Observing that the concerned agricultural land was already converted under Gujarat Land Revenue Code for 'Non-Agricultural' purpose of cottage industries, the Gujarat High Court has held that it makes no difference if there is a change in the nature of industries and has thus, allowed a petition seeking the revision of plan from 'Marble Cottage Industries' to 'Commercial Purpose'.
The Bench comprising Justice AP Thaker was hearing a petition under Article 226 for quashing the order passed by Respondent No. 1, i.e., District Collector, Banaskantha rejecting the application of the Petitioner for revising the aforesaid plan. It was sought that the Court permit the revision of the plan from Marble Cottage Industries to that of Commercial use.
"Since, the land was already converted for NA purpose even for cottage industries, it does not make difference, if there is a change of some sort of industries. At the same time, as per the material placed on record in a similarly situated matters, the Collector has granted such permission in the past. However there is no material showing the facts as to under what the circumstances such permission was granted to such persons in those cases, by the concerned authority. But, the facts of granting such permissions in similarly situated persons is not denied by the State Authority."
The facts of case were that the owner of the concerned land approached the Collector for granting permission u/s 73AA of the Gujarat Land Revenue Code for selling his land to M/S Nirmal Marble for carrying out the activities of the Marble Cottage Industry which was granted with certain conditions. The sale deed between the proprietor of M/S Nirmal Marbles and the former owner of the land was registered in 2015 and necessary construction permission was obtained.
Subsequently, the concerned land was sold to Madhav Infrastructure. The Petitioner herein, associated with Madhav Infrastructure, received a show cause notice from the Collector stating that the use of cottage industry had not started as per the conditions u/s 73AA and that the proof of M/S Madhav Infra having registered with the Industries Department had not been produced and the Petitioner was called to show cause as to why steps u/s 79AA should not be initiated.
The Petitioner contended that the Collector had permitted the construction use to be changed for three different lands which were previously allotted to them but the Collector rejected the application of the Petitioner for revising the plan. Aggrieved with the order, the instant petition was filed.
Reliance was also placed on M/s Jailaxmi Estate & another V. State of Gujarat & Other respondents to contest that once agricultural land was converted into non-agricultural land, it would not fall within the meaning of the Gujarat Land Revenue Code.
Per contra, the AGP contested that the NA permission was granted with certain conditions which were not fulfilled. The original plan was for marble industries which differed from the instant plan.
Considering the arguments, Justice Thaker opined that the land owned by a tribal individual was sold by him to M/S Nirmal Marbles for marble cottage industries even as necessary permissions u/s 73 of the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act were obtained. The Bench remarked:
"Thus, when the NA permission was granted to use land for the purpose of cottage industries, the original character of the land being agriculture has already loose its character."
The Bench noted that the Collector initiated action against the Collector under Rule 57(L) of the Code. However, it opined:
"However, admittedly in this case earlier sanction was granted for transfer of land under section 73AA of the Code, was already granted. Therefore, now the Collector cannot set aside that order after conversion of the land from agriculture to non agricultural purpose."
Furthermore, no application was made for the reconveyance of land by the tribal individual himself. Keeping in view these facts, the Bench allowed the petition partly by quashing the impugned order but remanding the matter back to the Collector to decide the application of the Petitioner afresh with the opportunity of being heard granted to the Petitioner in accordance with law.
Case Title: LALITKUMAR BHIMSEN HEMRAJANI v/s DISTRICT COLLECTOR
Case No.: C/SCA/7896/2018
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Guj) 213