High Court Of Orissa
Piramal Agarwalla & Anr. vs. CIT & Anr.
Sections 269E, 269A(G), 269D
H.L. Agrawal, C.J. & R.C. Patnaik, J.
OJC No. 1427 of 1979
28th November, 1987
A. Pasayat, for the Petitioner : P.K. Misra, for the Respondent
H.L. AGRAWAL, C.J. :
The petitioners have filed this writ application for quashing the orders passed by the IT authorities contained in Annexures 1 and 2 and for a direction to acquire the house bearing holding No. 320/110 in Ward No. 13 in the town of Baripada under the provisions of Chapter XX-A of the IT Act, 1961 (hereinafter referred to as “the Act”).
The petitioners were tenants in the house under one Godavari Devi (O.P. No. 4). O.P. No. 4 sold the property to one Basudev Sahu (O.P. No. 3) under a registered sale deed dt. 5th July, 1976, for Rs. 24,000 which, according to the petitioners, who were also contending purchasers, was undervalued, its market value being above Rs. 50,000.
A petition was accordingly filed by the petitioners and opposite party No. 3 before the Collector, Mayurbhanj, for cancellation of the sale deed on the ground that it was undervalued. Ultimately, the IAC, Acquisition Range, Bhubaneswar (O.P. No. 2) initiated proceedings under s. 269C of the Act for acquisition of the property on the ground of low valuation for evading tax. Notices were also issued under s. 269D(1) of the Act on 18th Dec., 1976, to the petitioners and other “persons in occupation” of the property and thus “interested in the property”. In the proceedings, the petitioners also indicated their willingness to purchase the property for Rs. 45,000. After various preliminaries, opposite party No. 2, by his order dt. 18th Aug., 1978 (Annexure K), ordered the dropping of the proceedings after a Departmental Valuer valued it at Rs. 33,000 only.
The petitioners then filed an application under s. 264 of the Act before opposite party No. 2 against his order raising several points, who, on hearing the matter, dismissed the same, inter alia, on the ground that he had no jurisdiction to entertain the application and that the petitioners and other co-tenants were not “persons interested” within the meaning of s. 269A(g). Against the order, the petitioners have come to this Court. A counter-affidavit has been filed on behalf of opposite party No. 2 wherein a stand has been taken that the proceedings were dropped as the valuation mentioned in the sale deed was not considered unreasonable and thus the dropping of the proceedings was justified. It has been also submitted that the petitioners are not “persons interested” in the property within the meaning of s. 269A(g) of the Act.
The main question raised on behalf of the Revenue is regarding the maintainability of the writ application at the instance of the petitioners. Let us, therefore, see some provisions of the Act which are relevant. “Persons interested” has been defined in s. 269A(g) as follows: “âperson interested’ in relation to any immovable property includes all persons claiming, or entitled to claim, an interest in the compensation payable on account of the acquisition of that property under this Chapter.”
According to the above definition, only such persons will be deemed to be interested persons in relation to the immovable property in question as have a claim or interest in the compensation payable on account of the acquisition. Obviously, a tenant has got no such right or interest in the compensation, although he may be entitled to notice being a “person in occupation” of the property under s. 269D(2)(a). But such notice is contemplated only when the transferee does not happen to be in occupation of the property.
The scheme of s. 269F lays down the procedure on how the objections are to be heard. Objections are to be filed only by the categories of persons mentioned in s. 269E against the acquisition of the immovable property in respect of which a notice has been published in the Official Gazette under sub-s. (1) of s. 269D and the hearing, which is to take place before the Competent Authority, is only with respect to such objections as are filed challenging the acquisition. (Emphasis, italicised in print, supplied).
The stand of the petitioners, on the face of it, is just to contrary. The nature of their objection before the Competent Authority as well as the grievance before this Court is not against the acquisition of the property, but in support of the acquisition. I am afraid the purport and intent of the newly added provision regarding acquisition of immovable property in certain cases of transfer under Chapter XX-A does not warrant consideration of any such action by any person. The various provisions of the Transfer of Property Act also enjoin a duty upon the mortgagee or lessee to safeguard the corpus of the property and the interest of the lessor or the mortgagor, as the case may be.
I find full support for the above view from a decision of the Karnataka High Court in Devichand Pannaji & Co. vs. CIT & Ors. (1982) 28 CTR (Kar) 287 : (1982) 138 ITR 789 (Kar) : TC3R.475. There also a tenant had appeared before the Competent Authority and without hearing him, the acquisition proceedings were dropped. When the matter was brought to the High Court, it was held that the Competent Authority was not bound to furnish any reason to the petitioner for dropping the proceedings and there was no lis between the tenant and the Competent Authority. Deciding the principle of law broadly, it was held that if the Department had erred in dropping the proceedings, it was not for the High Court to interfere at the instance of a tenant who was really unconcerned with the acquisition proceedings which were administrative in character. The matter may, perhaps, be different if the Competent Authority in a case decides to the contrary, namely, to acquire the property compulsorily. In that event, the occupants may be interested in the hearing before they may be deprived of the property as their status may be at risk. But, in a case where the Competent Authority decides to drop the proceedings, an occupant or tenant has got no locus standi to agitate the matter. Somewhat similar observations were made by the Delhi High Court in the case of Jawahar Lal vs. Competent Authority & Ors. (1983) 32 CTR (Del) 131 : (1982) 137 ITR 605 (Del) : TC3R.674 wherein it was held that a tenant being not a “person interested” was not entitled to be heard in a writ proceeding.
For the foregoing discussions, this writ application must fail and is hereby dismissed with costs. Hearing fee, however, is assessed at Rs. 200 only.
R.C. PATNAIK, J.
[Citation : 172 ITR 673]