05 Jan 2121

The decision to grant lease is a matter of discretion of the Board and such discretion should be exercised with due application of mind - Gauhati High Court

Case : Ranjit Das v. The State of Assam And Ors. WP(C)/2060/2020 along with WP(C)/1707/2020

Court : Gauhati High Court

Bench : Justice Sanjay Kumar Medhi

Decided on : 05 Jan 2121

The Relevant Statutes

The Assam Municipal Act, 1956

Brief Facts & Procedural History

1. The petitioner was the settlement holder of the Central Market of Ward No. 8 of the Sivasagar Municipal Board (hereafter the Board) and his term was up to 31.03.2020. Being aggrieved by the inaction to consider his prayer for extension of the lease by one year, the petitioner had filed the first writ petition before this Court, being WP(C) No.1707/2020. It was the case of the petitioner that his prayer for extension was duly recommended by the Board and the said recommendation was awaiting approval of the competent authority, namely, the Director of Municipal Administration.

2. In the course of hearing, the Board produced two letters of the authorities, namely, 28.06.2019 and 29.02.2020 whereby and wherefrom the petitioner came to know that his prayer for extension was rejected. The same led to filing of the second writ petition, being WP(C) No.2060/2020 whereby the principal grounds are that the Rules framed under the Assam Municipal Act, 1956 cannot be superseded or nullified by any Executive Instructions and that the subsequent letter dated 28.06.2019 had no manner of application in the matter of the extension prayer.

3. The petitioner had also prayed for a direction for considering his representation dated 18.01.2020.

The Issues of the Case

Whether the consideration should be given for the petitioner prayer for extension of the lease by one year filed under the first writ petition before this Court, being WP(C) No.1707/2020?

Whether the principal grounds are that the Rules framed under the Assam Municipal Act, 1956 cannot be superseded or nullified by any Executive Instructions filed under the second writ petition, being WP(C) No.2060/2020?

The Observations of the Court

1. The Honourable Gauhati High Court noticed that there is no dispute with regard to due completion of the tenure for which the lease was granted, namely, 17.07.2019 to 31.03.2020 and it is not a case of discontinuation or cancellation of the lease prior to its completion. That being the case, the Honourable Gauhati High Court is of the opinion that the writ petitioner cannot claim that any of its fundamental rights have been violated or the principles of natural justice not being followed.

2. The admitted case is that the petitioner had submitted a representation for extension of the lease period which requires consideration as per Rule 2 of the Rules. A reading of the said Rule does not lead to a conclusion that the incumbent is vested with any indefeasible right for extension of the lease. It does not find the said decision to be unreasonable, arbitrary or unfair in any manner and rather, the same appears to be in consonance with the principles governing distribution of State largesse.

3. It was settled position that a Writ Court exercising jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India is not required to go into the aspect of adequacy of reasons, in the instant case, the reasons cited are not only logical but appear to be adequate. Further, in absence of any pleadings of involvement of mala fide in the decision-making process, this Court would not be inclined to intervene in this matter.

4. The Honourable Gauhati High Court referred to the judgement of the Supreme Court in the case of Caretel Infotech Ltd. Vs. Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd., reported in (2019) 14 SCC 81 has laid down that in matters of interpretation, the owner is the best judge and in matters relating to distribution of State largesse, a writ Court exercising powers under Article 226 of the Constitution of India would be loath in interfering.

5. The Honourable Gauhati High Court referred to the case of Silppi Constructions Contractors Vs. Union of India, reported in 2019 SCC Online 1133, the Supreme Court has laid down the importance of taking into consideration the aspects of overwhelming public interest in matters relating to distribution of State largesse.

The Decision Held by the Court

The Honourable Gauhati High Court had rejected both writ petition. It was of the view that no case for interference under Article 226 of the Constitution of India is made out and accordingly, both the writ petitions are dismissed.

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