1. The petitioner seeks a writ of mandamus directing the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (‘TTD’ for brevity) to provide alternate accommodation at Anantapalli Gunta area of Tirumala Hills or any other alternate accommodation. At the outset, it is necessary to observe that the petitioner has pleaded or proved neither existing nor subsisting right nor legal entitlement to seek such mandamus, indeed, he has not even sought for a declaration that he is entitled to seek alternative accommodation.
2. Be that as it may, when the vacate stay petition being WVMP No.3436 of 1999 filed by TTD was taken up for consideration, the learned Counsel for the petitioner and
the learned Standing Counsel for TTD requested that the matter be finally disposed of. Hence the matter is being disposed of at the interlocutory stage.
3. The petitioner is a tenant of Ultaradi Vaishnava Moola Mult (hereafter called ‘the Mutt’) in respect of 650 Sq.yds of land comprised in TS No.5, Ward No.3, and Block C of North Mada Street in Tirumala Hills. He is running a lodge in the name and style of ‘Ayyappa Nilayam’. In furtherance of a scheme to provide more wider approach roads to the temple, TTD initiated land acquisition proceedings. The Mutt challenged the land acquisition proceedings before this Court by filing WP No. 17450 of 1990. The writ petition was dismissed on 17-2-1994. The Land Acquisition Officer passed awards being Award No.1/90-91, dated 16-4-1990 and Award No.2/90-91 of even date. Under the first award, the Mutt was awarded compensation of Rs.3,50,074/- and under the second award an amount of Rs.79,136/-was awarded under the provisions of Land Acquisition Act. 1894 (‘the Act’ for brevity). Be it noted, in the land acquisition proceedings, the built up portion, which is allegedly under lease to the petitioner, was also acquired and the land and structures owned by the Mutt vested with the TTD.
4. The petitioner herein filed another writ petition being WP No.3129 of 1994 praying for a direction to the TTD to consider the representation dated 6-11-1992 seeking allotment of alternative site at Anantapalli Gunta at Tirumala Hills.
5. It is necessary in this context to refer to the resolution No. 159, dated 28-5-1992 passed by the Board of Trustees of TTD (hereafter called ‘the Trust Board’). By the said resolution, relying on the report of the sub-committee, the Board resolved to allot alternative shops to the owners who owned shops at Park Road in the then
existing shopping complex or in the proposed shopping complex near Telephone Exchange. It was further resolved to construct shops near Ram Bagicha so as to accommodate shop owners of Mada Street. The subcommittee noticed that there are a large number of licensed and unlicensed hawkers on Tirumala. Among them, 376 licensed hawkers were recommended to be given further licences beyond 31-3-1988 and in respect of 345 unlicensed hawkers, the subcommittee recommended to give identification cards. Dealing with the re-allocation of lodges and choultries, the subcommittee recommended allotting proportionate extent of land out of 72,000 sq.ft. of land available at Anantapali Gunta to 39 lodges and choultries. The recommendations of the sub-committee were approved.
6. It is not denied that pursuant to the resolution No. 159, dated 28-5-1992, 39 lodges and choultries were allotted alternative sites at Anantapalli Gunta. While dismissing the writ petition filed by the Mutt being WP No. 17450 of 1990 on 17-2-1994, this Court held that the Mutt is entitled for alternative site as per the Trust Board’s resolution No. 159. This Court while disposing of WP. No.3129 of 1994 recorded a finding as under:
“That writ petition was dismissed on 17-2-1994 holding that the petitioner therein (Uttaradhi Vyshnava Moola Mutt) is entitled for alternative site as per the Board’s resolution No.159 in Ananthapalli gunta. Accordingly, a site has been allotted to the Uttaradhi Vyshnava Moola Mutt in Anantapalli Gunta. It is also the case of the respondents that having allotted a site already pursuant to the Board’s resolution No.159 to Uttaradhi Vyshnava Moola Mutt, who is the lessor of the petitioner herein, the petitioner herein is not entitled for another alternative site in Ananthapalli Gunta”.
7. There cannot be any iota of doubt that this Court did not uphold the claim of the petitioner for allotment of alternative site in lieu of the leased out area to him. However, having regard to the submission made by the learned Counsel for the petitioner, this Court directed TTD to consider the representation of the petitioner dated 6-11-1992 for allotment of alternative site in Anantapalli Gunta. The matter did not rest there. The petitioner again submitted representation on 14-2-1995 to TTD requesting to provide alternative accommodation. In this representation he did not specifically claim that his request for alternative accommodation at Anantapalli Gunta or any other place be considered. He made a general request.
8. In the counter affidavit of TTD, it is stated that the GPA of Mutt as well as the Mutt were allotted alternative sites. Referring to the representation filed by the petitioner, it is stated that the same was considered in accordance with resolution No.159 dated 28-5-1992 and appropriate orders were passed rejecting the same and that the rejection order being Roc.No.PO1/ 1240/AEO(P)/TMI/89, dated 29-4-1995 was duly communicated to the petitioner. Though the learned Counsel for the petitioner strenuously contends that his client did not receive the said communication, it should be held that it is duly served on the petitioner, as the reply affidavit filed by the petitioner does not specifically deny the receipt of the proceedings dated 29-4-1995 issued by the TTD rejecting the representation. In view of the submission of the learned Standing Counsel for TTD that the representation of the petitioner has been duly considered and rejected, nothing survives in the writ petition.
9. However, Sri M. Venkata Ramana Reddy, learned Counsel for the petitioner submits that though the petitioner’s claim for allotment of alternative site at Anantapalli
Gunta was rejected, similarly situated persons were allotted alternative site. He placed before me the resolutions passed by TTD. He also relies on the judgment of a Division Bench of this Court in WA No.582 of 2000 and Batch, dated 16-6-2000 and submits that as per the decision of the Division Bench the petitioner is entitled to be given an adequate opportunity before passing any orders on the representation submitted by him. In the absence of such opportunity, the learned Counsel urges that the proceedings dated 29-4-1995 cannot be sustained.
10. I have perused the proceedings dated 24-6-1997 and 24-8-1999 issued by the TTD under which different persons were allotted shops on licence basis. These two proceedings deal with shopkeepers of Moola Mutt who were given alternative accommodation by allotting shops on the basis of licences. The petitioner is admittedly running a lodge in the leased premises and in view of this the shopkeepers of the Mutt and lodge keeper of the Mutt i.e., petitioner and shopkeepers cannot be treated as equals. Therefore, the learned Counsel’s submission that the petitioner is subjected to hostile discrimination is wholly misconceived and cannot be countenanced.
11. The petitioner’s lessor approached this Court questioning the land acquisition proceedings. While dismissing the writ petition, this Court held that the Mutt is entitled for alternative site in accordance with the resolution No.159. It is not denied that the GPA holder of the Mutt was allotted an alternative site of an extent of 1750 sq.ft. at Ananatapalli Gunta and another extent of 2520 Sq.ft. was alloted to the Mutt at Kalaigunta. Therefore, the petitioner’s claim was already rejected by this Court in WPNo.3129 of 1994 clearly recording a finding that the petitioner is not entitled for any alternative site at Anantapalli Gunta. This operates as res judicata as the issue
was specifically adverted to and a finding was recorded. In view of this, the judgment of the Division Bench referred to hereinabove also does not help the petitioner as his claims were considered in accordance with the resolution No. 159. Though this Court earlier recorded that the petitioner is not entitled for any alternative site at Anantapalli Gunta, still TTD in obedience to the orders of the learned single Judge in WP No.3129 of 1994 further considered and rejected the claim of the petitioner on the ground that the Mutt was allotted alternative site on lease basis in Anantapalli Gunta. In my considered opinion, the repeated representations and repeated consideration by the competent authority does not give a right to claim any alternative site to the petitioner, indeed, it should also be recorded that petitioner did not challenge the order dated 29-4-1995 rejecting his claim.
12. The learned Counsel for the petitioner relics on the judgments of the Supreme Court in Olga Tellis v. Bombay Municipal Corporation, as well as Sodan Singh v. New Delhi Municipal Committee, AIR 1989 SC 1988 and submits that the petitioner has a right to carry on trade or business and he cannot be evicted from the place. The two cases cited by the learned Counsel for the petitioner were at the instance of squatters. In one case, the poor people who lived on the footpath of Bombay nearer to their place of work were directed to be considered for alternative site. In other case, the Supreme Court considered whether the squatters and hawkers have fundamental right to carry on trade and business on the street under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution. The Supreme Court clearly held that a citizen has a right to carry on trade on the street either as a hawker or as a squatter as long as the same does not defeat the purpose of laying the road. In this case, the petitioner is not carrying on the business on the road or street. Admittedly, he is a lessee of the
Mutt and the lessor was already awarded compensation in accordance with the provisions of the Act. The provisions of the Act provide that the tenant cannot have a better right than the landlord. Further, though it is very much doubtful as to the power of the TTD to allot alternative sites to the owners whose lands were acquired as per the Act, the Mutt was allotted sufficient land in another place. This should put an end to the litigation which prevented the good purpose for which the land was acquired. Any other claim or any other benefit by the TTD to the landowners would be travesty of justice and contrary to rule of law.
13. It is well settled that the Act is a self-contained Code. All the matters relating to and connected with the acquisition of the land by the State in exercise of power of ’eminent domain’ should be dealt with by the authorities under the provisions of the Act and nothing is permissible to be done outside the Act. It is necessary to refer to three cases of the Supreme Court to highlight this legal position.
14. In Union of India v. Budh Singh, , the question before the Supreme Court was whether the High Court acted legally in directing payment of interest at 18% per annum in view of the delay in completion of the land acquisition proceedings. The Supreme Court held that the Act covers the entire field of payment of interest and entitlement thereof to the owner when the land is taken possession of and that common law principles of justice, equity and good conscience cannot be extended in awarding interest contrary to the provisions of the statute. When Sections 28 and 34 of the Act lay down that the claimant is entitled to interest at 9% per annum from the date of taking possession, the claimant is not entitled for any higher rate of interest.
for the purpose of town planning scheme land was acquired for Kolhapur Municipality. After utilisation of the land there was surplus land, which was sought to be used for allotment to some of the councillors and employees of the Municipality. This was challenged by the owner by way of a writ petition as well as a civil suit. The writ petition was dismissed and the suit was dismissed as withdrawn. However, the owner filed another writ petition challenging the proposal to allot the surplus land to the councillors and employees – of the Municipality. In the second writ petition, it was sought for restitution of the surplus land to the petitioner. The writ petition was dismissed. While rejecting the application for special leave, the Supreme Court observed:
“It is axiomatic that the land acquired for a public purpose would be utilised for any other public purpose, though use of it was intended for the original public purpose. It is not intended that any land which remained unutilised, should be restituted to the erstwhile owner to whom adequate compensation was paid according to the market value as on the date of the notification”.
16. In State of Kerala v. Bhaskaran Pillai, , dealing with the case of reconveyance of the acquired land, the Supreme Court held as under:
“It is settled law that if the land is acquired for a public purpose, after the public purpose was achieved, the rest of the land could be used for any other public purpose. In case there is no other public purpose for which the land is needed, then instead of disposal by way of sale to the erstwhile owner, the land should be put to public auction and the amount fetched in the public auction can be better utilised for the public purpose envisaged in the Directive Principles of the Constitution”.
17. Applying the above principles, the Supreme Court found fault with the order of Government of Kerala reconveying the land acquired in 1952 to the owner at the rate at which compensation was awarded under Seclipn 11 of the Act and also observed that the surplus acquired land should be sold only through public auction so that public also gets benefited by getting higher value. Therefore, in case of either claim for higher rate of interest in respect of acquisition or claim for reconveyance of the acquired land which was found to be surplus, it is well settled that the common law principles of justice, equity and good conscience have no place. When once the Land Acquisition Officer determines the compensation and passes an award, the land vests absolutely in the Government or the authority for whom the land is acquired, free from all encumbrances. The owners of the land or the tenant have no right or legal entitlement to claim any other benefit, which is not provided for under the provisions of the Act.
18. Further, Section 23 of the Act, provides for matters to be considered in determining the compensation. In consequence of the acquisition of the land, if the person interested is compelled to change his residence or place of business, the reasonable amount of expenses if any incidental to such change is one of the factors to be taken into consideration. Therefore, when the award is passed, it is presumed that the Land Acquisition Officer has taken into consideration the various factors mentioned in Section 23 of the Act. The tenant or the owner who is forced to change the residence because of acquisition cannot as a matter of right claim an alternative site or alternative shop or alternative residential premises and such a claim would be ex facie contrary to the provisions of the Act.
19. The TTD is a statutory organisation governed by Chapter XIV of the A.P.
Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act, 1987 (hereafter called ‘Act No.30 of 1987’). In exercise of powers conferred under Section 97 read with Section 153 of Act No.30 of 1987, the Governor of Andhra Pradesh made Rules in G.O. Ms. No.311, Revenue (Endowments-I) Dept, dated 9-4-1990. Section 97 of Act No.30 of 1987 lays down that the Trust Board shall exercise powers and perform functions as laid down in the Rules (hereinafter called ‘the Rules’) in addition to the functions entrusted under the Act. As per Rule 196 of the Rules, 10 1/3 Sq.miles area around the temple of Lord Venkaleswara in Tirumala Hills shall be the exclusive property of TTD. Rule 198 deals with powers of the Executive Officer to prohibit certain activities around the premises of TTD. Rule 201 prohibits all private trade or business at Tirumala except with the authority and licence of the Chief Executive authority of the Panchayat. Rule 202 mandates that TTD shall endeavour to evict slum dwellers and clear the slums around Tirumala. All private leases and sub-leases at Tirumala are declared null and void by Rule 204 and as per Rule 205 the right of preemption is given to the Executive Officer of TTD to purchase land from any person intending to sell the land. Rules 206 to 211 deal with modalities in case the Executive Officer exercises option to purchase the land of any private person intending to sell the land at Tirumala. Chapter XVI (Rules 116 to 124) deal with sale of movable properties by TTD by public auction.
20. Chapter XIX (Rules 138 to 151) lays down the mandatory procedure to be followed for leasing out the lands, buildings, sites and other immovable properties and rights belonging to TTD by way of public auction. The lease shall not ordinarily exceed one year (Rule 147) and the leasing out the immovable property otherwise than by public auction is to be resorted only in
special cases for reasons to be recorded by the Executive Officer. Chapter XXII (Rules 162 to 171) deal with alienation of immovable property by the Trust Board either by way of sale, exchange or mortgage. After issuing public notice, the property shall be sold only by way of public auction and as per Rule 165, the Trust Board shall sanction sale, exchange or mortgage only if such alienation is necessary and beneficial to TTD consistent with the object of TTD and if the consideration is reasonable and proper. All the orders passed by the Trust Board sanctioning sale, exchange or mortgage by way of auction shall be subject to appeal and revision under Sections 120 and 121 respectively of Act No.30 of 1987.
21. A reading of the various rules referred to hereinabove, prima facie shows that the Trust Board has no power or authority to allot alternate site to a owner of a land whose land has been acquired in accordance with the provisions of Act No.30 of 1987. Though under Chapter XXII, ‘exchange’ of land is permissible, such action has to satisfy Rule 165 of the Rules; that is to say that such exchange is beneficial to TTD consistent with the object of TTD. When the TTD passed resolution No. 159, dated 28-5-1992 accepting the recommendations of the sub-committee, it is not clear whether these statutory rules made by the Governor vide G.O. Ms No.311, dated 9-4-1990 were brought to the notice of the TTD Board or not. Sri M. Adinarayana Raju, learned Standing Counsel brought to the notice of the Court that the resolution of the TTD dated 28-5-1992, is under revision before the Government under Section 121 of Act No.30 of 1987. Therefore, at this juncture, it is not proper to give a finding on the question of power of the Trust Board to allot alternate sites to the owners whose lands were acquired or to the encroachers who were evicted. The Government will keep in view the comforts and convenience of the pilgrims who visit
Tirumala when they pass orders under Section 121 of the Act while exercising revisional powers in relation to the resolution ofTTD.
22. In a case arising under the provisions of 1966 Endowments Act, in C. Rami Reddy v. Government of A.P., , the Supreme Court observed as follows:
“We cannot conclude without observing that property of such institations or endowments must be jealously protected. It must be protected for a large segment of the community has beneficial interest in it (that is the reason d’eter of the Act itself). The authorities exercising the powers under the Act must not only be most alert and vigilant in such matters but also show awareness of the ways of the present day world of today. They cannot afford to take things at their face value or make a less than the closest-and-best attention approach to guard against all pitfalls. The approving authority must be aware that in such matters the trustees, or persons authorised to sell by private negotiations, can in a given case, enter into a secret or invisible underhand deal or understanding with the purchasers at the cost of the concerned institution. Those who are willing to purchase by private negotiations can also bid at a public auction. Why would they feel shy or be deterred from bidding at a public auction? Why then permit sale by private negotiations, which will not be visible to the public eye and may even give rise to public suspicion unless there are special reasons to justify doing so”?
23. In Shri Sachidanand Pandey v. State of W.B., AIR 1987 SC 1109, the Supreme Court again reviewed the earlier cases and while referring to C. Rami Reddy’s case (supra), summarised the principles as under:
“….. State-owned or public-owned
properly is not to be dealt with at the absolute discretion of the executive. Certain precepts and principles have to be observed. Public interest is the paramount consideration. One of the methods of securing the public interest, when it is considered necessary to dispose of a property, is to sell the property by public auction or by inviting tenders. Though that is the ordinary rule, it is not an invariable one. There may be situations where there are compelling reasons necessitating departure from the rule but then the reasons for the departure must be rational and should not be suggestive of discrimination.”
24. Therefore, it is rather curious as to how TTD passed a resolution to allot alternative sites to shops and choultries whose land was acquired. It is altogether a different case when squatters and hawkers on the streets are evicted and provided alternate site to eke out a living who have a limited right (See Sodan Singh ‘s case).
25. In this case, the owner of the land was paid compensation and the Act does not provide for giving benefit of allotment of alternate site and therefore TTD has no power to allot land free of cost to the land oustees. If the land is put to auction, the public interest would serve better.
26. In the light of the above, viewed from any angle, the petitioner has no enforceable right or legitimate expectation, which can be enforced in these proceedings for judicial review.
27. There is another aspect of the matter. The learned Counsel for the petitioner brought to the notice of this Court that his client filed a suit claiming a share in the compensation awarded to the Mutt by Award No. 1/90-91 and Award No.2/90-91. The suit as well as the first appeal were dismissed and second appeal is pending
before this Court. This also goes against the petitioner. On the one hand, he is claiming a share in the compensation awarded to the Mult and on the other hand he is also claiming an alternative site. That is not permissible under law.
28. In the result, the writ petition fails and the same is accordingly dismissed with costs. The interim order dated 12-6-1995 in WPMPNo.8872 of 1995 shall stand vacated. Advocate’s fee Rs.5,000/-.