By:- Priyanka Bararia
In The Andhra High Court
Writ petition Appeal no. 8261 of 1984
|NAME OF THE CASE||T. Damodhar Rao & others vs. The special officer, S. O. Municipal Corporation|
|EQUIVALENT CITATION||AIR 1987 AP 171|
|DATE OF JUDGEMENT||20th January, 1987|
|APPELLANT||T. Damodhar Rao & others|
|RESPONDENT||The special officer, S. O. Municipal Corporation|
|BENCH/ JUDGE||Justice P. A. Choudhary|
|STATUTES/ CONSTITUTION INVOLVED||The Constitution of India , 1949; the Land Acquisition Act ,1894; Hyderabad Municipal Corporation Act, 1955|
|IMPORTANT SECTIONS/ ARTICLES||The Constitution of India, 1949- Art. 48A, Art. 51A(g), Art. 21, Art. 32, Art. 226; The Land Acquisition, 1894- Section 6; The Hyderabad Municipal Corporation Act, 1955 – section 112.|
Everyone wants to live in a healthy environment because it is a basic human requirement. Healthy surroundings are the gift of nature. For all living beings, air, water and land are vital. The housing issue is hurting some of the world’s largest cities, owing to the growing population of many countries and the increasing number of individuals fleeing rural areas in quest of a better life. This is due to the fact that there is no longer enough space to accommodate everyone. Some municipal governments are eager to reassign these regions for residential development, therefore land currently conserved by national parks may be on its final legs.
This case helps us to look in the broader way as there should be more national parks and it should be basically recreational for the purpose of playground, garden etc. which should be willfully used by the public.
As per this leading case, the bench or the Coram has recreated some history and facts about the city of Hyderabad, where the case/writ petition was instituted, in order to show that the city of Hyderabad was founded around 400 years ago and has a unique culture and heritage, with the Charminar serving as a tourist attraction.
Following independence, various laws and frameworks for settlers and various civic laws for the good establishment of the city were enacted, and the State of Andhra Pradesh made efforts to ensure that the city had a good structural development, but those plans and reconstruction ideas were discarded due to the failure of local bodies and local governments to carry out their responsibilities in a timely manner to create a healthy and good atmosphere for the localities and settlers.
Year after year, settlers, migrants, the destitute, and the needy began to dwell in the city, and perhaps because of inconsistencies within the administration and at the municipal level, they were unable to carry out plans for the localities, the rule of law was completely lost in the city. There has been an increase in the number of land grabbers, thugs, and other people who have maliciously taken or misappropriated land for their own purposes and profit, with the assistance of civic authorities and administration. The bench further stated that mismanagement might be evident in traffic rules and traffic management.
The metropolis of Hyderabad spans 120 kilometers, including around 100 slums where people live in open huts with poor access to basic necessities and wants. Land grabbers utilize public lands to structure private structural projects, causing havoc with the implementation of plans for bettering public use or any parks for leisure purposes.
BACKGROUND OF THE CASE:
For city development, the state government of Andhra Pradesh issued G.O. Ms. No.470 Municipal Administration, dated 6th November 1973, which was published under the legal authority of the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation Act and the Developmental Rules promulgated under that Act. The proposed plan offers a variety of benefits for residents to live in peace in that specific location, as well as restrictions on private property owners’ use.
These drafted designs went through several stages before being completed for execution in accordance with section 464(1) of the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation Act, 1955, which was given final approval by the state government. The Government approved the developmental plan in G.O.Ms. No. 414 Municipal Administration dated September 27, 1975, which displays the use of the development land and designates the defined areas, as well as numerous reports and explanatory portions.
According to Land admeasuring, the government has set aside 151.55 cents for the construction of a recreational park, and there is a stringent restriction on who can use or utilize that designated property. The bench in the present case mixed the right of ownership of the property with anyone, or anyone who uses it privately, to enjoy his own rights, because he holds the title to the property in good case but in connection with and in keeping with environmental issues, and where any person holding property falls under the constitutional requirements to save its environs.
FACTS OF THE CASE:
The Petition was filed by the resident and the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation. These residents live in the vicinity of a specified area that has been set aside for the development of a park. Residents filed a petition with the Andhra Pradesh High Court, challenging the municipality’s permission for the Life Insurance Corporation of India and the Income Tax Department to build their homes in the park’s allotted area.
They requested the court to order the Municipal Corporation to develop the public park in accordance with a previous development plan. It was chosen in that development plan to cover 151.55 cents acres of land with the park. Only 101 Guntas were obtained and used out of Acs.151.55 cents by the local bodies that were genuinely a part of it. However, it was later discovered that a tiny plot of land for Rs 37 was sold to the Life Insurance Corporation of India and the Income Tax Department for the development of residential houses and other housing projects.
Where the residents and ratepayers of the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation who live in the area designated by the development plan as a recreational park were dissatisfied with the allotment of Rs.50 cents to the Life Insurance Company and the Income Tax Department of India, and they were required to argue that, according to the development plan, is there any balance of that allowed Rs.50 cents to the L.I.C and I.T.D.I. In light of this, the aggrieved parties filed a Writ of Mandamus with the Andhra High Court, requesting that the Municipal Bodies fully develop the granted land according to the stated development plan.
- Whether the Life Insurance Corporation of India and the Income Tax department of India can utilize the land to build residential houses in the ambit of the Notification issued by the State government for the Developing recreational Park?
ARGUMENT BY PETITIONER:
Residents in that area, according to the petitioner, are both economically and socially backwards. According to the statement, the bulk of Hyderabad citizens do not have enough space or open areas to relax and live a healthy lifestyle. They also claimed that the Municipal Corporation was required by law to not allow any part of that area to be used for anything other than park development.
The petitioners challenged this before the High Court of Andhra Pradesh, claiming that the LIC and I.T. Department should not be allowed to use the remaining 51 acres of property out of 151.5 cents as specified in the development plan.
Many citizens of the twin cities, according to the petitioners, are economically disadvantaged and destitute, with little living space. According to the affidavit, the majority of Hyderabad residents no longer have open places in front of their homes where they can relax, recreate, and maintain their health. The petitioners also argue though it is not strictly necessary for obtaining the relief sought in the writ petition, that the above-mentioned Acres. 101.19 guntas of land was acquired with the express purpose of developing that area into a park and for the purpose of promoting the well-being and welfare of residents of the twin cities in general, particularly those belonging to the weaker sect,
Furthermore, the petitioner stated that Section 112 of the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation Act, 1955 imposes a mandatory duty on Municipal Cooperation to provide public parks, gardens, playgrounds, and other amenities. As a result, the Corporation has a legal obligation to create a park in that recreational zone, as specified in the development plan.
ARGUMENT BY RESPONDENT:
In the present case, the respondent presented a letter from a Special Officer of the Municipal Corporation stating that the redevelopment plan for the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad went into effect in 1975. The entire stretch of land between lower Tank Bund Road and Hussain Sagar surplus has been designated as a recreational zone in the development plan, with no residential houses permitted. They further claimed that allowing the LIC and the Income Tax Department to acquire the land is not illegal.
By the 14th of October 1985, the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation claimed that the State Government had granted an exemption from the above-mentioned development plan to a portion of the 101-acre land acquired from private owners for the express purpose of developing it as a park.
Several well-known city landgrabbers have long held sway in the city. The government has frequently aided and abetted this maladministration by being oblivious to the civil requirements of the population and acting mostly on the dictates of the power brokers. Contrary to municipal bylaws, multi-story buildings are permitted to be constructed. Municipal ordinance violations in general, and building bye-law violations in particular, are generally tolerated.
New regions are permitted to be developed even if no provision is made for the bare necessities of civic life. On a preliminary estimate, the city now contains over 100 slums, which are spreading filth, sickness, and degradation throughout the metropolis. Roaming herds of king-size buffaloes and pale, pitiful, and hungry-looking cows, causing considerable traffic risks to both drivers and pedestrians, are a common sight on several of the city’s major thoroughfares. The citizen’s fundamental freedom to walk freely is trampled on by the beast on the streets of this city like it is probably nowhere else in India.
Property grabbing makes it nearly impossible to obtain public land for public purposes such as the establishment of recreational parks. Despite the municipal corporation’s repeated claims that Hyderabad is a beautiful city, it is undoubtedly one of India’s most unsightly cities.
The case serves as a reminder to citizens of their fundamental responsibility to protect the environment, which is enshrined in Article 51A(g), which requires citizens to “strive to protect and improve the natural environment, including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures.” Environmental protection has also been viewed as a state responsibility under Article 48A of the Directive Principles of State Policy, which states that “The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.”
Moreover, Article 21 of The Indian Constitution states that “Protection of life and personal liberty No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law”. It is apparent that environmental conservation is not just the responsibility of citizens, but also of the state and all other state agencies, including courts. In that sense, environmental law has succeeded in freeing man’s right to life and personal liberty from the shackles of the common law’s individual ownership doctrine. Examining the situation from the foregoing constitutional perspective, it would seem logical to conclude that the enjoyment of life, as well as its attainment and fulfilment, as protected by Art. 21 of the Constitution, includes the protection and preservation of nature’s gifts.
Moreover, Article 32 of The Indian Constitution provides remedies for enforcement of rights “The Supreme Court shall have power to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred” and Art 226 which gives High court the power to issue certain writs.
According to section 6 of The Land Acquisition Act, it states the declaration of the land for the public purposes. Where in this case Government shows its intention to acquire some amount of land given for the national park.
Furthermore, Section 112 of the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation Act, 1955, whereunder a mandatory duty is imposed on the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation to make adequate provision for public parks, gardens, playgrounds and recreational grounds. The reservation of the area under the developmental plan for recreational park renders the omission on the part of the Municipal Corporation to develop that area fully as a failure to carry out its duty both under S. 112 of the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation Act and under the developmental plan.
The Hon’ble court gave the judgement that the parties, LIC and I. T. Department, were well within their legal rights as property owners to construct residential homes. However, the ownership right in question is being reduced as part of the development plan. The law in use is the enjoyment of ownership rights subject to the development plan’s requirements.
The bench has noted two points of view: first, to protect the environment and ecology from land grabs and encroachment, and second, to interpret various municipal and statutory rules in a broader sense. According to Article 21 of the Indian Constitution i.e., Right to Live, it is the duty of every citizen to understand the importance of the environment and their living bodies residing there, and any citizen or state government who violates to protect the environment has full right to live and freedom.
In the second instance, the bench completely modified and elaborated on the priority of statute law over the owner’s common law rights. The question is whether the Life Insurance Corporation of India and the Income Tax Department of India have the jurisdiction to acquire and use land that was granted for implementing the state government’s development plan, which was formally finalized. The development plan will become a statutory legislation once it has been framed and further instructions have been given for it to begin. Because the development plan is a law, it imposes a legal obligation on the state government, municipal governments, and city governments to execute and enforce it. As a result, the land that Life Insurance of India and the Income Tax Department purchased for the purpose of erecting residential houses has become illegal and against the law. In a nutshell, where the legal imposition of statutory binds prevails, the owner’s common law rights do not prevail.
The Court also stated that declarations in a development plan published with statutory authority relating land user demarcations are statutorily enforceable under Section 112 of the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation Act 1955.This clause puts legal obligations on landowners and public agencies as well as generates legal liabilities. The court ruled that the Income Tax Departments and LIC’s use of the land was illegal and unconstitutional. The Court issued a mandamus order prohibiting the respondents from erecting any structures.
This case was entirely based on three important criteria in deciding the case: first, the status of development of Hyderabad city,
second, that the Development Plan drafted for inhabitants and various communities is a law and shall be bound, and
finally, in a macro-level view, those two segments largely intersect with the law of Environment.
The bench’s order connotes and illuminates the environment and ecology subject in regard to ownership rights, and so the United Nations’ Stockholm Declaration on Human Environment evidences this human anxiety: –
“The natural resources of the earth, including the air, water, land, flora and fauna and especially representative samples of the natural ecosystem, must be safeguarded for the benefit of present and future generations through careful planning or management, as appropriate. . . . Nature conservation including wildlife must, therefore, receive importance in planning for economic development.” similarly the African charter states “all peoples shall have the right to a general satisfactory environment favourable to their development”
According to my opinion, the honorable judge’s decision is acceptable and justified because it preserves Article 21 of the Indian Constitution under numerous headings. In a constitutional sense, the judgement defends the principle of ownership, which means that enjoyment of life and attainment under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution is not evil or unreasonable.
State governments, local authorities, and civic authorities do not take environmental issues seriously enough to develop private buildings and other structures for the benefit of others, and they are careless in enforcing environmental regulations in their construction plans. The goons and land mafia are always thirsty to build residential areas and private properties; for this reason, the municipal authority chops down trees, killing animals and the entire wildlife in a most brutal manner; therefore, to stop them, the judiciary system should cite and take strict steps to prevent them; the role of the judiciary should be more in making the city development.
As we all know, the Constitution consistently prioritizes the preservation and protection of Mother Earth, without which life would be impossible to enjoy. The denial of natural resource enjoyment should be considered a violation of Article 21 of the Constitution, which covers the right to life and personal liberty. As a result, the honorable judges’ decisions are consistent with the Indian Constitution, as well as equity and good conscience.