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Allotment of site by CIDCO – later it was cancelled – Bombay High court allowed the writ and set aside the cancellation orders – Apex court held that the authorities of CIDCO showed undue favour to the respondents and managed to allot the Government land in favour of one person knowing fully well that the aforesaid proprietor of the Company, in different capacity and in dummy names, sought allotments of plots. The way CIDCO has been dealing with the Government property, it is high time, we observe, that notwithstanding Regulation 4, as contained in the Regulations, the appellant CIDCO may take all endeavour to make allotments of plots by open tender or competing bids and shall not take any decision for allotment of Government land at the instance of the Ministers and High Dignitaries for any purposes whatsoever.Taking into consideration the entire facts of the case and the law discussed hereinabove, we have no hesitation in holding that the CIDCO was justified in cancelling all the allotments made in favour of the respondents. these appeals are allowed and the judgment and order passed by the High Court in the writ petitions are set aside.=Civil Appeal No.9264 of 2014 (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (C) No. 1117 of 2010) City Industrial Development Thr. its Managing Director … Appellant (s) Versus Platinum Entertainment and others … Respondent(s) = 2014- Sept. Month – http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=41965

 Allotment of site by CIDCO  – later it was cancelled – Bombay High court allowed the writ and set aside the cancellation orders – Apex court held that the  authorities of CIDCO showed undue favour to the respondents and  managed  to  allot  the Government land in  favour  of  one  person  knowing  fully  well  that  the aforesaid proprietor of the Company, in  different  capacity  and  in  dummy names, sought allotments of plots.  The way CIDCO has been dealing with  the

Government property, it is  high  time,  we  observe,  that  notwithstanding Regulation 4, as contained in the Regulations, the appellant CIDCO may  take all endeavour to make allotments of plots by open tender or  competing  bids and shall not take any decision for allotment  of  Government  land  at  the instance of the Ministers and High Dignitaries for any purposes whatsoever.Taking into consideration the entire facts of the  case  and  the  law discussed hereinabove, we have no hesitation in holding that the  CIDCO  was justified  in  cancelling  all  the  allotments  made  in  favour   of   the respondents. these appeals are allowed and the  judgment and order passed by the High Court in the  writ  petitions  are  set  aside.=

By way of these writ  petitions,

the writ petitioners  had  challenged  orders  of  appellant-  

‘The  City  & Industrial Development Corporation’ (in short ‘CIDCO’)  by  which  allotment

of plot of lands  to  M/s.  Popcorn  and  M/s.  Platinum  Entertainment  for

erecting entertainment complex in Navi Mumbai and the allotment of  plot  of

land to  M/s.  Platinum  Square  for  establishment  of  country  club  were

cancelled. =

The respondent- M/s. Popcorn Entertainment (SLP (C) No.1290  of  2010)

in the appeal by special leave arising  out  of  Writ  Petition  No.9467  of

2005, by way of an application made a  request  for  allotment of   plot  in

Airoli  for  setting  up multiplex-cum-auditorium-cum-entertainment  centre.=

 On

29.7.2004, CIDCO  approved  the  allotment  of  a  plot  in  favour  of  the

appellant as the Board had not got any response for similar plots in  public

tender. The total lease premium in respect of the plot was  Rs.2,07,70,000/-

and  the  respondent  was  directed   to   pay   the   balance   amount   of

Rs.1,86,93,000/- by 14.9.2004. The allotment was allegedly made in terms  of

the New Bombay Land Disposal Regulations, 1975 and  also  in  terms  of  the

Land Pricing and Disposal Policy of CIDCO under  which  the  land  could  be

allotted  to  any  person  by  considering  individual  application  at  the

reserved price  fixed  by  CIDCO. =

 However, on 1.8.2005, appellant CIDCO issued a show  cause  notice  to

the respondent regarding the plot at  Airoli  seeking  cancellation  of  the

agreement to lease executed in favour of  the  respondent. =

 

In the case of Humanity and Anr. vs. State of West  Bengal  and  Ors.,

(2011) 6 SCC 125, this  Court  observed  that  in  the  matter  of  granting

largesse, the Government has to act fairly and without  even  any  semblance

of discrimination.  It was held as under:

 “It is axiomatic that in order to achieve a bona fide end, the  means  must

also justify the end. This Court is of  the  opinion  that  bona  fide  ends

cannot be achieved by  questionable  means,  specially  when  the  State  is

involved. This Court has not been able to get any answer from the State  why

on a request by the allottee to the Hon’ble Minister for Urban  Development,

the Government granted the  allotment  with  remarkable  speed  and  without

considering all aspects  of  the  matter.  This  Court  does  not  find  any

legitimacy in the action of the Government, which  has  to  act  within  the

discipline of the constitutional law, explained by this Court  in  a  catena

of cases. We are sorry to hold that in  making  the  impugned  allotment  in

favour of the allottee, in the facts and  circumstances  of  the  case,  the

State has failed to discharge its constitutional role.”

54.   We take serious note and express our anguish, the way the  authorities

of CIDCO showed undue favour to the respondents and  managed  to  allot  the

Government land in  favour  of  one  person  knowing  fully  well  that  the

aforesaid proprietor of the Company, in  different  capacity  and  in  dummy

names, sought allotments of plots.  

The way CIDCO has been dealing with  the

Government property, it is  high  time,  we  observe,  that  notwithstanding

Regulation 4, as contained in the Regulations, the appellant CIDCO may  take

all endeavour to make allotments of plots by open tender or  competing  bids

and shall not take any decision for allotment  of  Government  land  at  the

instance of the Ministers and High Dignitaries for any purposes whatsoever.

55.   Taking into consideration the entire facts of the  case  and  the  law

discussed hereinabove, we have no hesitation in holding that the  CIDCO  was

justified  in  cancelling  all  the  allotments  made  in  favour   of   the

respondents.

56.   For the reasons aforesaid, these appeals are allowed and the  judgment

and order passed by the High Court in the  writ  petitions  are  set  aside.

Consequently, we uphold  the  order  passed  by  the  CIDCO  cancelling  the

allotments made in favour of the respondents.

2014- Sept. Month – http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=41965  

REPORTABLE

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

Civil Appeal No.9264 of 2014
(Arising out of Special Leave Petition (C) No. 1117 of 2010)

City Industrial Development
Thr. its Managing Director … Appellant (s)

Versus

Platinum Entertainment and others … Respondent(s)

WITH

Civil Appeal No.9265 of 2014
(Arising out of Special Leave Petition (C) No.1215 of 2010)

City Industrial Development
Thr. its Managing Director … Appellant (s)

Versus

Platinum Square Trust and Anr. … Respondent(s)
Civil Appeal No.9266 of 2014
(Arising out of Special Leave Petition (C) No.1290 of 2010)

City Industrial Development
Thr. its Managing Director … Appellant (s)

Versus

Popcorn Entertainment Corporation
and others … Respondent(s)
JUDGMENT
M.Y. EQBAL, J.
Leave granted.

2. These appeals are directed against the common judgment and final
order dated 01.09.2009 passed by the High Court of Judicature at Bombay
whereby Division Bench of the High Court has allowed three Writ Petitions
being W.P.Nos. 9467, 9468 of 2005 and 3423 of 2006 preferred respectively
by M/s. Popcorn Entertainment Corporation (in short, ‘M/s. Popcorn’), M/s.
Platinum Entertainment (in short, ‘M/s. Platinum’) and M/s. Platinum Square
Trust (in short, ‘M/s. Platinum Square’). By way of these writ petitions,
the writ petitioners had challenged orders of appellant- ‘The City &
Industrial Development Corporation’ (in short ‘CIDCO’) by which allotment
of plot of lands to M/s. Popcorn and M/s. Platinum Entertainment for
erecting entertainment complex in Navi Mumbai and the allotment of plot of
land to M/s. Platinum Square for establishment of country club were
cancelled.

3. The facts giving rise to aforesaid writ petitions and consequently
present appeals are almost similar. However, for the sake of clarity
factual matrix of each appeal has been mentioned here separately.

4. The respondent- M/s. Popcorn Entertainment (SLP (C) No.1290 of 2010)
in the appeal by special leave arising out of Writ Petition No.9467 of
2005, by way of an application made a request for allotment of plot in
Airoli for setting up multiplex-cum-auditorium-cum-entertainment centre.
On CIDCO’s instructions, respondent submitted detailed project report.
CIDCO, by their letter of intent, requested the respondent herein to pay an
Earnest Money Deposit of Rs.20,77,000/- within 15 days from the receipt of
the letter to enable the Board to consider the allotment in favour of the
respondent. The respondent, accordingly made EMD on 29.6.2004. On
29.7.2004, CIDCO approved the allotment of a plot in favour of the
appellant as the Board had not got any response for similar plots in public
tender. The total lease premium in respect of the plot was Rs.2,07,70,000/-
and the respondent was directed to pay the balance amount of
Rs.1,86,93,000/- by 14.9.2004. The allotment was allegedly made in terms of
the New Bombay Land Disposal Regulations, 1975 and also in terms of the
Land Pricing and Disposal Policy of CIDCO under which the land could be
allotted to any person by considering individual application at the
reserved price fixed by CIDCO. Thereafter, by making balance payment
including additional amount due to the marginal increase in the demarcation
of the plot, M/s. Popcorn Entertainment made a total payment of
Rs.2,98,22,420/- being the full and final payment in respect of allotment
in favour of the respondent as demanded by CIDCO. An agreement to lease was
entered into with CIDCO in respect of the plot allotted to the respondent.

5. However, on 1.8.2005, appellant CIDCO issued a show cause notice to
the respondent regarding the plot at Airoli seeking cancellation of the
agreement to lease executed in favour of the respondent. The respondent
submitted reply to the show cause notice and also sought information from
CIDCO under the Right to Information Act regarding allotment to various
parties and the details thereon. The Agreement of Lease was repudiated
and rescinded, against which the respondent approached the High Court by
way of a writ petition.

6. The respondent- M/s. Platinum Entertainment in the appeal by special
leave (SLP(C)No.1117/2010) arising out of Writ Petition No.9468 of 2005, by
way of an application made a request for allotment of plot for construction
of a multiplex at Kharghar Railway Station. Upon being asked by the
appellant CIDCO, M/s. Platinum deposited EMD of Rs.20 lakh being 10% of the
tentative price of the plot in order to consider the application of the
respondent. Thereafter, CIDCO approved the allotment in favour of the
respondent considering the fact that there was no multiplex in the area and
the earlier effort of CIDCO to advertise for such plots had met with no
response. CIDCO issued allotment letter in favour of the respondent asking
the petitioner to pay Rs. 1,80,00,000/- being the balance price of the
plot. The respondent made two separate payments of Rs.90 lakh each towards
the balance price of the plot on 16.8.2004 and 19.8.2004. The respondent
paid a sum of Rs.20,00,600/- being the other charges demanded by the
appellant. The respondent was asked to pay a further sum of Rs.65,096/-,
which the respondent paid immediately. CIDCO unilaterally decided to ask
the respondent to pay a further sum of Rs.20 lakh by enhancing the rate at
which the plot was to be allotted to the respondent from Rs.2500/- per
square meter as demanded in the allotment letter to Rs.2750 per square
meter because the plot of the respondent was on a 24 meter road. The
respondent herein on 17.11.2004 paid a further payment of Rs.20 lakh along
with Rs.2,96,078/- plus Rs.4957/- being the additional cost and the other
charges. On 14.1.2005, the respondent paid a further sum of Rs.19,828/-
being the sum demanded. The respondent on 17.1.2005 entered into an
agreement to lease with the appellant for the allotment of plot. On
28.2.2005, CIDCO being the development authority of the area issued
commencement certificate to the respondent permitting the respondent to
start construction. However, on 14.7.2005, the respondent received a show
cause notice seeking cancellation of the allotment in favour of the
respondent on the ground that the allotment was void in view of Section 23
of the Contract Act as being opposed to public policy. The main ground in
the show cause notice was that the allotment was without issuance of tender
and was opposed to public policy. The respondent submitted reply to the
show cause notice. On 16.12.2005, CIDCO issued an order cancelling the
agreement to lease and sought to resume the possession of the plot, against
which the respondent approached the High Court by way of writ petition.

7. The respondent- M/s. Platinum Square Trust in the appeal by special
leave petition (SLP(C)No.1215/2010) arising out of Writ Petition No.3423 of
2006, by way of an application made a request for allotment of plot of land
admeasuring 80,000 sq.mtr. at Kharghar hill for establishment of country
club. CIDCO having a plot of land earmarked for similar purpose,
considered the request of the respondent and called upon the respondent to
pay Rs.39.52 lakh on or before 20th April, 2004 constituting 10% of the
value of the plot as EMD so as to enable the CIDCO to place the proposal of
the respondent before the Board of Directors. CIDCO further requested the
respondent to submit registration certificate either under the Trust Act or
the Society Registration Act before allotment/ possession of the land so
that the case of the respondent could be considered for allotment at
subsidized rate in terms of the policy; otherwise commercial rates were to
attract for such allotment. The respondent in terms of the letter of CIDCO
deposited a sum of Rs.39.52 lakh with them. The respondent got its trust
deed registered on 14th May, 2004; wherein six Trustees were appointed.
Amongst others, objectives of the Trust are to establish and support,
maintain and run sports club, gymnasium, health club, amusement park, yoga
centre, water sports etc. and to carry out activities relating thereto.

8. The respondent herein was allotted 50,350 sq.mtr. land by CIDCO for a
total sale consideration of Rs. 3,43,70,800/-. Out of the said amount of
consideration, the respondent had already deposited Rs.39.52 lakh as such
the appellant was directed to deposit Rs. 1,52,09,400/- in two installments
i.e. on 30th July, 2004 and 29th August, 2004 being the balance lease
premium payable in respect of the subject plot. In the allotment letter, it
was specifically mentioned that payment of lease premium in a stipulated
period is an essence of concluded contract. It was further provided in the
allotment letter that extension of time could be granted which would be up
to 3 months for payment of the first installment and up to 16 months for
the payment of the second installment. It was provided therein that up to 3
months the respondent would be charged 13% interest and beyond 3 months the
respondent would be charged 16% interest for the extended period of time.
The respondent on 15th September 2004, paid the first installment of
Rs.1,52,09,400/- within the extended time permitted under the allotment.
The respondent on 3rd May, 2005, wrote letter to the CIDCO for extension of
time for making payment of second installment up to December, 2005. Clearly
in terms of the allotment letter, the respondent could ask extension of
second installment up to 29th December, 2005. The respondent Trust was
registered under the Bombay Public Trust Act, 1950 on 19th April, 2005. The
respondent submitted documents to CIDCO on 25th May, 2005 evidencing
registration of the Trust. However, on 20th July, 2005 the respondent
received show cause notice seeking cancellation of the allotment made in
favour of the respondent on the basis of Shankaran Report.

9. The respondent, on 3rd August, 2005, submitted its detailed reply to
the show cause notice challenging the cancellation of allotment of plot,
reiterating that the allotment was in accordance with law as such it could
not be cancelled. The respondent, on 29th December, 2005, wrote letter to
the Marketing Manager of CIDCO requesting him to accept payment of second
installment being the last date up to which the extension could be granted
under the allotment. However, CIDCO refused to accept the payment. The
respondent on the same date wrote another letter recording the fact that
CIDCO has refused to accept the second installment and that the respondent
would not be liable to pay any further interest from the said date and that
the allotment could not be cancelled on the ground that the payment has not
been made by the respondent.

10. The respondent was served with the order dated 28th April, 2005
cancelling allotment of plot made in favour of the respondent. Being
aggrieved by the aforesaid order of cancellation, the respondent herein
approached the High Court by way of writ petition filed under Article 226
of the Constitution of India.

11. With the aforesaid factual matrix, it is also necessary to note that
State of Maharashtra, who is having ultimate authority and power to control
and regulate the activities of planning and development under the
Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966 (in short, ‘MRTP Act’), in
1971 appointed appellant-CIDCO as new town planning authority for the new
town – Navi Mumbai. In exercise of powers conferred by sub-clause (a) of
clause (1) of section 159 of the MRTP Act, the CIDCO has with the previous
approval of the State Government published in July 1979 the New Bombay
Disposal of Lands Regulations, 1975 (in short, ‘the Regulations’). The
aforesaid regulations, inter alia, provide for the demarcation of plots
vested in the Government by CIDCO into disposable plots having regard to
their size and use. The said regulations also make provision for conditions
of lease, mode of disposal and for grant of land for religious,
educational, charitable and public purposes. For the present purpose,
relevant one is Regulation 4 of Chapter IV, according to which the
Corporation may dispose of plots of land by public auction or tender or by
considering individual applications as the Corporation may determine from
time to time.

12. It is the case of the appellant CIDCO that the aforesaid contesting
respondents had been made allotment of lands by the appellant pursuant to a
direct application being made to the office of the then Chief Minister and
in other similar cases a number of public interest litigation were filed in
the High Court. Accordingly, the Government, to ascertain whether the
allotments made were bonafide, directed the then Additional Chief Secretary
to conduct an enquiry to find out whether the Board of Directors of CIDCO
disposed of lands in accordance with law. Enquiry was conducted by the
Additional Chief Secretary and submitted the report (called Shankaran
Report). The enquiry inter alia revealed that subject allotment was
illegal, arbitrary and the appellant had suffered a financial loss in
crores. Therefore, the appellant issued notice to the contesting
respondents and ultimately cancelled the subject allotments, which led to
filing of the writ petition. The writ petitions were dismissed by the High
Court on the ground that alternative remedy was available to the writ
petitioners by filing suits and therefore writ jurisdiction cannot be
invoked.

13. Aggrieved by the decision of the High Court, respondents approached
this Court by way of appeals by special leave. Those Civil Appeals being
Civil Appeal Nos. 940-941 of 2007 were disposed of by this Court remitting
the matters back to the High Court for deciding the writ petitions on
merits. The said order is reported in Popcorn Entertainment & Anr. vs.
City Industrial Development Corpn. & Anr., (2007) 9 SCC 593. In the order
of remand this Court made some observations with regard to the merits of
the case. For better appreciation, para 41 and 47 are reproduced herein
below:-

“41. At the time of hearing, it was suggested by the learned Senior Counsel
for the respondent that the allotment was made without any justification
and that there was a huge demand for such plot, it is submitted by learned
counsel for the appellant that the appellant has sought information from
CIDCO under the Right to Information Act as to whether there was no
application pending with them for allotment of the said plot prior in time
to the application of the appellant. CIDCO in reply has clearly stated that
there was no application prior to the application of the appellant. Even
the allotment in favour of the appellant was a reasoned allotment taking
into consideration the lack of entertainment facilities in the area and the
said issue [pic]was also discussed in the board meeting before the
allotment and these facts are clear from the information provided to the
appellant under the Right to Information Act. Our attention was also drawn
to the noting in the file while considering the case of the appellant and
before making the allotment that
(i) “There is no cinema/multiplex facility available today for the
residents of CBD Belapur, Kharghar and Kalamboli residents.
(ii) From accessibility and land use compatibility point of view, Plot No.
1, Sector 2, Kharghar admeasuring about 8000 sq m is an ideal location for
multiplex.
(iii) This building will be visible from highway and will add to the image
of the city.
(iv) Adjoining Plot 1 of Sector 1 attached to railway station admeasuring
5600 m2 (not demanded yet) is earmarked for city mall.”

47. We have given our careful consideration to the rival submissions made
by the respective counsel appearing on either side. In our opinion, the
High Court has committed a grave mistake by relegating the appellant to the
alternative remedy when clearly in terms of the law laid down by this
Court, this was a fit case in which the High Court should have exercised
its jurisdiction in order to consider and grant relief to the respective
parties. In our opinion, in the instant case, 3 of the 4 grounds on which
writ petitions can be entertained in contractual matter were made out and
hence it was completely wrong of the High Court to dismiss the writ
petitions. In the instant case, 3 grounds as referred to in Whirlpool
Corpn. (1998) 8 SCC 1, have been made [pic]out and accordingly the writ
petition was clearly maintainable and the High Court has committed an error
in relegating the appellant to the civil court.”
14. However, this Court took the view that the matter needs to be
remanded back to the High Court, so that the High Court will consider all
the submissions made by the parties and dispose of the same afresh.

15. The High Court on receipt of the remand order proceeded with the
hearing of the writ petitions and after hearing both the parties allowed
the writ petitions by passing the impugned order and quashed the orders
passed by the appellant-CIDCO cancelling the allotment. The High court
while passing the impugned order has gone through the merits of the case of
both the parties but held that the observations made by this Court in the
remand order (41, 43, 47, 48 and 49) relating to non-observations of rule
and regulations causing substantial loss to the CIDCO operate as obiter
and is binding on the High Court and, therefore, the High Court has to fall
in line with the view expressed by this Court. Para 97 of the impugned
order is quoted hereinbelow.

“97. As already stated hereinabove, so far as categorical and unequivocal
observations made by the Apex Court revolving around the issues relating to
non-observation of rule and regulations causing substantial loss to the
CIDCO since no tenders were invited and interpretation of Section 23 of the
contract Act are concerned, they operate as obiter binding on us as such we
have to fall in line with the view expressed by the Apex Court.”

16. We have heard learned counsel on either side at length. Mr. B.H.
Marlapalli, learned senior counsel appearing for the appellant-CIDCO,
contended that the High Court has misconstrued and misinterpreted order
passed by this Court in the case of Popcorn Entertainment (supra) in the
first round of litigation whereunder the matter was remanded to the High
Court for fresh consideration on merits keeping all contentions open.
However, the High Court chose to restrict itself to consider only the
ground for cancellation of the allotment taken in the final show cause
notice and recorded in the final order. The High Court would have
considered the matter on merits without being fettered or constrained by
any observation of the Apex Court. It has been further contended on behalf
of the appellant that this Court has declared the law that the disposal of
the State owned or public property by auction or tenders is a rule and such
disposal by private negotiation is an exception to be carved for cogent and
compelling reasons to be recorded in writing at the time of disposal. The
law so declared is mandatory in its application, warranting absolute and
implicit adherence thereto at the peril of any act or commission in
contravention thereof being illegal and non est.

17. Mr. B.H. Marlapalli, learned senior counsel further submitted that
in order to find out whether the Board of Directors of CIDCO disposed off
its lands in Navi Mumbai in accordance with law, the State Government had
directed the then Additional Chief Secretary – Dr. D.K. Shankaran to hold a
discreet enquiry in the affairs of CIDCO. The CIDCO cancelled the
allotments due to the arbitrary manner in which the plots were allotted and
the loss caused to CIDCO, and the basis for computing the loss was the
report of Dr. Shankaran, which has referred to several allotments in the
vicinity and the offer made to BARC and as such, in the writ jurisdiction,
the High Court cannot decide the price prevailing in the area at the time
of allotment. It is further contended on behalf of the appellant that as
per Shankaran Report it was necessary to allot the plots by inviting
tenders and testing the market. Had it been done so, these plots would
have fetched at least five times greater value than the actual value
received. Further Mr. Nilesh Gala, who is the proprietor of M/s. Platinum
Entertainment, has used the same modus operandi for obtaining allotment of
plots for country club at Kharghar and another multiplex plot in Kharghar
and the CIDCO was found to have suffered a loss of Rs.10 crores in this
case. Show cause notice was issued mentioning three grounds, viz.
favoritism, non-issuance of tender and loss caused to the Corporation. It
is further urged that the order of cancellation of the allotment
specifically states that the Board of Directors of the Corporation found
itself in substantial concurrence with the findings recorded by Dr.
Shankaran.

18. Learned senior counsel sought to justify the action of CIDCO on the
basis of Sections 154 and 118 of MRTP Act contending that the purpose of
constituting CIDCO is to develop a town by making allotment, and in case
the allotments are allowed to be made in arbitrary manner and if such
allotments are sustained, then it amounts deviation from the purpose of the
Act. It is further urged that Section 23 of the Contract Act also
envisages cancellation on account of the allotment/agreement, if it is
opposed to public policy and this Court may sustain the cancellation being
opposed to public policy. The allotment made without inviting tenders
leads to presumption of nepotism etc. and it can only be justified by
citing compelling reasons. Whereas in the present case, no reasons were
mentioned and allotments were made surreptitiously to one person.

19. Rival submissions have been made by Mr. Vikas Singh and Mr. J.P.
Cama, learned senior counsel appearing on behalf of contesting respondents,
contending that the allotment made in favour of these respondents was
cancelled by the appellant by issuing show cause notices referring to
Shankaran report and alleging that CIDCO had suffered losses and
mentioning the ground that there was non-issuance of tender before making
allotment, the same being void under Section 23 of the Contract Act was
opposed to the public policy. According to them, the Apex Court, while
remanding the matter in the first round of litigation, in para 48 of the
judgment reported in (2007) 9 SCC 593 (supra) set aside the order of CIDCO
seeking to resile from a concluded contract in favour of the contesting
respondents. It is submitted on behalf of the respondents that the New
Bombay Land Disposal Rules are the specific rules governing the disposal of
land to be done by CIDCO. Rule 4 of the said Rules clearly provided that
CIDCO has the authority to dispose plots of land by public auction or
tender or by considering individual application as the Corporation may
determine from time to time. Mr. Vikas Singh, learned senior counsel
contended that once an allotment is made in favour of a party, CIDCO has no
right to cancel the allotment on the ground that no tenders had been
invited. A development authority while allotting land can allot plot of
land without calling for tender or without inviting offers from the general
public if the statutory regulations regarding disposal of land by public
authority permit the authority to do so. It is further urged that CIDCO
has been relying upon the aforesaid rule to justify, in various cases, the
allotments made in favour of commercial complexes, societies as well as
sports complexes saying that such allotment made without issuance of tender
were justified as being within the power vested in CIDCO under Rule 4 of
the aforesaid Rules.

20. In support of his contention, Mr. Vikas Singh cited the portion of a
paragraph of the decision of this Court in Kasturi Lal Laxmi Reddy vs.
State of Jammu & Kashmir, 1980 (4) SCC 1, which is reproduced here:

“22. …….We do not think the State is bound to advertise and tell the
people that it wants a particular industry to be set up within the State
and invite those interested to come up with proposals for the purpose. The
State may choose to do so, if it thinks fit and in a given situation, it
may even turn out to be advantageous for the State to do so, but if any
private party comes before the State and offers to set up an industry, the
State would not be committing breach of any constitutional or legal
obligation if it negotiates with such party and agrees to provide resources
and other facilities for the purpose of setting up the industry. The State
is not obliged to tell such party: “Please wait I will first advertise, see
whether any other offers are forthcoming and then after considering all
offers, decide whether I should let you set up the industry.”
21. Referring to the case of Chairman and MD, BPL Ltd. vs. S.P. Gururaja
and others, 2003 (8) SCC 567, Mr. Singh contended that non-floating of
tenders or not holding of public auction would not in all cases be deemed
to be the result of the exercise of the executive power in an arbitrary
manner. The power of cancellation under Section 23 of the Contract Act is
only available to the Court and on the concept of separation of power the
said power is not exercisable by executive unilaterally without referring
to the Court. It has been further contended that although through the
impugned order the High Court had quashed the cancellation order, only
CIDCO has preferred appeal whereas the State of Maharashtra accepted the
impugned order and has no grievance with the quashing of the order
cancelling the contesting respondents’ allotment.

22. It has further been contended that the rules provide for
three methods of disposal i.e. by tender, by public auction or by
considering individual applications and CIDCO vide various board
resolutions have specifically provided the exact method of disposal for
various types of plots. CIDCO has accordingly framed the Land Pricing and
Land Disposal Policy as approved by various board resolutions wherein
various categories of plots are mentioned. In the case of commercial plots
where FSI 1.5 is permitted the land price rate determined under the policy
is 450% of the reserve price and the method of disposal is by tender and in
the alternative at fixed rate. Similarly for allotment of multiplex, the
rate specified under the policy is at reserve price and the method of
disposal is upon request at fixed rate or by competitive bidding. The two
different methods of disposal between a commercial allotment and the
allotment for multiplex is significant because in the case of commercial
allotment, by tender is the first method of disposal prescribed and at
fixed rate is the alternative method of disposal prescribed whereas in the
case of allotment for multiplex/auditorium on request at fixed rate is the
first method and by competitive bidding is the alternative method of
allotment. Furthermore, allotment in the case of M/s. Platinum Square
Trust the land price of open area/running track is specified to be 10% of
the reserve price and of area used for construction is to be at 50% of the
reserve price and the method of disposal is only upon request at fixed rate
from the registered trust/registered under the Public Trust Act. Learned
senior counsel contended that allotments in favour of the respondents were
clearly in conformity with the rules and also in conformity with the Land
Pricing and Land Disposal Policy framed by CIDCO for allotment of various
types of land in the Navi Mumbai area.

23. It has been submitted that in a similar case where allotment had also
been cancelled on the only ground that the same had been made without
inviting tenders, the Apex Court in Sunil Pannalal Banthia vs. City &
Industrial Development Corpn. of Maharashtra Ltd., (2007) 10 SCC 674, has
held that once an allotment had been made in favour of a party, CIDCO has
no right thereafter to cancel the allotment on the ground that no tenders
had been invited. CIDCO had power to make allotment without calling for
tender under Rule 4 and it could not be said that the allotment in favour
of Sunil Pannalal Banthia was in any manner contrary to the rules for
making such allotment.

24. It has also been contended on behalf of the contesting respondents
that according to the information provided to the respondents under the
Right to Information Act, a public utility plot has never been put to
tender by CIDCO during the period when aforesaid allotments had been made
in favour of the respondents. According to the information provided,
allotment to 56 allottees have been made without inviting tenders as per
Land Pricing and Land Disposal Policy and the price charged is as per the
policy as approved by Board resolutions. These allotments were not
scrutinized by Dr. Shankaran and not formed part of the enquiry report.
Furthermore, Shankaran report had been prepared ex-parte i.e. without
issuing notice to the respondents. Copy of said report was not furnished
to the respondents either along with show cause notice or before
cancellation order was passed although demanded by the respondents in their
reply, in which it was specifically mentioned that the final reply could be
given only after the entire report was given to them along with the
methodology used by Shankaran to arrive at the alleged losses. It is
contended that the cancellation order is vitiated being in violation of
principles of natural justice, for having been passed without giving a copy
of the Shankaran report, which had been prepared behind the back of the
contesting respondents.

25. Upon perusal of notice it is clear that its contents are similar in
all these appeals. The appellant CIDCO referred the Shankaran Report in
which it was observed that the allotments were made in favour of the
respondents in an arbitrary manner without calling upon to show cause as to
why such allotment should not be repudiated having become void on the
thrust of Section 23 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872. For better
appreciation para 14 of the show cause notice is reproduced hereinbelow:-

“The Board of Directors of the Corporation at its meeting held on 6th
June, 2005 considered the recommendations of Dr. D.K. Shankaran, the then
additional Chief Secretary and directions of the State government and as
directed me to call upon you to show cause why the Corporation should not
rescind or repudiate such allotment having become void on the thrust of
Section 23 of Contract Act 1872 which declares that an Agreement having its
object or consideration to defeat provision of the law or opposed to public
policy as declared by the Hon’ble Supreme Court as aforesaid is vitiated by
illegality and is liable to be declared void”.

26. Section 23 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 reads as under:-

“What consideration and objects are lawful, and what not.—The consideration
or object of an agreement is lawful, unless –

It is forbidden by law; or

is such of such a nature that, if permitted, it would defeat the provisions
of any law; or is fraudulent; or

involves or implies, injury to the person or property of another; or

the Court regards it as immoral, or opposed to public policy.

In each of these cases, the consideration or object of an agreement
is said to be unlawful. Every agreement of which the object or
consideration is unlawful is void.”

27. Before dealing with the legality and validity of the notice
aforesaid, we shall first wish to mention some of the relevant facts:-

A. Indisputably applications were made by the respondents to the then
Chief Minister for allotment of plots of land in question.

B. On the application submitted on behalf of M/s. Platinum
Entertainment, through its proprietor Nilesh Gala, for the allotment of
plot for constructing multiplex at Kharghar railway Station, the appellant
was allotted the plot at Kharghar Railway Station;

C. The said person Nilesh Gala as proprietor of M/s Popcorn
Entertainment Corporation made another application for allotment of plot
for the construction of multiplex-cum-entertainment centre at Airoli. The
appellant CIDCO acceded to the request of Mr. Nilesh Gala and allotted the
plot followed by lease agreement;

D. The same person Nilesh Gala formed a Trust called Platinum Square
Trust through one of its Trustees Damji Kunwarji Gala and made a third
application for allotment of plot at Kharghar Hill for the construction of
country club and paid part of the amount fixed for such allotment and rest
of the amount was to be paid in instalments. The matter is pending and
final lease deed has not been executed.

28. Now the important question that needs consideration is as to whether
the allotments of valuable land by CIDCO to one person in different
capacity for the purposes mentioned above, that too by entertaining private
applications, are arbitrary, illegal and fraudulent and against the public
policy as contemplated under Section 23 of the Indian Contract Act.

29. In the course of argument, Mr. Vikas
Singh, learned senior counsel appearing for the respondents in all the
three appeals filed a compilation of different documents including Rules
and Regulations.

30. Regulation 4 lays down the mode and manner of disposal of land by the
Corporation. The said provision empowers the Corporation to dispose of
lands by public auction or tender or considering individual applications as
the Corporation may determine from time to time. Regulation 4 reads as
under:-

“Manner of disposal of land – The Corporation may dispose plots of land by
public auction or tender or by considering individual applications as the
Corporation may determine from time.”

31. The land Pricing and Land Disposal Policy of CIDCO would show that
the commercial plots with FSI 1.5, that is plots for offices, shop,
restaurant, showrooms etc., is to be disposed of by tender/at fixed price.
Similarly, plots for auditorium, multiplex, theatre complex etc., shall be
disposed of on request at fixed rate/by competitive bidding. For better
appreciation, the relevant allotment policy of CIDCO is reproduced
hereunder:-

“Commercial Plots (with FSI 1.5)

|Plots for offices, |At 450% of RP in |By tender/At |
|Shop + Res. and pure |Developed Nodes. |fixed price |
|commercial Show |At 400% of RP in | |
|Rooms/Show Windows all|Developing Nodes. | |
|types of Banks etc. |At 300% of RP in New | |
|(FSI-1.5) |Nodes | |
|Plots for Auditorium/ |At Reserve Price |On request at |
|Multiplex theatre | |fixed rate By |
|complex to be | |competitive |
|developed in Private | |bidding |
|Sector | | |
32. From the compilation, it reveals that Respondent M/s. Popocorn
Entertainment Corporation sought information under the Right to Information
Act, by mentioning some queries. One of the questions asked by the
respondent was as to what is the method of disposal of plot for multiplex
as per Land Pricing and Disposal Policy during the said period. It was
answered that methodology as per the current land pricing policy approved
by the Board is on request at fixed rate/by competitive bidding. In
another query made by the proprietor of M/s. Platinum Entertainment was as
to whether any other application has been made for allotment of the said
plot for the same purpose and the answer was that no other application
prior to this allotment for the same purpose was pending.

33. It further appears that an audit objection was raised by the office
of the Accountant General, Mumbai to the effect that there was lack of
transparency in the allotment of plot to M/s. Platinum Entertainment as no
tenders were called for the sale of the plot. In the clarification letter
dated 21.4.2006 issued by the Managing Director of the Appellant-CIDCO, it
was admitted that no such tender was called for. In the explanation, it is
stated that global tender/tender was called for allotment of plot near
Vashi Station. It was not fruitful and, therefore, it was thought fit for
allotting plot at Airoli to a competent and resourceful party on evaluation
of the project report for multiplex and auditorium and entertainment
centre. Similar explanation was given as against the audit objection in
respect of allotment of plot to M/s. Popcorn Entertainment Corporation.

34. On perusal of the aforesaid documents, it is manifest that although
allotment of plot for the purposes mentioned above was either at a fixed
price or by competitive bidding, but no procedure was adopted by the
appellant for allotment of these plots either by tender or by competitive
bidding. It has also come on record that as against these plots allotted
to the respondents, no other application was either invited or received
from interested persons. Obviously, when the tender was not advertised or
any notice inviting applications were made then there was no occasion for
any person to apply for allotment of these plots.

35. As noticed above, the main person viz. Nilesh Gala as proprietor of
two different companies viz., M/s Platinum Entertainment and M/s Popcorn
Entertainment Corporation, by making private applications to the then Chief
Minister got allotment of two valuable plots in two different areas for
setting up multiplex-cum-auditorium-cum-entertainment centre and for
multiplex theatre. This is not the end of the matter. The same proprietor
formed a Trust consisting jof trustees in the name of M/s Platium Square
Trust and filed application for allotment of another plot for the purpose
of establishing country club. These three applications filed by the
respondents were considered by the appellant-CIDCO and the Board accorded
sanction for allotment of plots in these three places.

36. We, therefore, after having considered facts detailed hereinabove,
are prima facie of the view that no transparency has been maintained by the
appellant-CIDCO in making these allotments of Government land.

37. It is well settled that whenever the Government dealt with the public
establishment in entering into a contract or issuance of licence, the
Government could not act arbitrarily on its sweet will but must act in
accordance with law and the action of the Government should not give the
smack of arbitrariness. In the case of Raman Dayaram Shetty vs.
International Airport Authority of India & Ors., (1979) 3 SCC 489, this
Court observed as under:-

“11. Today the Government in a welfare State, is the regulator and
dispenser of special services and provider of a large number of benefits,
including jobs, contracts, licences, quotas, mineral rights, etc. The
Government pours forth wealth, money, benefits, services, contracts, quotas
and licences. The valuables dispensed by Government take many forms, but
they all share one characteristic. They are steadily taking the place of
traditional forms of wealth. These valuables which derive from
relationships to Government are of many kinds. They comprise social
security benefits, cash grants for political sufferers and the whole scheme
of State and local welfare. Then again, thousands of people are employed in
the State and the Central Governments and local authorities. Licences are
required before one can engage in many kinds of businesses or work. The
power of giving licences means power to withhold them and this gives
control to the Government or to the agents of Government on the lives of
many people. Many individuals and many more businesses enjoy largesse in
the form of Government contracts. These contracts often resemble subsidies.
It is virtually impossible to lose money on them and many enterprises are
set up primarily to do business with Government. Government owns and
controls hundreds of acres of public land valuable for mining and other
purposes. These resources are available for utilisation by private
corporations and individuals by way of lease or licence. All these mean
growth in the Government largesse and with the increasing magnitude and
range of governmental functions as we move closer to a welfare State, more
and more of our wealth consists of these new forms. Some of these forms of
wealth may be in the nature of legal rights but the large majority of them
are in the nature of privileges. But on that account, can it be said that
they do not enjoy any legal protection? Can they be regarded as gratuity
furnished by the State so that the State may withhold, grant or revoke it
at its pleasure?”

“12. ………..It must, therefore, be taken to be the law that where the
Government is dealing with the public, whether by way of giving jobs or
entering into contracts or issuing quotas or licences or granting other
forms of largesse, the Government cannot act arbitrarily at its sweet will
and, like a private individual, deal with any person it pleases, but its
action must be in conformity with standard or norms which is not arbitrary,
irrational or irrelevant. The power or discretion of the Government in the
matter of grant of largesse including award of jobs, contracts, quotas,
licences, etc. must be confined and structured by rational, relevant and
non-discriminatory standard or norm and if the Government departs from such
standard or norm in any particular case or cases, the action of the
Government would be liable to be struck down, unless it can be shown by the
Government that the departure was not arbitrary, but was based on some
valid principle which in itself was not irrational, unreasonable or
discriminatory.”
38. In the case of Akhil Bhartiya Upbhokta Congress vs. State of Madhya
Pradesh & ors., (2011) 5 SCC 29, this Court while considering the question
of legality of allotment of land by the State or its agencies on the basis
of applications made by individual, observed as follows:-

“65. What needs to be emphasised is that the State and/or its
agencies/instrumentalities cannot give largesse to any person according to
the sweet will and whims of the political entities and/or officers of the
State. Every action/decision of the State and/or its
agencies/instrumentalities to give largesse or confer benefit must be
founded on a sound, transparent, discernible and well-defined policy, which
shall be made known to the public by publication in the Official Gazette
and other recognised modes of publicity and such policy must be
implemented/executed by adopting a non-discriminatory and non-arbitrary
method irrespective of the class or category of persons proposed to be
benefited by the policy. The distribution of largesse like allotment of
land, grant of quota, permit licence, etc. by the State and its
agencies/instrumentalities should always be done in a fair and equitable
manner and the element of favouritism or nepotism shall not influence the
exercise of discretion, if any, conferred upon the particular functionary
or officer of the State.

66. We may add that there cannot be any policy, much less, a rational
policy of allotting land on the basis of applications made by individuals,
bodies, organisations or institutions dehors an invitation or advertisement
by the State or its agency/instrumentality. By entertaining applications
made by individuals, organisations or institutions for allotment of land or
for grant of any other type of largesse the State cannot exclude other
eligible persons from lodging competing claim. Any allotment of land or
grant of other form of largesse by the State or its
agencies/instrumentalities by treating the exercise as a private venture is
liable to be treated as arbitrary, discriminatory and an act of favouritism
and/or nepotism violating the soul of the equality clause embodied in
Article 14 of the Constitution.
39. In the case of Kasturi Lal Lakshmi Reddy & Ors. vs. State of Jammu
and Kashmir & Anr., (1980) 4 SCC 1, this Court observed as under:-
“14. Where any governmental action fails to satisfy the test of
reasonableness and public interest discussed above and is found to be
wanting in the quality of reasonableness or lacking in the element of
public interest, it would be liable to be struck down as invalid. It must
follow as a necessary corollary from this proposition that the Government
cannot act in a manner which would benefit a private party at the cost of
the State; such an action would be both unreasonable and contrary to public
interest. The Government, therefore, cannot, for example, give a contract
or sell or lease out its property for a consideration less than the highest
that can be obtained for it, unless of course there are other
considerations which render it reasonable and in public interest to do so.
Such considerations may be that some directive principle is sought to be
advanced or implemented or that the contract or the property is given not
with a view to earning revenue but for the purpose of carrying out a
welfare scheme for the benefit of a particular group or section of people
deserving it or that the person who has offered a higher consideration is
not otherwise fit to be given the contract or the property. We have
referred to these considerations only illustratively, for there may be an
infinite variety of considerations which may have to be taken into account
by the Government in formulating its policies and it is on a total
evaluation of various considerations which have weighed with the Government
in taking a particular action, that the court would have to decide whether
the action of the Government is reasonable and in public interest. But one
basic principle which must guide the court in arriving at its determination
on this question is that there is always a presumption that the
governmental action is reasonable and in public interest and it is for the
party challenging its validity to show that it is wanting in reasonableness
or is not informed with public interest. This burden is a heavy one and it
has to be discharged to the satisfaction of the court by proper and
adequate material. The court cannot lightly assume that the action taken by
the Government is unreasonable or without public interest because, as we
said above, there are a large number of policy considerations which must
necessarily weigh with the Government in taking action and therefore the
court would not strike down governmental action as invalid on this ground,
unless it is clearly satisfied that the action is unreasonable or not in
public interest. But where it is so satisfied, it would be the plainest
duty of the court under the Constitution to invalidate the governmental
action. This is one of the most important functions of the court and also
one of the most essential for preservation of the rule of law. It is
imperative in a democracy governed by the rule of law that governmental
action must be kept within the limits of the law and if there is any
transgression, the court must be ready to condemn it. It is a matter of
historical experience that there is a tendency in every Government to
assume more and more powers and since it is not an uncommon phenomenon in
some countries that the legislative check is getting diluted, it is left to
the court as the only other reviewing authority under the Constitution to
be increasingly vigilant to ensure observance with the rule of law and in
this task, the court must not flinch or falter. It may be pointed out that
this ground of invalidity, namely, that the governmental action is
unreasonable or [pic]lacking in the quality of public interest, is
different from that of mala fides though it may, in a given case, furnish
evidence of mala fides.

15. The second limitation on the discretion of the Government in grant of
largess is in regard to the persons to whom such largess may be granted. It
is now well settled as a result of the decision of this Court in Ramana D.
Shetty v. International Airport Authority of India that the Government is
not free, like an ordinary individual, in selecting the recipients for its
largess and it cannot choose to deal with any person it pleases in its
absolute and unfettered discretion. The law is now well-established that
the Government need not deal with anyone, but if it does so, it must do so
fairly without discrimination and without unfair procedure. Where the
Government is dealing with the public whether by way of giving jobs or
entering into contracts or granting other forms of largess, the Government
cannot act arbitrarily at its sweet will and, like a private individual,
deal with any person it pleases, but its action must be in conformity with
some standard or norm which is not arbitrary, irrational or irrelevant. The
governmental action must not be arbitrary or capricious, but must be based
on some principle which meets the test of reason and relevance. This rule
was enunciated by the court as a rule of administrative law and it was also
validated by the court as an emanation flowing directly from the doctrine
of equality embodied in Article 14. The court referred to the activist
magnitude of Article 14 as evolved in E.P. Royappa v. State of Tamil Nadu
and Maneka Gandhi case, (1978) 1 SCC 248 and observed that it must follow
as a necessary corollary from the principle of equality enshrined in
Article 14 that though the State is entitled to refuse to enter into
relationship with anyone, yet if it does so, it cannot arbitrarily choose
any person it likes for entering into such relationship and discriminate
between persons similarly circumstanced, but it must act in conformity with
some standard or principle which meets that test of reasonableness and non-
discrimination and any departure from such standard or principle would be
invalid unless it can be supported or justified on some rational and non-
discriminatory ground.
This decision has reaffirmed the principle of reasonableness and non-
arbitrariness in governmental action which lies at the core of our entire
constitutional scheme and structure.”
40. In the case of State of Haryana vs. Jage Ram, (1983) 4 SCC 556, the
auction of liquor vends by excise department was challenged. Deciding the
question this Court in para 8 held:-
“………….When a rule requires ‘publicity’ to be given to an auction-sale,
what is necessarily implied is that due steps must be taken to give
sufficiently advance intimation of the intended sale and its material terms
to the members of the public or, at least, to that section of the public
which normally engages in the kind of business which is the subject-matter
of the aution-sale. Even the five special invitees would have found it
difficult to come prepared to take part in the resale which was held on May
23. They were not invited to a wedding feast. They were invited to attend
the resale of a liquor vend and it is well known that a certain amount has
to be paid by the successful bidder on the fall of the hammer. We are also
unable to appreciate that the Excise Authorities of the Government of
Haryana should have picked and chosen some five particular persons as
recipients of the notice of reauction. How their names transpired and what
is their particular status, respectability and standing in the liquor
trade, are matters on which no light is thrown. There is no material before
us on which to doubt the integrity of the authorities who were connected
with the reauction. But their conduct must be above suspicion.”
41. In the case of Sachidanand Pandey & Anr. vs. State of West Bengal &
Ors., (1987) 2 SCC 295, this Court after considering various decisions on
this point came to the following conclusion:-
“40. On a consideration of the relevant cases cited at the Bar the
following propositions may be taken as well established: State-owned or
public-owned property is not to be dealt with at the absolute discretion of
the executive. Certain precepts and principles have to be observed. Public
interest is the paramount consideration. One of the methods of securing the
public interest, when it is considered necessary to dispose of a property,
is to sell the property by public auction or by inviting tenders. Though
that is the ordinary rule, it is not an invariable rule. There may be
situations where there are compelling reasons necessitating departure from
the rule but then the reasons for the departure must be rational and should
not be suggestive of discrimination. Appearance of public justice is as
important as doing justice. Nothing should be done which gives an
appearance of bias, jobbery or nepotism.”
42. In the case of Padma vs. Hiralal Motilal Desarda, (2002) 7 SCC 564,
the process adopted by the City Industrial Development Corporation for
disposal of land by bulk sell came for consideration before this Court,
when it held as under:-
“34. There is yet another angle of looking at the propriety of the
questioned bulk sale of land by CIDCO and the manner in which it was done.
The land acquired and entrusted to CIDCO cannot just be permitted to be
parted with guided by the sole consideration of money-making. CIDCO is not
a commercial concern whose performance is to be assessed by the amount it
earns. Its performance would be better assessed by finding out the number
of needy persons who have been able to secure shelter through CIDCO and by
the beauty of the township and the quality of life for the people achieved
by CIDCO through its planned development schemes. So long as such
objectives are fulfilled CIDCO’s operation on “no-profit-no loss” basis
cannot be found fault with. There should have been no hurry on the part of
CIDCO in disposing of the balance land and that too guided by the sole
consideration of earning more money. Even that object CIDCO has not been
able to achieve for at the end it has parted with land at a price less than
Rs 1500 per square metre — the reserved price. Even if a sale of leftover
land was a felt necessity it should have satisfied at least two conditions:
(i) a well-considered decision at the highest level; and (ii) a sale by
public auction or by tenders after giving more wide publicity than what was
done so as to attract a larger number of bidders.”

43. In the case of Centre for Public Interest Litigation vs. Union of
India, (2012) 3 SCC 1, this Court observed as under:-

“75. The State is empowered to distribute natural resources. However, as
they constitute public property/national asset, while distributing natural
resources the State is bound to act in consonance with the principles of
equality and public trust and ensure that no action is taken which may be
detrimental to public interest. Like any other State action,
constitutionalism must be reflected at every stage of the distribution of
natural resources. In Article 39(b) of the Constitution it has been
provided that the ownership and control of the material resources of the
community should be so distributed so as to best subserve the common good,
but no comprehensive legislation has been enacted to generally define
natural resources and a framework for their protection. Of course,
environment laws enacted by Parliament and State Legislatures deal with
specific natural resources i.e. forest, air, water, coastal zones, etc.
xxxxxxx

80. In Jamshed Hormusji Wadia, (2004) 3 SCC 214 case, this Court held
that the State’s actions and the actions of its agencies/instrumentalities
must be for the public good, achieving the objects for which they exist and
should not be arbitrary or capricious. In the field of contracts, the State
and its instrumentalities should design their activities in a manner which
would ensure competition and non-discrimination. They can augment their
resources but the object should be to serve the public cause and to do
public good by resorting to fair and reasonable methods.”

44. The High Court in the impugned order took notice, in paragraph 85, that
the appellant-CIDCO tried to justify their action of cancellation of
allotment of plots on the following reasons.
“1. Mr. Nilesh Gala, the proprietor of M/s. Platinum entertainment has used
same modus operandi for obtaining allotment of plots meant for country club
and another plot for multiplex in Kharghar.

2. An application was made by the petitioners to the Hon’ble Chief
Minister and the same was considered favourably by the Board of CIDCO.

3. The undue haste is shown in allotment of Plots resulting in illegal
and arbitrary allotment with malafide intention to cause wrongful gain to
the individual person. It is a case of favouritism supported by the Report
of Dr. D.K. Shankaran.
4. The agenda note and the resolutions demonstrate no discussion about
the individual merits of the allotters except need for multiplexes sought
to be justified during the case of discussion without indicating any reason
for choosing group of petitions for allotment of plots.

5. Absence of official members in the Board Meeting wherein the
decisions of allotment of plots to the petitioners were taken.

6. The allotment of plots of land are factually for commercial purposes
in the garb of construction of multiplexes and country club with a view to
inure profit to the allottees.

7. The multiplex policy whereby certain tax benefits were granted with
effect from year 2002 were ignored while making the allotment of plots to
the petitioners overlooking the demand for multiplexes due to concessions
granted by the government.

8. No reasons are to be found to justify allotment of three plots in
favour of one group of persons.

9. Refusal on the part of comptroller of Auditor General to accept the
reasons given by CIDCO justifying absence of law suffered by CIDCO by
virtue of the subject allotments of plots to the petitioners.

10. Dr. D.K. Sankaran report is the basis for calculation of loss
suffered by CIDCO.

11. Justification of the powers of the state government directing
cancellation of allotment of plots on the basis of sections 118 and 154 of
the M.R.T.P. Act.

12. Surreptitious arbitrary allotment made without inviting tenders leads
to the presumption of nepotism and bias etc.

13. The petitioners M/s. Platinum Entertainment were not registered as a
charitable trust yet their application for allotment was considered by
CIDCO favourably.

14. Failure on the part of the petitioner to produce any valuation report
to justify at which rate the allotment was made by the CIDCO.”

45. The High Court instead of looking into these aspects of the matter,
completely ignored the same on the ground that in the show cause notice
none of the grounds were made basis of the order of cancellation of
allotment. In our considered opinion, the High Court while exercising
power of judicial review is supposed to have gone into the question as to
how the three plots were allotted in favour of one group of persons. The
High Court has lost sight of the admitted fact that by entertaining private
applications of the same person three different valuable plots have been
allotted in different names. The High Court fell in error in holding that
the allotment of plots of land to the same person but in the names of trust
is also justified.

46. Chapter 5 of New Bombay Road Disposal Rules, 1975 provides for
allotment of land for religious, educational, charitable etc. purposes and
though the allotment of plots of land for construction of multiplex are
treated as allotment for public utility purposes, in substance, the
allotment qua these allottees was for commercial purpose. The allotments
which are made for the social, educational, charitable purposes do not
entail any profit to the allottees. However, multiplex is for commercial
exploitation, which ensures profit to the allottees and the manner of
disposal of lands enumerated in the said policy by and large suggests that
most of the allotments have to be made by inviting tenders or bids.

47. The document on record clearly demonstrates that there was no
discussion about individual merits of the allottees and was only general
consideration, which resulted in making arbitrary allotment without going
through the tender process. The report of the Comptroller and Auditor
General would show that the reasons given by CIDCO are not acceptable and
there is loss caused to the Corporation by virtue of the said allotment
made to the respondents.

48. The High Court ought to have seen the action of the then Board of
Directors of CIDCO demonstrating that in the first meeting of the Board
itself they cleared the special proposals without considering the
individual merits. In the meeting, hardly any official members were
present when the allotments were made to the respondents.

49. State and its agencies and instrumentalities cannot give largesse to
any person at sweet will and whims of the political entities or officers of
the State. However, decisions and action of the State must be founded on a
sound, transparent and well defined policy which shall be made known to the
public. The disposal of Government land by adopting a discriminatory and
arbitrary method shall always be avoided and it should be done in a fair
and equitable manner as the allotment on favoritism or nepotism influences
the exercises of discretion. Even assuming that if the Rule or Regulation
prescribes the mode of allotment by entertaining individual application or
by tenders or competitive bidding, the Rule of Law requires publicity to be
given before such allotment is made. CIDCO authorities should not adopt
pick and choose method while allotting the Government land.

50. Furthermore, this Court has already stated in Akhil Bhartiya Upbhokta
Congress vs. State of Madhya Pradesh & Ors., (2011) 5 SCC 29, that the
State or its agencies or instrumentalities must give largesse founded on a
sound, transparent, discernible and well-defined policy, which should be
made known to the public at large and further held that a rational policy
of allotting land on the basis of individual applications cannot de hors an
invitation or advertisement by the State or its instrumentality, bringing
it to the knowledge of public at large so that the eligible persons should
not be excluded from lodging their competitive claims.

51. The action of cancellation of allotment of plots, as tried to be
justified by CIDCO, would show that the High Court failed to appreciate
such cogent reasons in deciding the matter while exercising the power of
judicial review. It is more evident and clear that arbitrariness had a
role to play in the matter while allotting the three plots in favour of one
group of persons which certainly would come within the meaning of
arbitrariness on the part of CIDCO and against the public policy. Such an
action on the part of CIDCO, it appears to us, is nothing but a favouritism
based on nepotism and was irrational and unreasonable and functioning in a
discriminatory manner as voiced by this Court in the case of Raman Dayaram
Shetty (supra).

52. Rule 4, to which our notice was drawn by the learned counsel
appearing on behalf of the respondents, although provided an authority to
dispose of plots of land by public auction or by tender or by considering
individual applications as the Corporation would determine from time to
time, but such action on the part of the Corporation should have been taken
rationally and after applying the methods which are more rational and
reflect non-arbitrariness and would not be smacked under the clout of
favouritism and/or nepotism or being influenced by political
personalities. In our opinion, although CIDCO had the power to allot the
land in any one of the manners stated in Rule 4 above, but the conduct of
such allotment should have been more clear and transparent and without
presence of any element of favouritism and/or nepotism and without being
influenced by any such thing in exercising the discretion conferred upon
CIDCO.

53. In the case of Humanity and Anr. vs. State of West Bengal and Ors.,
(2011) 6 SCC 125, this Court observed that in the matter of granting
largesse, the Government has to act fairly and without even any semblance
of discrimination. It was held as under:

“It is axiomatic that in order to achieve a bona fide end, the means must
also justify the end. This Court is of the opinion that bona fide ends
cannot be achieved by questionable means, specially when the State is
involved. This Court has not been able to get any answer from the State why
on a request by the allottee to the Hon’ble Minister for Urban Development,
the Government granted the allotment with remarkable speed and without
considering all aspects of the matter. This Court does not find any
legitimacy in the action of the Government, which has to act within the
discipline of the constitutional law, explained by this Court in a catena
of cases. We are sorry to hold that in making the impugned allotment in
favour of the allottee, in the facts and circumstances of the case, the
State has failed to discharge its constitutional role.”
54. We take serious note and express our anguish, the way the authorities
of CIDCO showed undue favour to the respondents and managed to allot the
Government land in favour of one person knowing fully well that the
aforesaid proprietor of the Company, in different capacity and in dummy
names, sought allotments of plots. The way CIDCO has been dealing with the
Government property, it is high time, we observe, that notwithstanding
Regulation 4, as contained in the Regulations, the appellant CIDCO may take
all endeavour to make allotments of plots by open tender or competing bids
and shall not take any decision for allotment of Government land at the
instance of the Ministers and High Dignitaries for any purposes whatsoever.

55. Taking into consideration the entire facts of the case and the law
discussed hereinabove, we have no hesitation in holding that the CIDCO was
justified in cancelling all the allotments made in favour of the
respondents.

56. For the reasons aforesaid, these appeals are allowed and the judgment
and order passed by the High Court in the writ petitions are set aside.
Consequently, we uphold the order passed by the CIDCO cancelling the
allotments made in favour of the respondents.

…………………………….J.
(M.Y. Eqbal)

…………………………….J.
(Pinaki Chandra Ghose)
New Delhi,
September 26, 2014.

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