Chandra Singh Chandar Bhan Vs State of Rajasthan



Posted on 25 February 2014  | 
Chandra Singh Chandar Bhan
Vs
State of Rajasthan
Original Application No. 129/2013(CZ)

Judicial and Expert Members: Mr. Justice Dalip Singh, Mr. P.S.Rao

Keywords: Land use, Writ petiton, High Court of Rajasthan, Collector, Rajasthan Land Revenue Act, Forest Conservation Act

Application dismissed

Date: 25 February 2014

The case in hand i.e. O.A. No. 129/2013 was registered before this Bench of National Green Tribunal after its transfer from the High Court of Rajasthan vide order in D.B. Civil Writ Petition (Public Interest Litigation) No. 14695/2011 in the light of the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Bhopal Gas Peedith Mahila Sangathan & Ors. Vs. Union of India.
The principal grievance which has been raised in the writ petition, presently the application which was filed originally as a Public Interest Litigation, relates to non-observance of the provisions of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 in respect of the land situated in Bharatpur in Rajasthan which has been put to industrial use contrary to the provision of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.
The Respondents, to whom notices were issued by the High Court, submitted their replies before the High Court and the Respondents have chosen to rely upon the same before this Tribunal as well. The Respondent Nos. 1 to 4 have submitted in their reply that the land had been set apart for industrial use under the provisions of the Rajasthan Land Revenue Act, 1956 and Notification to that effect had been issued on 12th August, 1961. It has further been stated that on the constitution of the Rajasthan State Industrial and Investment Corporation Ltd. (‘RIICO’) it was assigned with the task of acting as a catalyst and developer of industrial activity in the State of Rajasthan. The old industrial area developed under the Notification of 1961 was transferred to RIICO under the order of the State Government dated 8 September 1979 and this process came to be completed in the year 1980. It was further stated by the Respondent that much prior to the coming into force of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, the land had been set apart for industrial development and setting up of industries in and around the city of Bharatpur. It was handed over to the RIICO vide order dated 8 September 1979 by the State Government and as such the provisions of the Forest (Conservation Act), 1980 have no application to the present case.
It has further been submitted that these facts regarding the land having been set apart in the year 1961 for industrial use by the then Collector, Bharatpur and specifically has been handed over along with other lands to RIICO in the year 1979 by the Government, came to the knowledge of the incumbent Collector and the Collector vide his judgment dated 4th May, 1994 passed in Case No. 46/1994 in State of Rajasthan Vs. M/s Rajasthan Udyog Ltd, Bharatpur through Shri Santoshilal. He had taken note of the previously mentioned facts and directed that consequential entries in pursuance of the order of 1961 be accordingly need to be made in the revenue record.
The Tribunal stated: the facts of the present case as have been highlighted in the judgment of the Collector, go to show that the land in question even prior to the independence of the country was given by the erstwhile ruler of Bharatpur State on 9 March 1946 to one, Seth Raghunath Prasad and since then the land changed several hands and was put to industrial use first under the name and style of Bharat Oil Mills Pvt. Ltd. Since the aforesaid Oil Mill had to change its name on account of the pre-existing company being run in the name of Bharat Oil Mills, it decided to change its name as Bharatpur Oil Mills. Thereafter Bharatpur Oil Mills went into liquidation and under the auction sale directed by the Company Judge of the High Court, was purchased by Rajasthan Udyog Limited after the amount was so deposited. The Official Liquidator under the orders of the High Court handed over the plant and the machinery to M/s Rajasthan Udyog Ltd on 10 May 1996. It was further mentioned in the order of the Collector dated 4 May 1994 that the proceedings with regard to liquidation started in the year 1958 and culminated on 10 May 1966. During this period, the Collector, Bharatpur vide Notification dated 12 August 1961 had set apart the previously mentioned land for industrial use in accordance with the provisions of the Rajasthan Land Acquisition Act, 1956. It appears that subsequently this land along with other portions of the land was converted by the State of Rajasthan vide Notification under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act dated 13th March, 1973 for public purpose which inter-alia was for the development of the industrial area, Bharatpur. The aforesaid Notification came to be challenged by way of a writ petition filed before the High Court. The learned Single Judge dismissed the Writ Petition and the acquisition proceedings were set aside. The aforesaid contest was between the State Government and the M/s Hindustan Development Corporation and ultimately they reached to an agreement according to which compensation for 145 bighas of land was determined by the learned Arbitrator and the remaining land was to remain with Rajasthan Udyog Ltd.
The Tribunal is of the opinion that by the issuance of the Notification of 12 August 1961 and setting apart the land in accordance with the provisions of the Rajasthan Land Revenue Act of the land in dispute for industrial use by the Government, the character of the land is deemd to have been altered with issuance of the aforesaid Notification of 12 August 1961. Thus so far as the Judicial Act of considering whether the land would be put to use other than for which it was recorded with the passing of order on 12 August 1961 to be concluded much prior to the coming into force of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1961 and industries were also set up on the same even prior to 1961 as is noticed above. No doubt so far as the corresponding entries made in the revenue records pursuant to the order dated 12 August 1961 are concerned, the same it appears was not carried out and therefore the Collector under his order dated 4th May, 1994 passed the order for carrying out the necessary entries in the revenue records.
The action in so far as the passing of the judicial order with regard to altering the character of the land from forest to industrial use, was done by setting apart the same in accordance with existing provisions of the land vide order dated 12th August, 1961 much prior to coming into force of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. All that remains was the consequential ministerial act of recording and correcting the entries in the revenue records, which is the Jamabandi.
Therefore, the submission of the learned counsel for the Applicant that altering the use of the land from that of forest to industrial use post coming into force of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 was impermissible and the State Government or its functionaries could not have done so without prior approval of the Central Government in the facts and circumstances of this case, has no relevance. Since the orders for altering the land use and setting it apart for industrial use has been passed as way back as in 1961 even though portion of the land has already been given for industrial use even prior to independence by the erstwhile rulers of the State of Bharatpur in the year 1946 for industrial use, cannot be lost sight of. The issuance of the notification after coming into force of the Land Revenue Act, 1956 on 12 August 1961 was enough in the circumstances of this case for changing the land use from forest to industrial. All that has been done post passing of the order of Collector dated 4th May, 1994 with the ministerial act of carrying out the entries in consequence of the order dated 12 August 1961.
In the light of the above, the Tribunal is inclined to hold that the provisions of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 would not apply in the facts and circumstances of the instant case and no exception can be taken to the orders passed in this behalf by the Collector in the year 1961 and the consequential ministerial act of not carrying out those orders in the records of the right after the order of 1994.
While disposing of this application, liberty is granted to the Applicant that in case the Applicant has any grievance with regard to any specific cases of violation of the environmental laws, rules, regulations or notifications by any specific industry in the industrial are at Bharatpur, he can approach the concerned authorities or raise the same before this Tribunal.
The application stands dismissed subject to the aforementioned observations. There shall no order as to costs.

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