The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Telugu Desam Party and the state of Andhra Pradesh on a plea challenging the construction of the party state head office at Mangalagiri in violation of environmental norms.
The bench of Justices R. F. Nariman, Navin Sinha and Krishna Murari was hearing YSR Congress party MLA Alla Ramakrishna Reddy's SLP against the July 23 judgment of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, whereby, it is contended that the High Court disposed the Writ Petition filed by the Petitioner herein "in haste without granting any relief on wrong application of law and facts".
The prime issue under consideration before the Apex Court is that:
'Whether the High Court is correct in disposing the PIL filed by the Petitioner without passing any direction to the Respondent State to take corrective measures against their actions despite State had admitted that the land alienated/leased to R-12 by the State vide impugned GO.Ms.No.228 Dt. 22-06-2017 is prohibited for transfer/lease?'
It is argued that the High Court has ignored the aspect that the State was held for contempt for violating the interim orders passed by the same Court in a writ petition. Though the said order is on record in the PIL filed by the Petitioner, the High Court has failed to look into the conduct of the State while disposing of the Writ petition by leaving the fate of the cause/case to the state to correct its own wrongs.
"The High Court has ignored the settled legal principle laid down by this Hon'ble court in Hinch Lal Tiwari Vs. Kamala Devi (2001) 6 SCC 496 that the Govt. including revenue authorities are duty-bound to clean and develop the water bodies for the purposes of preventing ecological disaster and providing a better environment to people at large. The Respondent State herein instead following the same has transferred/leased a part of land that falls in the category of water bodies for constructing a building and thus deviated from the above said rationale as held by this Hon'ble Court", it is submitted.
Further, it is advanced that in Intellectual Forum Vs. State of A.P., this top court held that it is the duty of the state to keep in mind both Arts. 48-A and 51-A and understand their scope and purpose of fundamental rights while enacting legislations both by the parliament and state legislatures. The abandonment of public water tanks and alienation of tank bed land by State to some government agencies for construction of houses shall amount to violation of doctrine of "public trust", "sustainable development" and "intergenerational equity".
Recently, in Sarvepalli Ramaiah (dead) vs. District Collector, Chittoor District and Ors (2019) 4 SCC 500 it was held by the Supreme Court that the "land comprised in water bodies cannot be alienated, even if it is dry, cultivation carried on the dried bed of water bodies does not denude land of its character as water bodies."
It is argued that the State had failed to comply with the above said observations of the Supreme Court and this High Court grossly erred by not considering the settled principles of the top court.
Brief Facts of the case are as follows:
It is submitted that the Petitioner herein has filed a PIL, at larger public interest, challenging the GO.Ms.No.228 dated 22-06-2017 with regard to allotment of land to an extent of Ac.3-65 cents pertaining to "Stream Poramboke" bearing survey nos. 392/1, 392/3, 392/4, 392/8, 392/9 and 392/10 of Atmakur, Atmakur Village, Mangalagiri Mandal, Guntur District in favor of the 12th Respondent (The Telugu Desham Party) therein for construction of their National Political Party office on lease basis for a period of 99 years. Further, the action of the 5th Respondent therein (The Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority) allowed the 12th respondent herein to make constructions contrary to the building permissions obtained by the said R-12. The said permissions were obtained by suppressing material facts and, the same is illegal, arbitrary, unconstitutional and contrary to settled principles of law laid down by the Supreme Court as well the High Court. The actions of R-5 therein and R-12 herein are also contrary to the (i) Provisions of Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority Act, 2014; (ii) Provisions of Board Standing Orders; (iii) Contrary to the provisions of G.O.Ms.No.571 dated 14-09-2012, G.O.Ms.No.607 dated 11-10-2012 and GO.Ms.No.340 dated 21-07-2016 issued by the 1st respondent; (iv) Several memos and circulars issued by the government prohibiting allotment/assignment of water bodies and the lands associated with waterbodies to private organizations; and are (v) Violative of the principles of Doctrine of "Public Trust".
It is submitted that the High Court while disposing the Writ Petition has made an erroneous observation that a similar petition with respect to survey no.392 of Atmakur, Atmakur Village, Mangalagiri Mandal, Guntur District was pending before the High Court without realizing that the said Writ Petition was filed by a different party on a different set of facts and cause of action.
It is urged that the impugned order passed by the High Court is contrary to the spirit of public interest litigation on following counts:
Firstly, the High Court has completely ignored the aspects that the High Court is a Constitutional Court and is a guardian of Fundamental rights of the citizens. When the state admits its mistake and was also held for contempt in another pending writ petition for similar actions, the High Court ought to have directed the state to take measures in rectifying its error rather leaving it to the discretion of state for rectifying its own mistakes.
Secondly, the High Court has ignored that the settled legal principles laid down by the Apex Court on several occasions that no land pertaining to natural bodies be transferred/leased for the purpose of any construction activity even for the government agencies.
Thirdly, the High Court has ignored the fact that the PIL was filed by the Petitioner being aggrieved of transfer/lease of land that falls/belongs to the water bodies, hence it is a continuous cause of action. The High court has ignored settled legal principle laid down by the Supreme Court that a wrongful act is of such a character that the injury caused by it continues and then the act constitutes a continuing wrong. If once a cause of action arises and the acts complained of continuously being repeated, the cause of action continues
Fourthly, it is advanced that it is a practice in existence that if the Court finds that there are two writ petitions of same nature the court should either tag the matter and hear together or stay the proceedings if the judgment in the other similar matter is reserved. High Court instead of following the practice has decided to dispose of the PIL filed by Petitioner, erroneously leaving the fate of the cause of PIL to the Respondent State without granting any relief.
Fifthly, the present order passed by the High Court shall set a precedent and might impact on all pending petitions challenging the State's action.
Sixthly, no public interest litigation should be disposed in haste without granting any relief when the damage done to the public interest at large is clearly evident.
"The method of proceedings conducted by the High Court in the PIL filed by Petitioner is perverse and same needs to be set aside, else it will set a dangerous precedent for adjudicating the Public interest litigations", it is prayed.
Advocates Prashant Bhushan and Ramesh Allanki appeared for Alla Ramakrishna Reddy, in the petition filed by Advocate Aruna Gupta.