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State of Maharashtra Versus Marwanjee P. Desai

AIR 2002 SC 456 - Civil Appeal No. 7677-7682 of 1994 - Dated:- 14-12-2001 - D.P. Mohapatra And Umesh C. Banerjee JJ. JUDGMENT: JUDGMENT BANERJEE, J. The issue presently before this court pertains to the scope and ambit of Section 7 of the Bombay Government Premises (Eviction) Act, 1955 and its applicability therefor viz.-a-viz. an order of 'dropping of proceedings' in terms of a notice issued under Section 4 of the Act of 1955 and resultant dismissal of the proceeding initiated for dispo .....

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show- cause notice to the occupants under sub-section (2) of section 4 of the Act, on 26th November, 1979 and the former however, dropped the proceeding by an order dated December 16, 1980. The State Government being dissatisfied therewith preferred an appeal under section 7 of the Act to the Principal Judge of the City Civil Court, Bombay, wherein a preliminary objection was raised by the occupants as to the maintainability of the appeal. The objection, however, was overruled by the learned Jud .....

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Premises Act) on to the Statute Book was effected solely with the purpose of empowering the Government to evict the unauthorised occupants from its property without taking recourse to any lengthy legal process by way of civil suits in the civil courts. The machinery provided for in terms of the statute, cannot but be termed to be a quasi legal/judicial authority as we will shortly notice, but before so doing, let us have a look at the view as expressed by the High Court pertaining thereto : [&q .....

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cision which claim is possibly untenable." (Emphasis supplied)] It is at this juncture however, relevant extracts of the provisions as contained in Sections 4, 5,6 and 7 together with the Statements of Objects and Reasons of the enactment ought to be noticed for its proper appreciation. "The Statements of Objects and Reasons read as below: "Government has allotted accommodation to Government Servants and others in Government Premises like Bombay Development Department Chawls, Bomb .....

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arrears involves a lengthy process as a result of which there is loss of revenue. In order, therefore, to enable government to control and regulate the occupation of premises allotted for the use and occupation of government servants and others and for certain other matter connected therewith, it is considered necessary to arm government with effective powers to deal with cases of unauthorised occupation, subletting and arrears of rent. The proposed legislation is intended to provide remedy for .....

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he premises are taken on behalf of the State Government or any other officer designated by the State government in this behalf, or (iia) committed, or is committing, such acts of waste as are likely to diminish materially the value, or impair substantially the utility, or the premises, or (iii) otherwise acted in contravention of any of the terms, express or implied, under which he is authorised to occupy such premises, or (b) that any person is in unauthorised occupation of any government premi .....

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(2) Before an order under sub-section (1) is made against any person the competent authority shall issue in the manner hereinafter provided a notice in writing calling upon all persons concerned to show-cause why an order of eviction should not be made. The notice shall,- (a) specify the ground on which the order of eviction is proposed to be made; and (b) require all persons concerned, that is to say, all persons who are, or may be, in occupation of or claim interest in, government premises, to .....

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son shall be entitled to appear before the officer proceeding in this connection by advocate, attorney or pleader. The notice to be served under this sub-section shall be served by having it affixed on the outer door or on some conspicuous part of the premises, and in such manner as may be prescribed; and thereupon the notice shall be deemed to have been duly given to all persons concerned. (3) If any person refuses or fails to comply with an order made under sub-section (1), the competent autho .....

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ning on such premises. Such notice shall be served in the manner provided for service of notice under sub- section (1). (2) Where any person is in unauthorised occupation of any Government premises, the competent authority may, in the manner and having regard to the principles of assessment of damages, prescribed, assess such damages on account of the use and occupation of the premises as it may deem fit, and may by notice served (I) by post or (ii) by affixing a copy of it on the outer door or .....

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le period to be specified in such notice, why such order should not be made, and until his objections, if any, and any evidence he may produce in support of the same, have been considered by the competent authority. Section 6: Rent to be recovered by deduction from salary or wages of employee. (1) Without prejudice to the provisions of Section 4, where any person to whom Government premises have been allotted, is, - (a) an employee of the State Government, or (b) an employee of a local authority .....

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ty shall deduct from the salary or wages payable to such person the amount specified in the requisition, and pay the amount so deducted to the competent authority in satisfaction of the amount due as aforesaid. (2) An employee of a local authority who is allotted Government premises may execute an agreement in favour of the State Government providing that the local authority by or under whom he is employed shall be competent to deduct from time to time from the salary or wages payable to him, su .....

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g and enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him on oath; (b) requiring the discovery and production of documents; (c) any other matter which may be prescribed. Section 7: Appeals. (1) An appeal shall lie from every order of the competent authority, made in respect of any Government premises, under Section 4 or Section 5 to an appellate officer who shall be the District Judge of the district in which the Government premises are situate, or such other judicial officer in that distri .....

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rder under sub-section (1) or (2) of that section, as the case may be : Provided that the appellate officer may entertain the appeal after the expiry of the said period of thirty days, if he is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing the appeal in time. (3) Where an appeal is preferred from an order of the competent authority, the appellate officer may stay the enforcement of that order for such period, and on such conditions as he deems fit. (4) Every appeal u .....

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nd eloquent as he always is, was rather emphatic that on a true reading of Section 7, one cannot possibly lend any credence to the observations of the High Court that the Competent Authority within the meaning of the Act of 1955 is an extended arm or a department of the Government and for all practical purposes ought to be termed as the Government itself and the High Court was in clear error in its finding that State Government has no right of appeal against the decision of the Competent Authori .....

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ompetent Authority as an independent quasi judicial Authority. The Competent Authority is an instrumentality of the Government for implementation of the Act and as a matter of fact the decision of the Competent Authority cannot but be equated with that of the Government and once the Government has taken a decision question of there being any appeal within the meaning of Section 7 of the Act would not arise. Mr.Ganesh draws inspiration from the observations of Section 18 of the Land Acquisition A .....

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uthority at the cost of whom land is acquired and the Bench interpreted Section 50 (2) of the Land Acquisition Act. The challenge to an Order of the Collector as regards the quantum of compensation in terms of Section 18 of the Act obviously is restrictive to the person who stands aggrieved the Collector determines the monetary compensation for the land acquired and in the event the land holder is not satisfied with the quantum so determined, the Statute provides in terms of Section 18 an avenue .....

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Act come to a conclusion that the Local Authority for which the land has been acquired has the right to appear and contest before the Court and even adduce evidence in support of its contention and has the right to prefer an appeal from the Order passed in terms of Section 18 by the Court in the event the concerned local authority stands aggrieved by the quantum so fixed before the Collector, which cannot be termed to be a judicial proceeding or even a quasi judicial proceeding but with the fili .....

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t. Reliance on the decision is totally misplaced and as a matter of fact it has no relevance whatsoever in the contextual facts presently. Similar is the situation in regard to the decision of this Court in Northern Plastics Ltd. vs. Hindustan Photo Films Mfg. Co. Ltd. and others (1997) 4 SCC p.452. The observations of this Court that an appeal is creature of the Statute and thus the right of appeal can be exercised only by the person permitted by the Statute cannot but be stated to be the corre .....

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ith the circumstances or conditions mentioned in clause (a) or (b) or (c) in Section 4(1) exists. Incidentally, the opening words of Section 4 are "If the Competent Authority is satisfied". Mr.Ganesh contended that only effect or consequence of the said satisfaction being found to exist, that an Order of eviction could be passed and if on the other hand no such satisfaction is reached no Order under Section 4 can be passed at all and since presently, the conditions do not stand satisfi .....

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y the Competent Authority under Section 4 or Section 5 that is what Mr. Dholakia contended and we find some force therein. Dropping of proceedings cannot possibly be termed to be 'not an Order': the Competent Authority issued the notices and upon offering an opportunity of hearing to the parties, terminated the proceeding by recording "proceedings dropped" if it does not denote the same an immediate inquiry would be then what it is? There is, however, no answer thereto. The pro .....

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t the contention of the State Government and in fact refused to direct eviction which is also an Order passed under the said Section. We record our concurrence therewith. Incidentally dropping of proceedings however has no statutory sanction. While it is true, that the High Court placed reliance on the factum of the Competent Authority being an arm or wing of the Government and as such the latter cannot be permitted to lodge a protest against its own Order this, however, in our view is a total m .....

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the provision of appeal has to be interpreted in its proper perspective and not in a manner restrictive. If the reasoning provided by the High Court is to be accepted then in that event the Statute shall have to be given a go-bye and to be rendered a complete otiose. The word "every", appearing in Section 7 immediately before the word "Order", stands out to be extremely significant so as to offer an opportunity of appeal in the event of there being an Order against the Govern .....

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lso represented by an officer along with the notice in terms of the provisions of the Statute and it is by reason therefor the proceeding cannot but be termed to be a quasi judicial proceeding. Significantly Section 6(a) categorically provides that for the purpose of holding an inquiry under the Act, the Competent Authority shall have the same powers as vested in a Civil Court under the Code of Civil Procedure when trying a suit : while it is true that this vesting is restricted to summoning of .....

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ent Authority to proceed in accordance with law upon consideration of the relevant material : "Proceedings dropped" cannot but be equated with an Order of dismissal of the proceeding and the strenuous submission of Mr.Ganesh to the contrary as noticed above, we are afraid, cannot be sustained. The analogy drawn from the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act or the Income-tax Act is wholly unwarranted and misplaced and thus cannot be sustained on this score as well. The High Court' .....

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therefor. The interpretation to Section 3, as noticed herein before, offered by the High Court cannot possibly be adopted neither the Statute can be read in the manner and fashion as has been so done by the High Court. Appointment of the Competent Authority in terms of Section 3 for carrying out purposes of the Act is said to indicate that the Authority is administrative and neither judicial nor quasi judicial cannot but ascribed to be totally erroneous. The Statute shall have to be considered i .....

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