IN THE SUPREME COURT OF
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO.6662 OF 2004
Ramjas Foundation and another ……..Appellants
Union of India and others …….Respondents
J U D G M E N T
G.S. Singhvi, J.
1. This appeal is directed against judgment dated 18.5.2001 of the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court whereby the first appeal preferred by the appellants against the judgment of the learned Single Judge, who declined to nullify the acquisition of their land was dismissed.
2. Rai Sahib Kedar Nath, who retired as District Judge from the Punjab Judicial Service started three schools in Kucha Ghasi Ram, Chandni Chowk, Bazar Sita Ram and Daryaganj,
“i) To provide school and university education for boys and girls.
ii) To maintain schools, colleges, boarding houses and training institutes for training of teachers.
iii) To provide means for imparting technical and industrial education in connection with the institutions under the control of foundation.
iv) To provide means for imparting a sound moral and catholic religious education free from superstitious and controversial matters and based on the Vedas and ancient shastras.
v) To encourage and take part in Scientific Research of various kinds as well as in the study translation and publication of the Sanskrit literature and philosophy of ancient
vi) To amalgamate with the foundation any other societies having objects similar to those or any of these of the Foundation.
vii) To give loans to the institutions aided, run managed by or under the control of the Foundation and for the benefits of the students studying in the said institutions, aid, grants, donations, subscribe to Government and/or semi- Government relief funds, award scholarships, fellowships, stipends of any kind as also to take/accept donations, gifts and charities etc.”
3. After some time, Rai Sahib Kedar Nath formed a managing committee of which he was the President. On 25.6.1936, he transferred the entire land to the Society by executing a release deed. In 1967, the name of the Society was changed from Ramjas College Society to Ramjas Foundation and the same was registered as such.
4. By notification dated 13.11.1959 issued under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (for short, ‘the Act’), the Chief Commissioner of Delhi proposed acquisition of 34070 acres land including 872 bighas and 17 biswas land of appellant No.1 situated at Chowkri Mubarikabad and 730 bighas land situated at Sadhora Khurd for planned development of Delhi excluding the following categories of land:
(a) Government land and evacuee land;
(b) the land already notified under Section 6 of the Land Acquisition Act for any Government Scheme;
(c) the land already notified either under Section 4 or 6 of the Land Acquisition Act, for House Building Cooperative Societies mentioned in Annexure III;
(d) the land under graveyards, tombs, shrines and the land attached to religious institutions and Wakf property.
5. The objections filed on behalf of appellant No.1 under Section 5-A of the Act through Shri Ratan Lal Gupta, Advocate were rejected by the competent authority. Thereafter, three different notifications were issued under Section 6 of the Act.
6. The acquisition of land vide notification dated 13.11.1959 was challenged in large number of petitions filed in Delhi High Court which were dismissed. The appeals filed against the orders of the Delhi High Court were dismissed by this Court in Aflatoon v. Lt. Governor of Delhi (1975) 4 SCC 285 and Lila Ram v. Union of India (1975) 2 SCC 547.
7. Appellant No.1 also filed several cases in the Delhi High Court and this Court questioning the acquisition of its land and consequential actions taken by the respondents. The particulars of the cases filed by appellant No.1 and their result are detailed below: Chowkri Mubarikabad
(i) The first writ petition bearing No.409/1968 was filed by appellant No.1 in the Delhi High Court for quashing notifications dated 13.11.1959 and 28.2.1968 issued under Sections 4 and 6 of the Act respectively mainly on the ground that its land is exempted from acquisition in terms of clause (d) of notification dated 13.11.1959 because it was a Wakf property. This assertion was contested by the respondents. They pleaded that the property in dispute is neither a Wakf nor it can be treated as Wakf because it had not been created by a Muslim. The learned Single Judge was of the view that the adjudication of the writ petition would need determination of complicated questions of fact and such questions cannot be decided under Article 226 of the Constitution. Thereupon, the counsel appearing on behalf of appellant No.1 sought leave of the Court to withdraw the writ petition with liberty to file a civil suit. His prayer was granted by the Court.
(ii) Immediately after disposal of the writ petition, appellant No.1 filed Suit No.451/1971 with the following substantive prayer: “A decree for declaration be passed in favour of the plaintiffs and against the defendants to the effect that since the plaintiffs society is a charitable education institution and the land in dispute is a wakf property or in the nature of wakf property, the same is exempt from the purview of notification under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act by virtue of clause (d) of para 2 of the Notification No.F.15(iii)/59-L.S.G dated 13.11.1959 and the impugned notifications, acquisition notices and the proceedings consequent thereon are void abinitio, without jurisdiction, discriminatory, arbitrary, vague, indefinite, ultra vires, against the principles of natural justice and the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act and are liable to be set aside and cancelled.”
(iii) After detailed consideration of the pleadings and documents produced by the parties, the learned Single Judge dismissed the suit. Appellant No.2 – Shri Ram Kanwar Gupta joined appellant No.1 in filing appeal against the judgment of the learned Single Judge, which was dismissed by the Division Bench of the High Court vide judgment dated 18.5.2001. Thereafter, notification under Section 17 of the Act was issued on 23.7.2001 and possession of the land was taken by the Land Acquisition Collector and handed over to the Delhi Development Authority.
(i) W.P. No.213/1973 filed by appellant No.1 challenging the acquisition of land situated at Sadhora Khurd was dismissed by the learned Single Judge as withdrawn.
(ii) After 5 years, appellant No.1 filed CWP No.106/1978 for quashing the notifications issued under Sections 4 and 6 and notices issued under Sections 9 and 10 of the Act. The same was dismissed by the Division Bench of the High Court vide its order dated 31.1.1978.
(iii) Civil Appeal No. 2213 of 1978 filed by appellant No.1 against the order of the Division Bench was dismissed by this Court on 13.11.1972 on the ground of delay and blameworthy conduct of appellant No.1 – Ramjas Foundation v. Union of India (1993) Supp 2 SCC 20.
(iv) After dismissal of the civil appeal, the Land Acquisition Collector passed Award No.10/94-95 dated 7.6.1994 and supplementary Award Nos.10-A/94-95, 10-B/94-95, 10-C/94-95 and 10-D/94-95 all dated 11.11.1994 in respect of 718 bighas 14 biswas land situated at Sadhora Khurd and took possession of 676 bighas and 8 biswas of land.
(v) Appellant No.1 challenged the awards in CWP No.4343/1997 and prayed for quashing the action of the respondents to take possession of the acquired land. It further prayed for issue of a mandamus to respondents to release land by issuing notification under Section 48 of the Act. Appellant No.1 filed another writ petition (CWP No.5493/1999) for grant of a declaration that land situated in village Sadhora Khurd continues to be in its possession. By an order dated 26.4.2000, the Division Bench of the High Court dismissed CWP No. 4343/1997 but gave a direction to the Lt. Governor to pass appropriate order on the application made by appellant No.1 for denotification of the acquired land. Similar order appears to have been passed in CWP No. 5493/1999.
(vi) In the meanwhile, Bhagwan Dass filed CWP No.1811/1995 by way of public interest litigation and prayed for issue of a mandamus to the respondents to take possession of 730 bighas of land and use the same as per the plan of Zone B-5. That petition was disposed of by the Division Bench of the High Court on 26.4.2000 by taking cognizance of the statement made by the counsel appearing for the Delhi Development Authority that a decision had been taken not to release land of appellant No.1 from acquisition.
(vii) The orders passed by the High Court in CWP Nos.1811/1995, 4343/1997 and 5493/1999 were challenged before this Court in S.L.P. (C) Nos.15017, 15216 and 19741 of 2000 on several grounds including the following: “(iii) Because the petitioner society having been created by Rai Sahab Kedar Nath, Retired District Judge, Punjab thereby dedicating all his movable and immovable properties, for Charitable purposes establishing to run the schools and colleges for public charity of education covered under and/or is waqf and property held is or in the nature of a waqf property even if the Waqf Act may not be applicable to such society being not attached to any specific caste and/or religion. (iv) Because a notification issued under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act also being “Law” is liable to be struck down if it is contrary to the fundamental rights guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution of India, as in view of the decision of this Hon’ble Court in Indian Express Newspapers Vs Union of India, reported at  1 SCC 641, para 83 at 693.
(v) Because any law and/or notification under the statute i.e. the Land Acquisition Act being discriminatory on ground of caste or religion is liable to be declared as ultra vires of the Constitution and must be quashed as a whole.” (emphasis supplied)
(viii) All the special leave petitions were disposed by this Court on 4.2.2002 in the following terms: “We have heard Shri Shanti Bhushan, learned senior counsel, appearing for the petitioners. We are not satisfied that this petition merits further consideration by this Court. However, it is pointed out that in spite of the directions issued by the High Court that the representation filed by the petitioners before the Lt. Governor of
(ix) In compliance of the direction given by the High Court and this Court Lt. Governor,
(x) Appellant No.1 challenged the order of the Lt. Governor in W.P. No.5138/2002, which was dismissed by the Division Bench of the High Court by detailed judgment dated 6.2.2004. S.L.P. (C) No.7026 of 2004 filed against that judgment was dismissed as withdrawn.
8. Shri R. Venkataramani, learned senior counsel for the appellants reiterated the argument made before the High Court that in view of clause (d) of notification dated 13.11.1959, the land of the appellant was liable to be excluded from acquisition because it was a Wakf property. Learned counsel argued that the dedication of land by Rai Sahib Kedar Nath was for a charitable purpose and this, by itself, is conclusive evidence of his intention to create a Wakf. Learned counsel emphasized that dedication made by Rai Sahib Kedar Nath was without any reservation in favour of any beneficiary as trustee or otherwise and, as such, the land in question became part of Wakf property and argued that the same could not be acquired in the name of planned development of
9. Shri Amarendra Sharan, Senior Advocate and Shri Vishnu B. Saharya, Advocate appearing for the Delhi Development Authority and Smt. Gita Luthra, Senior Advocate and Shri D.N. Goburdhun, Advocate appearing for the Union of India supported the impugned judgment and argued that the appeal should be dismissed as a frivolous piece of litigation. Learned counsel extensively referred to the judgment in Ramjas Foundation v. Union of India (supra), order dated 4.2.2002 passed in S.L.P.(C) No. 15017/2000 and connected matters and argued that when this Court has already negatived the plea of appellant No.1 that the property situated at Sadhora Khurd is a Wakf property and is exempted from acquisition, the appellants cannot resurrect the same plea in respect of the land situated at Chowkri Mubarikabad. Learned counsel then argued that the appellants’ claim for exemption was rightly rejected by the learned Single Judge and the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court because no evidence was produced to prove that Rai Sahib Kedar Nath had created a Wakf and the property transferred to the Society became a Wakf property. Shri Amarendra Sharan emphasized that renouncement of property by Rai Sahib Kedar Nath in favour of the Society formed by him for educational purposes did not result in creation of a Wakf and the property did not become Wakf property because the dedication made by him was preceded by “Samarpan” and “Sankalp” which are well known concepts of Hindu Law. Another argument of the learned senior counsel is that clause (d) of notification dated 13.11.1959 cannot be interpreted as including every dedication of property for charitable purpose and the expression `Wakf property’ must be given a restricted interpretation so as to include the property attached to the Wakf created by Muslims only.
10. We have considered the respective submissions. In our view, the appeal deserves to be dismissed because the appellants have not approached the Court with clean hands. In Ramjas Foundation v. Union of India, acquisition of the land situated at Sadhora Khurd was challenged on the ground of violation of Section 5-A of the Act and also on the ground that land in question is exempted from acquisition because it is a Wakf property. Another plea taken by appellant No.1 was that if the land belonging to educational and charitable institutions established by Hindus and non- Muslims is not treated as Wakf property, then the exemption clause (d) is liable to be declared void for violation of Article 14 of the Constitution. While rejecting the argument that the acquisition proceedings were vitiated due to violation of Section 5-A of the Act, this Court noted that the appellants had made a patently incorrect statement on the issue of denial of opportunity of personal hearing and observed: “As regards the objection of the violation of the mandatory provisions of Section 5-A of the Act in not affording an opportunity of personal hearing while deciding such objections, we granted an opportunity to the learned Additional Solicitor General to place material after examining the original record. We granted this opportunity to the respondents on account of the reason that the writ petition had been dismissed by the High Court in limine without issuing notice to the respondents and as such the respondents had not been given any opportunity before the High Court to place any material to refute the allegations made by the appellants in this regard. The Additional Solicitor General during the course of the hearing of the matter placed an order of the Land Acquisition Collector,
(emphasis supplied) The Court also criticized appellant No.1 for playing a game of hide and seek and observed:
“It may be noted that the reference with regard to suit No. 451 of 1971 decided on
11. In S.L.P.(C) No. 15017/2000 and connected matters, appellant No.1 had specifically raised a plea that its property is exempted from acquisition because it is a Wakf property, but failed to convince the Court to nullify the acquisition proceedings on that ground.
12. A careful reading of the judgment in the Ramjas Foundation v. Union of India (supra) and the order passed in the special leave petitions clearly shows that even though the question whether the land belonging to appellant No.1 is exempted from acquisition in terms of clause (d) of notification dated 13.11.1959 was not decided in the first case and the appeal was dismissed mainly on the ground of delay and contumacious conduct of the appellants, that question will be deemed to have been answered in negative in the second case because in the special leave petitions it was specifically pleaded that the land belonging to appellant No.1 is exempted from acquisition being Wakf property and this Court held that there was no merit in the appellant’s case. It is true that the Court did not record detailed reasons for not entertaining the special leave petitions but use of the expression “we are not satisfied that this petition merits further consideration by this Court” clearly shows that the claim of exemption was turned down by this Court. If appellant No.1 did not feel satisfied with order dated 4.2.2002 and felt that its claim for exemption under clause (d) of notification dated 13.11.1959 was on firm footing, then it could have applied for review of that order. However, as the subsequent events reveal, instead of questioning correctness of order dated 4.2.2002, appellant No.1 accepted the negation of its claim based on clause (d) of the notification and vigorously pursued the case for denotification of the land and partially succeeded inasmuch as vide notification dated 4.4.2002 issued under Section 48 of the Act, the Lt. Governor released 67 bighas 14 biswas of the acquired land.
13. Strangely, in the list of dates of the special leave petition out of which this appeal arises, there is not even a whisper about large number of cases filed by appellant No.1 challenging the acquisition of land situated at village Sadhora Khurd, the grounds on which the challenge was founded and the orders passed by the High Court and this Court. The appellants also suppressed the fact that after dismissal of the first appeal by the Division Bench of the High Court, possession of the land was taken by the Land Acquisition Collector on 13.7.2001 and transferred to the Delhi Development Authority. What could be the possible reason for these omissions? Any person of reasonable prudence will at once respond to this question by saying that sole object of not disclosing the facts relating to other cases was to keep the Court in dark about rejection of challenge to the acquisition of a portion of land which the appellants are claiming to be Wakf property. We have no doubt that the appellants did so for the purpose of persuading this Court to pass an interim order and they succeeded in this venture because while issuing notice on 26.11.2001, this Court directed that there shall be stay of dispossession.
14. The principle that a person who does not come to the Court with clean hands is not entitled to be heard on the merits of his grievance and, in any case, such person is not entitled to any relief is applicable not only to the petitions filed under Articles 32, 226 and 136 of the Constitution but also to the cases instituted in others courts and judicial forums. The object underlying the principle is that every Court is not only entitled but is duty bound to protect itself from unscrupulous litigants who do not have any respect for truth and who try to pollute the stream of justice by resorting to falsehood or by making misstatement or by suppressing facts which have bearing on adjudication of the issue(s) arising in the case. In Dalglish v. Jarvie 2 Mac. & G. 231, 238, Lord Langdale and Rolfe B. observed: “It is the duty of a party asking for an injunction to bring under the notice of the Court all facts material to the determination of his right to that injunction; and it is no excuse for him to say that he was not aware of the importance of any fact which he has omitted to bring forward. In Castelli v. Cook (1849) 7 Hare, 89, 94 Wigram V.C. stated the rule in the following words: “A plaintiff applying ex parte comes under a contract with the Court that he will state the whole case fully and fairly to the Court. If he fails to do that, and the Court finds, when other party applies to dissolve the injunction, that any material fact has been suppressed or not property brought forward, the plaintiff is told the Court will not decide on the merits, and that, as he has broken faith with the Court, the injunction must go.” In
15. The above noted rules have been applied by this Court in large number of cases for declining relief to a party whose conduct is blameworthy and who has not approached the Court with clean hands – Hari Narain v. Badri Das AIR 1963 SC 1558, Welcome Hotel v. State of A.P. (1983) 4 SCC 575, G. Narayanaswamy Reddy v. Government of Karnataka (1991) 3 SCC 261, S.P. Chengalvaraya Naidu v. Jagannath (1994) 1 SCC 1, A.V. Papayya Sastry v. Government of A.P. (2007) 4 SCC 221, Prestige Lights Limited v. SBI (2007) 8 SCC 449, Sunil Poddar v. Union Bank of India (2008) 2 SCC 326, K.D. Sharma v. SAIL (2008) 12 SCC 481, G. Jayashree v. Bhagwandas S. Patel (2009) 3 SCC 141 and Dalip Singh v. State of U.P. (2010) 2 SCC 114. In the last mentioned judgment, the Court lamented on the increase in the number of cases in which the parties have tried to misuse the process of Court by making false and/or misleading statements or by suppressing the relevant facts or by trying to mislead the Court in passing order in their favour and observed: “For many centuries Indian society cherished two basic values of life i.e. “satya” (truth) and “ahimsa” (non-violence). Mahavir, Gautam Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi guided the people to ingrain these values in their daily life. Truth constituted an integral part of the justice-delivery system which was in vogue in the pre-Independence era and the people used to feel proud to tell truth in the courts irrespective of the consequences. However, post-Independence period has seen drastic changes in our value system. The materialism has overshadowed the old ethos and the quest for personal gain has become so intense that those involved in litigation do not hesitate to take shelter of falsehood, misrepresentation and suppression of facts in the court proceedings. In the last 40 years, a new creed of litigants has cropped up. Those who belong to this creed do not have any respect for truth. They shamelessly resort to falsehood and unethical means for achieving their goals. In order to meet the challenge posed by this new creed of litigants, the courts have, from time to time, evolved new rules and it is now well established that a litigant, who attempts to pollute the stream of justice or who touches the pure fountain of justice with tainted hands, is not entitled to any relief, interim or final.” (emphasis supplied) 16. In our view, the appellants are not entitled to any relief because despite strong indictment by this Court in Ramjas Foundation v. Union of India, they deliberately refrained from mentioning details of the cases instituted by them in respect of the land situated at Sadhora Khurd and rejection of their claim for exemption under clause (d) of notification dated 13.11.1959 by the High Court and this Court.
17. Notwithstanding the above noted conclusion, we have thought it proper to deal with the issue raised in the appeal on merits. The institution of Wakf owes its origin to a rule laid down by the prophet of Islam. It means “the tying up of property in the ownership of God the Almighty and the devotion of the profits for the benefit of human beings. When once it is declared that a particular property is Wakf, or any such expression is used as implies Wakf, or the tenor of the document shows, if there is a wakf-nama that a dedication to pious or charitable purpose is meant, the right of Wakif is extinguished and the ownership is transferred to the Almighty. In his book on Mohammadan Law (Fourth Edition) Volume I, Ammer Ali has said “Any person or whatever creed may create Wakf, but the law requires that the object for which the dedication is made should be lawful according to the creed of the dedicator as well as the Islamic doctrines. Divine approbation being the essential in the constitution of a Wakf if the object for which a dedication is made is sinful, either according to the laws of Islam or to the creed of the dedicator it would not be valid.” This shows that a non Muslim can also create a Wakf for any purpose which is religious under the Mohammedan Law. However, the object of the Wakf must be lawful according to the religious creed of the maker as well.
18. While dealing with the question whether the land belonging to appellant No.1 is Wakf property and is exempted from acquisition, the learned Single Judge analysed the pleadings and documents produced by the parties, referred to the concept of ‘Wakf’ propounded by Ammer Ali, outlines of Mohammadan Law by Prof. A.A.A. Fayzee (Chapter IX pg.274- 275), the judgments of the Privy Council and various High Courts in Vidya Viruthi v. Baluswami AIR 1922 PC 123, Mami v. Kallandar Ammal 54 I.A. 23, Motishah v. Abdul Gaffar AIR 1956 Nagpur 38, Arur Singh v. Badar Din AIR 1940 Lahore 119, Fuzlur Rahaman v. Anath Bandhu Pal (1911) 16 Cal. WN 114, Misra Hidavat Beg v. Seth Behari Lal AIR 1941 All. 225 and Jai Dayal v. Dewan Ram Saran Das AIR 1939
19. The Division Bench also rejected the argument that if Wakf created by non-Muslims is excluded from clause (d) then the same would be violative of Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution by observing that the said plea was not pressed before the learned Single Judge and even in the grounds of appeal, this plea was not taken. In the opinion of the Division Bench, by omitting to press the point before the learned Single Judge and not taking a ground in the memo of appeal, the appellants will be deemed to have abandoned this part of challenge to the acquisition proceedings.
20. The argument of Shri R. Venkataramani that by dedicating the land for a charitable purpose Rai Sahib Kedar Nath intended to create a Wakf lacks merit and deserves to be rejected. In the function organized on 25.12.1916 in Ramjas School, Kucha Ghasi Ram, Chandani Chowk, the dedicator is said to have made an announcement that he had created a Wakf and donated all his moveable and immoveable properties to the Society for charitable purposes but no evidence was produced before the learned Single Judge to prove this. Rather, the evidence produced before the learned Single Judge shows that even after the so called dedication of land for charitable purposes, the same continued in the name of Rai Sahib Kedar Nath till 1936 when he executed the release deed in favour of the Trust of which he himself was the founder trustee apart from being the Manager of the school and the President of the Society. The hawan ceremony performed by Rai Sahib Kedar Nath which was preceded by Samarpan and Sankalp also shows that he did not intend to create a Wakf. This is the reason why the objects of Ramjas College Society formed in 1917 do not make a mention of the Wakf allegedly created by Rai Sahib Kedar Nath. In the deed of settlement executed by the British Government, the institution was described as a public educational charity and not as a Wakf. Therefore, the concurrent finding recorded by the learned Single Judge and the Division Bench that what was created by Rai Sahib Kedar Nath was a public charitable trust and not a Wakf and the property acquired vide notification dated 13.11.1959 was not a Wakf property does not call for interference.
21. In the result, the appeal is dismissed. We would have saddled the appellants with exemplary costs but keeping in view the fact that they are running educational institutions for benefit of the community, we refrain from passing an order to that effect and leave the parties to bear their own costs. However, it is made clear that henceforth the respondents shall be free to use the acquired land for the purpose of planned development of Delhi and the appellant shall not be entitled to obstruct the proceedings which may be taken by the respondents for utilization of land for the purpose for which it was acquired or for any other public purpose.
[Asok Kumar Ganguly]