Allahabad High Court: In a writ petition filed for setting aside the impugned notices and to direct the State to not to interfere with the peaceful possession of the property, Manish Kumar Nigam,J. while vitiating the impugned demolition orders, has said that the impugned orders has been passed in utter disregard to the principles of natural justice, as notice was not given to the petitioner, time given for reply was not sufficient time and the respondent no. 4 has erroneously rejected the application filed by the petitioner for extension of time for filing the objections.
In the present case, the petitioner/ Radhasoami Satsang Sabha, Dayal Bagh, Agra is a duly registered religious and charitable society. The petitioner claimed to be the owner of land measuring 1500 acres in three villages, out of which 1200 acres is agricultural land. To provide water to their agricultural field, for irrigation purpose, an agreement was entered into between the petitioner and the Government of United Provinces on 14-09-1935, giving liberty to the petitioner to pump water from river Yamuna subject to certain terms and conditions mentioned in the agreement.
In pursuance of the aforesaid agreement, the petitioner constructed and opened a private water course (nahar) running from river Yamuna with a maintenance track of either sides in the land in some villages. The petitioner is in continuous possession and enjoyment of the nahar and its maintenance track for more than 85 years.
Under a tripartite agreement between Agra Municipal Corporation (‘AMC’), Yamuna Pollution Control Unit, U.P. Jal Nigam, Agra and the petitioner, the petitioner sold the land to the extent of 2.43 hectares in one village for construction of sewage treatment plant, on a commitment given by AMC to the effect that the Corporation would supply free of cost treated sewage water from the Sewage Treatment Plant for its irrigation purposes.
In 2010, the District Administration of District Agra wanted to construct a road by illegally occupying the maintenance track in village Sikandrapur. Therefore, the petitioner filed a suit for permanent injunction, which was decreed in favour of the petitioner.
Thereafter, the Sub Divisional Magistrate, using police force entered the premises of the petitioner forcibly and demolished the gate of the petitioner. The petitioner, thereafter, filed an execution application seeking execution of the decree passed in his favour. In 2023, the respondents came along with police personnel and started demolishing the wall and gate of the property of the petitioner. Further, after the demolition and police action, the petitioner was handed over with two more notices under Section 26 of U.P. Revenue Code, 2006 as well as two orders passed under Section 26 of U.P. Revenue Code, 2006, in respect of the aforesaid notices.
The petitioner contended that it appeared before the respondent 4 and prayed that 15 days’ time may be given to the petitioner to file detailed objection to the proposed proceedings under the Section 26 of U.P. Revenue Code, 2006, as the petitioner was only served with two notices whereas the proceedings were initiated regarding other villages, for which no notice was served upon the petitioner. It was further submitted that the petitioner is a registered society governed by byelaws and it was not possible for the office bearers of the society to file objections in such a short time as granted to the petitioner by the notice. Further, the petitioner submitted that it had not encroached on the public land and the entire proceedings are arbitrary and violative of the principle of natural justice.
Concerning the issue that whether a notice is required to be given to the petitioner in proceedings under Section 26 of U.P. Revenue Code, 2006, the Court said that Section 26 of U.P. Revenue Code, 2006 does contemplate issuance of notice or hearing before passing an order, as the principles of natural justice are implicit in proceeding under Section 26 of U.P. Revenue Code, 2006. Further, it said that the Rules 186 of the U.P. Revenue Code, 2016 contemplates that even summary proceedings, the authorities are bound to comply with the principle of Civil Procedure Code as well as the principle of nature justice.
The Court said that natural justice can be described as “fairplay in action”. The doctrine of natural justice seeks not only to secure justice but also to prevent miscarriage of justice. Further, it noted that there are three principles of natural justice:
- No man shall be a judge in his own cause.
- No man should be condemned unheard.
Speaking orders or reasoned decisions.
This case is concerned only with the violation of second and third rule.
The Court said that the principle of natural justice requiress that before any action likely to effect a person is taken, he must be given notice to show cause why proposed action should not be taken against him. The authority must inform such person, the allegation against him and seek his explanation. This is one of the basic facets of natural justice and is a sine-qua-non of the right of fair hearing. This is the starting point of the adjudicating process. If this first step is missing, all the consequential action would be declared null and void. Only if the party has knowledge about the allegations levelled against him that he may be able to controvert them and defend himself effectively. Without notice, a right of hearing will become illusory and an empty formality.
After perusal of the impugned orders, the Court said that though the notices were served upon the petitioner, it is clear from the record that the petitioner was not served notice of the proposed action under Section 26 of U.P. Revenue Code, 2006. Thus, the Court viewed that the impugned action by the respondent against the petitioner is without adequate notice to the petitioner and is in violation of principle of natural justice.
Thus, the Court said that the respondent 4 in impugned order has not at all considered the objection which was filed by the petitioner after his application for extension of time was rejected and the order contains no reasons.
[Radhasoami Satsang Sabha v State of U.P, 2023 SCC OnLine All 2461, decided on 08-11-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
Counsel for Petitioner:- Advocate Ujjawal Satsangi
Counsel for Respondent:- Chief Standing Counsel