Damodhar Rao & ors. vs. The Special Officers, Municipal of Hyderabad

Damodhar Rao & ors. vs. The Special Officers, Municipal of Hyderabad
In the Court of Andhra Pradesh High Court 
AIR 1987 AP 171
Petitioner
T. Damodhar Rao & ors.
Respondent
The Special Officers, Municipal of Hydrabad
Date of Judgement
20 January 1987
Bench
Hon’ble Justice P Choudary

Introduction:

With reference to this leading case, the bench has recreated some history and facts of the city Hyderabad where the case/writ petition has been instituted mentions in order that the city Hyderabad has been founded around 400 years ago and has the unique culture and heritage and Charminar as the center of attraction for the tourist. Post to the independence the various laws and framework have been made for the settlers and made various civic laws for the good establishment of the city where the efforts were made by the State of Andhra that it may have a good Structural development but somehow or the other those plans and reconstruction ideas has dumped off by failing to execute in an utmost manner the local bodies and local authority were not competent enough to establish a good and healthy atmosphere for the localities and the settlers. Year by year settlers, migrants, poor and needy started residing in the city and perhaps inconsistency within the administration and at municipal level restrained themselves to execute plans for the localities, Rule of law completely disappeared from the city. There has been an increase in the number of land grabbers, goons and various people who maliciously grabbed or misappropriated the land for their own concerns and benefits where the civic bodies and administration aided them in procuring them. Further cited by the bench that mismanagement can be seen in traffic rules and managing the traffic. Sewer problems where still the contaminated water overflows, the city of Hyderabad has a spread of 120 miles and in that having roundabout 100 slums resides where people live in open huts with the inefficient absence of basic needs and wants. Public lands are used by the land grabbers for the structuring of private structural construction which creates chaos in implementing plans for betterment for public usage or any parks for recreational purposes. 

These were the points stated by the Bench in the introduction of the order passed by the Andhra High Court in the year of 1987 which clearly signifies the loopholes in the execution of layout and plans on the part of State Government. 

Background of the Study:-

Political Background:

For development in the city, the state government of Andhra Pradesh initialized in its official gazette drafted a plan in  G.O.Ms No.470 Municipal Administration, dated 6th Nov 1973 which was published under the legal authority of the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation Act and the Developmental Rules made under that Act. The draft plan includes various benefits to the inhabitants to live peacefully for that particular area and restricting those private owners for the utilization. These draft plans went through various stages and lastly, it was finalized to execute the draft plan as per section 464(1) under Hyderabad Municipal Corporation Act,1955 the state government gave the final approval. In G.O.Ms. No. 414 Municipal Administration dated 27th Sept. 1975, the Government gave its sanction to the developmental plan. The Map No.2 which depicts the usage of the development land and identifies the specified areas which include various reports and explanatory portions. Land and admeasuring Acs. 151.55 cents is reserved for laying down the recreational park, and there was a strict imposition on that reserved land that none a commercial or private or any private entity can use or utilize those reserved land reserved by the government for the public purpose.

International Background:

The bench in its order connotes and gave light to the environment and ecology subject in relation with ownership rights and hence the referred to Stockholm declaration of the United Nations on Human Environment evidences this human anxiety:-

“The natural resources of the earth, including the air, water, land, flora and fauna and especially representative samples of the natural ecosystem, must be safeguarded for the benefit of present and future generations through careful planning or management, as appropriate. . . . . . . Nature conservation including wildlife must, therefore, receive importance in planning for economic development.” similarly the African charter states “all peoples shall have the right to a general satisfactory environment favorable to their development”

Judicial Background:

The bench merged the two-issue/s i.e the right of ownership of the property to whatsoever or whomsoever used privately shall vest a good title to enjoy his own rights as he holds the title of that land in a good instance but in context of and in keeping environmental issues to the consideration and, where any persons who hold property will come under the constitutional provisions to save the environment and ecology. Article 48A of the Indian constitution speaks Protection and improvement of environment and safeguarding of forests and wildlife The State shall endeavor to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country and in the same manner Article 51 of The Indian Constitution says to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures;

Constitutional and Statutory Provisions:

  • Article 226 of the Indian Constitution, 1950
  • Article 48A of the Indian Constitution, 1950
  • Article 51A(g) of the Indian Constitution, 1950
  • Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, 1950
  • Article 32 of the Indian Constitution, 1950

Facts and Judicial Procedural History:

The state government of Andhra through its notification gave final approval to the Hyderabad municipal bodies to implement the development plan as per civil bye-laws and to utilize the land of Acs.151.55 cents for the developing recreational park for the public and for the surrounding people for recreation purpose. Out of Acs.151.55 cents, only 101 Guntas was acquired and utilized by the municipal bodies which were actually a part of it. But later it was found that a small piece of land of Acs 37 cent was alienated to the Life Insurance Corporation Of India and Income Tax Department for developing residential Houses and various other Housing projects. Where the inhabitants and rate-payers of the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation who live around the area demarcated by the developmental plan as a recreational park were not happy with the allotment of Acs.50 cents to the Life insurance company and Income Tax of India and they were ought to contend that as per the development plan, is there any balance of that allowed Acs.50 cents to the L.I.C and I.T offices. Looking to this, the aggrieved parties approached through Writ of Mandamus to the Andhra High Court to direct the Municipal Bodies to fully create the allotted part as per the development plan proposed.

Issues:

Whether Life Insurance Corporation of India and Income Tax department of India can utilize the land to build residential houses in the ambit of the Notification issued by the State government for the Developing recreational Park?

Judgment:

Ratio Decidendi:

There are two views that the bench has observed, firstly to save the environment and ecology from getting destroyed by the land grabbers and encroachment and secondly interpreted various municipal and statutory laws in a broader way. The bench has stated citing Article 48A of the Indian Constitution and Article 51A(g) to protect the environment, wildlife, forest in whatsoever means and to save and improve it would be the first priority. 

The bench even quoted that the first priority should be to save the environment and this ecology which is part of this environment have full right to live and freedom as per Article 21 of The Indian Constitution and it is the duty of every citizen to understand the importance of environment and their living bodies resides there, any citizen or any state government whosoever violates to protect them would result into violation of Article 21 of The Indian Constitution i.e Right to live further cited the case of R. L. & E. Kendra, Dehradun v. State of U. P,1 the Supreme Court has entertained environmental complaints alleging that the operations of lime-stone quarries in the Himalayan range of Mussoorie resulted in the depredation of the environment affecting the ecological balance. In the same case, the supreme court directed for the closure of the work which was hampering the balance of ecology.

Obiter Dictum: 

The bench in the second instance gave the complete modification and elaboration of the importance of statutory law over the Common law rights of the owner. The contentions which arise, that whether Life Insurance Corporation of India and Income Tax of India have the right to acquire and utilize land which was allotted for implementing the development plan which was officially finalized by the state government. The bench observed that though L.I.C and Income Tax Department acquired land of Acs.37 cent from Municipal Board through due process and legal procedures, the rights of the occupancy vested to them as per Common Law rights of the owner but before that, the land of Acs.151.55 cent was declared by the development plan published in  G.O.Ms. No. 414 for the recreational park purpose and therefore the acquired part of the land by L.I.C and I.T Office is a part of recreational structuring i.e its is a part of an allotted portion of Acs.151.55 cent.

Once the development plan has been framed and further instructions have been given that it shall commence then that plan or draft will become a statutory law. Since the development plan is a law creates a legal obligation on State government municipal and urban authorities of the city to implement and to enforce development plan. So the area which was acquired by Life Insurance of India and Income Tax Department for building residential houses becomes quite illegal and contrary to the law. So, in a nutshell, common law rights of the owner shall not prevail when there prevails the legal imposition of statutory bindings.

Therefore the bench allowed the Writ petition and directed this Mandamus to Life Insurance of India and Income Tax department to cease down their raising structures or any type of construction that has been made and also directed the Urban and Municipal authority of Hyderabad to abide and follow as per development plan guidelines as stated G.O.Ms No.414 and to forbid Life Insurance Corporation of India and Income-tax Department from constructing any type of structure.

Conclusion:

The above judgment given by the bench of the High Court of Andhra absolutely fits in accordance with the law, the court has noted three important criteria deciding the case, firstly the status of development of Hyderabad city, secondly pronounced that Development Plan drafted for inhabitants and various community is a law and shall bound and lastly in a macro-level view those two segments largely intersect with Law of Environment.

The state government/s or municipal authority or any civic authority don’t take environmental issues so seriously that they always ways to construct private buildings and various other structures for others benefits, they act negligently in implementing environmental laws in their structure out plans. The goons and the land mafia are always in thirst to build residential areas and building private properties, for this purpose the municipal authority chops down trees kill animals and the whole wildlife in a most brutal way, therefore to stop them the judiciary system should cite and take strict steps to prevent them, the role of the judiciary should be more in making the development of the city rather than the government.

Edited by Parul Soni

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje

Reference

1 R. L. & E. Kendra, Dehradun v. State of U. P, 1989 AIR 594, 1989 SCC Supl. (1) 537.

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"I am Nirnesh Rajendra Naidu, completed my Law degree in the year 2018, right now I am practicing as an independent lawyer in South Gujarat region as a corporate and civil Lawyer. Right from my college days, I was passionate about writing on various issues and propaganda. I strongly believe that with my effective writing skills I can bring change in the society. Being a Lawyer it gives you dignity and pride in society but when you write for the society it gives you a special power and status when you put forth their rights in front of the nation and it really justifies your profession in a correct manner.