04 March 2020
Supreme Court


Case number: C.A. No.-001998-001998 / 2020
Diary number: 31214 / 2017











Leave granted.

2. First  appellant,  Madhya  Pradesh  Housing  and  Infrastructure

Development  Board,  is a statutory board established under  the

Madhya Pradesh Housing and Infrastructure Development Board

Act, 1972 for the purpose of taking measures to deal with and for

satisfying  the  need  of  housing  accommodation  in  the  State  of

Madhya Pradesh and matters connected therewith.

3. Impugned judgment dated 26th July 2017 by the Indore Bench of

the High Court of Madhya Pradesh allows Writ Petition No. 7666

of 2015 preferred by the first and second respondents before us, Civil Appeal arising out of S.L.P.(C) No.26834 of 2017 Page 1 of 13


Vijay Bodana and Ravindra Bhati, by quashing and setting aside

the order dated 12th May 2008 of the Commissioner, Ujjain and the

order  dated 24th September 2008 of  the Deputy Director,  Town

and  Country  Planning,  Ujjain  (for  short  “T&CP”)  approving  the

change in the layout plan of Indira Nagar, Ujjain. The lease deeds

executed  by  the  appellant-board  in  favour  of  third-party

purchasers were declared null and void and not to be acted upon.

The land in question, it was directed, would be used as per the

original layout plan.

4. The appellant-board had developed the colony ‘Indira Nagar’ over

an area of 32 hectares in Ujjain, as per the layout plan sanctioned

by the T&CP on 11th September 1981. After the colony had been

in existence for about 23 years, in 2004 the appellant-board had

made an application for changing the land use of 1.52 hectares

earmarked for commercial shopping complex in the original layout

plan  to  residential  accommodation.  However,  the  request  for

amendment was rejected by the Deputy Director, T&CP vide order

dated 27.12.2004 and the appeal under Section 31 of the Madhya

Pradesh Nagar Tatha Gram Nivesh Adhiniyam, 1973 (for  short,

“the  Adhiniyam”)  before  the  Commissioner,  Ujjain  was  also

dismissed vide order dated 25th July 2005. On the revision petition

under Section 32 of the Adhiniyam, the State Government vide

Civil Appeal arising out of S.L.P.(C) No.26834 of 2017 Page 2 of 13


order dated 28th September 2006 clarified the legal position that

the appellant-board had not asked for a change in land use and

had asked for a modification of the layout plan approved by the

T&CP  which  was  permissible  under  the  provisions  of  the

Adhiniyam. The appellant-board, it was directed, could submit the

proposal  for  modification  before  the  Commissioner,  Ujjain  for

reconsideration. Thereupon, the Commissioner, Ujjain vide order

12th May  2008  had  directed  the  Deputy  Director,  T&CP to  re-

examine the request for modification and pass appropriate orders.

Pursuant to this order, the Deputy Director, T&CP approved the

modified layout plan vide order dated 24th September 2008.

5. The  impugned  judgment  allows  the  writ  petition,  which  was

preferred by the first and second respondents after nearly seven

years in 2015, inter alia holding that the Adhiniyam stands enacted

with the object to prevent unplanned and haphazard development

and  that  layout  plans  for  residential  schemes  are  prepared  to

provide for open spaces for various purposes like roads, gardens,

playgrounds  and  facilities  like  schools,  hospitals,  community

centres,  shopping  complex  etc.  Developers  like  the  appellant-

board  charge  extra  money  for  plots  at  preferential  locations

adjacent to or facing public amenities such as parks, roads, water

body,  shopping  complex,  etc.  The  allottees  accordingly  pay

Civil Appeal arising out of S.L.P.(C) No.26834 of 2017 Page 3 of 13


extra/higher charges at the time of purchase with an expectation

to avail and enjoy the advantages of such amenities. Therefore,

the developer cannot be permitted to change the status of land to

‘deceive’  the  allottees.  Applying  the  principle  of  promissory

estoppel, it has been held that the appellant-board must develop

the land according to the original plan shown to the allottees at the

time of purchase. Further, Ujjain Municipal Corporation was not

heard and had no opportunity  to  represent  the case as to  the

change in the layout plan.

6. It is an undisputed position that the State Government vide order

dated  28th  September  2006,  while  partly  allowing  the  revision

petition,  had  directed  the  appellant-board  to  file  a  revision

application  before  the  Commissioner,  Ujjain  observing  that  the

application moved by the appellant-board was not for a change in

land use but for a change in the ‘approved’ plan. The appellant-

board as permitted had filed the revision application on which the

Commissioner, Ujjain vide order dated 12th May 2008 had asked

the Deputy Director, T&CP to consider the request for modification

of the layout plan. The Deputy Director, T&CP after examination

vide order dated 24th September 2008 had allowed the application

approving  the  modified  layout  plan.  Modifications,  as  noticed

below, are in conformity and in accord with the parameters of the

Civil Appeal arising out of S.L.P.(C) No.26834 of 2017 Page 4 of 13


development  control  norms.  The  impugned  judgment  does  not

hold that the procedure prescribed by and under the Adhiniyam

was violated. It has not been held, or even contended before us,

that the modification of the layout plan as approved by the Deputy

Director, T&CP pursuant to the order of the Commissioner, Ujjain,

is  contrary  to  the  Adhiniyam.  This  Court  in  Chairman,  Indore

Vikas Pradhikaran  v. Pure Industrial  Coke & Chemicals Ltd

and Others1 delineating the legislative scheme of the Adhiniyam

had  observed  that  town  and  country  planning  involving

development of land in towns and cities is achieved through the

process of land use, zoning plan and regulating building activities.

This is a highly complex exercise undertaken by experts on the

basis of study, experience and scientific research, which has to be

given  due  reverence.  Urban  planning  often  reconciles  varied

concerns and interests, both public and private, and thus ensures

better living conditions. A clear distinction was drawn amongst the

regional development plans, town development or zonal plans and

layout plans of  a colony.  Elucidating the manner in which each

plan guides the development and use of land, it was held:

“37.  When  a  planning  area  is  defined,  the  same envisages  preparation  of  development  plan  and  the manner  in  which  the  existing  land  use  is  to  be implemented. A development plan in some statutes is also known as a master plan. It lays down the broad objectives and parameters wherewith the development

1 (2007) 8 SCC 705 Civil Appeal arising out of S.L.P.(C) No.26834 of 2017 Page 5 of 13


plan is to deal with. It also lays down the geographical splitting  giving  rise  to  preparation  and  finalisation  of zonal plans. The zonal plans contain more detailed and specific  matters  than  the  master  plan  or  the development  plan.  Town  planning  scheme  or  layout plan contains further details on plotwise basis. It may provide for the manner in which each plot shall be dealt with  as  also  the  matter  relating  to  regulations  of development.

xxx xxx Xxx

72.  Land  use,  development  plan  and  zonal  plan provided for the plan at macro-level whereas the town planning scheme is at a micro-level and, thus, would be subject to development plan. It is, therefore, difficult to comprehend that broad based macro-level planning may  not  at  all  be  in  place  when  a  town  planning scheme is prepared.”

Therefore,  the  development  plan,  zonal  plan  and  town

planning  schemes  of  the  land  are  distinct  and  each  have  a

different objective and purpose. The difference between the three

in  terms  of  the  Adhiniyam  was  highlighted  by  this  Court  in

Rajendra Shankar Shukla and Others v. State of Chhattisgarh

and Others2 in the following words:

“67.  The  town  development  scheme  is  always subservient  to  the  master  plan as well  as  the  zonal plan, as provided under Section 17 of  the 1973 Act, which reads as under:

“17.Contents  of  development  plan.  —  A development  plan  shall  take  into  account  any draft  five  year  and annual  development  plan of the district prepared under the Madhya Pradesh Zila Yojana Samiti Adhiniyam, 1995 (19 of 1995) in which the planning area is situated….”

2 (2015) 10 SCC 400 Civil Appeal arising out of S.L.P.(C) No.26834 of 2017 Page 6 of 13


68.  Master  plan  falls  within  the  category  of  broad development  plans and is  prepared only  after  taking into  account  the  Annual  Development  Reports prepared  by  constitutionally  elected  bodies  of  local panchayats  and  municipalities,  etc.  A zonal  plan  is mandated to be prepared only after the publication of the development plan. Section 20 of the Act reads thus:

“20.  Preparation of  zonal  plans.—The local authority may on its own motion at any time after the publication of the development plan, or  thereafter  if  so  required  by  the  State Government shall, within the next six months of such requisition, prepare a zoning plan.”

Further, Section 21 of the Act reads thus:

“21.  Contents  of  zoning  plan.—The  zoning plan shall enlarge the details of the land use as indicated in the development plan….”

(emphasis supplied)

Thus, it  is  evident  from the language of  Sections 20 and 21 of the Act, that a zonal plan can be prepared only in adherence to the development plan which in the present case is the Raipur Master Plan of 2021.

69. Next, Section 49 of the Act which provides for the provisions for which a town development scheme can be prepared, has to be read along with Section 21 of the Act, which clearly mentions that the land required for acquisition by the Town and Country Development Authority for the purpose of any development scheme has to be laid down in the zonal plan.

70. Therefore, a combined reading of Sections 17, 21 and  49  lays  down that  the  development  plan  is  the umbrella under which a zonal plan is made for the city. The zonal plan in turn allocates the land which could be acquired for town development schemes.

xxx xxx xxx

72.  The  importance  of  zonal  planning  lies  in  its distinguished  characteristic  which  lays  down  with sufficient  particularity  the  use  to  which  a  particular

Civil Appeal arising out of S.L.P.(C) No.26834 of 2017 Page 7 of 13


piece of land could be put. The object and purpose of the  1973  Act  itself  foresees  that  zonal  plan  is necessary for implementation of  a town development scheme. The preamble of the Act clearly discloses that a  town development  scheme is  at  best  a  vehicle  to implement the development plan and zonal plan. The object and purpose of the Act reads thus:

“An Act  to  make provision for  planning  and development and use of land; to make better provision for the preparation of development plans  and  zoning  plans  with  a  view  to ensuring town planning schemes are made in  a  proper  manner and  their  execution  is made effective, to….”

(emphasis supplied)

Therefore,  the  object  and  purpose  of  the  Act  also provides  that  a  town  development  scheme  can  be prepared in the presence of a zonal plan which in turn has  to  be  prepared  for  the  implementation  of  the development plan.”

If  the  aforesaid  aspects  and  the  difference  amongst  the

plans  are  kept  in  mind,  it  is  lucid  that  the  High  Court  has

misconstrued and misdirected itself by relying upon the principle

of  promissory  estoppel  to  hold  that  once  the  layout  plan  is

prepared the same cannot be modified or  changed. Change or

modification  is  permitted  under  the  Adhiniyam,  provided  the

modification/change  is  in  accordance  with  law  i.e.,  as  per  the

procedure, and satisfies the development norms and conditions of

the development plans, zonal plans and town planning schemes.

The modification cannot  be  struck down when the  law permits

such change which is in terms of the statute and the plans that

Civil Appeal arising out of S.L.P.(C) No.26834 of 2017 Page 8 of 13


have the force of law. As long as the layout plans conform to the

development control norms, the court would not substitute its own

opinion as to what principle or  policy would best  serve greater

public or private interest. It is not the case of the first and second

respondents that the procedure prescribed by the Adhiniyam was

not  followed  or  the  parameters  and  norms  prescribed  by  the

Adhiniyam,  the development  plan or  the zonal  plan have been

violated.  In  this  background,  we  fail  to  understand  how  the

modification in  the layout  plan which is  in  accordance with the

Adhiniyam could have been struck down.  

7. On facts and justification for change of land use from commercial

to residential, the impugned judgment ignores and glances over

the earlier position that the area was earmarked for development

and for construction of a shopping complex with 131 shops and

not earmarked as an open area, park or playground. It notices the

contention  of  the  appellant-board  that  as  per  Rule  49  of  the

Madhya Pradesh Bhumi Vikas Rules, 1984, the area required to

be earmarked for commercial purposes is 0.4 hectares whereas

the area reserved in the original layout plan was 1.52 hectares. It

is  an undisputed position the land earmarked for  the shopping

complex had not found demand and takers despite efforts. The

area was lying idle for more than 20 years, albeit more than 150

Civil Appeal arising out of S.L.P.(C) No.26834 of 2017 Page 9 of 13


shops had already come up in the residential  area.  As per the

appellant-board,  construction  of  131  shops  would  have  caused

congestion  and  would  have  adversely  impacted  the  density  of

people  living  and  using  the  area.  We  have  highlighted  these

aspects and facts which are vastly distinct, for the courts normally

frown upon, adversely comment and do strike down changes in

the land use from residential to commercial or industrial use for

obvious reasons.   

8. The writ petition challenging the orders dated 12 th May 2008 and

24th September 2008 was filed in 2015, nearly seven years after

the approval for modification was granted. In the meanwhile, 42

out of 52 plots had been sold to third parties for consideration. The

impugned judgment notices that many of these bonafide owner-

purchasers  had  completed  the  construction  and  some  houses

were in advanced stages of  construction.  While the High Court

has noticed and recorded these facts,  it  has failed to give due

credence to the delay, the change in position and creation of third-

party  rights  by  wrongly  applying  the  principle  of  promissory

estoppel and lis pendens. Innocent plot owners on whom the brunt

had fallen were not even heard before they were deprived and

denied their rights by the adverse order. Considerable delay and

laches  of  nearly  seven  years  in  approaching  the  court  had

Civil Appeal arising out of S.L.P.(C) No.26834 of 2017 Page 10 of 13


resulted  in  change  in  position  as  third-party  rights  had  been

created. In view of delay and laches, the High Court should not

have entertained the writ petition as 42 plot owners who had paid

money would suffer adverse consequences for no fault of theirs.

In Karnataka  Power  Corporation  Ltd.  and  Another  v.  K.

Thangappan  and  Another,3 this  Court,  after  citing State  of

M.P. and Others v. Nandlal Jaiswal and Others,4 had observed:

“9. It was stated in State of M.P. v. Nandlal Jaiswal that the High Court in exercise of its discretion does not ordinarily assist the tardy and the indolent or the acquiescent and the lethargic. If there is inordinate delay on the part of the petitioner  and such delay is  not  satisfactorily  explained, the High Court may decline to intervene and grant relief in exercise of its writ jurisdiction. It was stated that this rule is premised on a number of factors. The High Court does not ordinarily  permit  a  belated  resort  to  the  extraordinary remedy because it is likely to cause confusion and public inconvenience and bring, in its train new injustices, and if writ  jurisdiction is  exercised after  unreasonable delay,  it may  have  the  effect  of  inflicting  not  only  hardship  and inconvenience but  also injustice on third  parties.  It  was pointed  out  that  when  writ  jurisdiction  is  invoked, unexplained delay coupled with the creation of third-party rights in the meantime is an important factor which also weighs with the High Court in deciding whether or not to exercise such jurisdiction.”

9. The Ujjain Municipal Corporation was not made a party and had

no opportunity to represent their stand on the change in the layout

plan.  If  required and felt  necessary,  the High Court  could have

issued notice  to  the  Ujjain  Municipal  Corporation  and  obtained

their opinion. Stand of the State Government of Madhya Pradesh

3  (2006) 4 SCC 322. This judgment was later cited in Yunus (Baboobhai) A. Hamid Padvekar v. State of Maharashtra and Others, (2009) 3 SCC 281.

4 (1986) 4 SCC 566 Civil Appeal arising out of S.L.P.(C) No.26834 of 2017 Page 11 of 13


and  the  authorities  under  the  Adhiniyam,  supporting  the

modification,  was on record.  Normally  opposition and prejudice

should not be presumed, unless there are grounds and reasons.

Given  the  fact  that  the  change  in  the  present  case  was  from

commercial to residential, there was no ground and reason that

would suggest objection or opposition from the Ujjain Municipal


10. During the course of hearing before us, the appellant-board had

produced the original layout plan of Indira Nagar in which the land

in question was shown as reserved for a major shopping complex.

Adjacent to this land is the land earmarked for a primary school.

There are areas earmarked for a park/garden. Therefore, while we

allow the present appeal and uphold the modification of the layout

plan,  we  deem it  proper  to  direct  the  appellant-board  and  the

authorities to ensure that the areas/land earmarked for the primary

school and park/garden are not converted into residential  plots.

We also direct the appellant-board and respondent authorities not

to allot and sell any unsold residential plots. These plots which are

yet to be sold would be utilised for general public amenities like

park,  garden,  playground  etc.  The  appellant-board  and  the

authorities would act accordingly.

Civil Appeal arising out of S.L.P.(C) No.26834 of 2017 Page 12 of 13


11. The appeal is accordingly allowed in the above terms without any

order as to costs.

......................................CJI. (SHARAD A. BOBDE)

......................................J. (S. ABDUL NAZEER)

......................................J. (SANJIV KHANNA)

NEW DELHI; MARCH 04, 2020.

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