The Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court recently dismissed a PIL seeking action on the termination of the lease agreement and quashing of a sale deed between Goa Economic Development Corporation and a private limited company. The PIL has been filed by Kashinath Jairam Shetye and seven others.
The Court observed that it isn’t sitting in an advisory jurisdiction to indicate to the petitioners as to what steps could have been taken if they were aggrieved by police inaction. The petitioners claimed that by a lease deed dated 12.02.1999, the Goa Economic Development Corporation (GEDC) demised certain plots of land to the company for development. There were specific clauses stated in the lease deed subject to which the developed structures in the premises could be sold or transferred.
It is pointed out that by a sale deed dated 14.03.2007, the company sold some portion of the building on the said land to the State in exchange for valuable consideration. The grievance in this regard was raised for the first time on behalf of the petitioners by submitting a representation/complaint dated 15.07.2019 addressed to the State of Goa as also the Police Authorities and the Collector of North Goa.
It was prayed in the said representation/complaint that a FIR ought to be registered against those responsible for the aforesaid actions on the part of the respondents for various offences under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Prevention of Corruption Act. A prayer was also made for such an FIR to be investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The petitioners also sought certain specific directions for recovery of 50% of the lease value and for cancellation of the leases.
Thereafter, the PIL was filed on 13.11.2019, contending that no action was taken by the authorities on the aforesaid representation/complaint.
Nigel Da Costa Frias, the counsel for the petitioners, invited attention of the Court to various clauses of the lease deed and, thereafter, by referring to the sale deed, he contended that the sale deed was executed in violation of certain lease deed clauses and that no action was taken in the context of the aforesaid representation/complaint.
The GEDC affidavit pointed out that the prayers in the petition cannot be granted as they pertain to the aforesaid Lease Deed executed way back in 1999 and in the context of the sale deed executed as far back as in 2007. It is then pointed out that the grievances sought to be raised by the petitioners are wholly misplaced because what is purchased by the Sale Deed, as per Schedule III appended to the Sale Deed, is only constructed premises on the second floor of the building in question and that there is no proportionate undivided share in the land corresponding to the super built up area sold by way of the said Sale Deed.
It is brought to the notice of the High Court that the Sale Deed in no manner violates any of the clauses of the Lease Deed and that, therefore, there is no substance in the PIL.
The Division Bench of Justice Manish Pitale and Justice M.S. Jawalkar after perusing the representation/complaint dated 15.07.2019, submitted by the petitioners and contents of the PIL noted that the petition appears to be suffering from delay and laches. But the petition cannot be dismissed only on that ground, if a genuine cause of public interest is sought to be raised on behalf of the petitioners, the Court said.
The pench held that there is nothing placed before the Court to indicate that there was any specific wrongdoing on the part of the Respondents while entering into such transactions. The Advocate General has brought to the notice of the High Court that similar to the Lease Deed in question, there were other such documents executed and various buildings have come up in the area in question and that there is nothing to show that there has been any sort of scam as sought to be alleged by the Petitioners.
“Insofar as the grievances of the petitioners that no action was taken on their representation/complaint wherein certain prayers were made for initiation of criminal proceedings, we are not sitting in advisory jurisdiction to indicate to the petitioners as to what steps could have been taken if they were aggrieved by inaction on the part of the police authorities, despite the representation/complaint submitted by them on 15.07.2019. The petitioners may take such steps as are available in law in that regard,” the order reads.
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