SC Dismisses State’s Fraud Allegations in a 1989 Land Acquisition Transaction

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The Supreme Court on 14 August dismissed an appeal. This was filed by the Union Of India via Revenue Secretary alleging fraud in a 1989 land acquisition transaction. The division judge bench held that the evidence on record does not support the contentions of the appellant.

Brief facts of the case

The respondents leased the land from the Goan Sabha. The land was transferred into the Government’s possession in 1986 via a notification issued under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. The respondents i.e. those who leased the land claimed compensation because they spent a lot on the removal of “shora” to make the land fit for cultivation. In 1989, judgment and decree allocated compensation for this land. The respondent was entitled to 87% of the compensation and the rest 13% went to the Goan Sabha.

Following this, some allegation came up saying that there is no lease existing and that the respondent and the ex-Pradhan committed fraud. The UOI via the Revenue Secretary sought a declaration that the 1989 decree was obtained by fraud. The Trial Court decided in favour of the petitioners. This was appealed to the High Court by the respondents. The High Court upon appreciating the evidence on record stated that the UOI failed to show how exactly had this fraud taken place and hence reversed the Trial Court’s ruling. This was again appealed against by the UOI and is now decided.

Arguments of the Parties

The main contention put forth by the Appellant’s Counsel is the lack of lease deed. It is argued that the deed was limited to removing shora from the land and in the absence of a lease deed, it remains a license deed. Since the transaction is a result of fraud the 1989 decree is vitiated and can be put aside. Judgments like Associated Hotels of India v R.N Kapoor and Maghmala & Ors v. G. Narasimha Reddy were cited.

The respondents first highlighted that the 1989 decree is final. The only question is whether It was obtained by fraud. The sole argument of the Appellant is the absence of a decree. But, the respondent brought into the notice of the Court the auction that was conducted and won by the respondents. The evidence showed how every step starting from the decision to auction off the land was taken after the approval of Deputy Director, Panchayat. Even if there is no lease deed, the respondents can take the benefit of Section 53A of Transfer of Property Act, 1882.

Court’s Observation

The Court stated that it is not concerned with the correctness of the 1989 decree and from the material and evidence available on record, they are in the view that the High Court is correct. Every step from auction, to the bidding and the transfer of possession, was done fair and square. The revenue records even reveal the respondent as the possessor and cultivator of the land.

The question of fraud can only be answered through the evidence on record. While the appellants relied on pertinent cases showing the effect of fraud on such decrees, they failed to prove the existence of fraud by cogent and valid evidence.

Court’s Order

The Court, basing on the remove observations, found no grounds to meddle with the impugned judgment of the High Court. Stating that it is clear that the Respondents possessed the land in question, the Panchayat at each step while granting said possession, held that there is no ground to suspect foul play. The appeal was dismissed with no costs.


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