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One should be informed about the accusation against him: In Bombay high court

The aspect of critique conveys that someone has done something wrong when you make an allegation against them. The allegation against the petitioner should have been notified before pressing charges. This Judgment was pronounced by A. S. CHANDURKAR AND SMT. M.S. JAWALKAR, J J on 28.01.2022 in GOPAL S/O BABULAL AGRAWAL V. DIVISIONAL COMMISSIONER, AMRAVATI AND OTHERS.

Facts of the case – Petitioner, is running firecracker shops and godowns on Survey No.86 at Mouza Shirajgaon, Taluka Khamgaon, District Buldana, according to a no-objection certificate granted by the Additional District Magistrate, Buldana on 17.03.1997. The petitioner claims that he has been operating the company mentioned above without interruption from that time. On October 10, 2018, respondent no.3 applied with the District Magistrate, requesting that the no-objection certificate granted to the petitioner be canceled because the business described above was being conducted in violation of the provisions of the Explosives Rules, 2008 (for short, the Rules of 2008). Various flaws were discovered during the inspection, prompting the District magistrate to issue a show-cause notice to the petitioner, requiring him to explain why the no-objection certificate obtained earlier should not be revoked. On the other hand, the Divisional Commissioner asked the District Magistrate to investigate if a suitable license for non-agricultural use of the land where the petitioner’s company was run had been given. The petitioner, who was aggrieved by the previous rulings, went to the High Court.

In support of the writ petition, Renuka Sirpurkar, learned counsel for the petitioner, claimed that the District Magistrate and Divisional Commissioner acted mechanically in canceling the no-objection certificate without considering the relevant applicable provisions the Act of 1884 and the Rules of 2008. According to the scheme of the Rules of 2008, in the case of awarding a no-objection certificate, the petitioner was given a no-objection certificate after completing the appropriate procedure.

The challenged orders were supported by Ms. Nivedita Mehta, learned Assistant Government Pleader for respondent nos. 1 and 2. The no-objection certificate was revoked correctly, according to the petitioner, because the godowns were operated on property that had not been changed to non-agricultural use. Rule 115(1)(c) of the Rules of 2008 applied to the activities conducted since it was related to citizen safety. The contested action was taken after the petitioner was given a complete chance to present his case.

The challenged decisions were also supported by Shri Anil Mardikar, learned Senior Advocate for respondent no.3. According to him, a thorough reading of the District Magistrate’s ruling, as verified by the Divisional Commissioner, revealed that the authorities had taken public safety into account while canceling the no-objection certificate. Despite receiving limited authorization to use the godown initially, the petitioner developed his company without changing the property to non-agricultural use.

The Learned Judge contended that the District Magistrate and the Divisional Commissioner observed that no proper authorization for non-agricultural usage of the lands where the godowns were located had been acquired. The District Magistrate and, later, the Divisional Commissioner, as authorities under the Maharashtra Land Revenue Code, 1966, had no question the power to investigate the matter. However, before proceeding with that action, the petitioner should have been notified of the accusation, and his answer to the claim that the property was not permitted for non-agricultural use should have been acquired. The petitioner received no such notification. The no-objection certificate, on the other hand, has been revoked for a different reason, notwithstanding the inadequacies identified in the show cause notice dated October 31, 2018, and the petitioner’s answer to the same. It would be illegal to take such a course of action.

The authorities ruled against the petitioner based on the petitioner’s grounds for not giving notice. It was not permitted for the authorities to go beyond the show cause notice and evaluate matters that were not covered, so surprising the petitioner. It was always available to the authorities to identify the anticipated action if such approval for non-agricultural use was not granted. The District Magistrate issued a notice citing flaws under the Rules of 2008; however, the no-objection certificate was revoked due to the lack of authority for the land’s transfer to non-agricultural use. The challenged orders cannot be upheld since this course does not comply with the law.

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Reviewed by Rangasree

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