IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPEAL NOS.170-173 OF 2011
University of Mysore
Rajaiah (Dead) By Lrs.
Date of Judgement
23, March 2018
Hon’ble Justice Abdul Nazeer, J.; V. Ramana, J.
The case surrounds the right of occupancy and possession of the State Government. In the present case, the possession and enjoyment of the suit property were in question and the decision of the Land Tribunal was in consideration which granted the said right to individuals who had allegedly fabricated the said order.
Facts of the case
The appeals are filed by the University challenging the judgment of the High Court. The deceased respondent through his legal representatives and ‘private respondents’ had filed two suits against the University of Mysore seeking an injunction restraining the university their officials, subordinates or anybody acting on their behalf from interfering with their possession and enjoyment of the suit property.
The trial Court had dismissed the suits. The private respondents thereafter approached the Additional Civil Judge, Mysore who allowed the appeals however the suits filed by the private respondents were decreed only insofar as 4 acres of patta land is concerned and the suits to the extent of 4 acres of kharab land were dismissed. University challenged the decree of the First Appellate Court before the High Court. The High Court dismissed the appeals and the writ petitions.
During the pendency of the appeals, the University filed 2 writ petitions challenging the legality of the order of the Land Tribunal, Mysore which granted the occupancy right in respect of 4 acres of land each in favor of the private respondents. The appeals are filed by the University challenging the judgment of the High Court.
Statute and provisions discussed:
Section 107, Karnataka Land Reforms Act, 1961(“KLR Act”).
- Whether the University is a lessee of the suit schedule property?
- Whether the private respondents made applications for grant of occupancy right in respect of the schedule lands and whether the order of the Land Tribunal in respect of the said lands is valid?
From the Appellant
University of Mysore
The University contended that the President of India had executed a deed of the lease in respect of 22 acres of land, which was gifted to him by the Maharaja of Mysore, in its favor which was for a period of 99 years in 1970. Based on this deed, the University had been in absolute possession and enjoyment of suit scheduled property which is a part of the aforesaid land. It was contended that the private respondents have no right, title or interest in the said property.
The land in question did not belong to the Maharaja anymore when applications for grant of occupancy right were filed by the private respondents. In the light of Section 107 of the KLR Act, the applications filed were not maintainable. Furthermore, the order passed by the Land Tribunal granting occupancy right was without jurisdiction.
Neither the University nor the Government of India was made a party to the proceedings before the Land Tribunal but the Mysore Palace was which has nothing to do with the land in question at the relevant point of time.
The Appellant also submits that the title set up by the private respondents over the subject land is fraudulent and based on forged and bogus documents. The reference numbers for applications for another village have been unscrupulously used while forging the Land Tribunal’s order.
State of Karnataka
The Counsel supported the stand taken by the University. It has been contended the land in question did not belong to the Maharaja when the applications for grant of occupancy rights were filed by the private respondents. The State also objected that bogus documents were created by the private respondents and produced before the Civil Court to claim the land by showing grant of occupancy right in their favor. That on the verification of records, it was found out that the occupancy rights were not in the name of the private respondents and they are fraudulently using them to illegally gain rights of the land belonging to the University. They have not come to the court with clean hands and hence an FIR has also been registered against them.
The respondents submitted the University does not have rights over the said property and the possession and enjoyment of said property by the respondents is being interfered with.
The Land Tribunal has rightly granted the occupancy right over the land to them and the injunction granted on interference with the possession of it was justified. Moreover, the writ petitions were delayed and the reasons given for the same were not accepted by the High Court.
It was contended that the decision of the High Court should be upheld and the appeals are dismissed.
The Court allowed the appeals restoring the order of the trial court and setting aside the judgment of both, the High Court and the First Appellate Court. writ petitions filed by the University are allowed. It is clear that the University was the lessee of the said land. The Court concurred with the facts to the extent that the Maharaja of Mysore had gifted the property to the President who had further leased out 22 acres of the said land for 99 years instead of the 32 acres of land provided by the University for starting a Logopedics Institute in Mysore. The registered lease deed dated 30.11.1970 supports the same.
On perusal of the material facts on record, it can be established that the occupancy rights were not granted to the respondents and there is no entry maintained in the Declaration Register pertaining to declaration Form No. 7 in their name. Despite the petition and objections filed by the University and the State Government, no rebuttals were filed which makes it even clearer that the order of the Land Tribunal is fabricated.
Though in accordance with Section 44 of the KLR Act, all lands should be vested in the State Government, Section 107 provides exceptions which include any land belonging to or held on lease by a University established by law or any land belonging to the Government.
In the instant case, the scheduled property belongs to the University. The record also shows that the applications for grant of occupancy right in respect of the schedule property made by the private respondents were not maintainable and the order by the Land Tribunals has been passed without jurisdiction and hence the private respondents cannot claim any right on the schedule lands based on that order.
The Court was of the view that the High Court was not justified in dismissing the writ petitions on the ground of delay and latches as it has been noticed that neither the University nor the Government was made a party to the proceedings before the Land Tribunal and it was only when the Deputy Commissioner informed the University that some persons are trying to get the records changed in their names on the basis of the order of the Land Tribunal, the University took steps to challenge the said order and thereafter the university has diligently taken steps to challenge the order.
The High Court erred in holding that the possession of the scheduled property rests with the private respondents. They have no title, rights or interest in the same as it is the University that has the lawful possession of the land.
The Court rightly held that the University was in possession of the suit property and the material placed on record showed the fraudulent depiction of the order of the Land Tribunal by the private respondents to their advantage to unlawfully establish a claim over the land. The High Court’s decision was misguided in decreeing the order in favor of the respondents and was hence overruled.
Edited by Parul Soni
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje