-Report by Vedanti Wanjari
It was held by the Supreme Court of India in the case of MAHADEO & ORS V. SMT. SOVAN DEVI & ORS. that the writ petition submitted by the writ petitioner is wholly misconceived and malicious. It is completely unjustified for the High Court to have handled the case under the pretext of helping a disabled ex-serviceman.
The judgment made by the learned Single Judge on November 13, 2018, was confirmed in a judgment by the High Court of Judicature for Rajasthan on April 19, 2021, which was challenged in an appeal filed before the Supreme Court. In 1965, during the Indo-Pak war, Shri Bheru Lal was a Sepoy in the Indian Army who was injured and amputated his right foot. Thereafter, he was invalidated from service.
The Rajasthan Special Assistance to Disabled Ex-Servicemen and Dependants of Deceased Defence Personnel Act has been established by the State. According to Rule 2(a) of the aforementioned Rules, Shri Bheru qualified as a serviceman with a disability. Rule 6 considered allocating up to 25 Bighas of irrigated land or 50 a large amount of unirrigated land. The idea behind Rule 3 was that these Rules would only apply to government lands in the Bhakra and Chambal Rajasthan Canal Project Colonies, or, if not yet reserved, designated by official notice in the newspaper for distribution to veterans with disabilities.
Additionally, Rule 7 considered the terms and restrictions on allocation. Sub Rule 4 was inserted on 16th February 1967 in Rule 7 wherein it was stated that the allotment will be ruled void and the land will become the property of the state if the allottee does not take possession of the land within six months of the date of allotment. Afterwards, it will be available for re-allocation to anyone else based on these Rules.
Shri Bheru Lal apparently requested a land allocation for disabled military members. The District Collector received a letter from the Soldier Welfare Section of the State’s Revenue Department, On Wednesday, March 19, 1997, word spread that it had been agreed to assign 25 Bighas to Rohikhera Village. There is no letter of land allocation provided to the writ petitioner’s husband or the writ petitioner on file. This letter was internal communication between the departments and not a message for the injured soldier.
Bheru Lal died on July 17, 1998. Sovan Devi, his wife, succeeded in his inheritance. She appears to be employed by Director General, NCC, at their main office. On January 12, 2010, the writ petitioner presented a representation while at work in the DGNCC headquarters stating that neither she nor her husband had been given control of the land. The High Court passed various orders to ensure possession of the land given to her. The learned Single Judge found
that the alternative land offered to the writ petitioner is located in a very remote/far-off area and is not 6 cultivable and therefore, a direction was issued to give possession of the land originally allotted to the writ petitioner.
On September 27, 2021, the appellants brought a civil lawsuit before the Court of Senior Civil Judge, Vallabhanagar, and this is when they learned for the first time about the order issued by the High Court. The writ petitioner was granted land by the High Court, and the appellants sought this Court to contest the High Court’s decision, which went out of its way to order the seizure of land. A letter of allocation was not provided in favor of the petitioner. Inter-departmental communications are firmly established as being essential to the process of deliberation for wise decision-making that cannot be trusted on which to base any claim of entitlement.
The court observed that the regulations mention that the allocation will expire if possession is not taken within six months. Further, the interdepartmental process is not to be regarded as a letter of allotment. The hon’ble court relied on a lot of cases and it was observed:
“The question, therefore, is whether he did in fact makesuch an order. Merely writing something on the file doesnot amount to an order. Before something amounts to anorder of the State Government two things are necessary.The order has to be expressed in the name of theGovernor as required by clause (1) of Article 166 andthen it has to be communicated. As already indicated, noformal order modifying the decision of the RevenueSecretary was ever made. Until such an order is drawnup the State Government cannot, in our opinion, beregarded as bound by what was stated in the file………...The manner in whichthe matter has been dealt with by the High Court under the guise ofhelp to disabled ex-serviceman is wholly unwarranted”
Even if it is considered to be a letter of allotment, the writ petitioner cannot ask for possession based on such communication after more than 30 years. The writ petition seems to be misconceived and mischievous. Hence the appeal was allowed and the order of the high court was set aside.