Land Conversion Policy Enforcement: State vs Property Owner

In a significant legal case before the Supreme Court of India, the issue of enforcing land conversion policies was deliberated in the matter involving the State and a property owner. The court’s ruling has far-reaching implications on property rights and adherence to government regulations. Explore the details of this case and its impact on the property ownership landscape.


  • On 30 September 1981, a lease of a plot was granted to the respondent by the State Government for a period of ninety years under the Government Grants Act 1895.
  • On 18 July 2003, the State government formulated a scheme to allow conversion of residential leasehold plots into freehold land.
  • On 15 September 2003, the respondent applied for conversion of the leasehold plot to freehold.
  • On 22 March 2014, the competent officer in the GA Department submitted a report regarding the position at the site and recomputed the conversion fee.
  • The respondent addressed communications regarding the fencing and encroachment on the plot at various instances.
  • Several notices and proceedings were initiated by the State, including a notice for eviction under the Orissa Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupants) Act 1972.
  • The respondent submitted affidavits and letters to the authorities in response to the communications and notices.
  • Various re-enquiries and rejections of pleas for recomputing conversion fees based on past rates were part of the proceedings.
  • High Court decision to allow the writ petition
  • Direction to the State to recompute the conversion fees as of 15 September 2003

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  • Learned counsel argued that only a small plantation was made outside the leasehold plot and should not be considered encroachment.
  • It was suggested that the communication dated 19 April 2006 might be ante-dated as it took a long time for the respondent to respond to the communication from 13 May 2004.
  • The counsel contended that conversion charges should be based on prevailing rates at the time of the decision, not the application date.
  • It was pointed out that the government’s policy required the applicant to not be in unauthorized occupation of government land for conversion.
  • On the contrary, counsel for the respondent argued that there was no encroachment on the land, as clarified in letters dated 19 April 2006 and 6 August 2008.
  • The senior counsel for the appellants emphasized that conversion rates should be based on the date of decision, citing the Chennai Metropolitan Developoment Authority v. Prestige Estates Project Ltd. case.
  • The appellants’ counsel asserted that an encroachment was made by the respondent adjacent to the leasehold plot, and the policy mandated removal of encroachments.
  • State’s delay in considering the application does not justify increased rates being imposed on the respondent.
  • The recent decision in Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority case relied on precedents like State of Tamil Nadu v Hind Stone and Howrah Municipal Corporation v Ganges Rope Co Ltd.
  • One of the policy terms is that the applicant should not encroach on government land.
  • The High Court was correct in ruling that the rate at the time of application should be used to calculate conversion charges.
  • Applicants must adhere to the policy terms, including not encroaching on government land.
  • Submitting an application does not guarantee permission.

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  • The respondent moved the writ proceedings before the High Court in 2015, almost twelve years after the initial communication.
  • The letter dated 6 August 2008 contradicts the communication dated 19 April 2006 regarding encroachment.
  • The policy for conversion from leasehold to freehold must be strictly adhered to.
  • A notice to show cause was issued to the respondent on 28 December 2009.
  • Compliance with the policy is necessary to claim conversion to freehold.
  • The respondent addressed a communication on 6 August 2008 claiming compliance with the letter dated 19 April 2006.
  • State government’s policy states that encroachment on government land within Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation limits would make a lessee ineligible for conversion to freehold unless the encroachment is vacated.
  • High Court’s direction to recompute conversion charges was deemed unjustified as per the specific policy provisions.
  • Inspection report of 30 June 2010 confirmed that encroachment had not been vacated.
  • The respondent cannot claim conversion charges fixed as of the date of the application in 2003.
  • If the respondent felt the State had not acted on his representations, he should have sought a decision earlier through writ proceedings.

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  • The appeal is allowed and the impugned judgment of the High Court is set aside.
  • The respondent must comply with the directions given by the State government regarding conversion charges and make necessary payments.
  • Upon compliance, the application for conversion of land from leasehold to freehold should be processed quickly.
  • No costs are awarded in this case.
  • The writ petition filed by the respondent is dismissed.


Case Number: C.A. No.-009521-009521 / 2019

Click here to read/download original judgement

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