Supreme Court quashes the allotment of land to Chandigarh Law Institute, holds it is violation of Art.14 [Read the Judgment]

Supreme Court quashes the allotment of land to Chandigarh Law Institute, holds it is violation of Art.14 [Read the Judgment]

The Supreme Court on Friday quashed the land allotted to Chandigarh law Institute Pvt. Ltd., an entity which had two sons of judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and a senior advocate among its directors.

The appeal in the Supreme Court was filed by the Institute after the Punjab and Haryana High Court had also pronounced that the allotment of land was invalid. The institute was allotted 5.75 acres of land in Chandigarh at Rs. 900/- per square yard only.

Thereafter, a writ petition was filed by Mr. Neeraj Sharma before the Punjab and Haryana High Court wherein “Division  Bench  of  the  High Court,  consisting  of  the  then  Chief  Justice  and  a puisne  Judge,  by  two  separate  but  concurring  orders disposed  of  the  writ  petition  cancelling   the allotment of land and directing the Union Territory of Chandigarh to take necessary corrective steps in the matter  in  consonance  with  the  constitutional philosophy of Article 14 of the Constitution of India and further directed the Union Territory of Chandigarh to take policy decision for allotment of educational institutional sites in favour of eligible persons so as to ensure that the allotments are made objectively and  in a transparent manner.”, notes the Supreme Court judgment.

As the two judges did not agree on certain paragraphs, the matter was referred to the third judge, who also pronounced against allotment of land and cancelled the allotment.

Before the Supreme Court, the Institute argued that “the learned nominated Judge has erred in not appreciating the separate orders passed by the two learned Judges of  the  Division  Bench  of  the  High  Court”, and the matter should have been referred to a larger Bench.

The Supreme Court judgment mentions the further arguments made as, “It was further contended that the High Court ought to have noticed that the land involved in this appeal had  been  allotted  to  the  appellant-Institute  after proper  scrutiny  and  on  the published  and  notified rates of the land with a condition for specific utilization of the land on lease hold basis and that none of the town planning was affected by the allotment of land in question in favour of the appellant-Institute since the area of land in question is situated in the institutional area where educational institutions are functioning.”

The law institute also questioned the locus standi of the petitioner. It was also argued that all the procedural requirements regarding allotment were met and that the allocation was proper.

Writing for the Bench, Justice Gowda answered all the issues point by point and said “It is clear to us that the respondent No. 1-the writ petitioner has filed a bonafide writ petition and he has the necessary locus.” The Court also relied upon the earlier judgments delivered by the Supreme Court regarding the issue of locus standi.

On the other hand, the judgment notes the Respondent as submitting, “It is submitted on behalf of the first respondent that the allotment of public land at throw away price or at no price to the private educational institutions with anavowed object to serve the public interest is contrary to the theory of “charitable education” that serve the pious cause of literacy.  The  aforementioned  legal issue  was  visualized by  this  Court  and  has  lucidly laid down the law in the case of Union of India & Anr.v. Jain Sabha, New Delhi & Anr.”

The Court also relied on judgment delivered by lord Denning Laker Airways Ltd. v.  Deptt.  of Trade and held that, “we have to record our finding that the discretionary power conferred  upon  the  public  authorities  to  carry  out  the necessary Regulations for allotting land for the purpose of constructing a public educational institution should not be misused.”

Relying  on  Modern School v.  Union  of  India  and  Others, the Supreme Court said, “We,  therefore,  disregard  the  plea  of  charitable intention  or  philanthropic  goal  behind  the establishment of the appellant educational institution as  the  establishment  of  the  same  does  not  serve  any public  interest  and  we  cannot  allow  the  allotted  to make  money  or  profiteer  with  the  aid  of  the  public property.”

The Court finally held, “We, therefore, conclude that the High Court has rightly held that the policy followed by the Chandigarh Administration where the allotment of land was done in favour of the appellant-Institute without giving  any  public  notice  and  in  the  absence  of  a transparent  policy  based  upon  objective  criteria  and without  even  examining  the  fact  that  the  Union Territory  of  Chandigarh  is  already  under  extreme pressure  of  over  population  and  even  in  the  case  of allotment  of  school  sites  by  making  no  attempt  to enforce  clause  18  of  the  Scheme,  1996,  there by confining  the  said  provision  merely  to  the  statute book,  is  arbitrary,  unreasonable  and  unjust  and  is opposed  to  the  provisions  of  Article  14  of  the Constitution of India.”

The judgment of the Supreme Court has also received a comment from the formed Additional Solicitor General Indira Jai singh, she tweeted “SC strikes down allotment of land for law collegs to children of judges at throw away prices, what ethics will they teach to law students”.

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