Read Order: YAMUNA EXPRESSWAY INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY ETC. Vs SHAKUNTLA EDUCATION AND WELFARE SOCIETY AND ORS . ETC

Mansimran Kaur

Chandigarh, May 23, 2022: The Supreme Court has recently quashed the judgment passed by the Allahabad High Court in various writ petitions filed by the allottees of plots of land challenging the demand of additional amount made by the appellant herein-Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA) in respect of plots of land leased out to the allottees and the Government Order by which the State Government had permitted YEIDA to recover the additional amount from the allottees.

A Division Bench of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice B.R. Gavai was of the view that the policy decision in question in the instant case was taken after due deliberations with the stakeholders and was in the interest of the larger public and the factors which were taken into consideration by the State Government were relevant, rational and founded on ground realities. Thus, the finding of the High Court that the policy decision of the State Government was arbitrary, irrational and unfair, was totally incorrect, noted the Bench.

Factual background of the case was such that a vast area of land was acquired by the State of Uttar Pradesh in Gautam Budh Nagar district for public purposes. The said area of land was acquired for the benefit of YEIDA and various allottees including the first respondent were allotted plots. Thereafter, the first respondent was apprised by the letter that plot of 50 acres of land was reserved for it. It was the case of the first respondent that on the basis of the allotment letter, a lease deed came to be executed in the favour of the first respondent.

The emergence of cause of action in the present case was that the land of the farmers which were acquired for the benefit of Noida and Greater Noida were paid additional compensation of 64.7 percent. The same resulted in unrest amongst the farmers whose land was acquired for YEIDA.  Consequently, a committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Shri Rajnedra Chaudhary wherein it was stated that the farmers should be paid an additional payment of 64.7 %. The same proposal was accepted by the State Government. In pursuance to the said G.O. and the Resolution additional demand notices were issued to various allottees. In case of the first respondent an additional premium at the rate of Rs.600/- per sq. metre, for the land allotted and leased out, came to be demanded, totaling to Rs.12,14,10,000.

In view of the same, various writ petitions were instituted to be filed before the Allahabad High Court. By the impugned judgment , the Court allowed the said writ petitions.  Aggrieved by the same, the present appeals by way of special leave were filed on behalf of YEIDA, State of Uttar Pradesh and farmers whose lands were acquired. 

The Court relied on its judgment in Kasinka Trading and another vs. Union of India and another and opined that it was held by this Court time and again that the doctrine of promissory estoppel cannot be invoked in the abstract and the courts are bound to consider all aspects including the results sought to be achieved and the public good at large. It was further stated that the said formulated policy was made keeping in view the interest of the Stakeholders.  The Court opined that the High Court committed error in observing that no writ petitions were filed assailing the acquisitions for YEIDA. The report of the Chaudhary Committee itself clarified that YEIDA had itself submitted that insofar as the residential plots are concerned, there were stay orders operating in majority of the writ petitions due to which the development of the project work was stalled, the Court submitted. 

The Court was of the view that the policy decision of the State Government was in the large public interest. It was taken after considering the entire material collected by the Chaudhary Committee and after due deliberations with all the stakeholders. The factors which were taken into consideration by the State Government were relevant, rational and founded on ground realities. In this view of the matter, the finding of the High Court that the policy decision of the State Government was arbitrary, irrational and unfair, is totally incorrect, the Court observed. 

In furtherance of the same the Bench said, “…it  is trite law that an interference with the policy decision would not be warranted unless it is found that the policy decision is palpably arbitrary, mala fide, irrational or violative of the statutory provisions. We are therefore of the considered view that the High Court was also not right in interfering with the policy decision of the State Government, which is in the larger public interest.”

At last, the Court stated that the G.O. dated August 29 , 2014 and the Resolution of the Board of YEIDA dated September 15, 2014 were in large public interest. It was well reasoned and framed after taking into account the viewpoint of stakeholders as well. The Court also observed that it is a settled proposition of law that in case of a conflict between public interest and personal interest, public interest will outweigh the personal interest. Thus, the impugned judgment passed by the Allahabad High Court was quashed and set aside. Accordingly the appeals were allowed. 

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