CALCUTTA HIGH COURT JUDGMENTS

Dr. Bimal Kumar Raj & Ors. VS The State of West Bengal and Ors.[CHC]-26/07/2019

In a democratic polity the larger interest of the populous has to be given weightage. The minuscule minority has to understand and accept the larger and more laudable need for overall development of the district and the economy of the State. Such larger interest is in the overall Socio-Economic development of the State. Employment generation, revenue income, poverty alleviation in an entire district must be given primacy over the small personal and individual shenanigans.

Act: Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894

IN THE HIGH COURT AT CALCUTTA

Constitutional Writ Jurisdiction
APPELLATE SIDE

BEFORE:- THE HON’BLE JUSTICE RAJASEKHAR MANTHA

W.P. No. 743 (W) of 2008

Dr. Bimal Kumar Raj & Ors. VS The State of West Bengal and Ors.

For the Petitioner Nos. 1-4 :

Mr. Asish Sanyal, Ld. Sr. Adv.

Mr. Debasish Das, Adv.
Mrs. Subha Chowdhuri, Adv.

For the Petitioner Nos. 5,6 : Mr. Ashok Nath Ghosh, Adv.

Mr. Kinkar Chandra Basu, Adv.
Mr. Younush Mondal, Adv.

For the State : Lalit Mohan Mahata, Adv.

Mr. Prasanta Behari Mahata, Adv.

Hearing Concluded On : 19.07.2019

Judgment On : 26.07.2019

Rajasekhar Mantha, J.:-

1. The petitioners, six in number, are all registered land owners under Mouza Ruisnda (A), J.L. 211, P. S. – Kharagpur, District – Paschim Medinipur. Their RS & LR plot numbers are 86/332, 135, 137 and 138. They seek quashing of land acquisition proceedings initiated under LAP case No. 14 of 06-07 corresponding to LA case No. 11 of 07-08.

2. The facts of the case are, inter alia, that by a notification published in the official gazette under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, an area of about 85 acres (3.4250 hectares) was notified for acquisition, by the State, for setting up an industrial estate called ‘Telecon and Allied Industrial Units’ on the said land. The gazette notification dated 27th November, 2006 invited all owners of land to submit their objections if any to such proposed acquisition. The acquisition of the land was done on a proposal of the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation Limited (WBIDC) a body wholly owned and controlled by the State of West Bengal which was the requiring body. The WBIDC put in Rs.50 Crores of funds to facilitate the acquisition.

3. Pursuant thereto the petitioners, inter alia, by a representation dated 23rd December, 2006 objected to the acquisition, inter alia, contending that the land was densely populated by cultivators and was primarily agricultural in nature. The petitioner No. 1 who is a medical practitioner intended to set up a Super Speciality Hospital thereat.

4. The petitioners also filed supplementary objections on 15th January, 2007 contending that (a) the land was being acquired for a private company and hence no public interest would be served. (b) There are other approach roads to the main land. (c) The petitioners’ plots are located in the corner of two high ways and are highly valuable. The earlier objections were also reiterated in the supplementary objections.

5. The petitioners were duly called for personal hearing in terms of Section 5A of the Act of 1894 and their objections were disposed of by a reasoned order passed by the Collector on 7th November, 2007.

6. Based on the said disposal of objection under Section 5A, the Collector by communication dated 13th November, 2007 recommended the acquisition to the State Government. Be it noted that the petitioners themselves had sought an adjournment of the initial notice of hearing that was fixed on 10th January, 2007 and filed the supplementary objection. While the Act did not conceive of filing of supplementary objections the State nevertheless accepted the same and duly considered both the petitioners’ objections under Section 5A of the Act of 1894.

7. The declaration under Section 6 of the Act was approved by the State Government on the 23rd of November, 2007 and published in the English and vernacular local newspapers on 25th and 26th November, 2007.

8. In fact both the declaration by the State Government under Section 6 and the decision of the State Government under Section 7 under which the Collector took order for acquisition of the land were decided in principle on the 23rd of November, 2007 itself.

9. It is relevant to note that out of 405 land owners/losers in respect of the 84 acres of land acquired, 400 persons neither challenged the acquisition nor filed any objection. The said 400 persons later accepted the award of compensation albeit some under protest. The compensation was paid by the State on funds supplied by the Collector. There is no other litigation pending in respect of the said acquisition.

10. The writ petition came to be filed by the 6 persons out of 405 land owners. Awards in respect of the 6 petitioners have also been passed. Compensation money was not, however, deposited in view of the pendency of the instant writ application.

11. Pointing out various omissions on the part of the State Authorities in applying with the provisions of Section 4, 5A, 6, 7 and 8, the petitioners contended that the process of acquisition suffers from infirmity and illegality and cannot be sustained, and the writ petition was filed. The State filed its affidavit in opposition and the petitioners a reply. A supplementary affidavit was also filed by the petitioners.

12. The petitioners would first argue that consideration of objection under Section 5A of the said Act of 1894 is not a mechanical exercise. The objections must be dealt with comprehensively by the Collector and must indicate application of mind in such process. Reliance in this regard is placed on the decision of Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited Vs. Darius Shapur Chenai & Ors. reported in (2005) 7 SCC 627 at Paragraph 15, 18 and 19 are particularly relied upon. The Paragraph 18 of the said decision is set out hereinbelow.

“18. In view of the fact that the action required to be taken by the State Government is distinct and different from the action required to be taken by the Collector; when the ultimate order is in question it was for the State to satisfy the court about the validity thereof and for the said purpose the counter-affidavit filed on behalf of a Collector cannot be held to be sufficient compliance with the requirements of law. The job of the Collector in terms of Section 5-A would be over once he submits his report. The Land Acquisition Collector would not know the contents of the proceedings before the State and, therefore, he would be incompetent to affirm an affidavit on its behalf.”

13. Applying the aforesaid dicta to the facts of the instant case, it appears from the order dated 31st October, 2007 that the petitioners’ objections were duly considered by the Collector. The petitioners were allowed to file a supplementary objection in addition to their original objection. The order of the Collector specifically records that the petitioners have neither been able to produce any plans nor shown to have taken any steps towards alleged proposal for establishment of Super Speciality Hospital. The location of the land was shown to be in harmony to the object and purpose of the acquisition. It was also demonstrated that the land was not been acquired for the purpose of any particular private individual company but for setting up of an industrial park.

14. It is useful to refer to the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Raghbir Singh Sehravat Vs. the State of Haryana and Ors. reported in (2012) 1 SCC 792 at Paragraph 39 and 40 cited by Mr. Mahata, Counsel for the State. The Supreme Court had laid down as follows at Paragraph 40:

“40. Though it is neither possible nor desirable to make a list of the grounds on which the landowner can persuade the Collector to make recommendations against the proposed acquisition of land, but what is important is that the Collector should give a fair opportunity of hearing to the objector and objectively consider his plea against the acquisition of land. Only thereafter, he should make recommendations supported by brief reasons as to why the particular piece of land should or should not be acquired and whether or not the plea put forward by the objector merits acceptance. In other words, the recommendations made by the Collector must reflect objective application of mind to the objections filed by the landowners and other interested persons.”

15. It is clear from the above that the objections of the land owners must shown that the land proposed to be acquired is not suitable for the purpose for which acquisition was being made and that there is alternative land available to meet the requirement of acquisition. The objections filed by the petitioners do not clearly fulfil the aforesaid requirements. It could, therefore, be said that no substantial objection was raised by the petitioners under Section 5A of the Act of 1894.

16. The next objection of the petitioners is that the declaration under Section 6 of the Act, which is mandatorily required to be made within one year of the date of notification under Section 4 (1) of the Act of 1894, has been made one day after the expiry of statutory period of one year stipulated under Section 6 (1) Proviso (ii) of the said Act.

17. Reliance has been placed by the petitioners on the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Ashok Kumar and Ors. Vs. State of Haryana and Anr. reported in (2007) 3 SCC 470. In the said decision at Paragraph 14-17 the Hon’ble Supreme Court laid

down as follows:

“14. Proviso (ii) appended to sub-section (1) of Section 6 of the Act clearly debars making of any declaration in respect of any particular land covered by a notification issued under sub-section (1) of Section 4 after the expiry of one year from the date of publication thereof. Explanation (1) appended to the said proviso, however, stipulates that in computing any of the periods referred to in the first proviso, the period during which any action or proceeding to be taken in pursuance of the notification issued under Section 4(1), is stayed by an order of a court, shall be excluded. On a plain reading of the aforementioned provisions, there cannot be any doubt whatsoever that the period which is required to be excluded would be one, during which the action or proceeding taken was subjected to any order of stay passed by a competent court of law.

15. Provisions of the Act should be construed having regard to the purport and intent thereof. Section 6 of the Act is beneficent to the landowners.

16. In Hindustan Petroleum Corpn. Ltd. v. Darius Shapur Chenai [(2005) 7 SCC 627] , it was held: (SCC p. 640, para 29)

“29. The Act is an expropriatory legislation. This Court in State of M.P. v. Vishnu Prasad Sharma [AIR 1966 SC 1593] observed that in such a case the provisions of the statute should be strictly construed as it deprives a person of his land without consent. [See also Khub Chand v. State of Rajasthan [AIR 1967 SC 1074] and CCE v. Orient Fabrics (P) Ltd. [(2004) 1 SCC 597] ]”

17. We have noticed hereinbefore that the proviso appended to sub-section (1) of Section 6 is in the negative term. It is, therefore, mandatory in nature. Any declaration made after the expiry of one year from the date of the publication of the notification under sub-section (1) of Section 4 would be void and of no effect. An enabling provision has been made by reason of the Explanation appended thereto, but the same was done only for the purpose of extending the period of limitation and not for any other purpose. The purport and object of the provisions of the Act and in particular the proviso which had been inserted by Act 68 of 1984 and which came into force w.e.f. 24-9-1984 must be given its full effect. The said provision was inserted for the benefit of the owners of land. Such a statutory benefit, thus, cannot be taken away by a purported construction of an order of a court which, in our opinion, is absolutely clear and explicit.”

18. In the instant case admittedly the notification under Section 4 was published on the 27th of November, 2006. The principal and supplementary objections of the petitioners were considered under Section 5A on or before 31st October, 2007. The declaration under Section 6 of the Act was published in local and vernacular, wildly circulated newspapers on the 24th and 25th of November, 2007 that is before the expiry of the deadline on the 26th of November, 2007. The publication in the gazette, however, occurred on the 27th of November, 2007. It would be hyper technical, farfetched and pedantic to hold that the delay of one day in the instant context would be fatal to the acquisition process, as the publication in the local newspapers was done on the 24th and 25th November, 2007.

19. It appears to this Court that the petitioners having been allowed adjournment of the hearing under Section 5A also having been allowed to file supplementary objections with benevolence by the State are now being used against State to allege delay for a period of one day to assail the acquisition process. This Court sees absolutely no reason whatsoever, to allow the petitioners to do so. In any event publication having occurred in local newspapers on the 24th and 25th admittedly to the knowledge of the petitioners, cannot be lost sight by this Court. The delay of one day, if at all, in the particular facts of the case cannot be fatal to the acquisition process. The petitioners’ contention in this regard, is therefore, liable to be and is rejected.

20. The next argument advanced by the petitioners is absence of any public purpose for the acquisition process. The petitioners would argue that the expression ‘Telecon and allied industries’ must be understood to mean that the acquisition was being made for the benefit of the Telecon, a private company. The expression allied industries according to the petitioners would mean associates of M/s. Telecon, a private company. It was also argued by the petitioners that there can be no public purpose in acquiring land for the benefit of a private company.

21. Mr. Mahata, counsel for the State, argued that the expression “allied industries” meant a large number of independent and other organisation both private and public not necessarily related to Telcon. The purpose of acquisition was to improve socio-economic condition of the area, generate employment, that consequently lead to the overall development of the area, the district and consequently of the State. The expression public purpose has been explained in detail in the case of Kedar Nath Yadav Vs. State of West Bengal reported in (2017) 11 SCC 601 at Paragraphs 88, 89, 90 and 91. Public purpose can be achieved even if acquisition is made for setting up a large scale industry and manufacturing cars by a private organisation.

“88. It is also a well-settled principle of law that if the manner of doing a particular act is prescribed under any statute the act must be done in that manner or not at all. In Babu Verghese v. Bar Council of Kerala [Babu Verghese v. Bar Council of Kerala, (1999) 3 SCC 422] , this Court has held as under: (SCC pp. 432-33, paras 31-32)

“31. It is the basic principle of law long settled that if the manner of doing a particular act is prescribed under any statute, the act must be done in that manner or not at all. The origin of this rule is traceable to the decision in Taylorv. Taylor [Taylor v. Taylor, (1875) LR 1 Ch D 426] which was followed by Lord Roche in Nazir Ahmad v. King Emperor [Nazir Ahmad v. King Emperor, 1936 SCC OnLine PC 41 : (1935-36) 63 IA 372] who stated as under: (SCC OnLine PC)

‘… where a power is given to do a certain thing in a certain way, the thing must be done in that way or not at all.’

32. This rule has since been approved by this Court in Rao Shiv Bahadur Singh v. State of Vindhya Pradesh [Rao Shiv Bahadur Singh v. State of Vindhya Pradesh, AIR 1954 SC 322

: 1954 Cri LJ 910] and again in Deep Chand v. State of Rajasthan [Deep Chand v. State of Rajasthan, AIR 1961 SC 1527 : (1961) 2 Cri LJ 705] . These cases were considered by a three-Judge Bench of this Court in State of U.P. v. Singhara Singh [State of U.P. v. Singhara Singh, AIR 1964 SC 358 : (1964) 1 Cri LJ 263 (2)] and the rule laid down in Nazir Ahmad case [Nazir Ahmad v. King Emperor, 1936 SCC OnLine PC 41 : (1935-36) 63 IA 372] was again upheld. This rule has since been applied to the exercise of jurisdiction by courts and has also been recognised as a salutary principle of administrative law.”

89. In the instant case, what makes the acquisition proceedings perverse is not the fact that the lands were needed for setting up of an automobile industry, which would help to generate employment as well as promote socio-economic development in the State, but what makes the acquisition proceedings perverse is that the proper procedure as laid down under Part VII of the LA Act read with the Rules was not followed by the State Government. The acquisition of land for and at the instance of the Company was sought to be disguised as acquisition of land for “public purpose” in order to circumvent compliance with the mandatory provisions of Part VII of the LA Act. This action of the State Government is grossly perverse and illegal and void ab initio in law and such an exercise of power by the State Government for acquisition of lands cannot be allowed under any circumstance. If such acquisitions of lands are permitted, it would render entire Part VII of the LA Act as nugatory and redundant, as then virtually every acquisition of land in favour of a company could be justified as one for a “public purpose” on the ground that the setting up of industry would generate employment and promote socio-economic development in the State. Surely, that could not have been the intention of the legislature in providing the provisions of Part VII read with Section 3(f) of the LA Act.

90. From a perusal of the materials on record from the original files, the relevant extracts from the letters addressed by TML to the State Government of West Bengal and the Cabinet Notes which have been extracted and discussed supra, it becomes clear that in the instant case, the lands in question were acquired by the State Government for a particular company (TML), at the instance of that company. Further, the exact location and site of the land was also identified by TML. Even the notifications issued under Sections 4 and 6 of the LA Act clearly state that the land in question was being acquired for the “Small Car Project” of TML. In view of the foregoing reasons, by no stretch of imagination can such an acquisition of lands be held to be one for “public purpose” and not for a company. If the acquisition of lands in the instant case does not amount to one for the company, I do not know what would.

91. In view of the aforesaid categorical findings recorded by me based on the materials on record, including the Cabinet Memo, minutes of meetings between representatives of the State Government and TML as well as the notifications issued under Sections 4 and 6 of the LA Act, 1894, it is clear that the acquisition of lands in the instant case is for the company (TML). Admittedly, the procedure for acquisition as contemplated under Sections 39, 40 and 41 of Part VII of the LA Act read with Rules 3, 4 and 5 of the Land Acquisition (Companies) Rules, 1963 has not been followed, as the acquisition was sought to be guised as one for “public purpose” under Sections 3(f)(iii), (iv) and (vii) of the LA Act. The acquisition of land in the instant case in favour of the Company is thus, improper for not following the mandatory procedure prescribed under Part VII of the LA Act and the Rules and therefore the acquisition proceedings are liable to be quashed.”

22. It has already emerged from the facts related above that the WBIDC is wholly owned and controlled by the State of West Bengal is the requiring body for the acquisition. The said WBIDC has put in funds to the extent of Rs.50 crores for the purpose of the aforesaid acquisition as declared in their proposal dated 9th September, 2006. The land losers were paid out of such funds put in by the WBIDC.

23. The instant acquisition process, therefore, fulfils requirements of Section 6 since the 400 land losers have been paid out of funds put in by the WBIDC, the Requiring Body. Reference is made to the case of Urmila Roy and Ors. Vs. Bengal Peerless Housing Development Company Limited and Ors. reported in (2009) 5 SCC 242 particularly Paragraphs 38-44. The said industrial complex and/or a portion thereof is today called the ‘Vidyasagar Industrial Park’.

Paragraph 38 and 44 of the Urmila Roy Case (supra) is set out hereinbelow.

“38. A perusal of the second proviso and Explanation 2 of Section 6 in particular reveals that if the compensation awarded for the property is paid substantially out of the funds of a corporation owned or controlled by the State, such compensation will be deemed to be paid out of public funds and as such would satisfy the test of acquisition for a public purpose.

44. In the present case, as already mentioned above, we find that a substantial part of the compensation has, indeed, been paid by the State Government or by the Housing Board which clearly satisfies the test of public purpose. In this background, we endorse the finding of the Division Bench that the procedure envisaged in Part II and not in Part VII of the Act would be applicable. This is precisely what has been done.”

24. The petitioners next argued that by reason of non-deposit of the compensation money with the concerned Collector or the Court, the acquisition process is vitiated. The said issue arose in the context of The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013.

25. The consequence of any non-deposit of compensation is not relevant in the context of the Act of 1894. Admittedly the matter is sub-judice pending decision before a larger Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court on reference since the year of 2008.

26. The petitioners have obtained interim orders from Court restrain the State from taking steps in furtherance of the acquisition process. The State could not, therefore, have made the deposit and it does not lie in the mouth of the petitioners to, on one breath obtain interim orders against the State and in the same breath argue that non-deposit of compensation in Court as invalided acquisition proceedings. Reference must be made to Paragraph 155 of the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Indore Development Authority Vs. Shailendra (through legal representative) & Ors. reported in (2018) 3 SCC 412.

“ Doctrine of Impossibility

155. In several cases it is often seen that the landowners are not ready to accept the compensation even though they have been offered the same; they have either refused to accept or have filed writ applications questioning the land acquisitions. Further, it is also observed, that repeatedly, successive writ applications have also been filed by the persons who have purchased the property after issuance of notification under Section 4 and, in some instances, even after passing of the award, possession taken and when the land has absolutely vested in the State Government, that such persons are calling into question the land acquisition. We have come across several cases when the challenges to acquisition have been negatived right up to this Court but, undeterred by the same, fresh round of litigation is, thereafter, started again, with the cause again being agitated either by the same persons or by some other such purchasers. It has come to our notice that now, after the coming into force of the 2013 Act, unsavoury attempts are being made to grossly misuse the process of law by moving such petitions, and asserting therein that though they themselves might not have accepted the compensation, and have refused to accept the same, but, since it has “not been paid to them”, by making deposit in court, or they have remained in the actual possession of the land, though panchnama of taking possession might have been drawn, as such, land acquisition has lapsed. The aforementioned assertions are being made; notwithstanding even earlier judicial finding that possession had been taken by drawing panchnama, etc. If Section 24 is interpreted in the method and manner so as to reopen all the cases, notwithstanding the fact that the landowners, or as the case may be their successors-in-interest are themselves responsible for not accepting or illegally refusing to accept the compensation, or that they have, in an illegal manner, re-entered into possession of land, then it becomes, and it has, in fact, become, virtually impossible for the State Governments to save and carry into effect the much-needed acquisition of the land, at the cost of public interest, leaving it with no viable legal defence with which to save the acquisition in such proceedings made decades before.”

27. In view of the above dicta of the Supreme Court as above, the argument of the petitioners in this regard cannot be sustained.

28. The petitioners would also argue that in terms of Section 8 of the said Act of 1894, the petitioners’ lands have not been demarcated. The petitioners argue that only portions of plots of land owned by them has been proposed to be acquired as already indicated in the facts of the narrated case hereinabove. The petitioners, therefore, contend that the process of acquisition is not complete. This Court finds that the answer to such argument has partially been addressed in answer to the previous point that the pendency of the instant writ application and the interim orders obtained by the petitioners could have prevented the State from taking steps under Section 8 of the aforesaid Act of 1894. In any event demarcation is but procedural matter since the extent and location of the part of the petitioners’ land has already been indicated in the notification and declaration.

29. The petitioners would thereafter argue that the market price of their land proposed to be acquired is much higher than what was actually offered to them. The petitioners, therefore, complain of inadequacy of compensation. The remedy of the petitioners according to this Court lies invoking the provisions of Section 18 of the Act of 1894 where a land loser, if not satisfied with the amount of compensation awarded can always seek reference and pray for actual assessment of compensation payable to him before the District Judge concerned. Admittedly the value of the land as stood on the date of issuance of the notification under Section 4 is what the petitioner would be entitled to. The petitioners’ argument is, therefore, weak and cannot be a ground to interfere with the acquisition proceedings.

30. The petitioners would lastly argue that the prior mandatory environmental clearance as required in the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board Vs. Sri C. Kenchappa & Ors. reported in AIR 2006 Supreme Court 2038 at Paragraph 97 has not been followed in the instant case. It must be noted firstly that the acquired lands are not purely agricultural. The state of West Bengal does not have a body called State Industrial Areas Development Board, similar to the State of Karnataka. The Industrial Units to be set up in the said Industrial Parks shall have to take mandatory environment clearance from the State Pollution Control Board. Hence the process of acquisition cannot be faulted on such score.

31. It has already been indicated, hereinabove, that out of 405 land losers 400 of them have already accepted compensation. It would be extremely unfair in the larger interest of the State and particularly the development of area concerned to interfere and thereby upset the instant process of land acquisition at the instance of 6 persons out of 405. It would useful to set out paragraphs 3 and 4 of the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of General Manager, Telecommunication and Anr. Vs. Dr. Madan Mohan Pradhan and Ors. reported in 1995 Supp. (4) SCC 268 Paragraph 3 and 4.

“3. The crucial question that arises for consideration is whether the High Court was right and justified in interfering with the acquisition. It is seen that out of the extent of Ac. 3.589, the claim of the respondents is only Ac. 0.240 dec. In other words, only around 1162 sq. yards. All others had accepted the award, a few of them under protest. It is common knowledge that possession would always be taken under a memo and handing over also would be under a memo. It is a recognised usual practice in all the acquisition proceedings. By operation of Section 17(1) even before award could be made, the Land Acquisition Officer is entitled to take possession of the land. He did so. The time mentioned in Section 9 stood expired by then. Even otherwise, award was made on 2-11-1976. By operation of Section 16 of the Act right, title and interest in the land vested in the Government absolutely free from all encumbrances. Thereby the Government became the absolute owner with effect from 12-4-1976. This Court in the case of Satendra Prasad Jain v. State of U.P. [(1993) 4 SCC 369] had held that once possession has been taken validity of the notification under Section 4(1) and declaration under Section 6 cannot be gone into and Section 11-A does not apply.

4. It is already seen that the possession having already been taken on 12-4-1976 and vested in the Government free from all encumbrances and many others having accepted the award and some had received the compensation under protest, the High Court was wholly unjustified in interfering with the acquisition. We have seen the plan produced before us which would indicate that the land acquired comprises the establishment of officers’ building and 2000 electronic exchange. Under these circumstances, it would be highly inconvenient to exclude this land from acquisition. The purpose of enquiry under Section 5-A is only to show that any other convenient and suitable land would be available other than the land sought to be acquired, or there is no public purpose. This issue would become an academic once the construction started and was in progress. The ratio in the case of Oxford English School v. Govt. of T.N. [(1995) 5 SCC 206] has no application to the facts of these appeals. In that case, neither the award was made before the amendment act has come into force nor was possession taken. In these circumstances, this Court held that declaration under Section 6 was invalid and direction given by the High Court to conduct enquiry under Section 5-A, after three years had expired, is illegal. Section 4(1) also stood lapsed by operation of proviso to Section 6 of the Act. Therefore, the ratio is clearly inapplicable to the facts of these appeals.”

32. In the instant case the Hon’ble Supreme Court had frowned upon interference with entire acquisition process at the instance of miniscule minority when the majority had accepted the same. In a democratic polity the larger interest of the populous has to be given weightage. The minuscule minority has to understand and accept the larger and more laudable need for overall development of the district and the economy of the State. Such larger interest is in the overall Socio-Economic development of the State. Employment generation, revenue income, poverty alleviation in an entire district must be given primacy over the small personal and individual shenanigans. Hence even assuming though not accepting that the objections of the six persons out of 405 land losers may have some merit, the same cannot be allowed to override the interest of greater public good.

33. In the aforesaid circumstances and particularly in the reference of the aforesaid Pradhan decision (supra), this Court is of the view that this writ petition cannot be sustained and is liable to be dismissed.

34. The rejection of the writ application shall, however, not bar the petitioners from seeking a reference under Section 18 of the aforesaid Act for revision of amount of compensation.

35. The original records pertaining to the subject acquisition process are returned to the Counsel for the State.

36. There shall be no order as to costs.

37. Urgent Xerox certified servers copy of this judgment, if applied for, be supplied to the parties on urgent basis.

(Rajasekhar Mantha J.)

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