IN A conflict over jurisdiction between two government bodies, the state of Haryana is literally fighting a case against its own officer in the Punjab and Haryana High Court for the last 10 months. Haryana Urban Development Authority has moved the High Court against an order passed by a senior officer of the town and country planning department in a 19-year-old case.
HUDA has challenged a January 2016 decision of then Additional Chief Secretary of Town and Country Planning and Urban Estates Departments, P Raghavendra Rao, in which the officer had set aside an eviction notice issued to one Rakesh Kumar, who was allotted booth number 84 in Sector 15 of Panchkula, for failing to pay after the allotment.
The case between HUDA and Haryana state in the High Court has been going on since September last year and is now listed for hearing in October. HUDA has challenged the jurisdiction of the officer to pass the order.
Booth 84 was allotted to Kumar at an auction in 1985 but because of his failure to pay the bid money even after 14 years of allotment, the HUDA estate officer ordered the “resuming” of the property in May 1999. After Kumar’s appeals before the appellate authority and then revision authority were all dismissed, HUDA passed an eviction order in 2001.
The District Court, however, in 2005 gave relief to Kumar and asked him to pay the instalments alongwith 10 per cent interest within two months, but according to officials, he again failed to pay the amount. The decision of the lower court was later challenged by HUDA in the High Court, but in 2006, it was dismissed. After multiple litigations, the case later even went to the Supreme Court but without any solution in sight.
In the appeal filed before the Additional Chief Secretary in 2014, Kumar alleged that even after the court orders, HUDA did not communicate the outstanding dues to him and he deposited an amount of Rs 11 lakh on his own and also deposited an additional Rs 6 lakh following the Supreme Court orders.
The HUDA counsel, during the hearing before the official last year, had said there were no such orders to communicate the dues to Kumar and the petitioner, as per the the district court order, had to pay the outstanding instalments along with 10 per cent interest. Overruling HUDA’s decision in the case, the official in his decision had said that the authority had to communicate the dues to Kumar to “observe the principles of natural justice”.
“The pleas of the counsel for petitioner is convincing one as HUDA was indulging in litigation and would not have accepted the amount deposited by the petitioner. The deposit of considerable amount by the petitioner after the decision of RSA by the Hon’ble High Court shows the bonafide of the petitioner,” said the officer in the order, while setting aside the eviction order.
During the hearing of the revision petition itself, HUDA had challenged the maintainability of the revision petition and argued that the state under the HUDA Act had to use its powers sparingly and not in a routine manner. However, the officer proceeded under Section 17 of the HUDA Act, which gives the government the power to pass orders “for the purpose of satisfying itself as to the legality or propriety or correctness of any order passed or direction issued”.
Rao, who is now Additional Chief Secretary in Finance and Planning departments, said he has already been transferred from his then position and cannot recall the case. “The action taken by HUDA must be according to the provisions of law and I am sure the officials will have acted as per the law. They must have got all the necessary approvals and done it with due diligence,” he said.