Sunday, June 4, 2023

Allahabad HC dismisses Azam Khan Trust plea against UP govt taking over Mohammad Ali Jauhar University land

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The Allahabad High Court has dismissed a petition filed by the Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar Trust, owned by Rampur MP Azam Khan, against proceedings initiated by the UP Government to take over the land of Mohammad Ali Jauhar University.

A Single-Judge Bench of Justice Rohit Ranjan Agarwal passed this order on Monday, while hearing a petition filed by Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar Trust.

The plea prayed for quashing of report dated March 16, 2020 submitted by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Rampur as well as quashing the order dated January 16, 2021 passed by the Additional District Magistrate Rampur/respondent No.2 in proceedings initiated under Section 104/105 of the UP Revenue Code, 2006.

The petitioner is a Society registered under the provisions of Societies Registration Act, in 1995. In 2005, the state of Uttar Pradesh enacted UP Act No 19 of 2006 and thus came into existence the Mohammad Ali Jauhar University Act, 2005.

In pursuant to the enactment of Act, 2005, the State Government in exercise of power under Section 154(2) of UP Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, 1950 on November 7, 2005 granted permission to Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar Trust to acquire 400 acres of land against a ceiling of 12.5 acres (5.0586 hectare) for establishment of a University.

According to the petitioner, an inspection was made by the Sub-Divisional Officer, Tanda, District Rampur on April 28, 2009 and a report was submitted to the District Magistrate, Rampur, wherein it was stated that construction was going on over 24000 sq mt of land.

It was in 2020, in a report submitted by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Sadar to the District Magistrate under Section 10(2) of the UP Imposition of Ceiling on Land Holdings Act, 1960, that the matter was assigned to the Additional District Magistrate (Finance & Revenue), Rampur.

On February 28, 2020, the Additional District Magistrate (Finance & Revenue) directed the Sub-Divisional Magistrate to prepare a report, observing that Section 10(2) of Act, 1960 was not applicable and was wrongly invoked. The District Magistrate directed the Sub-Divisional Magistrate to prepare a report in accordance with the observation of Additional District Magistrate (Finance & Revenue), pursuant to which a detailed report was submitted by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate to respondent No.2 i.e. District Magistrate, Rampur on March 16, 2020.

Taking cognisance of the report, a notice was issued on March 18, 2020 by respondents to the Trust. Later through an advocate, the petitioner Trust submitted an application before respondents that the Chairman of the Trust was languishing in Sitapur Jail and no notice was served upon the petitioner-Trust and it surfaced only through the media reports.

It was further brought to the notice of respondents that as the Chairman and Secretary both are in Sitapur Jail, proper reply could not be filed. However, a reply was filed on behalf of the Trust, stating that the report dated March 16, 2020 was an ex parte report.

After hearing the State as well as the petitioner trust, the Additional District Magistrate Rampur (respondent No.3) held “the petitioner-Trust had violated the condition laid down in the permission granted, as such land in excess of 12.50 acre stood vested in the State in view of Section 104/105 of the Code.”

Syed Safdar Ali Kazmi, Counsel for the petitioner, submitted “All the active members of the Trust such as Mohammad Azam Khan (President), Dr Tazeen Fatima (Secretary) and Abdullah Azam Khan (Member) are in Sitapur Jail since February 26, 2020 and no notice was served upon them in jail. The objection was filed only on behalf of the Trust on September 17, 2020 and a preliminary objection regarding jurisdiction was filed, which was wrongly rejected on October 14, 2020.

“The written submission, submitted by the State, was not served upon the petitioner and they were not granted time to rebut the same,” the Counsel submitted further.

The Counsel emphasised that once the Trust was granted permission under Section 154(2) of the Act, 1950, the land purchased from different tenure holders, details of which have been given in the writ petition and declaration under Section 143 of the Act, 1950 was made for a large part of the land.

Kazmi further submitted that no land has been purchased in contravention of Section 157-A of the Act of 1950 and the proceedings, which was initiated, was turned down by the Sub Divisional Magistrate, Rampur and Commissioner, Moradabad on July 17, 2013 and November 7, 2013, and the said orders were challenged before the Board of Revenue after considerable delay and the Board of Revenue, on January 14, 2020, reversed the orders of Sub-Divisional Magistrate and Commissioner, which is pending consideration before the Court.

Lastly, it was contended that if the land was acquired in excess of permission granted under Section 154(2) of the Act, 1950, the same is saved by provisions of Section 154(3), which provides for approval of the State Government, if any application is filed and the approval is made after deposit of fine, as contained in the explanation to the said section.

Opposing the writ petition, Additional Advocate General Ajit Kumar Singh, submitted that the order impugned under Section 104/105 of the Code was revisable under Section 210 of the Code and writ petition was not maintainable.

However, on merits, he contended that the permission granted on November 07, 2005 was very specific and it provided that any land, which was acquired, was subject to the provisions of the Act and Rules.

The AAG said that in the case, land was acquired from members of Scheduled Caste community, such as Laxman Singh, Bhagwan Das, Rajveer, Mahesh, Chandrawati, Ram Prasad and Ram Chandra Singh, all residents of Village Seegankhera as well as Bansi Singh, who is a lease holder under Section 4-A of the Act, 1960, without obtaining mandatory permission under Section 157-A of the Act, 1950 i.e. Section 89 of the Code. Not only the land of the Scheduled Caste community was taken without permission, but also the Chak Road and the land adjoining the river, which is a public utility land of Gaon Sabha, was also taken over by the Trust.

Further, the land of a number of tenure holders had been forcibly taken by the Trust and the proceedings under Section 134 of the Code is pending before the Revenue Authorities.

It was further contended that not only this, the tenure holders had lodged first information reports against the Trustees.

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It is also contended that the petitioner-Trust had taken over the land of enemy property. About 26 farmers had lodged a first information report against the Chairman of the Trust Mohammad Azam Khan for land grabbing.

The Court noted, “In the case, permission for transfer of land in excess to 12.50 acres was granted solely for establishing an educational institution. The establishment of a ‘mosque’ was against the permission granted on November 7, 2005, thus the Trust violated the conditions clearly provided that in case of violation of any of the conditions, land excess of 12.50 acres will vest in the State Government after affording opportunity of hearing. Neither in the reply before respondents nor before the Court Petitioner-Trust could justify the action for establishing a ‘mosque’ which was in clear violation of the condition laid down in the permission order dated November 07, 2005.

“Coming to the next argument which relates to submission of annual reports and information in regard to the land and construction to the District Magistrate in the month of April every year, the petitioner-Trust could not place any document to substantiate that compliance of Condition No.4 was made. From bare reading of permission granted on November 07, 2005, it appears that Condition no.2 and 4 are quite inter-related as the intention of the State in granting permission was clear that the construction was to be made within five years and the Trust was required to submit annual report regarding status of purchase of land as well as construction made over it before the Collector in the month of April”, the Court observed.

From perusal of reply filed before respondents as well as averment in this writ petition nothing has been brought on record to justify the cause of the petitioner- Trust and compliance made to the conditions laid down by the State Government while granting permission, the Court said.

“The finding recorded by respondents that condition no.4 has been violated holds ground in view of the fact that apart from a report of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate dated April 28, 2009, no material has been brought on record regarding information to the Collector, as envisaged in the permission granted by the State Government,” ordered the Bench.

It is a case where large part of land has been purchased as well as certain part of land belonging to tenure holders and Gaon Sabha has been encroached upon by a former Cabinet Minister of State for establishing an educational institution pursuant to an Act which has come up in the year 2005.

The finding has not been assailed by placing documentary proof that the plots in question were purchased by the Trust and do not belong to Gaon Sabha or the tenure holders who have initiated proceedings under Section 134 of the Code.

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The Court found that the revenue authority, after considering not only the report dated March 16, 2020 but also the reply of the petitioner, as well as the representation of the State, had in depth recorded findings as to the violation of law and condition by the Trust in setting up the educational institution. The order impugned has rightly been passed in the proceedings under Section 104/105 of Code and the land except 12.50 acres vest in the State Government.

“Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, I find that once the Court on August 6, 2021 took cognizance in the matter and directed the Standing Counsel to seek instructions in the matter, no question arises for relegating the matter under Section 210 of the Code on the ground of alternative remedy.

“After hearing the Counsel for the parties and on perusal of record, I find that no case for interference has been made out by the petitioner-Trust as the transfer of land by the Trust is hit by Section 157-A of Act, 1950 and further, the conditions of the permission granted by the State on November 7, 2005 had been violated, which had required the institution to strictly follow the same and any contravention would lead to the land vesting in the State Government except 12.5 acres,” the Court observed and dismissed the petition.

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