Committee - Golden Forest (India) Limited

Appointed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India


                   IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA


             CIVIL APPEAL NOS._3195__________OF 2011

                 (Arising out of SLP (C) NO. 11741 OF 2006)

 State of Uttaranchal                                              ......Appellant


 M/S Golden Forest Co. (P) Ltd.                                   .......Respondents


                     SLP (C) NOS. 16476, 16477, 16478,

                  16481, 16482, 16483 and 16484 OF 2006


                                   J U D G M E N T

G.S. Singhvi,  J.

1.     Leave granted.

2.     The only question which arises for consideration in these appeals is   whether   the   Board   of   Revenue,   U.P.   could   hear   and   decide   the revisions filed by the appellant after creation of the State of Uttranchal (renamed as Uttrakhand) by the Uttar Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2000 (for short "the Reorganisation Act").

3.     One   Sanjay   Ghai   had     purchased   bhumidhari   land   from   various tenure holders in the name of Golden Forest India Limited and its sister concerns,   namely,   Indian   Peace   Foundation   Trust,   Mani   Majra, Chandigarh,  Golden  Forest  India  Limited,  Golden  Agro Forest   Limited and Golden Forest Distributors Limited.  Tehsildar, Dehradun, submitted report   dated   12.08.1997   to   Assistant   Collector   1st  Class-cum-Sub Divisional   Magistrate   (for   short   "the   Assistant   Collector")   with   the finding   that   the   purchases   made   in   the   name   of   the   respondents   were violative   of   the   restriction   contained   in   Section   154   (1)   of   the   Uttar Pradesh Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, 1950 (for short "the Act").     He   suggested   that   action   may   be   initiated   against   them   under Sections   166/167   of   the   Act   and   land   in   excess   of   the   ceiling   may   be declared to have vested in the State Government. The  Assistant Collector issued   notice to the respondents, gave them opportunity of hearing and passed   order   dated   21.08.1997   whereby   he   held   that   the   disputed transactions were  ultra vires  the provisions contained in Section 154(1) of the Act and   forwarded the matter to Collector, Dehradun for taking action under Section 167(2) of the Act. 

4.      The respondents challenged the aforesaid order by filing revisions, which  were allowed  by  the Board  of Revenue,  U.P.   vide   order  dated 24.11.2000 by observing that in terms of Section 154(1) of the Act each major person or company is entitled to purchase 12.5 acres land and the purchases made in the names of different companies cannot be clubbed for deciding the issue relating to violation of that section

5.       The State of Uttar Pradesh challenged the order of the Board of Revenue in Writ Petition No. 81 (M/S) of 2000.  The State of Uttranchal also challenged that order in Writ Petition Nos. 2046 (M/S) -2049(M/S) and   2051(M/S)   -   2053(M/S)   of   2001   on   several   grounds   including   the one that  after coming into force of the Reorganisation Act, the Board of Revenue, U.P. did not have the jurisdiction to deal with and decide the revisions filed by the respondents.

6.       The   Learned   Single   Judge   did   not   deal   with   the   issue   of jurisdiction   and   dismissed   the   writ   petitions   by   observing   that   the conclusion recorded by the Board of Revenue, U.P. on the legality of the disputed transaction was correct. 

7.     Shri   Mukul   Rohtagi,   learned   senior   counsel   appearing   for   the appellant argued that in view of Section 91 of the Reorganisation Act, the proceedings   pending   before   the   Board   of   Revenue,   U.P.     stood transferred to the newly created State   of Uttranchal and, as such, it did not have the jurisdiction to decide the revisions filed by the respondents. Learned senior counsel pointed out that the Reorganisation Act had come into force w.e.f. 09.11.2000 and, therefore, the Board of Revenue, U.P. could not have decided the revisions on 24.11.2000. 

8.     Shri   Vijay   Hansaria,   learned   senior   counsel   appearing   for   therespondents argued that the appellant cannot question the orders passed by   the   Board   of   Revenue,   U.P.   on   the   ground   of   lack   of   jurisdiction because   no   such   objection   was   raised   at   the   hearing   of   the   revision petitions.  Learned senior counsel further argued that this Court may not interfere   with   the   impugned   order   because   the   land   purchased   in   the names of the respondents had already been divided into plots and allotted to various persons, who are not parties in these cases. 

9.     We have considered the respective submissions.  Section 91 of the Reorganisation Act reads thus: 

       "91. Transfer of pending proceedings.--(1) Every proceeding       pending   immediately   before   the   appointed   day   before   a   court        (other   than   High   Court),   tribunal,   authority   or   officer   in   any area which on that day falls within the State of Uttar Pradesh shall, if it is a proceeding  relating  exclusively  to the territory,        which as from that day are the territories of Uttaranchal State, stand transferred to the corresponding court, tribunal, authority or officer of that State. 

              (2) If   any   question   arises   as   to   whether   any   proceeding should   stand  transferred   under   sub-section   (1)   it   shall   be referred to the High Court at Allahabad and the decision of that  High Court shall be final.

       (3)       In this section--

       (a)"proceeding" includes any suit, case or appeal; and

       (b)"corresponding court, tribunal, authority or officer" in the State of Uttaranchal means--

        (i)   the   court,   tribunal,   authority   or   officer   in   which,   or   before whom,   the   proceeding   would   have   laid   if   it   had   been   instituted after the appointed day; or

         (ii) in case of doubt, such court, tribunal, authority, or officer in  that State, as may be determined after the appointed day by the Government   of   that   State   or   the   Central   Government,   as   the case may be, or before the appointed day by the Government of the   existing   State   of   Uttar   Pradesh   to   be   the   corresponding court, tribunal, authority or officer."

10.      A reading of the plain language of the above reproduced provision makes   it   clear   that   every   proceeding   pending  before   a   Court,  Tribunal, Authority or Officer in any area which fell within  the State  of U.P. on 09.11.2000   stood   automatically   transferred   to   the   corresponding   Court, Tribunal,   Authority   or   Officer   of   the   State   of   Uttranchal   (now Uttrakhand).     Therefore,   the   revisions   which   were   pending   before   the Board   of   Revenue,   U.P.   on   9.11.2000   stood   transferred   to   the   State   of Uttranchal   and,   as   such,   the   same   could   not   have   been   decided   by   the Board   of   Revenue,   U.P.     Unfortunately,   the   learned   Single   Judge   overlooked   the   fatal   flaw   in   the   order   of   the   Board   of   Revenue,   U.P.   and pronounced upon the legality of the purchases made in the names of the respondents.

11.    In the result, the appeals are allowed.  The impugned order as also the order passed by the Board of Revenue, U.P.   are set aside and it is declared  that the revisions  filed by the respondents stood transferred to the Board of Revenue, State of Uttranchal.  The Board of Revenue, U.P. is directed to transmit the record of the revision petitions to the Board of Revenue   of   the   State   of   Uttrakhand   which   shall   decide   the   revision petitions   afresh.     If   there   is   no   Board   of   Revenue   in   the   State   of Uttrakhand   then   the   record   shall   be   transferred   to   the   corresponding adjudicating authority.  The respondents shall furnish the list of allottees of   plots   along   with   their   latest   addresses   to   the   Board   of   Revenue, Uttrakhand or any other competent adjudicating authority within a period of   four   weeks   from   today.   Thereafter,   the   allottees   be   impleaded   as parties   to   the   pending   revisions   and   appropriate   order   be   passed   in accordance with law after hearing all the parties.



                                                               (G.S. Singhvi)




                                                       (Asok Kumar Ganguly) 

New Delhi,

April 11, 2011.