Calcutta High Court

Calcutta High Court: In an appeal regarding a dispute revolving around whether a 700 sq. meters land in front of the building “Anandalok” part of the premises and whether the owners and occupiers of flats in the building were authorised to use it as car parking space, a division bench comprising of Arijit Banerjee and Apurba Sinha Ray,* JJ., held that the appellants failed to provide adequate evidence, such as original deeds of flat owners or permission from KMC for the tubewell and dismissed the appeal. The Court affirmed that only a legal entity or a person permitted by statute can initiate legal proceedings, and an unincorporated association, like appellant, lacks legal personality.

Factual Matrix

In the instant matter, the dispute revolves around the ownership and usage rights of a 700-square-meter plot of land. The premises were originally leased in 1974 but were subsequently sold to Jenny Christiansen (SA) Private Limited, and a multi-storied building was constructed. The appellants-Anandalok Welfare Association, an association representing flat owners in the building claims that the disputed land forms part of their premises and was designated as car parking space in the building plan sanctioned by the KMC. However, City Enclave claimed to have purchased the land from Jenny Christiansen and asserts ownership over it.

The appellants filed multiple writ petitions challenging orders related to boundary wall construction, mutation of land ownership, and mutation of disputed land numbering. The single judge disposed of the petitions but decided to address the merits of the issues raised. The single judge noted that there is no mention of the premises in deeds as car parking and lack of standing for the Association. single judge found no illegality in the orders passed by the Municipal Building Tribunal (MBT) and dismissed the writ petitions. Aggrieved by the impugned order dismissing appellants’ petition, the appellant preferred the present appeal challenging the same.

Moot Point

  1. Whether appellants have the locus standi to challenge the disputed land’s ownership and usage rights?

  2. Whether the disputed land was designated as car parking space in the building plan sanctioned by the KMC?

  3. Whether City Enclave acquired valid ownership rights over the disputed land?

Parties’ Contentions

Anandalok: The appellants asserted that they have the right to challenge the ownership and usage of the disputed land based on the KMC’s affidavit, which indicated the land was designated for car parking. The appellants claimed usage rights over the land for a considerable period and argued that City Enclave’s acquisition is invalid.

City Enclave: The City Enclave argued that the appellant lacks locus standi and failed to produce evidence supporting its claims. It was contended that the disputed land was not designated for car parking and challenged the authenticity of documents presented by the appellant. It was asserted that the tubewell was installed in violation of KMC Act provisions and that there is no evidence of permission from Jenny, the previous owner. The respondent also purchased the land legally and the appellants have no right over it.

Kolkata Municipal Corporation: The KMC stated that the disputed land’s mutation was a procedural matter and not subject to title disputes. It was argued that the boundary wall does not require sanction under the KMC Act.

Court’s Observation

The Court emphasised that the appellants bear the burden of proving their case with credible evidence. The Court noted that the appellants failed to produce original deeds or plans showing the land as car parking space, despite being directed by the Court to do so. The Court also highlighted that the appellants did not comply with the court’s orders to produce relevant documents, leading to an application for dismissal of the appeal under Order 11 Rule 21 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 (CPC). The Court also asserted that “when the High court exercises extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution, it aims at securing a speedy and efficacious remedy to a person whose legal or constitutional right has been infringed. If all the elaborate and technical rules laid down in CPC are to be applied to a writ petition, the very object and purpose of exercising extraordinary jurisdiction is likely to be defeated.”

The Court further stated that the appellants’ failure to challenge City Enclave’s purchase of the land without a civil suit precludes them from resisting the mutation. The Court stated that “without bringing any civil suit disputing the title, the Association cannot resist the mutation in the name of the respondent no. 6, by filing a writ petition. It is rightly pointed out that the entire purchase deed has to be accepted and cannot be acted upon in a piece-meal manner.”

The Court rejected the appellants’ argument that the Original Side Rules of the Court exempt them from producing original documents. The Court reiterated the principle that a writ court cannot adjudicate complex factual disputes but can request relevant documents from the parties. The Court emphasised on the importance of original documents in adjudicating the matter and criticised the appellants for not cooperating with the Court’s directives.

“There is no direct material to show that the said space was allowed to be used by the members of the Association as car parking space at the instance of Jenny. If the appellants want to say that their alleged long possession over the said space culminated into a title, then they are to bring on record a declaratory decree from civil court to that effect. The Writ Court is not the appropriate forum.”

Regarding locus standi, the Court examined precedents on the locus standi of collective bodies to bring proceedings and held that the appellant lacks legal personality to maintain legal proceedings in its own name. The Court found no evidence supporting the appellant’s claim of rights over the land.

“It is found that there is not a single piece of document which shows that Anandalok Welfare Association or its members have been given any right, title, interest or possession over the said 700 sq.m. of land. It is trite law that if there is no legal right of the writ petitioner, then writ proceedings will not lie.”

Court’s Decision

The Court dismissed the appeals and disposed of cross-objections, on finding no legal infirmities in the lower court’s judgment. The Court vacated any interim orders without imposing any costs.

[Anandlok Welfare Assn. v. Kolkata Municipal Corpn., 2024 SCC OnLine Cal 2505, order dated 14-03-2024]

*Judgment by Justice Apurba Sinha Ray

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. S. N. Mitra, Sr. Advocate with Mr. Nirmalya Dasgupta, Mr. Arnab Sinha, Mr. Srijib Biswas, Mr. R. L. Mitra, Mr. Amartya Basu, Counsel for the Appellants

Mr. Biswajit Mukhjerjee, Mr. Swapan Kumar Debnath, Counsel for the KMC

Mr. Anindya Kr. Mitra, Sr. Advocate, Mr. Abhrajit Mitra, Sr. Advocate with Mr. Soumya Raychoudhury, Mr. Sarvapriya Mukherjee, Mr. Satadeep Bhattacharyya, Mr. Awani Kumar Roy, Mr. Surajit Biswas, Counsel for the Respondent 6 in APO 28 and 29 of 2022

Mr. Soumya Raychoudhury, Advocate Mr. Sarvapriya Mukherjee, Advocate Mr. Satadeep Bhattacharyya, Advocate Mr. Awani Kumar Roy, Advocate Mr. Surajit Biswas, Counsel for the Respondent 8 & 9 in MAT/617/2023

Buy Constitution of India  HERE

Constitution of India

Must Watch

maintenance to second wife

bail in false pretext of marriage

right to procreate of convict

Criminology, Penology and Victimology book release

Join the discussion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.