IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO.6409 OF 2016
(Arising out of SLP(C) No.24324 of 2008)
M/S. BHARAT FABRICATORS & ORS. … APPELLANT(S)
SPL. COURT UNDER A.P. LAND GRABBING
(PROHIBITION) ACT & ORS. … RESPONDENT(S)
CIVIL APPEAL NO.6410 OF 2016
(Arising out of SLP(C) No.24325 of 2008)
J U D G M E N T
Pinaki Chandra Ghose, J.
Leave granted in both the matters.
These appeals, by special leave, are directed against the judgments and
order dated 30.04.2007 and 29.10.2007 passed by the High Court of Andhra
Pradesh at Hyderabad in W.P. No.25273 of 1999 and Review W.P. Misc.
Petition No.26665 of 2007, respectively, whereby the High Court has
dismissed the writ petition as also the Review Petition filed by the
The brief facts of the case are that Respondent No.3 herein, namely,
Shirish Dhopeshwarkar, originally filed O.P. No.552 of 1988 before the
Special Tribunal, Ranga Reddy District, against eight persons, including
the Cooperative Industrial Estate Limited, Balanagar, Hyderabad, for
declaration of title in respect of schedule property and for recovery of
the same by declaring Respondent Nos.1 to 7 therein as land grabbers. The
said application was allowed by the Special Tribunal. However, the claim
for compensation was dismissed. Out of seven contesting respondents in the
said application, Respondent Nos.1, 2 & 5 to 7 filed an appeal before the
Special Court (L.G.A. No.37 of 1993) assailing the order of the Special
The applicant of O.P. No.552 of 1988 also filed an appeal (L.G.A. No.43 of
1993) qua that part of the order whereunder his claim for compensation was
dismissed. Both the appeals were heard together and by means of a common
order dated 29.04.1994, the Special Court set aside the judgment of the
Special Tribunal and remitted the matter back for fresh disposal, giving
liberty to the parties to adduce evidence.
Thereafter, further evidence was adduced on either side and after
conducting fresh enquiry, the Special Tribunal again allowed the petition
declaring Respondent Nos.1 to 7 before it as land grabbers and directed
them to deliver vacant possession of the land to the applicant. However,
the applicant’s claim for compensation was negatived. The contesting
Respondent Nos.1, 2 & 5 to 7 again filed an appeal before the Special Court
(L.G.A. No.21 of 1998) and the applicant filed cross-objections. The
Special Court by its judgment dated 27.09.1999 dismissed the appeal as also
The appellants herein, who were not parties either before the Special
Tribunal or before the Special Court, filed a writ petition before the High
Court of Judicature of Andhra Pradesh, being Writ Petition No.25273 of
1999, for a declaration that the orders of the Special Tribunal as well as
the Special Court are not applicable to their industrial units, maintaining
that they had been in peaceful possession and occupation of the plots in
dispute for the last more than 50 years, and Respondent No.3, who was
allotted a plot of land, on lease, by the Government for establishing
industrial units, obtained another plot of land to an extent of 3000 Sq.
Yds. and by initiating land grabbing proceedings against others, in
collusion with the respondents, wanted to grab the lands of the appellants
without impleading them. The said writ petition was dismissed by the High
Court on 30.04.2007.
The appellants thereafter filed a review petition before the High Court
which was also dismissed. However, the appellants were granted three
months’ time to vacate the premises. Aggrieved by the dismissal of the writ
petition and subsequently, dismissal of the review petition, the appellants
have approached this Court.
The appellants have assailed the judgment of the High Court on two main
grounds:- firstly, that the appellants were not parties to the entire
proceedings before the Special Tribunal and the Special Court and further
the orders were obtained without hearing and impleading them; and secondly,
that the Special Tribunal and the Special Court did not adhere to the
mandatory requirement of taking cognizance and providing opportunity to the
interested parties in issuing notice as per third proviso to Section 7(4)
of the Land Grabbing Act read with Rules 7, 8 & 9 and calling of the
verification report from the Tehsildar under Rule 6.
In our considered opinion, the Special Tribunal as well as the Special
Court returned a concurrent finding that the land in question was allotted
to Respondent No.3 by Respondent No.2 society. The two reports
independently made by Commissioner Advocate as well as the Assistant
Director were correctly relied upon by the two forums below and was upheld
by the High Court. Once the title of Respondent No.3 was firmly
established, the appellants were duty bound to rebut these evidences and
establish their title and possession. The appellants miserably failed to
lead any evidence as to their title and only one evidence as to their
possession was proved which related to the year 1989 and nothing subsequent
was shown to prove the possession of the appellants. Moreover, if the stand
of the appellants is perused carefully they have not been clear with their
stand on their title.
Another aspect which the High Court categorically dealt with was that of
suppression of facts by the appellants. The appellants claim that they were
not a party to the proceedings before the Special Tribunal and the Special
Court. However, upon perusal of the case records it is established that the
appellants were not alien to the proceedings under the Land Grabbing
(Prohibition) Act, 1982. Appellant No.4 himself filed I.A. No.300 of 1994
before the Special Court to be impleaded as a party. Also in I.A. No.285 of
1994, appellant Nos.1 and 2 were sought to be impleaded as party. The
counsel for the appellants in their writ petition before the High Court as
well as in their Review Petition vehemently argued that they were not party
to the proceedings. However, the fact of filing of the above two
applications was suppressed which was a deliberate act on the part of the
appellants. The High Court was, therefore, correct in concluding that the
appellants did not come before the Court with clean hands.
The second contention is non-compliance of the procedure as envisaged in
the Act and the Rules framed subsequently. We are afraid that this ground
must also fail. The High Court has at great length discussed the legal
provisions which do not require repetition. However, it is concluded that
the plea of non-compliance of the procedure has no effect on the merits of
the case and is therefore of no consequence in the facts and circumstances
of the case. The appellants have failed to implead themselves before the
Special Court even when the fact of pendency of the case was known to them.
The ground of procedural lacunae must fail as well being taken at a belated
stage and on that basis, the appellants cannot be allowed to assail the
substantive adjudications and the findings arrived at concurrently by the
three forums below.
The present appeals therefore must fail and we are not inclined to
interfere with the decision arrived at by the High Court which is based on
a correct analysis of facts and law and rendered in the rational exercise
of its discretion. These appeals are accordingly dismissed.
(Pinaki Chandra Ghose)
July 15, 2016.