Najmuddin & Ors Vs.
Union of India & Ors  INSC 2223 (18 December 2008)
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICITION CIVIL APPEAL NO. 7405 OF 2008 (Arising
out of SLP (C) No.15579 of 2006) Shri Najmuddin & Ors. ... Appellants
Versus Union of India & Ors. ... Respondents
S.B. Sinha, J.
is before us aggrieved by and dissatisfied with a judgment and order dated
25.8.2006 passed by a Division Bench of the High Court of Judicature at Delhi
in CM No.7244 of 2005 and Writ Petition No.2068 of 1985.
who are three in number filed the aforementioned writ petition in the year 1985
questioning the validity and/or legality of a notification issued by 2 the
Union of India seeking to acquire lands bearing Khasra No.186, admeasuring 3
Bigha 6 Biswas pertaining to Khewat No.50/50, Khatoni No.100 and Khasra
No.334/206 admeasuring 3 bigha 6 biswas as per Khewat No.92/96, Khatoni No.174,
both situated at Village Begumpur, Tehsil Mehrauli, Delhi purported to be in
terms of the Resettlement of Displaced Persons (Land Acquisition) Act, 1948
(for short, `the Act'). Indisputably, the said Act was enacted in the wake of
partition of the country as a result whereof there was a large scale migration
to and from India.
Md. Sheruddin whose
name was said to have been recorded in Jamabandi in the year 1948-1949 shifted
to Meerut in the State of Uttar Pradesh. He was declared an evacuee in terms of
the Administration of Evacuee Property Act in the year 1953. He prayed for
restoration of the said land and allegedly an order in his favour was passed on
28.7.1956 by the Additional Custodian of Evacuee Property (Rural). Yet again
after the death of Md. Sheruddin which took place on 9.4.1958, the property was
declared to be an evacuee property and yet again an order restoring the land in
question in favour of the appellants herein was passed on 10.10.1958 by the
appropriate authority accepting their claim of entitlement to the extent of
1/3rd share of said Md. Sheruddin.
contend that although a purported notification in terms of the provisions of
the said Act was issued in 1948 but they were not aware 3 thereof. They came
to know of the said notification while some officials of the Delhi Development
Authority (DDA) came on the said land representing that the same had been
transferred in its favour and, thus, were required to take possession thereof.
An application for
injunction was also filed in the said suit. Thereafter a suit was filed. An
interim order was passed restraining the defendant from forcibly dispossessing
them. The said suit, however, was withdrawn and a writ petition was filed
praying, inter alia for the following reliefs :
the notification No.F1/(72)/48-LSG(III) (Annexure P-5) and the offer No.1000-A
alleged to be made on 7.5.1962 (Annexure P-6) in respect of the said land of
the petitioner comprising of Khasra Nos.186/2 (2 Bighas 18 Biswas) and Khasra
No.334/206 (19 Biswas) total measuring 3 bighas 17 biswas situated in the
revenue estate of village Begum Pur, Tehsil Mehrauli, Union Territory of Delhi.
(b) quashing the
entire acquisition proceedings or any other subsequent actions of the
respondents by calling the records of the petitioner's case.
(c) to issue a writ
directions order declaring that the notification and the offer (Annexures P-5
and P-6) qua the petitioners' land are illegal null and void and have no effect
(d) declaring that
the action of the respondents are invidation of fundamental, constitutional and
legal rights guaranteed to the petitioners under Articles 14, 19, 21, 31 and
300-A of the Constitution of India.
(e) restraining the
respondents from interfering with the petitioners peaceful occupation,
possession, user, enjoyment, right, title and interest in the aforesaid land
houses and structures standing thereon and further directing the respondents
not to interfere in any manner in respect of the said land.
(f) restraining the
respondents from taking forcible possession of the aforesaid land and houses of
the petitioners standing thereon."
an ad-interim order dated 30.8.2005 was passed by the High Court in terms
whereof dispossession was directed to remain stayed. The said ad interim order
was made absolute on or about 20.9.1985.
Before the High
Court, the Delhi Development Authority filed a counter affidavit, inter alia,
contending that they had all along been in possession of the lands in question
pursuant to an award made in the proceedings initiated in terms of the
notification of 1948. It was furthermore averred :
Najmuddin son of late Mohd. Sheruddin, petitioner, had filed a suit against the
Defendant/Respondent No.4 in the Lower Court and obtained stay order in respect
of Khasra No.186 and 334/206 of village Begumpur to restrain from demolishing
the plaintiff/petitioner from the land in question unless through due process
of law. The same has been vacated on 14th February, 1985.
That the possession
of the suit land along with other land in this area has been handed over to the
Delhi Development Authority after removal of the engrossments. The petitioners
are no more in possession of the land in suit.
That the land in suit
belongs to the Government of India (MOR) and has been transferred to the
answering Respondent by the Ministry of Rehabilitation under a package deal
vide Government letter No.4(19)/78/....-II (Vol....) dated 2.09.82 and the
possession has been handed over to the DDA by the Ministry of Rehabilitation on
09.08.85 after removal of the encroachment."
said writ petition was listed for hearing in 2002. Appellants were taking
adjournments. The writ petition was ultimately dismissed for default on
application for restoration was filed, in support whereof one Shri Sanjeev Singh
affirmed an affidavit, stating :
"That I am the
duly constituted power of attorney of the original petitioners, namely, Shri
Najmuddin, Shri Mohiuddin and Shri Wahabuddin, all sons of Late Mohd.
residents of House No.226 village - Hauzrai (Near Malviya Nagar), New Delhi
110017 and as such competent to swear this affidavit."
an affidavit in support of the said application for restoration was not
affirmed by any of the appellants, the power of attorney in terms whereof the
said deponent claimed himself to be entitled to affirm an affidavit on their
behalf was directed to be filed pursuant whereto a General Power of Attorney
dated 24.9.1985 executed by appellant, wherein it was stated as under :
"25. And we do
hereby declare that by virtue of agreement to sell executed between us and the
said (1) Sh. Sanjiv Singh, (2) Sh. Noordesh Singh both sons of Sh. Pal singh
and (3) Smt. Pushpa Devi w/o Sh. Pal Singh all r/o house No.A-26, Ring Road,
Lajpat Nagar- IV, New Delhi 110 024, whereunder we have received a sum of
Rs.1,50,000/- (Rupees one lac fifty thousand only) as per receipts duly signed
and executed by us in full and final consideration amount of the aforesaid
land, the possession of which is already with the said persons for the last so
many years, thus this deed of General Power of Attorney is for valuable
consideration and as such its irrevocable and shall always remain irrevocable.
We shall not cancel
or withdraw the powers given under this deed of General Power of Attorney, under
any circumstances whatsoever."
an affidavit affirmed on 30.3.2006, the Appellant No.1 stated :
"That my other
two brothers namely i.e. Mohiuddin, Wahabuddin are the co-owners along with me
in land in question and both of them frequently go on visits with respect to
their works i.e. Rajmistri and presently they are at Gwalior and since I am an
old man and unable to look after the instant litigation, we had appointed Shri
Sanjeev Singh to look after the litigation of the instant case.
That there was an
intention and likelihood to sell off the land in question but, however, I have
never sold off the land in question in any manner whatsoever."
reason of the impugned judgment, the application for restoration was dismissed,
having transferred their land in terms of the said power of attorney, were in
effect pursuing a proxy litigation on behalf of some other persons.
(2) A third party
right having been created without permission of the court, they were not
entitled to any indulgence of the Court.
(3) In view of the
averments made in paragraph 25 of the General Power of Attorney dated
24.9.1985, it is evident that appellants have sold away their interest in the
(4) The averments
made in the affidavit affirmed by the appellant No.1 are by way of an
afterthought and does not clearly rule out the impact of clause 25 of the power
It was furthermore
"In any event,
we heard the submissions of Mr. Harish Malhotra, learned senior counsel for the
petitioners. The challenge in the writ petition is to a notification dated 7th
May, 1962 Mr. Malhotra was unable to give any satisfactory explanation as to
why the present writ petition filed on 2.8.1985 should not be dismissed on the
ground of laches alone. Further in the counter affidavit filed by the DDA, it
was pointed out that the petitioners 8 had filed a suit against the DDA in
respect of the same land and a stay order obtained in the said proceedings
stood vacated. Following this the possession of the land in question was handed
over to the DDA. It was pointed out that the petitioner were no longer in
possession of the said land. Mr. Malhotra was unable to explain why these facts
had been suppressed in the writ petition. He also fairly stated that no rejoinder
had been filed denying these submissions in the counter affidavit.
attempted to point out that the acquisition of the land in question under
Section 3 of the Resettlement of Displaced Persons (Land Acquisition) Act, 1948
was wholly illegal because no notice as contemplated under Section 4 of the Act
was served on the petitioners. In our view this plea no longer is available to
be urged by the petitioners 23 years after the notification, particularly
considering the fact that the original notification was issued on 16th
September, 1948 and the impugned notification on 7th May, 1962. Clearly, the
challenge is barred by laches."
Mukul Rohtagi, learned senior counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant,
would, inter alia, contend :
(1) The High Court
committed a serious error in passing the impugned judgment in so far as it
failed to take into consideration that the appellants had been pursuing their
remedies in the writ application bona fide.
(2) While considering
an application for restoration of the writ petition, the High Court should not
have considered the merit of the writ petition itself.
(3) In any event,
the writ petition having not been disposed of on merit, the same should be
directed to be heard on merit on such terms as the court may think fit and
Krishna Kumar, learned counsel appearing on behalf of Delhi Administration and
Mr. Saharya, learned counsel appearing on behalf of DDA, on the other hand,
supported the impugned judgment.
Writ Petition was dismissed for default, as noticed hereinbefore, by an order
dated 11.2.2005. For reasons best known to the appellants they have not filed a
copy of the said order. When a writ petition is dismissed for default,
indisputably, the High Court may restore the same in exercise of its
jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India itself and/or in
exercise of its inherent power. For the purpose of passing such order conduct
of the parties would be a relevant factor. Appellants filed a writ application,
inter alia, on the premise that they had no knowledge of the purported
notification issued by the Delhi Administration which was issued as far back as
It was contended even
before us that the appellants did not receive any amount of compensation.
Appellants do not deny or dispute that the power of attorney in favour of
Sanjeev Singh and others was executed. It also stands admitted that the same
has not been revoked. The very basis on which the writ 10 petition was filed
was their purported continuous possession of the land in question. In the writ
petition, no averment had been made as regards institution of a suit but in the
list of dates, it has been mentioned that an interim order had been passed in
the suit. However, from the impugned judgment, now it transpires that the said
interim order was vacated and only thereafter the suit was withdrawn and the
writ petition was filed.
is true that in the writ petition, an interim order was passed in their favour.
It, however, now
transpires that an Arbitrator appointed under the Rehabilitation Act had made
an award on or about 7.5.1962 in respect of one-third share of Md. Sherruddin
for Plot No.334/206 and one-eighteenth share of Plot No.404/315, 405/315,
402/315, 403/315, 316/227, 317/227 and 318/227 at the rate of Rs.322 per bigha
plus interest at the rate of 4 per cent per annum. An ex gratia amount was also
directed to be paid from the date of taking over of possession.
thus, merely co-sharers. They have not stated that there had been a partition
amongst the co-sharers or they were in possession of a part of the lands
appertaining to the aforementioned Khasras.
appears from the records that on or about 8.10.1991, an application was filed
to make the order of stay dated 30.8.1985 absolute and allow the appellant to
deal freely with his one-third share of the land in any manner he liked.
Therein 11 also appellants claimed themselves to be owner in possession of the
lands in question. The General Power of Attorney executed by the appellants on
24.9.1985 evidently was an irrevocable one. By reason thereof, all the powers
of the owners were delegated; clause (4) whereof reads as under :
"To submit and
file all kinds of applications, petitions, affidavits, written statements,
suits, writs in any court of law or in the High Court or in the Supreme Court
or before Revenue Courts in respect of the above said land and pursue all
matters, writs, suits, applications, petitions pending before any court of law
or any Government office or authority in respect of the said land."
the same, in his affidavit filed on 13.03.2006, appellant No.1 stated that he
never intended to sell the property in favour of the said Sanjeev Singh and
others. If the said constituted attorney had been in possession of the property
in question for a long time, as has been averred in paragraph 25 of the General
Power of Attorney, evidently the appellant had not been in possession thereof
and consequently, the story that they came to know about the said notification
issued in the year 1962 cannot be accepted as correct. As the constituted
attorney of appellants had been in physical possession of the property and had been
pursuing the writ petition before the High Court, the averments made in the
subsequent affidavits cannot be accepted as correct. Even the said stand taken
by the 12 appellant No.1 cannot be accepted in view of Section 91 of the
Indian Evidence Act.
High Court, therefore, in our opinion, cannot be said to have committed any
error in refusing to exercise its discretionary jurisdiction in favour of
appellants. The impugned order, therefore, does not warrant any interference by
us in exercise of our discretionary jurisdiction under Article 136 of the
Constitution of India.
appeal is, therefore, dismissed with costs. Counsel's fee assessed at