Kar HC | Certain portions of Karnataka Housing Board (Allotment) Regulations, 1983, held unconstitutional for violation of Art. 14

Karnataka High Court: A Division Bench of Abhay S. Oka, CJ, and Mohammad Nawaz, J. while allowing the State Government suggested the State Government to always exercise Regulation making power by incorporating a fair, transparent and reasonable procedure for allotment of the house/sites in Board/State Government quota.

The petitioner had knocked the doors of this Court through this petition seeking for declaring certain portions of the Karnataka Housing Board (Allotment) Regulations 1983 as amended by the Karnataka Housing Board (Allotment) (Amendment) Regulations, 2017 as unconstitutional as it is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India. Regulation 4 and Regulation 9-A of the said Regulations were substituted by the amendment Regulations.

Counsel for the petitioner, B. Vachan, contended that unguided and arbitrary discretion was conferred on the State Government to decide which applicants belong to the category of “persons in public life”. The category of “persons in public life” has been loosely defined which confers unguided and arbitrary discretion on the Government.

Additional Government Advocate submitted that the explanation in both the Regulations is sufficient and there are safeguards that contain sufficient guidelines. The said Regulations have been framed in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 76 of the Karnataka Housing Board Act, 1962.

As regards Regulation 4, in the discretionary quota of 10%, 25% of houses/sites are reserved for disposal as a Board quota to “persons in public life” and 25% of houses /sites are reserved as a Government quota to “persons in public life”. Under Regulation 9A, 10% of the stray houses/sites are reserved as a Government quota for “persons in public life”.

The Court observed that there cannot be any policy, much less, a rational policy of allotting land on the basis of applications made by individuals, bodies, organizations or institutions dehors an invitation or advertisement by the State or its agency/instrumentality.

In the case of Meerut Development Authority v. Association of Management Studies, (2009) 6 SCC 171, it was propounded that “disposal of the public property by the State or its instrumentalities partakes the character of trust. The methods to be adopted for disposal of public property must be fair and transparent providing an opportunity to all the interested persons to participate in the process.”

Hence, the categories ‘A’ and ‘C’ in Regulation 4 and category ‘C’ in Regulation 9-A as well as explanation (a) to both Regulations were struck down being unconstitutional. [Bhojappa K. v. State of Karnataka, 2019 SCC OnLine Kar 1978, decided on 18-10-2019]

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