New Delhi: The Supreme Court has ruled that
a public policy cannot be a camouflage for abuse of power by
an authority and a person allotted land illegally cannot claim
any legal basis for such allotment.
A Bench of Justices Mukundakam Sharma and A R Dave in a
judgement said any such allotment is ultra vires
(unconstitutional) and the beneficiaries cannot perpetuate
such illegal order with the aid of court orders.
"Public policy cannot be a camouflage for abuse of power
and trust entrusted with a public authority or public servant
for the performance of public duty and an illegal allotment of
land founded upon ultra vires and illegal policy of allotment
made to some other persons wrongly would not form a legal
premise or perpetuate such illegal order nor would it be
legalized,"Justice Sharma, writing the judgement, said.
The apex court passed the judgement while upholding an
appeal filed by the Jaipur Development Authority challenging
the directions of Rajasthan High Court which ordered allotment
of certain temple land vested in the government to the manager
of the shrine.
The direction was passed by the High Court on the basis
of an illegal order passed by the Land Acquisition Officer in
1971 to the manager Mahesh Sharma and others of Hanuman Temple
land though possession of the land measuring 29 bighas and 17
biswas already being vested with the government from February
Despite vesting of the land with the state government
and payment of interim compensation under Jagir Act, an award
was subsequently passed by the Land Acquisition Officer on
29.04.1971, determining a sum of Rs 262,680 as compensation in
lieu of the acquisition of the land also recommended allotment
of a developed plot of land measuring 2,500 sq yds to him.
"Although there was no law supporting such action, the
said action on the part of the Land Acquisition Officer
directing the payment of compensation and also allotting a
plot of land in favour of the respondent indicates as to how
government officials, who are protectors of government
property, abuse their power and trust under the camouflage of
performance of their public duty.