Observing that, "Favoritism has been done by Karnataka Housing Board (KHB) to respondent No.3, Murthy Charitable Trust, without following the prescribed procedure," the Karnataka High Court recently quashed and set aside the allotment of a plot of land to the trust, represented by its President Gayathri, who is the wife of BJP Member of Parliament, Umesh G Jadhav.
A division bench of then Acting Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum also imposed a cost of Rs 1 lakh on the authority (KHB) which is to be paid to the Karnataka Advocate Clerks Association within a period of thirty days.
Further, the Principal Secretary, Urban Development Department, is directed to conduct a fact-finding enquiry in the matter, for fixing responsibility of such illegal allotment, upon the officers who have allotted the site in question without following the prescribed procedure and in case, the officers are found to be guilty, the State shall take appropriate action after holding a departmental enquiry against such officers and shall also recover the cost imposed on the KHB from them. The enquiry is to be concluded within a period of six months.
The directions were given while disposing of public interest litigation filed by one Adinarayanashetty It was claimed in the petition that a civic amenity site No.35, situated at 5th phase, Yelahanka New Town, Bengaluru, was allotted by the Karnataka Housing Board (KHB) to respondent No.3- Murthy Charitable Trust, represented by its President Smt. Gayathri on 23.08.2004 (wife of BJP MP Umesh G Jadhav) and there were specific conditions mentioned in the allotment order.
As per the conditions, the allottee was required to construct a building suitable for Education and public service within a period of two years and condition No.8 provided that Housing Board shall be entitled to cancel the allotment without issuing any notice after the expiry of five years. However, no construction has been carried out and yet KHB has now executed an absolute sale deed in favour of respondent No.3 on 23.07.2020 for a sum of Rs.3,87,000. The value of the land is more than 10 Crores. It was claimed that undisputedly, at no point of time, the procedure provided under the Karnataka Housing Board (allotment) Regulations, 1983 was followed.
The authority defended its action that the PIL is not maintainable in the facts and circumstances of the case and the petitioner cannot seek cancellation of a registered document in the exercise of writ jurisdiction. The petitioner has to take shelter of the provisions of the Specific Relief Act. It was also stated that respondent No.3 has approached KHB for the allotment of Civic Amenity site with a noble cause. Therefore, the site was allotted.
The court on going through the records noted "The most shocking aspect of the case is that an instrumentality of the State i.e KHB has allotted the site in question without following the allotment regulations. There is a detailed procedure provided under the KHB Regulations for allotment of sites and the procedure has not been followed at all especially when the site was reserved as a Civic Amenity Site."
The court relied on the KHB (Allotment) Regulations and said, "In the present case, the conditions of the sale deed dated 23.08.2004 were not complied with. The KHB took no steps in the matter for cancellation of the sale deed."
It added, "In case, execution of such sale deeds are permitted, there shall be total anarchy in the system which will lead to illegal allotment and sale of land to blue-eyed persons without following the procedure prescribed under the rules relating to allotment and this case is one such an example of favouritism by KHB. The prescribed procedure has been given go-bye for obvious reasons by the KHB while allotting the civic amenity site to respondent No.3-Trust."
Referring to judgements of the Supreme Court, the court said,
"Fairness, in the action of the State or local bodies or instrumentalities of the State while leasing out / disposing any public property is a sine qua non. The State and the instrumentality of the State are required to follow a transparent procedure. The statutory provisions as contained under the Act and the Regulations are required to be followed. However, in the present case favoritism has been done by respondent No.2 to respondent No.3 without following the prescribed procedure. Therefore, the initial allotment as well as the sale deed dated 28.07.2020 deserves to be set aside."
Case Title: Adinarayanashetty And The Principal Secretary
Case No: Writ Petition No.9616/2020
Date Of Order: 30th Day Of September 2021
Appearance: Advocate Sunil Kumar H For Petitioner.
Advocate Vijaykumar A Patil, For R1
Advocate B.J.Mahesh, For R2
Senior Advocate Chandrashekar S.M, A/W Advocate H.S.Prashanth For R3.