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Gujarat HC: Competent Authority Can’t Act Beyond Show Cause Notice

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Gujarat High court Law Insider

Debangana Ray

Published on June 28, 2022 at 19:37 IST

The Gujarat High Court recently quashed the order passed by the collector Banaskantha which forfeited the allotment of land to a public trust for developing a playground for school children.

The High court also directed the respondent authority to decide the application for renewal of lease submitted by the Petitioner-Trust within 8 weeks.

The development ensured after the court noted that the competent government authority had passed the order for forfeiture, beyond the show cause notice that was issued to the petitioner.

The case headed by Justice Vipul M Pancholi stated that, “It is specifically observed by the revisional authority that the petitioner has not constructed the building on the land in question and the petitioner has not used the land for the purpose for which it was allotted.”

“Once again, it is required to be noted that no such allegations are levelled against the petitioner by the Collector while issuing the show cause notice or while passing the order. Thus, it appears that the respondent – Government – Revisional Authority has passed the order beyond the show cause notice.”

It therefore quashed the impugned order of forfeiture and directed the authorities to decide the application for renewal of lease submitted by the petitioner within a period of 8 weeks.

The applicant in the present petition, sought ad-interim relief for staying the impugned orders. The petitioner stated that due to the situation of drought and financial incapacity, the school could not be constructed.

However, when the financial conditions improved the school was being completed. Also, 1600 students were studying in the school run by the petitioner trust and 500 students were using the land as a playground.

The petitioners also denied that they had encroached upon government land as they had also sought a renewal of the lease.

Taking into account these contentions, the bench concluded that the trust had undertaken the expenditure for constructing the playground.

The Trust had also not violated any conditions as alleged in the show cause notice. However, the Revisional Authority had wrongly upheld the order on the basis of the violation of conditions.

The petitioner had undertaken to complete the necessary construction within the stipulated time if the lease was renewed.

The Respondent authorities had also not decided the application for renewal of lease and instead forfeited the land. Accordingly, the petition was admitted, and the authorities were directed to consider the application for renewal of lease within 8 weeks.