making the following grievances: (i) that the construction
of the abattoir has been started without the permission of the Gram Panchayat,
(ii) that cows, bulls and buffaloes were to be slaughtered in the abattoir,
(iii) the abattoir was likely to pollute the air giving rise to diseases
endangering the health of the villagers, (iv) that discharge of effluent from
the abattoir in the river would pollute the river water which was used for
drinking both by the villagers and cattle thereby endangering the life of the
villagers as well as the cattle which is the means of livelihood of the
villagers, (v) that the prices of land would be reduced on account of pollution
thereby preventing the industrial development of the villages and (vi) the
religious feelings of the Hindus in Bhiwandi town and the villages would be
hurt since the effluents from the abattoir would be discharged in the river
where traditionally Hindus were immersing their Ganesh idols. The villagers
therefore prayed that under no circumstances, the abattoir should be permitted.
Shri Varde in his turn alongwith a letter dated 24th January, 1983 forwarded
the said complaint to the Revenue Minister of the State Government with a
request to consider the objections of the villagers and to stop the
construction in the meanwhile. On the basis of this letter it appears that the
Government on 17.2.83 called for a report in the matter from the Collector
Thane who in turn called a report from the Tehsildar Thane and Tehsildar Thane
in his turn issued a notice to all the parties including the promoters of this
project and on 7.3.83 'recorded the statements of respective parties including
Shri Rizwan Bubere, the holder of a General Power of Attorney and the Tehsildar
sent his report on the same day to the Collector. In the 896 meantime on 5.4.83
a detailed representation was received against the venture (abattoir) by the
Revenue Minister of the State from the Sarpanch of Savandhe-Gorsai Group of
Gram Panchayat and others. In this representation more or less similar grounds
as were initially raised in representation to the M.L.A. were raised. The
Government by its order dated 28th April, 1983 directed the petitioners to stop
the construction work for a period of 15 days pending investigation and on 30th
April, 1983 the Government directed the Commissioner, Konkan Division to submit
his detailed report on the complaint received from the villagers by holding an
on-thespot inspection. The Commissioner made enquiries and on-the-spot
inspection on 9th and 11th May, 1983, submitted his report on 17th May, 1983,
it was received by the Government on 18th May, 1983. By order dated 25.5.1983
Government further stayed the construction for a period of one month.
On 7th June, 1983 Al Kabeer Exports Pvt. Ltd.
and others filed a petition before the High Court challenging the order of stay
granted by the Government and obtained an ad-interim stay of the Government's
order pending admission of the Writ Petition. Government filed their affidavit
on 13.6.83 and stated that the Government was reconsidering the matter and
ultimately by order dated 14.6.83 High Court admitted the writ petition and continued
the interim relief of stay granted but Government was directed to pass its
final orders in the matter.
On 16.8.1983 one Dr. Vyas filed his Writ
Petition before the High Court being No. 2717 of 1983 challenging the order
dated 5.4. 1982 of Additional Collector, Thane granting permission to the
petitioners for converting the land to non-agricultural use and prayed for
stoppage of construction work and on the same day ad-interim stay was granted
by the High Court. It appears that on a statement made by the GoVernment
counsel that Government would take a final decision in the matter on or before
15-10.83 the Court modified its interim order passed earlier and permitted
construction work to continue at the risk of the persons concerned without prejudice
to the writ petition.
On 7th October, 1983 the Government issued a
show-cause notice in its revisional jurisdiction under Section 257 of the Code
and on 14.10.83 the petitioners were supplied with the grounds on which the
Government proposed to revise the order of Additional Collector, Thane. The
appellants herein replied to the show-cause notice, and the grounds by their
written submissions dated 2.11.83. Hon'ble Minister heard the revision on the
same day and by his order dated 25.11.1983 897 set aside the order of
Additional Collector and cancelled the permission granted to the appellants to
use the land for purposes of their said project. In the meanwhile, on 18.11.83
violent riots had taken place directed against the setting up of the abattoir in
the village Savandhe and in the clashes of rioters with the police personnel 4
persons were killed, many others injured, and property was damaged to a
considerable extent. Against the decision of the Minister cancelling the
permission granted by Additional Collector the petition was filed in the High
Court on 5.12.83 under Arts. 226 and 227 of the Constitution for quashing the
decision of the Government and it is that petition which gave rise to the
present two appeals.
The main question which was raised before the
High Court and also before us about the scope of Section 257 of the said
Revenue Code and power of State Government in exercise of revisional
jurisdiction. It was also incidentally raised that revisional powers could not
be exercised beyond 90 days. Grounds under Article 19(1)(g) also were raised.
The learned Judges of the High Court have examined the scope of Sections 44 and
257 of the Revenue Code in detail and after considering all the facts and
circumstances came to the conclusion that the Government had the power to
revise even suo motu orders passed by Additional Collector and found that the
grounds on the basis of which the Government acted existed and therefore the
action on the part of the Government was bonafide and in public interest
although the learned Judges felt that the Government did not act diligently but
still in the public interest the High Court maintained the order passed by the
Government with the directions to compensate the persons concerned. Mainly it
is on this ground that the learned Judges of the High 'Court have maintained
the order passed by the Government. After hearing arguments at length, in our
opinion, the view taken by the High Court appears to be correct. We see no
reason to interfere with the view taken by the High Court, as we have observed
earlier. We therefore dismissed both the appeals.
P.S.S Appeals dismissed.