Finding that State authorities have disregarded a pending judicial proceeding and have sought to frustrate the same in a demolition case, the Calcutta High Court held that the State must pay literally for the conduct of seeking to out-maneuver and overreach the Court.

The Bench of Justice Moushumi Bhattacharya observed that "State Respondents have acted in complete violation of the legal rights of the Petitioners who have approached the Court for redress and also in blatant violation of the procedure mandated under the West Bengal Public Land (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupants) Act, 1962".

Advocate Sudhasatva Banerjee appeared for the Petitioner and Advocate Nilotpal Chatterjee appeared for the Respondent.

In the background of the case, the Petitioners’ structure was demolished by the fourth respondent i.e., the BDO, Murshidabad, even when the concerned Deputy Magistrate, Murshidabad, had given a specific assurance that there was no threat of demolition of the Petitioners’ property. Accordingly, the Petitioner filed a writ challenging the order of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Jangipur which proceeded to act on the provisions of the 1962 Act.

After listening to the arguments and finding that the SDM jumped to Sections 3 and 4 of the 1962 Act and proceeded straightaway to direct removal of the encroachment under Section 5(1) of the Act, the High Court observed that even if it is assumed that the notice issued by the concerned authority is a notice under Section 3, the documents placed before the Court do not indicate that the procedure to be followed under Sections 4 and 5 were complied with by the concerned authority, as the documents do not even mention the word “demolition” anywhere.

The High Court therefore, held that the action of the State authorities in failing to comply with the statutory mandate of the West Bengal Public Land (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupants) Act, 1962, assuming that the Act is applicable in the present case and disregarding the filing of the writ petition before this Court amounts to “Malice in Law”.

Malice in Law is a reckless act in violation of the legal rights of a citizen which may or may not be actuated by personal ill-will. It involves an intention on the part of the authorities to do a wrongful act with full knowledge not only of the commission of the act but also of the consequences which would necessarily follow as a result of the act”, added the Court.

Therefore, observing that calling upon political functionaries to lend support to an act that is ex facie illegal aggravates the malice and is evidence of the premeditated nature of the act thereof, the bench concluded that Respondents must make good, the damage and loss caused to the Petitioners.

Cause Title: Arabinda Das and Ors. v. State of West Bengal and Ors.

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