Illegal Sale of Land Acquired for Public Purposes

Illegal Sale of Land Acquired for Public Purposes Case Laws Civil Law Constitutional Law Knowledge - Civil Law Knowledge - Constitutional Law Land Acquisition Litigation & Arbitration Public Purpose Solutions - Civil Law Solutions - Constitutional Law Supreme Court Mr. Justice Maqbool Baqar in his judgment has decided the issue regarding illegal sale of land acquired for public purposes in Civil Petitions No. 1774 of 2014 etc.

1. The petitioners, in the above three petitions, have assailed the judgment dated 20.8.2014, in terms whereof a learned Division Bench of the High Court of Baluchistan, disposed of Constitution Petition No.332 of 2012 filed by petitioners in CPLA No.410-Q of 2004, whereby the said petitioners, inter alia, sought a declaration that order of allotment of land bearing Khasra No.2250/517, situated in Mahal Sirki Kalan Tappu Saddar, District Quetta in favour of one of the Respondent namely Sultan Ahmed (being respondent No.9 in the said petition) and its subsequent transfer in favour of respondent Nos.10, 11 and 12, has been passed illegally and by misuse of authority, and to direct the concerned authority to allot the same to the petitioners, being the petitioners before us in CPLA No.410-Q of 2014.

2. The facts of the case, in brief, are that the land bearing Khasra No.517, measuring 6 rods and 36 poles situated in Mahal Sarki Kalan, Mouza Sirki, Tappu Saddar, Tehsil and District Quetta, owned by the predecessor-in-interest of the petitioner in CPLA No.410-Q of 2014 was acquired by the Government of Baluchistan under the Baluchistan Land Acquisition Ordinance 1979, for construction of a bridge over a railway track to connect Zarghoon Road and Sariab Road in Quetta. The transfer of the land in favour of the Government of Baluchistan was accordingly recorded in the revenue record. The overhead bridge was constructed by Quetta Development Authority (“QDA”), however, a portion of the aforesaid acquired land, measuring 30,492 sq.ft. (“the land”), which remained unutilized and was reserved for the future expansion of the bridge, more fully described in the first para of this order, was purportedly sold to Respondent-Sultan Ahmed through a purported sale deed dated 26.4.2007, purportedly executed by QDA in favour of Respondent-Sultan Ahmed. At the relevant time the petitioner Maqbool Ahmed Lehri was the Nazim, City District Government, in which capacity he held the post of Chairman QDA also. Neither was any advertisement placed by QDA as required in terms of clause (a) of sub-section (2) of section 113 of the Quetta Development Authority Ordinance, nor was the land offered to those from whom the same was acquired, before the purported sale.

3. However, before we proceed any further, it would be relevant to briefly record the history of the case; in fact, prior to acquiring the land through the purported sale deed, it was in the year 1987 that Respondent-Sultan Ahmed procured a purported allotment of the land from petitioner Maqbool Ahmed Lehri, while the later was Mayor Municipal Corporation Quetta (“MCQ”), and as such the purported lease deed was executed by the said petitioner in favour of the Respondent-Sultan Ahmed for a period of 30 years on 06.5.1990. For such allotment Respondent-Sultan Ahmed initially applied to the Minister for QDA/WASA Baluchistan, who sought comments from MCQ. The Municipal Engineer MCQ, though in his note stated that the ownership of the land is of QDA, yet recommended leasing out the land in favour of Respondent-Sultan Ahmed, and sought permission to allot/lease out the land and to execute such agreement in favour of Respondent-Sultan Ahmed. The petitioner Maqbool Lehri who, as noted above, was Mayor MCQ, endorsed the above for the approval of the Minister for QDA/WASA. Thereafter, respondent-Sultan Ahmed applied to the Chief Minister for allotment of the land for thirty years enabling him to establish and run a nursery, the Chief Minister, obliged by endorsing “Please allot for thirty years”. Whereafter, the allotment and lease as noted above were granted. The lease, as disclosed by MCQ in its written statement in suit No.979/1993, was however terminated on 19.4.1993. On the said very date, i.e. 19.4.1993, MCQ also initiated criminal proceedings under section 133 Cr.P.C. for resumption of possession of the land. Respondent-Sultan Ahmed thus, on the one hand, on 20.4.1993, filed the above noted suit in the Court of Civil Judge-I, Quetta for declaration and permanent injunction against the administrator, MCQ, Municipal Magistrate, Illaqa Magistrate and the concerned SHO, in respect of the land in question, and on the other hand filed a Criminal Revision before the Additional Session Judge, Quetta. In his suit Respondent-Sultan Ahmed alleged that the defendants are attempting to dispossess him from the land. Upon knowledge of the suit QDA joined the proceedings as defendant No.5. In their written statements the defendants denied Respondent-Sultan Ahmed’s claim over the land. MCQ in its written statement averred that the purported lease deed has been terminated on 19.4.1993, and that MCQ is not the owner of the land, and was not authorized to execute the purported lease, and further that the lease “is neither properly stamped nor registered as required under the law”, whereas QDA in its written statement claimed that the lease is “patently void”. The trial Court, after hearing the parties, through order dated 26.10.1995, held that admittedly QDA is the owner of the land and since the purported lease has been cancelled by the Administrator, MCQ on 19.3.1993, Respondent-Sultan Ahmed has no locus standi and his possession of the land is unauthorized, and dismissed the suit. Upon an appeal filed by Respondent-Sultan Ahmed on 8.5.1996 the dismissal order was set-aside and the suit was remanded to the trail Court. The aforesaid criminal revision was dismissed by Additional Sessions Judge on 30.11.1993. Through judgment dated 09.1.1994, Crl.Misc. Quashment Application filed by Respondent-Sultan Ahmed in the High Court of Baluchistan was also dismissed. Criminal Petition filed by Respondent-Sultan Ahmed against the said judgment before this Court was, on 23.11.1994, disposed of on the basis of a statement of the Additional Advocate General, that no proceedings under section 133 Cr.P.C. are pending against Respondent-Sultan Ahmed.

4. In his letter dated 29.6.1996 addressed to Chief Engineer/Director (Estate), QDA, Quetta, the Administrator MCQ conveyed to the latter that the propriety rights of the suit land does not belong to the MCQ and therefore any agreement executed by the Ex-Mayor MCQ with Respondent-Sultan Ahmed is of no legal effect and the same being void is not required to be cancelled.

5. Respondent-Sultan Ahmed was, through order dated 07.11.1997, allowed to withdraw the aforesaid suit with permission to file a fresh suit, the withdrawal was however allowed subject to payment of cost of Rs.25,000/-. He, however, did not file a fresh suit in respect of the action/decision impugned through the suit withdrawn.

6. Undettered by the above cancellation, Respondent-Sultan Ahmed in his pursuit to grab the suit land, after waiting for an opportune time, on 01.4.1997 submitted another application to the Chief Minister, where he concealed the termination of his purported allotment/lease and all the above noted subsequent events, and simply claimed that though the suit land was allotted to him for nursery by the former Minister Local Bodies through the former Mayor, MCQ in the year 1991 but some people are creating difficulties in his way and requested the Chief Minister to order allotment of the land, and for direction to the QDA to settle the price through negotiation with him. The then Chief Minister sought report in the matter. Unfortunately, the Chief Minister was not apprised of the correct legal and factual position in the matter, and on 28.9.1997, he passed an order as follow:

“This is an old case and the Authority has already given the approval for lease of land and settlement with the applicant. Now, since the applicant wants to buy the land, the Director General, QDA may settle the matter by negotiations with the applicant, keeping in view the rates of Commercial and other categories in mind.”

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