Civil court has no jurisdiction to interfere with acquisition of land

Forum for judicial review of Land Acquisition:

Section 9 of CPC exclude jurisdiction of Civil Court:

Futile attempts have been made by respondent no. 4 only to see that the allottees are harassed and to keep the litigation pending. After the final notification, an award was passed and compensation was deposited. Possession was taken and the same was evidenced by the Panchanama prepared as far back as 23.09.1986. Notification under Section 16(2) of the Land Acquisition Act was issued on 20.01.1987 disclosing the factum of taking possession of the land in question. Attempt made by respondent no. 4 for getting the disputed land de-notified has also failed as far back as 15.01.1993, when the State Government has rejected the representation of respondent no. 4 seeking de-notification. The writ petition filed by respondent no. 4 challenging such order of dismissal of the representation was also dismissed. Despite the same, respondent no. 4 is pursuing the matter by filing writ petition after writ petition. It is a clear case of abuse of process of law as well as the Court.

Abuse of process of Court:

We do not find any reason to interfere in the finding of fact rendered by the learned Single Judge that possession was taken by BDA on 23.09.1986. There is nothing to be adjudicated further in respect of the title or possession of the property. The title as well as the possession of the property has vested with the BDA for about more than 30 years prior to this day and sites were formed and allotted to various persons including the appellant herein. In the light of such voluminous records and having regard to the fact that respondent no. 4 has been repeatedly making futile attempts by approaching the courts of law by raising frivolous contentions, the Division Bench ought not to have granted liberty to respondent no. 4 to approach the civil court once again for the very same relief, for which it has failed earlier. In view of this, learned counsel for the appellant is justified in contending that the Division Bench has completely erred in reviving the dispute which had long been given a legal quietus after a series of litigations. The Judgment of the Division Bench, if allowed to stand, will unsettle the settled state of affairs involving hundreds of allottees of sites who have constructed the houses and are residing therein. The impugned judgment of the Division Bench virtually sets at naught a number of judgments rendered by the civil court as well as the High Court in the very matter (and was given without any reason much less a valid reason).

The Division Bench has erroneously conferred jurisdiction upon the civil court to decide the validity of the acquisition. This Court has repeatedly held in a number of judgments that, by implication, the power of a civil court to take cognizance of such cases under Section 9 of the CPC stands excluded and the civil court has no jurisdiction to go into the question of validity under Section 4 and declaration under Section 6 of the Land Acquisition Act. It is only the High Court which will consider such matter under Article 226 of the Constitution. So, the civil suit, per se is not maintainable for adjudicating the validity or otherwise of the acquisition notifications & proceedings arising therefrom. This Court in the case of Bangalore Development Authority vs Brijesh Reddy & Anr. [2013 (3) SCC 66] while considering the acquisition notifications issued under BDA Act observed thus:

“It is clear that the Land Acquisition Act is a complete code in itself and is meant to serve public purpose. By necessary implication, the power of the civil court to take cognizance of the case under Section 9 CPC stands excluded and a civil court has no jurisdiction to go into the question of the validity or legality of the notification under Section 4, declaration under Section 6 and subsequent proceedings except by the High Court in a proceeding under Article 226 of the Constitution. It is thus clear that the civil court is devoid of jurisdiction to give declaration or even bare injunction being granted on the invalidity of the procedure contemplated under the Act. The only right available for the aggrieved person is to approach the High Court under Article 26 and this Court under Article 136 with self-imposed restrictions on their exercise of extraordinary power.” A similar view is taken by this Court in other cases. The Judgments of this Court in Laxmi Chand & Ors. vs Gram Panchayat, Kararia & Ors. [1996 (7) SCC 218], Shri Girish Vyas vs State of Maharashtra [2012 (3) SCC 619], State of Bihar vs Dhirendra Kumar & Ors. [1995 (4) SCC 229], Commissioner, Bangalore Development Authority vs K. S. Narayan [206 (8) SCC 336] & Commissioner, Mutha Associates & Ors. vs State of Maharashtra [2013 (14) SCC 304] considered the acquisition proceedings relating to the lands which were acquired either under the provisions of the BDA Act or under the Land Acquisition Act. In all these judgments, similar question arose i.e. as to whether the civil court had jurisdiction to decide the validity of the acquisition notifications or not.

Having regard to the discussion made supra, in our considered opinion, it is a clear case of contempt committed by respondent no.4 by repeatedly approaching the courts of law for almost the same relief which was negatived by the courts for three decades. However, we decline to initiate contempt proceedings and to impose heavy costs, under the peculiar facts and circumstance of this case.

No remedy before Civil Court:

It is to be noted that the Division Bench has given liberty to respondent no. 4 to work out his remedy in a civil suit without even setting aside the findings of the learned Single Judge and the findings rendered in the judgments passed by the Civil Court and the High Court of Karnataka in a number of matters (mentioned supra). In our opinion the Division Bench of the High Court of Karnataka has in a casual manner relegated the parties to the civil court to work out their remedies in the suit which is to be instituted afresh by respondent no. 4. Thus, the said conclusion of the Division Bench of the High Court is not sustainable in law.

[Source: H.N. Jagannath vs State Of Karnataka, decided by SC on 6 December, 2017]
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