East City Defence Personnel Welfare Association Vs. State of A.P.
& Ors  INSC 232 (27 July 1999)
N.Santosh Hegde M.JAGANNADHA RAO,J.
appeal has been preferred by the appellant - association - which consists of defence
personnel -against the judgment of the Division Bench of the Andhra Pradesh
High Court in W.A.No.1251/97 dated 2.3.98 whereby the judgment of the learned
Single Judge in W.P.
dated 29.7.97 was affirmed. In this appeal, the appellant - association is
aggrieved by the judgment of the learned Single Judge as affirmed by the
division Bench to the extent that the court enabled 5th respondent ( Andhra
Pradesh Bhoodan Board) to act as receiver in regard to the properties which are
the subject matter of the writ petition.
the purpose of understanding the dispute in this appeal, it is necessary to
refer briefly to the various proceedings taken out by the parties earlier
namely, O.S.238/89, pending before the IInd Additional Judge, City Civil Court,
Hyderabad, judgment dated 3.12.92 of the learned Single Judge of the High Court
of Hyderabad in W.P.9211/90, judgment of another learned Single Judge of the
High Court dated 29.1.97 in W.P.8280/95, W.P.
which is said to be pending in the High Court and finally the judgment dated
29.7.97 in W.P.6468/97 out of which the writ appeal which is the subject matter
of this appeal has arisen.
shall refer to the above proceedings to the extent necessary to highlight the
limited issue that arises in this appeal before us.
landlord named Chatur Girijee of Rangapur village donated his lands to the
Andhra Pradesh Bhoodan Yagna Board on 8.2.52. The Andhra Pradesh Bhoodan Yagna
Board entered into an agreement with Narne Ranga Rao and others of Gunrock
Enclave Cooperative Housing Society Ltd., Secundrabad under which the Board was
to allot 200 acres at Rangapur village to the above said persons in exchange to
200 acres to be provided by the said Ranga Rao to the Board.
ground that the said Ranga Rao had given only 42 acres 32 guntas in Edira
village to the Board, the Board allotted only 42 acres 32 guntas to the said Ranga
and others took conveyance of the said 42 acres 32 guntas and sought specific
performance of the agreement seeking the sale of the remaining 158 acres in Rangapur
village and for that purpose filed a suit O.S.238/89 in the Court of the IInd
Additional Judge, City
Civil Court, Hyderabad. It appears that the said Court has
also passed interim orders. The suit is still pending. However, the 42 acres
and 32 guntas referred to above is not the subject of any dispute between the
the grievance of the Board that the said Ranga Rao and the Society negotiated
directly with other allottees of Bhoodan Land and purchased land in violation of
the provisions of the A.P. Bhoodan and Gramdan Act, 1965.
this land that is subject matter of the writ petition out of which this appeal
cause notice dated 16.1.90 was issued by the Mandal Revenue Officer, Bibinagar
to the said Ranga Rao who is the President of the Narne Estates Pvt. Ltd and to
the Gunrock Enclave Cooperative Housing Society Ltd.
to show cause why action should not be taken under the A.P. Bhoodan and Gramdan
Act, 1965 for alleged violation of the provisions of the Act. The said notice
was received and a reply was sent on 27.1.90. No orders were passed by the Mandal
Revenue Officer on the reply, but a further notice was issued by him on 13.6.90
on the same allegations as in the earlier notice. The validity of the notice
dated 13.6.90 was questioned by the Gunrock Enclave Cooperative Housing Society
Ltd, Narne Estates Pvt.
and one N. Gopal Naidu in W.P.9211/90. After hearing the respective parties,
the learned Judge issued certain directions that the Bhoodan Board could issue
notice to the affected parties including the writ petitioners, in respect of
the subject matter of the Mandal Revenue Officer's notice dated 13.6.90 and
afford them an opportunity of being heard and decide the dispute between the
parties, namely the dispute which was raised in the show cause notice issued by
the Mandal Revenue Officer. This direction was issued in view of an earlier
ruling of the High Court dated 16.12.76 in W.P.4503/75 which had held that
after the enactment of the A.P. Bhoodan and Gramdan Act, 1965, the revenue
authorities had no power to deal with any land which was covered by the Act and
that it was only the Board which could deal with the disputes arising under the
learned Single Judge directed that within one month from the date of the
receipt of the copy of the judgment in writ petition, the Revenue Officer
should transfer the papers relating to the show cause notice to the Bhoodan
Board and that within four months thereafter, the said Board should issue a
notice to the writ petitioners and dispose of the proceedings in accordance
with the provisions contained in the Act and the rules framed thereunder. The
learned Single Judge of the High Court observed that insofar as the suit No.OS.
238/89 was concerned, the same could be adjudicated on its own merits without
reference to any observations in the writ petition. The learned Judge also
stated that any adjudication to be made by the Bhoodan Board, would not come in
the way of the decision in the said suit, inasmuch the said suit was instituted
prior to the issuance of the first show cause notice dated 16.1.90.
learned Judge also stated that whatever interim orders were passed in the suit,
they would continue till the disposal of the said suit, unless varied or
annulled in accordance with law.
the Bhoodan Board nominated one Shri Kodanda Ram Reddy to conduct an enquiry.
After hearing objections of the parties, he submitted a report on 16.8.93 to
the Board. The Board approved the report in toto on 23.8.93 and sent it to the Mandal
Revenue Officer for necessary action. It appears that as per the decision of
the Board, the lands which were in the name of Narne Estates Pvt. Ltd. in
Survey Nos. 22 to 27, 29 to 41, 43, 45 to 60, 63 to 68, 70 to 74, 79, 80 and 85
of Rangapur village were directed to be restored to the Board. It was stated
that individual notices were issued on 13.10.93 to various assignees of the Bhoodan
Board who had sold their lands to Narne Estates Pvt. Ltd and replies were
received from 25 assignees. The Bhoodan Board found the replies
'unsatisfactory'. A copy of the proceedings of the Board has not been placed
before this Court and it is not clear what reasons were given by the Board to
say that the replies of the assignees were unsatisfactory. The Bhoodan Board
terminated the pattas granted to the said assignees and intimated the same to
the Mandal Revenue Officer and requested him to take action to restore the land
to the Board and make proposals for fresh assignments of the land to Scheduled
Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The Board issued a letter to the Mandal Revenue
Officer on 14.12.1993 requesting him to take action to restore the lands to Bhoodan
Board for fresh assignments to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
stated in the counter affidavit filed by the Government itself that Mandal
Revenue Officer thereafter served a show cause notice on the assignees and
cancelled the allotments of the Bhoodan lands vide proceedings B/92-94 dated
25.5.94 and that aggrieved by the orders of the Mandal Revenue Officer, Shri Miralam
Kistaiah and 28 others who were the assignees/allottees/occupants approached
the High Court in W.P.No.22745/94 and obtained orders of stay in
W.P.M.P.no.28335/94. It is stated that the said writ petition is still pending
in the High Court.
appears that the All India Scheduled Castes Rights Protection Society and Ors. filed
a Writ Petition No.8280/95 stating that in spite of the directions of the High
Court in W.P.NO.9211/90 dated 3.12.92 referred to earlier no action was
initiated by the Bhoodan Board and others. The said writ petition was disposed
of on 29.1.97 directing the respondents therein to expedite the proceedings.
come to the latest order of the Mandal Revenue Officer dated 8.3.97 which was
impugned in W.P.6468/97 filed by the defence employees who are members of the
East City Defence Personnel Welfare Association (registered No.387/91)
represented by P.R. Krishna Rao. This writ petition was taken up for
consideration alongwith W.P.6497/97 filed by the East City Defence Personnel
Welfare Association and W.P. 4707/97 filed by the Narne Estates Pvt. Ltd.
impugned order dated 8.3.97 of the Mandal Revenue Officer states that the said
Officer has been directed by the Collector, Nalgonda to take action as per the
judgment of the High Court in W.P.8280/95 dated 29.1.97 and as requested by the
Bhoodan Board in their letter dated 31.12.93. The officer then says cryptically
that "in view of the above facts I do hereby take the possession of the Bhoodan
lands in Survey Nos. 22 to 27, 29 to 41, 43, 45 to 60, 63 to 68, 70 to 74, 79,
80 and 85 measuring 507 acres and 34 1/2 guntas as per the Annexure situated at
Rangapoor village of Bibinagar mandal alongwith the following structures:
Shopping Complex 4. Godown
Water Tanks (2)
Other Buildings (3) and excluding 42 acres and 32 guntas covered in Survey Nos.
32, 33, 54, 69, 71 and 72." It will be noticed that this extent is quite
large while the land covered by the suit OS 238/89 was 158 acres. The
appellants - defence personnel contended in the writ petition that the land in
their possession was extensive and there were buildings and structures thereon
and that the officer could not have taken and did not , in fact, take physical
possession. He had also no power under law to pass such an order.
learned Single Judge in his judgment in writ petition No.6468/97 and batch
dated 29.7.97 (out of which this appeal has ultimately arisen) held that the Mandal
Revenue Officer had no power to pass the above said order dated 8.3.97 under
any statute and that even if it could be said that he had exercised some powers
under the Andhra Pradesh Land Encroachment Act, he had violated the principles
of natural justice as he had not given notice to the defence personnel and
others and that his action was wholly arbitrary. Further, the officer could not
have taken physical possession of Ac 500 and buildings which were in the
possession of the various writ petitioners, by a single stroke of his pen and,
therefore, it was only a paper order and no physical delivery was taken by him.
The learned Judge further clarified that neither in W.P.9211/90 and in
W.P.8280/95 nor in the writ petitions before him, any rights of title between
any of the parties were decided or were being decided. It would be for the Bhoodan
Board or for the aggrieved parties to approach the Civil Court for adjudication of their disputes
of title. But having said so, the learned Judge proceeded further to appoint
the Bhoodan Board as Receiver pending initiation of any such proceedings by the
Board or by the other parties.
extent that the learned Judge appointed the Bhoodan Board as receiver, the defence
personnel who were the writ petitioners were aggrieved and they filed the writ
Appeal. No appeal was filed by the Bhoodan Board or the Mandal Revenue Officer.
The said writ appeal filed by the appellant association was, as already stated,
dismissed. It is against this order that this appeal has been filed by the said
have heard the learned senior counsel for the appellant Shri R. Sundaravardan
and Shri A. Raghuveer, learned senior counsel for the respondents alongwith Shri
K. Ram Kumar, Ms. Asha G. Nair, Shri Santhynarayan and Shri S.V. Deshpande and
perusing the various proceedings and the counter affidavit filed before this
Court, we are of the view that there was no justification for the learned Judge
to appoint a receiver, much less the Bhoodan Board as receiver while at the
same time holding that no question of title has been or was being decided. The
case of the writ petitioners is that the order of the Mandal Revenue Officer
dated 8.3.97 whereby he recorded that he has taken the possession of 507 acres
and 34 1/2 guntas, is a farce and no physical possession had, in fact, been
taken or could have been taken. This plea has been accepted by the learned
Single Judge. The learned Judge has also said that the parties or the Board can
file a suit to prove title. These findings and observations have become final
since neither Board nor the Mandal Revenue Officer have filed any writ appeal.
Mandal Revenue Officer has not taken physical possession it is obvious that the
possession is, in fact, and in law with the various writ petitioners.
physical possession of this land has remained with the various writ
petitioners, as found by the learned Single Judge, such possession, in our
opinion, could not have been ordinarily interfered with by the Court by appointing
a receiver and that too without going into any question of prima facie title or
balance of convenience. The question of title has been left open, as already
stated. We do not, therefore, find any justification for the learned Single
Judge to appoint a Receiver and that too the rival party, the Bhoodan Board as
receiver, pending the initiation of proceedings in the Civil Court by the parties.
learned Single Judge has also directed status quo to be maintained by the
parties. It is obvious that as and when the parties approach the Civil Court it
will be open to that Court to pass appropriate interlocutory orders which it
may deem fit in the circumstances of the case by taking into consideration all
facts which may be brought to its notice and without being hindered by the
status quo order passed by the learned Single Judge. Further, if any other
orders are necessary in the pending civil suit, in relation to its subject
matter, the parties thereto can approach that court also.
result, the direction of the learned Single Judge in his judgment dated 29.7.97
as affirmed in the writ appeal, in so far as the learned Single Judge appointed
the Bhoodan Board as receiver is set aside. The order in the writ appeal is
also set aside to that extent. It is open to the Board or to the other parties
to take appropriate proceedings in a Civil Court in regard to the title to the property which is subject
matter of the notice and of the writ petition and seek appropriate interim
orders. It will then be for the Civil Court to pass such interim orders as it may deem fit in the
circumstances of the case and the status quo order passed by the learned Single
Judge in the writ petition will not come in the way of the Civil Court passing appropriate orders. It is
also open to the parties to obtain any further orders in O.S.238/89, pending
before the IInd Additional Judge, City Civil Court, Hyderabad, in relation to the land covered by
accordingly allow this appeal and dispose of the same in the light of the
directions given above.
will be no order as to costs.
I.A.No.1/98 is filed for impleadment by the writ petitioners in the writ
petition as party respondents in this appeal. In view of the orders passed by
us in the main appeal we do not think it necessary to permit impleadment of
these petitioners in the present proceedings. It will be open to them to take
appropriate steps as they may deem fit in accordance with law. I.A.1/98 is