13 May 2023 10:49 AM GMT
The Supreme Court has reprimanded the Haryana Urban Development Authority (“HUDA Authority”) for filing frivolous litigation over issues that have already been settled by the Apex Court in judgments dating back to 2005. The Bench comprising of Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Rajesh Bindal, while adjudicating an appeal filed in Haryana Urban Development Authority & Anr. v Jagdeep...
The Supreme Court has reprimanded the Haryana Urban Development Authority (“HUDA Authority”) for filing frivolous litigation over issues that have already been settled by the Apex Court in judgments dating back to 2005.
The Bench comprising of Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Rajesh Bindal, while adjudicating an appeal filed in Haryana Urban Development Authority & Anr. v Jagdeep Singh, has imposed a cost of Rs. 1 Lakh on the HUDA Authority for wasting the time of Courts at different levels. Further, the guilty officials of HUDA Authority, who decided that the case if fit for filing an appeal, have been directed to pay a cost of Rs. 50,000/- to the Respondent.
In 1986, Mr. Jagdeep Singh (“Respondent”) was allotted a plot in a land situated at Hisar at Rs. 224.90 per sq. yard. Prior to allotment, the parcel of land belonged to the Animal Husbandry Department of the State of Haryana, which was transferred to the Haryana Urban Development Authority (“HUDA Authority/Appellant”). In 1993, HUDA Authority issued a notice to the Respondent demanding additional price for the allotted plot.
The said demand was challenged by the Respondent before the Civil Court in 2003. It was contended that in terms of the conditions contained in the Letter of Allotment, the demand of additional price could be raised only in case of enhancement in cost of land by the competent authority under Land Acquisition Act. As the land in question was never acquired by HUDA Authority, there could be no order for enhancement of cost by any Court or Authority.
In 2008, the suit was decreed in favour of the Respondent. The HUDA Authority unsuccessfully challenged the decree before the District Judge as well as the High Court.
SUPREME COURT VERDICT
In 2005, the Supreme Court in the matter of Sanjay Gera vs. Haryana Urban Development Authority & Anr., (2005) 3 SCC 207, had held that additional price of land can be demanded by the Authority if an award is passed by the competent authority under the Land Acquisition Act to that effect.
The Bench observed that since the land in question was never acquired by HUDA, the question of enhancement of cost by Court or Authority does not arise. The order of the Civil Court and High Court were upheld.
Cost imposed on HUDA Authority for filing frivolous appeal
While dismissing the appeal, the Bench imposed a cost of Rs. 1 Lakh on HUDA Authority for filing frivolous litigation since the question of law stood settled way back in 2005.
“In the case in hand, the civil suit was filed on 1.10.2003 by the Respondent challenging the demand of additional price. Judgment of this Court in Sanjay Gera’s case was delivered on 22.02.2005. Despite this fact being in knowledge of the Appellants, the suit was contested and the same was decreed on 19.08.2008. The matter did not end here, appeal was preferred by the appellant before the First Appellate Court and on failure even before the High Court and thereafter before this Court. For the aforesaid reasons and wasting the time of the Courts at different levels, we deem it appropriate to burden the Appellants with cost of ₹1,00,000/- to be deposited with the Supreme Court Mediation Centre” the Bench ruled.
Guilty officials to pay cost of Rs. 50,000/- to the Respondent
Further, the Bench awarded a cost of Rs. 50,000/- to the Respondent, to be payable by the guilty officers of the HUDA Authority who decided that the case is fit for filing an appeal. The Bench deprecated the practice of pursuing appeals by authorities which involve already settled proposition of law. It has been held as under:
“The suit was decreed on 19.08.2008. The amount spent on litigation would be much more. It is because of impersonal and irresponsible attitude of the officers, who want to put everything to Court and shirk to take decisions. However, still the Appellants had not only filed appeals, resulting in addition to the pendency of cases and also must have spent huge amount on litigation in the form of fee of the counsels and allied expenses. Besides that, number of officer(s)/official(s) must have visited the counsel engaged either at Chandigarh, when the matter was taken up in the High Court and thereafter to this Court, when the order was challenged before this Court. Even that amount also needs to be calculated and recovered from the guilty officers who, despite there being judgment of this Court, dealing with the same issue opined the case to be fit for filing appeals.”
The appeal has been dismissed.
Case Title: Haryana Urban Development Authority & Anr. v Jagdeep Singh
Citation : 2023 LiveLaw (SC) 429
Click Here To Read/Download Judgment