Supreme Court Dismisses Plea for De-Sealing Property, Citing Absence of Building Plan Sanction
The Supreme Court has ruled that a property, which has been sealed by the Cantonment Board due to alleged unauthorized construction, cannot be requested to be 'de-sealed' if the building plan for that property has not yet been sanctioned.
The Delhi Cantonment Board (DCB) served a notice to the Petitioner, demanding the demolition of unauthorised structures on their property located within the Cantonment area. At the Petitioner's request, the Court instructed the Cantonment Board to assess the building plan submitted by the Petitioner. However, as the building plan had not yet received approval, the Petitioner approached the Supreme Court seeking the de-sealing of the property in question.
The Bench, comprising Justices C.T. Ravikumar and Sanjay Kumar, made an observation while hearing an appeal in the case of Ram Kishan (Deceased) through Legal Representatives & Anr. v Manish Kumar & Anr. They noted that the writ petitioner himself did not claim that his submitted building plan had received sanction. As the direction given to the Delhi Cantonment Board (DCB) under Annexure P-3 order dated September 25, 2020, was merely to consider the application for building plan sanction in accordance with the prevailing regulations and bye-laws, the writ petitioner cannot now argue that the DCB is obliged to de-seal the property.
Ram Kishan, the appellant, was the owner of a residential property located in the Delhi Cantonment area (referred to as the "Suit Property"). The DCB issued a Demolition Notice to Ram Kishan, accusing him of unauthorised construction without obtaining the required building plan sanction. In response, Ram Kishan argued that the Suit Property was not under the jurisdiction of the DCB.
In 2018, a neighbour of the appellant, Manish Kumar (respondent), filed a civil suit seeking an injunction against the appellant and the sealing of the Suit Property.
Following the demise of the appellant, his son Parveen Kumar took over the litigations as the legal heir. In 2020, Parveen filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) and a Writ Petition before the Supreme Court, which were consolidated together. Additionally, an interim application was submitted by Parveen in the same proceedings, wherein one of the requests was to instruct the DCB to de-seal the Suit Property once the DCB sanctions the building plan for it.
On September 25, 2020, when Parveen Kumar unconditionally acknowledged that the Delhi Cantonment Board (DCB) indeed had jurisdiction over the Suit Property, the Supreme Court granted him permission to submit a building plan to the DCB. Furthermore, the DCB was directed by the Court to assess the building plan submitted by Parveen and issue an appropriate order accordingly.
Subsequently, Parveen filed an application under Section 151 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (CPC) requesting the dismissal of the Civil Suit mentioned earlier. However, the application was dismissed by an order dated April 13, 2021. Following this, Parveen filed a petition under Article 227 of the Constitution of India, challenging the Order dated April 13, 2021. On November 11, 2021, the Delhi High Court dismissed Parveen's petition and upheld the Trial Court's order.
In response to the Civil Suit, Manish Kumar (Respondent) filed an application under Order XIV Rule 5 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC), requesting the removal of Issue Nos. 1 and 2 framed by the Trial Court. These issues were intended to determine whether the Suit Property fell within the jurisdiction of the Delhi Cantonment Board (DCB). Since Parveen had already admitted DCB's jurisdiction, the Trial Court, on April 10, 2023, deleted Issue No. 1 and 2. Subsequently, Parveen challenged this order before the High Court, but the High Court upheld the Trial Court's decision.
Parveen, acting as the legal heir, filed an appeal before the Supreme Court, challenging the orders dated November 11, 2021, and April 10, 2023. Simultaneously, a writ petition was filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, seeking the issuance of a writ of mandamus to the Delhi Cantonment Board (DCB) to de-seal the Suit Property. Both matters were heard together by the Supreme Court.
Upon examination of Section 250 of the Cantonments Act, 2006, the Supreme Court observed that this section stipulates that no legal proceedings arising from a notice or order issued under the Cantonments Act can be entertained by courts. However, the Court opined that since no notice or order was issued against Manish Kumar, there was no circumstance to trigger the application of Section 250. Consequently, the civil suit is not barred by Section 250 of the Cantonments Act, 2006.
“Going by the aforesaid provision the bar would apply in respect of any order or notice unless an appeal under Section 340 of the said Act is preferred and the same is disposed of by the Appellate Authority under sub-section 3 of Section 343 of the Act. The factual finding of the Trial Court is that no notice or order was issued against the first respondent herein/the plaintiff so as to attract the bar under Section 250 of the Act. This factual finding based on the provisions under Section 250 has been confirmed by the High Court as per the impugned judgment dated 10.04.2023,” the Apex Court Bench ruled.
Regarding the writ petition, the Bench noted that during the writ proceedings before the High Court, Parveen had filed an interim application requesting the Delhi Cantonment Board to "de-seal the property of the Petitioner on the approval of the Petitioner's building plan." Additionally, Parveen had unequivocally acknowledged that the property falls under the jurisdiction of the DCB.
“We have already noted that the writ petitioner himself got no case that the building plan submitted by him was sanctioned. When it was not sanctioned and the direction to the DCB under Annexure P-3 order dated 25.09.2020 was only to consider the application for sanction of the building plan in accordance with the prevailing building regulations and bye-laws, the writ petitioner cannot be allowed, now, to contend that the DCB got an obligation to de-seal the property of the writ petitioner,” the Bench held.
The Supreme Court noted that the writ petition before the High Court was disposed of with a simple direction to the Delhi Cantonment Board to consider Parveen's application for the sanction of the Building Plan. However, since Parveen does not possess any legal right to request de-sealing, the Bench concluded that a writ of mandamus cannot be issued to the DCB for this purpose.
The Supreme Court observed that there is no doubt that the matter of de-sealing is closely connected with the issues being examined in the ongoing Civil Suit, given the surrounding circumstances. Moreover, considering the content of the Annexure P-3 order dated September 25, 2020, the writ petitioner does not possess a legal entitlement to request such relief at this stage. Consequently, the Supreme Court ruled that the Writ Petition must fail since the prayer sought in it is not permissible at this juncture. As a result, the writ petition was dismissed.