Land Assignment; Parent Teacher Association, Maharajas College Vs. State [Kerala High Court, 14-02-1995]

Land Assignment Rules, 1964 (Kerala) – Rule 24 – Constitution of India – Article 12 – Locus standi – Parent teachers association and old students association – Order of assignment granted by Govt. invoking the rule in Public interest stipulating certain conditions.

Grant of land in favour of Kerala History Association relaxing the conditions – Government permitting construction of commercial building and renting it to a hotel – Petitioners feeling that the said activity would affect academic atmosphere in college campus – Not aggrieved by the assignment of land by Government – Writ petition by public interest litigation is maintainable, though they cannot be described as aggrieved or affected parties – Kerala History Association does not come within the ambit of “State” or ‘Other authorities’ contemplated under the Article and under Article 226 – Govt. has power to modify or relax the conditions and there is no necessity for the order to indicate that the same is issued in public interest – That order is not one issued under Rule 24.

1995 (1) KLJ 387 , ILR 1995 (2) Ker. 705 : AIR 1995 Ker. 209

IN THE HIGH COURT OF KERALA AT ERNAKULAM

D.J. Jagannadha Raju, J.

The Parent Teacher Association, Maharajas College Vs.  State & Ors.

Case No. : O.P. No. 6427 of 1994; Decided On : 14-Feb-1995

Advocates : For Petitioner: S.A. Nagendran (Sr.); For the Respondent: T.P. Kelu Nambiar (Sr.Adv), P.G. Rajagopalan and V.K. Beeran (Addl.A.G).

O R D E R

1. This O.P. is filed by three associations for quashing Ext. P3 order dated 27-10-1993 modifying condition No. 6 in Ext. P1 order dated 12-10-1973. The ancillary reliefs prayed for are : (1) directing respondents to forbear from giving effect to Ext. P3 order; and (2) to issue a writ of mandamus to the fourth respondent to forbear from constructing any multi-storied building on the land allotted to the Kerala History Association, the fourth respondent by Ext. P1 order and in the area encroached by the fourth respondent from out of the College campus.

2. Considering the lengthy Original Petition, the counter-affidavits and the reply-affidavits, I feel it would be sufficient if the cardinal facts are stated for appreciation of the controversy involved in this case. The Kerala History Association was started long ago by eminent history teachers and historians. It was originally given some facilities for conducting its activities in the buildings of the Maharaja’s College. Subsequently, as the activities of the Kerala History Association expanded, the fourth respondent-association became a registered association in 1965. As its activities expanded, the fourth respondent approached the Government for allotting a site so that it can construct a building for the purpose of the association, its functions and its library. The request of the association was recommended by the head of the department of History and the Principal of the Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam. The District Collector also recommended it and:then by G.O., 817/73/RD dated 12-10-1973 five cents of land comprised in Sy. No. 719 of Erna–kulam Village was transferred from the Education Department to the Revenue Department and it was assigned to the Kerala History Association, free oft cost, for con-struction of a building. The order imposes certain conditions. Ext. P1 is the order. First a tiled building was constructed on the site assigned and subsequently, the fourth respondent tried to construct a pucca building. It made various efforts to raise funds. Then it approached the Government, through the District Collector, first seeking permission to mortgage the site to a nationalised bank so that money can be raised for construction of a building. That permission was granted. But no nationalised bank came forward to help the fourth respondent with fund. Then another effort was made and the fourth respondent requested the Government to modify the order dated 12-10-1973. On that request being considered as a genuine and as one supported by the recommendation of the District Collector, Ext. P3 order dated 27-10-1993 was issued modifying condition No. 6 of Ext. P1 order. The trouble started after Ext. P3 order was issued. On 16-12-1993 the Indian Express, Cochin Edition, published a news-item to the effect that the fourth respondent-association has entered into an agreement with a leading hotelier in the City for the construction of a hotel complex, in the land owned by the Kerala History Association. Several other newspapers also gave publicity to this news-item. Immediately, the Principal of the Maharaja’s College sent Ext. P5 letter to the Director of Collegiate Education and requested the Director to move the Government to direct the Kerala History Association to return the land to the College as the College is having acute shortage of land for further development. The College Development Committee also met on 24-1-1994 and requested the Government to take urgent steps to stop the construction of the hotel complex inside the College Campus. It was alleged that the construction of the hotel complex in the College premises would disturb the campus life and the academic atmosphere. By reason of the protest of the students and other organisations, the fourth respondent stopped the construction of the hotel complet till the College was closed for the summer vacation. During the summer vacation the construction activities commenced and there was wide publicity in the newspapers on 6-5-1994 about the construction activity and the general public expressed its resentment. It is alleged that Ext. P3 order was issued by the Government under political pressure to permit the fourth respondent, the Kerala History Association, to construct a hotel complex in the Maharaja’s College campus. It is alleged that the fourth respondent-association has now become a fertile profitable venture without investment of any capital and outlay. It was alleged that the fourth respondent while occupying five cents of land assigned to it has virtually occupied eight cents of land and thus trespassed into three cents of land over and above the five cents assigned to it. It is claimed that the multi-storied complex is now sought to be built in the 8 cents of land, that is now under the occupation of the fourth respondent. Hence the Writ Petition was filed on 9-5-1994.

3. On 10-5-1994 the Court admitted the Writ Petition and in C.M.P, No. 11228 of 1994 the Court passed an interim order to the following effect :

“There will be an interim stay of operation of Ext. P1 order for a period of two weeks. The fourth respondent is also restrained from constructing buildings in the space allotted to them as per Ext. P1 Government order for a period of two weeks. Post the CMP on 24-5-1994.”

Subsequently, by various orders, the interim stay was being extended. When C.M.P, No. 31235 of 1994 came up for hearing, this Court passed an order directing posting of the O.P. for final hearing on 30-1-1995 at the top of the list, and dismissed the petition which was actually filed for directing the fifth respondent, the Corporation of Cochin, to produce the original plan, etc., submitted and approved for construction of the building.

4. Respondents 1 to 3 filed a counter stating that for genuine reasons and in public interest, Ext. P3 order has been passed relaxing condition No. 6 of Ext. P1 and that the dominant intention of the Government is to see that there should be a pucca building for the fourth respondent-association so that it could protect valuable documents, records and other reference books. The counter mentions that earlier the Government gave permission to mortgage the land to any nationalised bank for securing a loan for constructing a building. That was given as early as on 24-4-1975. The modification of condition No. 6 in Ext. P1 order was made only with a view to enable the fourth respondent to raise funds for the construction. On enquiries the Government found that the request of the fourth respondent was genuine and that it had no sources to raise funds for constructing a building and the building of the association is now in a dilapidated condition. Hence Ext. P3 order was issued. If there is any encroachment by the fourth respondent, it will be enquired into and proper action taken. There is no mala fide intention or undue influence in permitting the fourth respondent to construct a new building in the land assigned to it. Respondents 1 and 3 will examine if the agreement dated 15-11-1993 entered into by the fourth respondent with a private individual would violate the conditions stipulated in Exts. P1 and P3. In effect, the counter of R1 to R3 upholds the action of the Government in granting Ext. P3 order and relaxing condition No. 6 of Ext. P1 order.

5. The elaborate counter filed by the fourth respondent gives a complete history of the Kerala History Association, its activities and various functions performed by it. It also mentions that the Writ Petition filed by the three associations is not maintainable as they are not persons aggrieved by the action of the Government or the action of the fourth respondent. It is also claimed that, even according to the petitioners, Ext. P1 assignment order is one granted under the Kerala Land Assignment Act, 1960 and Rule 24 of the Kerala Land Assignment Rules. Ext. P3 order which alone is now challenged is not an order of assignment. It is only a modification of one of the conditions of Ext. P1 order. There is nothing in the Act or the Rules to show that a modification order or relaxation order should exprtss on the face of it that it is done in public’interest. Only an assignment order under Rule 24 of the Rules should mention that the assignment is in public interest. As Ext. P1 is not challenged, the challenge now posed to Ext. P3 is untenable. If the Government feels that the fourth respondent, the assignee, has violated the conditions of assignment, it is always open to the Government to cancel the assignment and resume possession. The present Writ Petition is nothing but an effort by certain busy bodies to sling mud on the fourth respondent and it is not a genuine public interest litigation. The Writ Petition is totally devoid of merits, and it has to be dismissed.