Delay Either For Ministerial Or Administrative Reasons Cannot Be Attributed To Allottees Under UP Zamindari Abolition Act- SC
The Supreme Court has observed that if the authority had failed to exercise its power within the stipulated time of one week and there was a delay either for Ministerial or administrative reasons, then it could not be attributed to allottee applicants.
The Bench of Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice Bela M. Trivedi observed that “the authority competent, if has failed to exercise its power vested under Rule 176(4) within the time prescribed which is not within the ambit and control of the allottee applicants, at least they cannot be saddled with heavy costs for the inaction of the authorities in exercise of the power vested in it. In the absence of any provision to invalidate such proceedings, it is inconsequential and there was no reason/justification to set aside those allotments made.”
Senior Advocate S.R. Singh appeared for the appellant and Advocate Ajay Veer Singh appeared for the respondent State.
The appellants were allotted land after the procedure prescribed under Uttar Pradesh Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, 1950 (“the Act”) was followed and the approval to the recommendations was granted by the Land Management Committee, but there was delay in it. The allotment was further confirmed by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate.
The Allahabad High Court had set aside the allotment and remitted back the matter on the ground that Rule 176(4) of the Uttar Pradesh Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Rules, 1952 (the Rules) had been violated as the final approval was granted by the competent authority in eight months which was supposed to have been passed within one week of receipt of recommendations.
Aggrieved with the order of the High Court, an appeal was preferred before the Apex Court.
The Counsel for the appellants argued that because the competent authority had failed to exercise its power within the period of one week as referred to under Rule 176(4), that in itself will not invalidate the allotment proceedings as there was no fault in the decision-making process.
The Apex Court noted that the time period provided under Rule 176(4) appeared to be introduced with an object to decide the matter in a time bound manner so that those persons who were landless or in whose favour the recommendations had been made after going through the process under provisions of the Act or the Rules framed thereunder, would not be deprived of the legitimate right which had been conferred upon them.
A duty had been casted upon the authority to decide the allotment as expeditiously as possible, said the Court.
“but if there is a delay either for Ministerial or administrative reasons, at least it cannot be attributed to the 12 allottee applicants. At the same time, if the authority has failed to exercise its power within the stipulated time of one week as referred to under Rule 176(4) of the Rules, at least it is inconsequential and will not invalidate the proceedings.” observed the Court.
The Apex Court further observed that “the respondents are unable to show that there is any error or illegality being committed in the decision making process while the allotments were made in favour of the appellants allottees on the recommendations made by the Land Management Committee.”
Therefore, The Apex Court observed that the High Court had committed a serious error in interpreting Rule 176(4) in the right perspective. Even if the decision was not taken by the authority within one week as referred to under Rule 176(4), there was no consequential effect of its non-compliance.
Accordingly, the appeal was allowed. And the impugned judgment was set aside.
Cause Title- Kamal and Ors. v. Gajraj & Ors.