The Supreme Court has termed as “wholly unwarranted” the manner in which the Rajasthan High Court dealt with a matter relating to possession of land to the widow of an ex-Sepoy of the Indian Army whose foot was amputated due to a mine blast in the 1965 India-Pakistan war.
The apex court observed that the high court had gone “out of the way” to order possession of land which was never proceeded with a letter of allotment in favour of the wife of the ex-serviceman, who died in July 1998.
A bench of Justice Hemant Gupta and Vikram Nath set aside the order passed by the high court in the matter.
“The manner in which the matter has been dealt with by the high court under the guise of help to a disabled ex-serviceman is wholly unwarranted,” the bench said in its verdict delivered on Tuesday.
The man, while serving as a Sepoy in the Army, had suffered an injury on the right leg due to the mine blast which led to amputation of his foot and he was thereafter invalidated out of service.
The state had framed the Rajasthan Special Assistance to Disabled Ex-Servicemen and Dependants of Deceased Defence Personnel (Allotment of Lands) Rules, 1963, and the man was a disabled ex-serviceman.
The top court noted it appeared that the man had applied for allotment of land in the category of disabled war personnel and the Soldier Welfare Section of the Revenue Department of the state sent a letter to the District Collector of Udaipur in March 1971 wherein it was conveyed that it has been decided to allot 25 ‘Bighas’ in village Rohikhera.
The apex court also noted that there was no letter of allotment of land issued to the man or his wife on record in pursuance to the letter, which was an inter-departmental communication and not a communication to the disabled soldier.
The ex-serviceman’s wife later filed a writ petition raising a grievance that possession of the land allotted in March 1971 has not been handed over to her husband or to her.
A single judge of the high court had found that the alternative land offered to her was located at a remote area and was not cultivable and therefore, a direction was issued to give possession of the land originally allotted.
The top court noted that an intra-court appeal preferred by the state in the high court remained unsuccessful and it has come on record that the land in question was allotted to the writ petitioner.
It noted that the high court order was challenged when an attempt was made to evict the appellants from the land which was cultivated by them allegedly for over 60 years.
“The high court had gone out of the way to order possession of land which was never proceeded with letter of allotment in favour of the writ petitioner. The approach of the high court is most unfortunate,” the bench said.
The top court said it is well-settled that inter-departmental communications are in the process of consideration for appropriate decision and cannot be relied upon as a basis to claim any right.
It said the basis of claim of the writ petitioner was a letter written by the secretary of the Soldier Welfare Department to the District Collector of Udaipur in March 1971 for allotment of land.
The bench noted that the Rules contemplated that if the possession is not taken within six months, the allotment shall be deemed to have been cancelled.
“The disabled ex-serviceman had not taken any action for almost 27 years after the so-called letter of allotment during his life time,” it said.
“The proceedings show an extra interest taken by the high court, and not in respect of mere allotment of land but also of the land which was once allotted and is now close to the national highway,” it said.
While allowing the appeal, the bench said the writ petition filed by the woman was “wholly misconceived, mischievous with collateral motives and may be having the patronage of the officers/officials”.