Hanumappa (Since Deceased) By His … vs The State Of Karnataka on 13 October, 2020


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Supreme Court of India

Hanumappa (Since Deceased) By His … vs The State Of Karnataka on 13 October, 2020

Author: Hon’Ble The Justice

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                                    IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                                     CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                                        I.A. NO.62796 OF 2020

                                                     IN

                           SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (C) NO.5467­5468 OF 2019



                      Hanumappa (Since Deceased) by His Lrs. & Ors.                      .…
                      Appellant(s)


                                                     Versus

                      The State of Karnataka & Ors.                      …. Respondent(s)



                                                   ORDER

1. The respondent No.4 to this petition has filed the

instant application seeking modification/vacation of the

interim order dated 15.02.2019 passed by this Court. Through

the order dated 15.02.2019 this Court had directed the parties

to maintain status­quo as it existed on that date.
Signature Not Verified

2. The facts in brief limited to the consideration of this
Digitally signed by
Rachna

application would indicate that the respondent No.3 herein was
Date: 2020.10.13
15:50:23 IST
Reason:

originally the owner of the property bearing Survey Nos. 91 and
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92, Chikkagubbi Village. The respondent No.4 herein had

purchased the same under a registered Sale Deed dated

26.04.1978. The petitioner herein claiming to be an

agricultural tenant in respect of the said property as also

certain other properties and further claiming to be in

possession and cultivation of the same as on 01.03.1974;

which is the appointed date under the Karnataka Land

Reforms Act, 1961 had filed an application in Form No. 7

claiming occupancy rights in respect of the property. The Land

Tribunal, Bengaluru, South Taluk considered the same in case

bearing No. LRF(B)CJ;126674­75.

3. At the first instance, the Land Tribunal through its

order dated 26.12.1981 allowed the application and granted

the occupancy right in favour of the petitioner herein. The

respondent No.4 herein claiming to be aggrieved by the said

order as he was not made a party to the proceedings before the

Land Tribunal, assailed the order of the Land Tribunal by filing

a writ petition before the High Court of Karnataka at Bengaluru

in Writ Petition No.30301/1982. The High Court through its

order dated 23.09.1997 quashed the order passed the Land

Tribunal and remanded the matter for fresh consideration after
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providing opportunity to the respondent No.4. Subsequent

thereto evidence was tendered by the parties and the Land

Tribunal having considered the matter; through a detailed

order dated 16.09.1998 rejected the application dated

31.12.1974 filed by the petitioner.

4. The petitioner herein claiming to be aggrieved by the

order had assailed the same before the High Court in

W.P.No.30602/1998. The High Court through the order dated

14.10.1998 upheld the order of the Land Tribunal and

dismissed the writ petition. The petitioner filed an intra­court

appeal in W.A.No.1818/2008. The Division Bench, by its order

dated 03.12.2015 dismissed the appeal. The petitioner

thereafter belatedly filed a Review Petition in the year 2017 in

Review Petition No.28/2017 which came to be dismissed

through the order dated 21.06.2017. It is in that circumstance

the petitioner has filed the special leave petition before this

Court. This Court while directing notice to the respondent had

granted the ad­interim order of status­quo. The respondent

No.4 having appeared has filed a counter­affidavit to the Writ

Petition and this application seeking modification/vacation of

the interim order.

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5. In the above background we have heard Mr. Sajan

Poovayya, learned senior counsel for the applicant/respondent

No.4 and Mr.S.N. Bhat, learned counsel for the respondent to

this application who is the petitioner in the special leave

petition.

6. The short issue for consideration at this point is as to

whether the petitioner has made out a case for continuation of

the order of status­quo during the pendency of the Special

Leave Petition. As noticed, the claim of the petitioner is that he

was a tenant in cultivation of the property as on 01.03.1974.

Such claim is sought to be justified by contending that his

name is indicated in the cultivator’s Column of the RTC and

that such tenancy was on crop sharing basis. The respondent

No.4 who has filed the instant application has however

disputed the claim. Though the respondent No.4 purchased the

property on 26.04.1978 i.e. subsequent to the appointed date,

the interest in the property as claimed by the respondent No.4

has been accepted by the High Court in Writ Petition

No.30301/1982 through the order dated 23.09.1997 and the

matter had been remanded to the Land Tribunal for fresh
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consideration after providing opportunity to the respondent

No.4/applicant.

7. If that be the position, all that is to be taken note at this

juncture is as to whether the claim of the petitioner that he

was a tenant of the land in question is to be accepted as

unassailable and whether the continuation of the status­quo as

contended by the petitioner in special leave petition merits

consideration. For the limited purpose, a perusal of the order

dated 16.09.1998 passed by the Land Tribunal would prima

facie disclose that a detailed consideration of the evidence and

the analysis of rival contentions has been made. It is in that

light the application in Form No.7 has been rejected. The

contention of Mr. S.N. Bhat, learned counsel is that the RTC

extracts indicates the name of the petitioner as a cultivator in

Column No.12(2) thereof. We notice that the Land Tribunal in

fact has referred to this aspect in detail and has noted that the

RTC extracts from 1971­72 to 1977­78 indicates the name of

the respondent No.3 i.e. that the predecessor in title to

respondent No.4 as a cultivator. The Tribunal has also referred

to certain stray entries in the name of the petitioner in the year

1974­75 and 1975­76 in the cultivator’s column. In that light
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the Tribunal has proceeded further to consider the other

evidence available on record and has arrived at the conclusion

that the said entries are not supported by any other evidence,

more particularly the petitioner had not produced any

documentary evidence for having given Rs.3000/­ to the

respondent No.3, being 50 per cent of the value of Eucalyptus

trees which was claimed to be sold by him for Rs.6000/­ to

establish the claim of tenancy being on crop sharing basis.

Further no other document was produced to indicate that there

was an arrangement on crop sharing basis. Such conclusion

reached by the Land Tribunal has been concurrently upheld by

the learned Single Judge of the High Court in W.P.

No.30602/1998 by the order dated 14.10.1998 and by the

Division Bench in Writ Appeal No.1818/2008(LR) through the

order dated 03.12.2015. The Review Petition filed against the

same in Review Petition No.28/2017 was also dismissed on

21.06.2017.

8. No doubt Mr. S.N.Bhat, learned counsel sought to

contend that the petitioner had the benefit of the order of

status­quo during the pendency of the proceedings before the

High Court and as such the same benefit be continued. Even if
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that be the position; as rightly pointed out by Mr. Sajan

Poovayya, learned senior counsel, the Writ Appeal filed by the

petitioner herein in Writ Appeal No.1818/2008(LR) was

dismissed as early as on 03.12.2015 and the interim order if

any had ceased to exist. The instant Special Leave Petition was

filed only in the year 2017 with a delay of 546 days. True it is

that the Review Petition had been filed in the meanwhile.

However, the said Review Petition itself was filed with a delay of

380 days from the date of disposal of the Writ Appeal and in

any event the petitioner herein cannot claim benefit of an

interim order from the date of disposal of the Writ Appeal on

03.12.2015. In such event, though this Court has condoned

the delay, the grant of an order of status­quo at that juncture

was without reference to all these aspects.

9. That apart, the petitioner had also filed a Civil Suit in

O.S. No.333/2017 in the Court of the Principal Civil Judge,

Bengaluru Rural District seeking for decree of permanent

injunction. In the suit an application seeking temporary

injunction was also filed but no interim order had been granted

therein. This conduct of the petitioners would also disclose that

the petitioners having not agitated the matter after disposal of
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the Writ Appeal on 03.12.2015 had begun to reagitate the

matter only when the respondent No.4 was taking steps to

develop the property. In that regard, the documents produced

by respondent No.4 in its reply statement along with an

application would disclose that the respondent No.4 having

entered into a Joint Development Agreement dated 27.06.2016

(Annexure A2); the developer was taking further steps for

securing Environment Impact Assessment Certificate and

appropriate registration before the Real Estate Regulatory

Authority. The said proceedings would also indicate that the

property at this point has lost its character as agricultural

property. If that be the position, the petitioner continuing to

cultivate the property or being in possession thereof cannot be

accepted at this juncture to continue the order of status­quo.

Be that as it may, even if on assessment of the entire case

while considering the Special Leave Petition on merits if the

right claimed to be a tenant as on 01.03.1974 is accepted, the

interest of the petitioner would lie in the developed property

and can be appropriately compensated. Thus even on applying

the tripod test, the balance of convenience to vacate the order

of status­quo is in favour of the respondent No.4. Needless to
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mention that the change in the nature of the land and the

development made therein would therefore remain subject to

the result of the Special Leave Petition.

10. In that view, the order dated 15.02.2019 passed herein

is modified and the direction issued to the parties to maintain

status­quo shall stand vacated. The application is accordingly

allowed with no order as to costs.

..…………………………..CJI.

(S. A. Bobde)

…..…………………………..J.

(A. S. Bopanna)

..…..………………………….J.

(V. Ramasubramanian)
October 13, 2020
New Delhi



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