Gujarat HC Dismisses Plea Against Vadodara Urban Development Authority Demanding Betterment Charges At Stage Of "Preparing" Town Planning Scheme

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12 Jun 2022 11:30 AM GMT

  • Gujarat HC Dismisses Plea Against Vadodara Urban Development Authority Demanding Betterment Charges At Stage Of Preparing Town Planning Scheme

    The Gujarat High Court has dismissed a petition seeking a declaration that Vadodara Urban Development Authority (VUDA) was legally not entitled to demand betterment charges, incremental charges, contribution charges etc. at the time of preparing and sanctioning the draft Town Planning Scheme. While declining to exercise its extraordinary jurisdiction in the case, a Bench of Justice...

    The Gujarat High Court has dismissed a petition seeking a declaration that Vadodara Urban Development Authority (VUDA) was legally not entitled to demand betterment charges, incremental charges, contribution charges etc. at the time of preparing and sanctioning the draft Town Planning Scheme. 

    While declining to exercise its extraordinary jurisdiction in the case, a Bench of Justice Ashutosh Shastri noted that this was a consistent practice for VUDA and that all such similarly situated developers and persons follow such practice while getting development permission of making payments and handing over advance cheques while refraining to exercise extraordinary jurisdiction:

    "…it appears that when the cheques were handed over and when renewal permission were sought, there was no protest and petitioner has also not pointed out anything from the record that said cheques were given subject to their right of challenge and as such, subsequent objection raised after securing renewal permission and to prefer the petition on the basis of technical plea is the conduct which the Court would not like to encourage and as such, on the basis of this conduct itself, this Court is not inclined to exercise extraordinary jurisdiction."

    The petitioner was a developer who owned certain land for which he had received building permission from the respondent authorities in 2014. He also paid the requisite fees as required by the Respondent authorities with due process. In 2019, the petitioner was notified of a Town Planning Scheme which had not yet been sanctioned by the State Government under Section 48 of the Gujarat Town Planning and Urban Developing Act.

    The Petitioner averred that he was required to pay a hefty amount including the development charges, incremental fee, tree plantations etc towards the redistribution form which was unjust and premature since the final preliminary scheme was not sanctioned by the State authorities. Additionally, he had been asked to pay another sum towards the sundry fees along with 12 post-dated cheques for the monthly payments and 12 post-dated cheques for interest @18%, failing which the development permission would be withheld.

    The petitioner argued that the Town Planning Officer, under Section 52 of the Act could not make any such demands. It was submitted that the appropriate authority while preparing Town Planning Scheme cannot raise demand at this stage.

    However, the respondent submitted that the petitioner had already deposited the cheques in 2021 and thereafter, he received development permission for plots, swimming pools, residential bungalows and a clubhouse. Further, the petitioner being a developer was aware of the amounts towards incremental benefits at the time of taking permission from the Town Planning Scheme under Sections 49(1)(a) and 49(b) of the Act. The Petitioner had participated in the permission process and could not challenge it after having participated in it and accepting the proposal of the draft Town Planning Scheme, it was argued.

    The Bench primarily doubted the version of the Petitioner that the Respondent had threatened to withhold the development permission without the payment.

    It also noted that it was a routine practice to give blank and duly signed cheques in the industry towards fees, interests and other amounts. The Petitioner had requested to accept the said cheques for the purpose of developing the plots, bungalows and pools. He obtained benefits by developing such properties and therefore, could not now air grievances regarding the payment. There was also no discriminatory treatment or arbitrariness to invite the application of Article 14 since the practice was 'in vogue' with all parties.

    Reference was placed on Pravesh Kumar Sachdeva Vs. State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors. [(2018) 10 SCC 628] to emphasise, "Waiver is the abandonment of a right which normally everybody is at liberty to waive. A waiver is nothing unless it amounts to a release. It signifies nothing more than an intention not to insist upon the right. It may be deduced from acquiescence or may be implied."

    Accordingly, the Bench declined to exercise jurisdiction and vacated the interim relief. Further, acquiescing to the request that the interim reliefs continue to operate for the Petitioner to approach the higher forum, the High Court granted four weeks' permission for the reliefs to continue.

    Case No.: C/SCA/11139/2021

    Case Title: KRUPESHBHAI N. PATEL v/s VADODARA URBAN DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY

    Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Guj) 206

    (Edited by Hannah M. Varghese)

    Click Here To Read/Download Order

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