Any hasty land allotment is arbitrary and unreasonable, and a mala fide exercise of power can be presumed in such distribution, the Supreme Court has held.
A Vacation Bench of Justices B.S. Chauhan and Swatanter Kumar also held that the State Housing Board would be entitled to demand additional cost, after payment of the tentative cost, from the allottee.
Writing the judgment, Justice Chauhan said: “This is a unique case which reveals that an influential person can have allotment of a residential plot under a discretionary quota within 48 hours of submission of the application and then assert in court that she has a right to have the land at a throwaway price, and not deposit the sale price for [nearly] quarter of a century.”
Fuljit Kaur applied for a residential plot in Urban Estates, SAS Nagar, Punjab, on February 23, 1987, and got the allotment letter on February 25. After she was asked to pay the provisional price of Rs. 93,000 in four instalments, an additional demand for Rs. 2,19,000 was made in March 1992. The appellant challenged the additional demand before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which upheld it. The present appeal is directed against this judgment.
Ms. Kaur argued that the additional demand was unreasonable and arbitrary. She cited earlier instances where the State Government had not recovered additional cost from similarly placed persons.
Rejecting the contention, the Bench said: “Even if some similarly situated persons have been granted some benefit inadvertently or by mistake, such order does not confer any legal right on the petitioner to get the same relief. If an illegality and irregularity has been committed in favour of an individual or a group of individuals or a wrong order has been passed by a judicial forum, others cannot invoke the jurisdiction of a higher or superior court for repeating or multiplying the same irregularity or illegality or for passing a wrong order.”
Even otherwise, Article 14 of the Constitution (equality before law) could not be stretched too far lest it make the function of the administration impossible.
The Bench noted that the High Court had taken into consideration all statutory provisions and calculations made, and under what circumstances the ‘tentative price' was fixed.
The appellant had been favoured with an allotment in 48 hours, and such a hasty allotment itself was liable to be declared arbitrary and unreasonable. “However, we are not inclined to take such drastic steps as the appellant has developed the land subsequent to the allotment,” the Bench said dismissing the appeal.