State Government does not have the power to modify the purpose for which a land was reserved after the expiration of 10 years

Supreme Court: Providing a huge surge of relief to the appellant whose land was reserved in a development plan for acquisition by the Ministry of Railways for laying additional railway tracks, a bench of V. Gopala Gowda and R. Banumathi JJ. held that once the land reserved for a purpose has not been utilized for the same, the valid statutory right is acquired by the land owner/ interested person after the expiration of 10 years, and then the State Government does not have the power to modify the development plan and reserve the said land for some other purpose.

In the instant case, the aggrieved appellant challenged the power of the State Government for modifying the purpose for which his land was reserved from “Railway Line” to “Development Plan Road”. Shyam Divan, the learned Senior Counsel for the appellant placed a strong reliance on Section 127 of the MRTP Act, 1969 and raised the contention that “when no proceeding for acquisition of the reserved land was commenced by the State Government within 10 years from the date of sanctioned development plan, the same stands released from reservation in favour of the appellant” and “once the statutory right is accrued in favour of the appellant, any proposed modification of the plan by the State Government shall not be allowed”.

The Court observed that even after expiration of 10 years from the date of sanctioned development plan and expiration of 6 months after notice was served on the authority, there was no intention on the part of the State Government to acquire the reserved land for the purpose of laying down additional railway tracks. The Court noted that “the land reserved for the purpose under Section 127 of the MRTP Act, is lapsed and the appellant is entitled for developing the land as it likes”. The Court further noted that “it is not open for the Government to issue the impugned notification proposing to modify the development plan from deleting ‘for the purpose of Railways’ and adding ‘for the formation of Development Plan Road’ after lapse of 10 years and expiry of 6 months notice served upon the State Government” and accordingly held that impugned notification is bad in law and liable to be quashed. Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Co. Ltd. v. State of Maharashtra, 2015 SCC OnLine SC 54, decided on 21-01-2015.

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