The Karnataka High Court has dismissed a PIL seeking cancellation of the allotments of land made in favour of the Director of Inter University Centre for Yogic Sciences (Respondent No 10) and Vice Chancellor of Central University of Karnataka (Respondent No 11) in Pantharpalya village within the premises of Bangalore University.
A Bench comprising Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Alok Aradhe and Justice S. Vishwajith Shetty dismissed the PIL, stating that they did not find any merit in it.
In addition, the petitioner who claimed to be Banker for a period of 24 years as well as a Professor for 7 years and an Advocate by avocation since 2017, has prayed for the following reliefs:
(i) State government of Karnataka (Respondent No.1) and Vice Chancellor of Bangalore University (Respondent No. 2) to cancel all allotments of land made to respondents No.10 and No.11 in the Survey Nos. of Pantharpalaya Village within the Bangalore University.
(ii) Respondent No.2 to explore alternative land outside the precincts of the Bio-Park and re-allocate the same with approval from the Government of Karnataka.
(iii) The Principal Secretary , Environment (Respondent No.6) and Principal Secretary , Forest (Respondent No.7) to declare the Bio-Park as deemed forest land.
(iv) The Chairman , Karnataka Biodiversity Board ,Department of Forest , Ecology and Environment (Respondent No.8) to explore the possibility of declaring the extent of Bio- Park as Bio Diversity Park and declare it as such.
(v) Respondent No.2 to immediately appoint an official either on directo recruitment or by deputation from Forest Department to nurture and develop all the Bio-parks within the Bangalore University Campus.
(vi) Respondent No.2 to clearly identify the land with Survey Nos. before recommending allocation to the Government of any land to any other entity in the future, duly approved and resolved by the Syndicate.
(vii) Respondent No.1 that on receipt of any recommendation from the Bangalore University to allocate land to any entity, to depute an expert team consisting of the respondent No.6, respondent No.7 and respondent No.8 and a surveyor to identify inspect, verify and report to respondent No.1 that no environmental, ecological threat is envisaged in the allocation of the land to any entity and only thereafter give its consent, permission or approval to such recommendations from the Bangalore University.
While considering the PIL, the High Court observed that the Bangalore University was established in 1964 and land measuring 1112 acres was vested in it. The Bangalore University with a view to bring in the reform in its governance and administration was trifurcated and three Universities and a new University viz, Bangalore City University was established.
The Karnataka State Universities Act, 2000 is an Act pertaining to Universities in the state of Karnataka. Section 3 deals with the establishment and incorporation of University. Section 3(4) of the Act provides that University shall not lease, sell or otherwise transfer any immovable property, which may have become vested in or deemed acquired by it without obtaining prior approval of the State Government.
The Inter University Centre for Yogic Sciences, New Delhi, which is a Society controlled by the Union Ministry of Human Resources and Development, made an application seeking permission to Bangalore University for grant of land on lease for establishing its centre in the premises of Bangalore University.
The said proposal was examined by the Syndicate of the University and thereafter, the Vice Chancellor of the University by a communication dated February 3, 2020, sought approval of the Government of Karnataka to allot 15 acres of land on lease for a period of 30 years.
Thereupon, the Government of Karnataka by an order dated 17.03.2020 granted approval to Bangalore University to allot the land measuring 15 acres for a period of 30 years. The aforesaid allotment has been made subject to payment of lease consideration of Rs.7.5 Lakhs per annum and subject to the following conditions:
(i) The land shall be utilized only for the purpose of establishment of the Inter University Centre for Yogic Sciences.
(ii) The land shall not be sub leased on any pretext.
(iii) Inter University Centre for Yogic Science shall share academic resources and expertise regarding Yoga Studies with Bangalore University and both Inter University Centre for Yogic Science and Bangalore University develop infrastructure relating to Yoga studies in close collaboration with each other;
(iv) Any breach of condition of lease shall render the lease liable for cancellation.
Similarly , a Regional Centre of Council for Architecture and Development, a body constituted by Government of India also submitted an application to Bangalore University for allotment of land measuring 2 acres by way of lease for establishing its regional center. The aforesaid resolution was considered in the meeting of the Syndicate held on 19.11.2018 and thereafter, a proposal was sent by the Vice Chancellor on 13.01.2020 to the State Government seeking permission for allotment of land to Council of Architecture. The State Government by an order dated 04.08.2020 has allotted the land measuring 2 acres to Council for Architecture, a regulatory body constituted by Government of India for setting up a regional center on lease basis for a period of three years. The aforesaid allotment has been made subject to payment of lease consideration of Rs.2 Lakhs per annum and subject to the following conditions:
(i) The land shall be utilized only for the purpose for which it is alltoed.
(ii) The land shall not be sub-leased on any pretext.
(iii) The facilities, amenities and other resources developed by the proposed Centre shall be jointly utilized by Council of Architecture and Bangalore University.
(iv) Council of Architecture shall develop its infrastructure within 2 years.
(v) Teachers and students of Bangalore University shall be allowed to partake in Research activities of the proposed Centre.
(vi) Any breach of condition of lease shall render the lease liable for cancellation.
The Central Board of Secondary Education Delhi and Educational organization under the aegis of Ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of India also submitted an application to Bangalore University for allotment of land measuring 1 acre by way of lease for setting up of its regional office. The aforesaid resolution was considered in the meeting of the Syndicate of the University.Thereafter, a proposal was sent by the Vice Chancellor on 20.03.2020 to the State Government seeking permission for allotment of land to Central Board of Secondary Education. The State Government by an order dated 04.08.2020 has allotted the land measuring 1 acre to Central Board of Secondary Education, a body under the aegis of Ministry of Human Resources, Government of India for setting up its regional office on lease basis for a period of 30 years. The aforesaid allotment has been made subject to payment of lease consideration of Rs.1 Lakh per annum and subject to the following conditions:
(i) The land shall be utilized only for the purpose for which it is allotted;
(ii) The land shall not be sub-leased on any pretext.
(iii) Transfer of land shall not affect the botanical garden of the Bangalore University.
(iv) This order obligates the ratification of the Syndicate, if approval thereof not taken prior to this order.
(v) Any breach of condition of lease shall render the lease liable for cancellation.
The aforesaid orders, which have been impugned in this public interest litigation do not suffer from any infirmity. The petitioner has failed to make out a case of either a violation of statutory right or any fundamental right in the pleadings. The allotment of the land on lease has not been made for any commercial purpose. The Bangalore University conducts courses in yogic sciences and therefore, the land has been leased out to inter university center for yogic sciences, which supplements the interest of the University. Similarly, setting up a regional center of council for Architecture will help the research activities of the architecture department of Bangalore University. Out of a total area of 1112 acres, 18 acres of land has been allotted on lease subject to conditions mentioned in the orders granting approval and subject to payment of lease rent. The permission to lease out the property to Bangalore University has been granted in consonance with the Act.