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Thursday, March 26, 2015

While deciding the representation, the authorities will particularly consider the following aspects: (a) Whether the land of the appellants herein, keeping in view the total area involved, be released as not required if the remaining land is sufficient for the purpose for which the said land is acquired? (b) Even if some more land is needed for the stated purpose, whether it would be possible to release the land of the appellants and acquire vacant agricultural or barren land nearby which may be more suitable? (c) It may also be kept in mind that the land of the appellants is not only Abadi land, the appellants have their residential houses or industrial/commercial premises as well. (d) The authorities may also keep in mind the location of the land of the appellants and consider as to whether different chunks of land owned by the appellants are scattered in between rest of the land acquired and on that count, is it possible or not to hive off the land of the appellants? 35) However, we make it clear that while affording this opportunity to the appellants to make a representation, we are not providing fresh cause of action to the appellants, though, we expect the respondents to consider the representation with open mind. 36) The upshot of the aforesaid discussion would be to allow these appeals partly in the manner indicated above. However, there shall be no order as to costs.

                                                                  REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                     CIVIL APPEAL NOS.3177-3178 OF 2015
              (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NOS.26770-26771 OF 2011)


|MOHAN SINGH GILL & ORS. ETC.               |.....APPELLANT(S)            |
|VERSUS                                     |                             |
|STATE OF PUNJAB & ORS. ETC.                |.....RESPONDENT(S)           |

                                   W I T H

                     CIVIL APPEAL NOS.3179-3180 OF 2015
              (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NOS.26779-26780 OF 2011)

                                   W I T H

                        CIVIL APPEAL NO.3181 OF 2015
                  (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NO.13124 OF 2012)
                                    A N D
                        CIVIL APPEAL NO.3182 OF 2015
                  (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NO.17407 OF 2012)

                               J U D G M E N T


A.K. SIKRI, J.
            Leave granted.

2)    These appeals arise out of the common judgment dated  April  29,  2011
passed by High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh whereby  number  of
writ  petitions  which  were  filed  challenging  the  acquisition  of  land
measuring 192.75  acres  vide  two  notifications,  both  dated  10.08.2009,
issued under Section 4  of  the  Land  Acquisition  Act,  1894  (hereinafter
referred to as the 'Act') were dismissed.  As  a  consequence,  validity  of
the notifications has been  upheld,  holding  that  acquisition  for  public
purpose for development of Missing Link-II  from  Dhandra  Road  to  Sidhwan
Canal  via  Malerkotla  Road,  Ludhiana  as  well  as  for  development   of
residential urban estate along proposed road from Dhandra  Road  to  Sidhwan
Canal via Malerkotla Road, Ludhiana, is just and proper.

3)    It is clear from the above that two notifications were issued  on  the
same day i.e. on 10.08.2009.  Vide first  notification,  land  was  acquired
for development of Missing Link-II on the route  mentioned  above.   By  the
second notification, land was sought to be acquired for the  development  of
residential urban estate along with the  proposed  road,  mainly  to  adjust
oustees of the above said road.  Land acquired  by  the  first  notification
was 192.75 acres whereas by  the  second  notification,  land  measuring  59
acres 1 kanal 12 marlas was acquired.   After  the  aforesaid  notifications
under Section 4 of the Act, two notifications both  dated  10.08.2009  under
Section 6 of the Act were issued and consequent thereupon, Award No.4  dated
07.08.2010 pertaining  to  the  first  notification  and  Award  No.3  dated
07.08.2010 pertaining to the second notification were passed.   Validity  of
all these notifications was the subject matter of the writ petitions.

4)     In  order  to  appreciate  the  present  dispute   in   its   correct
perspective, it is necessary to consider  some  important  background  facts
pertaining to construction of what has been termed  as  'Missing  Link-I'  -
which is inextricably linked to the present acquisition.  It is a matter  of
record that a bypass is being  constructed  to  connect  Ferozepur  Road  to
Sidhwan Canal aiming at decongesting Ludhiana City of the traffic  problems.
 Major portion of the road had already been constructed,  which  were  shown
in the site plan filed in the High Court as Annexure R/1/7.   From  point  A
to point D and again from point E to point F,  these  portions  had  already
been constructed.  However, there were  two  Missing  Links  namely  between
point D to point E and point F to point G.  Missing Link from point D  to  E
has been shown as 'Missing Link-I'.  The  respondent-State  had  issued  the
notification dated 12.05.2003 under  Section  4  read  with  Section  17(4),
followed by the notification dated 13.05.2003 under Section  6,  to  acquire
land measuring 11 acres 3 kanal 9 marlas for construction of  Missing  Link-
I.    Pursuant  thereto,  the  land  was  acquired  vide  Award  No.1  dated
24.08.2005. This acquisition was challenged but the  said  challenge  failed
as writ petitions were dismissed and decision of the High Court  was  upheld
by this Court as well.

5)          It is in this scenario, for  providing  road  from  point  F  to
point G (Missing Link-II), the impugned notification  dated  10.08.2009  was
issued for the aforesaid public purpose.  As per the Government, the  bypass
had been planned and realignment done keeping in view  the  availability  of
the land so that it may not affect the existing buildings and  in  order  to
solve the increasing traffic problems in future so as  to  ensure  free  and
smooth flow of the traffic.  The realignment  was  approved  by  the  Punjab
Regional and Town Planning and Development Board  (hereinafter  referred  to
as the 'Board') in its meeting dated 06.08.2009.  That led  to  the  passing
of Award No.4 dated 07.08.2010.

6)     Simultaneously,  second  set  of  notifications   were   issued   for
acquisition of land for development of residential urban  estate  to  adjust
oustees of the above said road.   According  to  the  Government,  with  the
acquisition of the land to complete Missing Link-II, the  residents  of  the
said land had to be ousted.  In order to adjust  those  oustees,  it  became
necessary to acquire the land for development of  residential  urban  estate
to rehabilitate such oustees.

7)    Insofar as first notification  is  concerned,  it  was  challenged  on
various grounds including the plea that the said  acquisition  for  proposed
road i.e. Missing Link-II, is an inviable option and there is total lack  of
application of mind on the part of the  respondent-Government  in  acquiring
the land in question.  It  was  also  argued  that  land  was  not  utilised
entirely for the construction of the aforesaid proposed  road  i.e.  Missing
Link-II but a large portion of the acquired land was used for other  purpose
viz.  commercial  purpose  which  is  not  the   purpose   stated   in   the
notifications.  Number of other technical and legal  objections  were  taken
including the objection that the proposed bypass road has not been shown  in
the master  plan  and,  therefore,  the  same  could  not  be  developed  by
acquiring the land without first  making  amendments  in  the  master  plan.
However, none of these arguments have found  favour  with  the  High  Court.
Insofar as second notification is concerned, there is  not  much  discussion
in the impugned judgment and the counsel for all  the  parties  agreed  that
this Court itself should decide the issue on merits.

8)          Mr. Nidhesh Gupta, learned senior counsel who appeared in  three
appeals out of four, targeted the judgment of the High Court, insofar as  it
relates to the first acquisition namely  acquisition  of  land  for  Missing
Link-II is concerned, by raising following arguments:
            In the first place, he pleaded that the  land  in  question  was
utilised  for  the  purposes  different  from  what   is   stated   in   the
notification.  It was the submission that though  the  purpose  was  Missing
Link-II for development (Dhandra Road to Sidhwan Canal via Malerkotla  Road,
Ludhiana), as a matter of record, a large part  of  the  acquired  land  was
used  for  a  totally  different  purpose  viz.  commercial  purpose,  which
according to him is impermissible in law.  He referred to the replies  filed
by the official respondents wherein  the  factum  of  land  being  used  for
commercial purpose had been admitted.  He pointed  out  that  the  width  of
Missing Link-II had been kept at 450 feet whereas the proposed road is  only
200 feet and on both the sides two commercial pockets of 100  feet  and  150
feet respectively are going to be  developed.   He  also  pointed  out  that
objections were submitted under Section 5-A of the Act which related to  the
stated public purpose only.  As  the  use  of  part  of  the  land  for  the
commercial purpose was not stated in the  notification  and  the  appellants
were kept in dark, they could not file  objections  to  the  same  and  were
thereby deprived of their legitimate right  to  file  effective  objections.
He pleaded that it amounted to violation of the provisions  of  Section  5-A
of the Act by depriving the appellants from  giving  opportunity  to  submit
their objections to the aforesaid use of land which was not  stated  in  the
impugned  notifications.   He  further  argued  in  this  behalf  that   the
utilisation of land for purpose other  than  the  purpose  stated  not  only
defeats the right available under Section 5A of the Act but the  consequence
thereof would be to acquire the land under Section 17 of  the  Act  viz.  in
exercise of emergent powers and that  could not be  done  without  following
the procedure contained in that section.  Related submission of Mr.  Nidhesh
Gupta was that utilising the major chunk of land for  developing  commercial
area clearly showed that the land of the appellants was acquired to  finance
the project of constructing the road.  According to him, such an  action  is
per se arbitrary as land of the appellants could not be acquired for such  a
purpose thereby depriving them of their right to livelihood.  He  took  this
argument on a higher pedestal by submitting that such  an  act  amounted  to
violation of Article 21 of the Constitution.

9)    Another submission of Mr. Nidesh Gupta  was  that  the  proposed  road
(Missing Link-II) and the changes made therein are contrary  to  the  master
plan inasmuch as master plan does not  show  such  a  road  and,  therefore,
there could not be any construction  of  any  road  without  there  being  a
provision made in the master plan.  He referred  to  Section  77  of  Punjab
Regional and Town Planning and Development Act, 1995  which  prescribes  the
mandatory procedure that has to be followed without making  the  changes  in
the master plan and submitted that the construction of the road amounted  to
violation of this provision as well.

10)   Ms. S. Janani, who appeared for the other appellant led  by  Mr.  M.L.
Saggar, senior advocate, also highlighted the aforesaid  contentions  argued
by Mr. Nidhesh Gupta and elaborated the same with  facts  and  figures  from
the record.  In addition,  another  thrust  of  their  submission  was  that
alignment of the road was changed thereby creating Missing Link-II and  this
was not only arbitrary but without application of mind as well.

11)   Mr. Rakesh Khanna, learned Additional  Solictor  General,  argued  the
matter  on  behalf  of  respondent  No.3,  namely  Greater   Ludhiana   Area
Development Authority (GDADA), strongly refuting the  aforesaid  submissions
of the appellants.  He referred to  the  various  meetings  that  had  taken
place before the final decision was taken in respect of the  realignment  of
the road.  He was at pains  to  submit  that  it  was  a  bona  fide  policy
decision taken to complete the Missing Link-II inasmuch as other  route  for
completing  this  road  would  have  resulted  in  uprooting   the   settled
habitation in much more substantial measure.  In order  to  demonstrate  it,
learned senior counsel had drawn our attention to various maps as well.   He
also referred to the judgment of the High  Court  where  this  material  has
been noted and discussed elaborately, while upholding the acquisition.

12)   It  is  clear  from  the  aforesaid  that  in  so  far  as  the  first
notification is concerned, where the land is acquired  for  the  purpose  of
constructing Missing Link-II, it has  two  facets.   First  relates  to  the
construction of  the  road  itself,  popularly  known  as  Missing  Link-II.
Second facet thereof is the permissibility of the utilisation  of  the  part
of the land for commercial purpose which was not so stated in  the  impugned
notifications.

13)   Insofar as first aspect  is  concerned,  we  find  from  the  impugned
judgment that the High Court has dealt with this aspect  very  lucidly  with
precision.  As pointed out above, attempt of the counsel was to  demonstrate
that there already exist enough links and it was not  necessary  to  propose
the road.  It was also argued that the realignment was not a wise decision.

14)   Attempt was also made to point out that this purpose  for  which  land
was acquired had become redundant in the  changed  circumstances.   However,
after going into the matter in depth  and  examining  the  records,  we  are
satisfied that the High Court has correctly concluded that  it  is  for  the
authorities, who are engaged in the development and planning of a  city,  to
ascertain the need to acquire the land for creating infrastructure, such  as
roads etc.  It is a matter of record that their exists a road from  point  A
to point D and again from point E to point F.  There are two  Missing  Links
namely Missing Link-I from point D to  point  E  and  Missing  Link-II  from
point F to point G.  The land which was acquired for Missing Link-I,  almost
in similar circumstances, was subject matter of litigation but the  attempts
of the landholders failed right upto this Court  as  the  challenge  to  the
said notification was thwarted.

15)   We also find that there have been due deliberations by  the  competent
authorities deciding upon the realignment of the road  leading  to  proposed
Missing Link-II.  We do not find any arbitrariness in the exercise  done  at
the highest level inasmuch  as  the  Chief  Minister  himself  approved  the
revised plans.  It is not the function of this Court to compare the  Missing
Link-II with alternate route suggested by the appellants and to come to  the
conclusion which out of the two would be more appropriate.

16)   Insofar as argument predicated on the master plan  is  concerned,  the
High  Court  has  brushed  aside  this  very  argument  with  the  following
discussion:
      "Further the argument of the learned counsel for the  appellants  that
the proposed Bye Pass road has  not  been  shown  in  the  Master  Plan  and
therefore, the same cannot be developed by acquiring  the  land  is  without
any force.  As  shown  by  the  learned  counsel  for  the  respondents  the
realignment of the Missing Link-II which falls  in  Zonal  Plan-I  has  been
notified as per the provisions of the Punjab Act vide  notification  No.1379
dated 24.02.2011 Annexure R-1/8 and the same has been  shown  in  the  Zonal
Plan of zone No.1 Annexure R-1/9.  The argument of the learned  counsel  for
the appellants that the alleged realignment of the road has  not  been  done
in accordance with the provisions of Section 76/77 of  the  Punjab  Act,  is
also without any merit.  From the facts established on record, it  is  clear
that  the  changes  have  been  necessitated  which  have  arisen   out   of
implementation of the  proposals  as  made  in  the  master  plan  and  such
realignment has been made in public interest and after notification  of  the
same which is  clear  from  Annexure  R-1/8.   Interpretation  as  given  by
learned counsel for the appellants of Section 76 of  Punjab  Act  cannot  be
accepted.  Section 76 of Punjab Act reads as follows:

      "Amendment of Master Plan- (1) At any time after  the  date  on  which
the Master Plan for an area comes into operation, and at  least  once  after
every ten years, after that  date,  the  Designated  Planning  Agency  shall
after carrying out such fresh surveys as may be considered necessary  or  as
directed by  the  [State  Government]  prepare  and  submit  to  the  [State
Government], a Master Plan after  making  alterations  or  additions  as  it
considers necessary.

      (2)  The provisions of [sections 70 and 75] shall mutatis mutandis  as
far as may be possible, apply  to  the  Master  Plan  submitted  under  sub-
section (1)."


                 A perusal of Section 76(1) of Punjab Act clearly  indicates
that the Master Plan can be amended at any time after the date on which  the
Master Plan for an area comes into operation and not  after  10  years  from
such date as argued  by  the  learned  counsel  for  the  appellants.   Even
otherwise, the High Court is of the view that, in the present case,  Section
76 of Punjab Act has no applicability and in fact the realignment  has  been
done under Section 77 of the Punjab Act and, thus, there is no violation  of
the provisions of the Punjab Act.

17)   We are in agreement with the aforesaid  findings  arrived  at  by  the
High Court.  We would like to record here that in the  affidavit  dated  May
06, 2014 filed by the respondent-authorities,  it  is  specifically  averred
that the alignment of the Missing  Link-II  between  the  Railway  line  and
Sidhwan Canal/crossing Malerkotla Road has never been changed.   Just  below
the point where the Missing  Link-II  crosses  the  Malerkotla  Road  is  an
angular curve near village Gil (in  Hadbast  263).   This  is  explained  by
pointing out that in the map filed the 10 km long road  is  divided  into  6
segments: A-B already constructed,  B-C  already  constructed,  C-D  already
constructed.  D-E is Missing Link-I which has since been constructed in  the
year 2012-13.  E-F already constructed  and  F-G  is  the  Missing  Link-II.
Missing Link-II is further divided into  points  F  and  F1  i.e.  the  road
between Dhandra Road to Railway Crossing, F-1 to  F-2  the  Missing  Link-II
road between existing Railway Crossing and Malerkotla Road and F2 to G  i.e.
between Malerkotla Road and Sidhwan Canal.  Point  G  is  just  near  Lohara
village.  It is also pointed  out  that  in  the  blown-up  portion  of  the
Traffic & Transportation plan (which is not revenue  based)  of  the  Master
Plan again this road from Firozepur Road till Sidhwan  Canal  is  marked  as
Points A, B, C, D, E, F, F1, F2 and G.  The road crosses  the  Railway  Line
at point F1, the  existing  railway  crossing.   The  Missing  Link-II  road
crosses Malerkotla Road at point F2 just above point H, the curved  road  of
Gill Village at point H and ends at Point G, just near Village Lohara.   The
deponent has also filed Aks Shajra map, zonal plan of  the  area,  and  plan
showing alignment of Missing Link-II.  From these plans, an attempt is  made
to demonstrate that at no point of  time  there  is  any  variation  in  the
alignment of Missing Link-II between the portions F1  to  G,  be  it  Master
Plan,  Revenue  Plans  or  Zonal  Development  Plan.   The  only  change  in
alignment has been made between the portion F and F1 which was  necessitated
during the implementation of the Master Plan to  avoid  the  area  in  which
there was heavy construction existing.  The realigned road between  Point  F
and F1 is passing through open areas avoiding the constructed areas.

18)   We are, thus, satisfied on the basis of the records that the  plea  of
the appellants that the alignment of the road between Points F  and  G  from
Traffic & Transportation Plan of the Master Plan has been shifted  by  about
3 - 4.5 kms on the Northern side is not correct.

19)   As a consequence, insofar as need of  land  for  the  construction  of
Missing Link-II is concerned, the  same  stands  duly  established  and  for
acquisition of this chunk of land, there cannot be any exception.

20)   This leads us to the second facet  of  this  notification.   As  noted
above, the width of road for Missing Link-II  is  200  feet.   However,  the
land acquired is 450 feet.  Land beyond 200 feet on either  side  is  sought
to be utilised by constructing shops on both sides of  the  road.   We  have
already recorded the submissions of the appellants on  the  basis  of  which
this part of acquisition is questioned.  To recapitulate the  same  briefly,
it was argued :
(a)   such a purpose is not stated in the notification  which  mentions  the
acquisition only for the purpose of construction of Missing Link-II.   Under
the garb of this notification, the respondents cannot utilise  the  part  of
the land for commercial purpose.
(b)  In the absence of  any  such  purpose  mentioned  in  the  notification
issued under  Section  4  of  the  Act,  the  appellants  were  deprived  of
purposeful and effective opportunity to file objections  under  Section  5-A
of the Act.
(c)  The hidden purpose of utilising the major chunk of land for  developing
commercial area shows that the  land  of  the  appellants  was  acquired  to
finance the project of constructing the road. According to  the  appellants,
it is clearly impermissible.

21)   Learned counsel for the appellants has referred  to  the  judgment  of
this Court in Tulsi Co-operative Housing Society, Hyderabad  etc.  v.  State
of Andhra Pradesh and others etc.[1], wherein  this  Court  while  upholding
the acquisition, had  directed  that  lands  had  to  be  utilised  for  the
purposes for which they were acquired.  For the same  proposition,  judgment
in Narpat Singh etc. v. Jaipur  Development  Authority  and  Another[2]  was
relied upon.

22)   The respondents have attempted to meet this  challenge  by  explaining
that in the notifications it was categorically  stated  that  plans  of  the
land may be inspected in  the  office  of  the  Land  Acquisition  Collector
(LAC). The plans which were displayed in the office of the LAC and filed  on
record, show that this part of the land to be utilised  for  the  commercial
purpose.  The land owners were, therefore, fully made aware of  the  use  of
the land.  They were given an opportunity to  file  their  objections  under
Section 5-A of  the  Act.   However,  no  objection  was  submitted  by  the
affected persons alleging that development of commercial area along side  of
Missing Link-II was improper or should not be done.  On that  basis,  it  is
argued, relying on  the  decision  of  this  Court  in  the  case  of  Delhi
Administration v. Gurdip Singh Uban and Others[3], that those claimants  who
had not filed objections  to  the  Section  4  notification  cannot  now  be
permitted to contend before Court that the Section 5-A inquiry is vitiated.

23)   We have pondered over this  issue  in  depth  with  reference  to  the
record and find force in the submissions of  the  learned  counsel  for  the
appellants.   It  is  clear  from  the  facts  noted  above  that   in   the
notification dated 10.08.2009 issued under Section  4  of  the  Act,  public
purpose which is stated is "Missing Link-II for  development  (from  Dhandra
Road to Sidhwan Canal via Malerkotla Road), Ludhiana....".  Thus,  the  land
owners were informed that  the  land  is  sought  to  be  acquired  for  the
construction of Missing Link-II.  From the reading of this notification,  it
is difficult to visualize by a common person with reasonable  prudence  that
the part of land is sought to be exploited  for  commercial  development  as
well.  Obviously, when the purpose stated is construction of  Missing  Link-
II, the objections would be filed by land owners having focus  on  the  said
stated purpose in mind.  Had the land owners been told that  major  part  of
the land is going to be utilised for commercial purpose as well, they  would
have filed  their  objections  to  the  proposed  move.   With  no  specific
stipulation in this behalf in the notification under Section 4 of  the  Act,
the persons whose land was  sought  to  be  acquired  were  deprived  of  an
effective opportunity to file the objections under Section 5-A of  the  Act.
It hardly needs to be mentioned that filing of objections under Section  5-A
of the Act is, in substance, the only procedural  safeguard/right  given  to
the land owners.  It is for this reason that violation  of  Section  5-A  of
the Act has been treated as fatal by this Court in number  of  cases  as  it
becomes violative of principles  of  natural  justice.   The  importance  of
objections under Section 5-A of the Act has been highlighted  in  Usha  Stud
and Agricultural Farms  Pvt.  Ltd.  and  others  v.  State  of  Haryana  and
others[4] as under:
"23.  Section 5-A, which embodies the most important dimension of the  rules
of natural justice, lays  down  that  any  person  interested  in  any  land
notified under Section 4(1) may,  within  30  days  of  publication  of  the
notification, submit objection in writing against the  proposed  acquisition
of land or of any land in the locality to the Collector.  The  Collector  is
required to give the objector  an  opportunity  of  being  heard  either  in
person or by any person authorised by him or by pleader. After  hearing  the
objector(s) and making such further inquiry, as he may think necessary,  the
Collector has to make a report in respect of  land  notified  under  Section
4(1) with his recommendations on the objections and forward the same to  the
Government along with the  record  of  the  proceedings  held  by  him.  The
Collector can make different reports in  respect  of  different  parcels  of
land proposed to be acquired.



24.  Upon receipt of the Collector's report, the appropriate  Government  is
required to take action under Section 6(1) which lays  down  that  if  after
considering the report, if any, made under Section 5-A(2),  the  appropriate
Government is satisfied that any particular land  is  needed  for  a  public
purpose, then a declaration to that effect is required to be made under  the
signatures of a  Secretary  to  the  Government  or  of  some  officer  duly
authorised to certify its orders. This  section  also  envisages  making  of
different declarations from time to time in respect of different parcels  of
land covered by the same notification issued under Section  4(1).  In  terms
of Clause (ii) of the proviso to Section 6(1), no declaration in respect  of
any particular land covered by a notification  issued  under  Section  4(1),
which is published after 24.9.1989 can be made  after  expiry  of  one  year
from the date of publication of the notification. To put it  differently,  a
declaration is required to be made under Section 6(1) within one  year  from
the date of publication of the notification under Section 4(1).



25.  In terms of Section 6(2), every declaration made under Section 6(1)  is
required  to  be  published  in  the  Official  Gazette  and  in  two  daily
newspapers having circulation in the locality in which the land proposed  to
be acquired is situated. of these, at least one  must  be  in  the  regional
language. The Collector is also required  to  cause  public  notice  of  the
substance of such declaration to  be  given  at  convenient  places  in  the
locality. The declaration to be published under Section  6(2)  must  contain
the district or other territorial division in which  the  land  is  situate,
the purpose for which it is needed, its approximate area or a plan  is  made
in respect of land and the place where such plan can be inspected.



26.  Section 6(3) lays down that the declaration  made  under  Section  6(1)
shall be conclusive evidence of the fact that land is needed  for  a  public
purpose.



27.  After publication of the declaration under Section 6(1), the  Collector
is required to take order from the State Government for the  acquisition  of
land and cause it to be measured and planned (Sections 7 and  8).  The  next
stage is the issue of public notice and individual  notice  to  the  persons
interested in the land to file their  claim  for  compensation.  Section  11
envisages holding of an enquiry into the claim and passing of  an  award  by
the Collector who is required to  take  into  consideration  the  provisions
contained in Section 23.



28.  In Munshi Singh v. Union  of  India,  (1973)  2  SCC  337,  this  Court
emphasised the importance of Section 5-A in the following words:

"7.  ...Sub-section (2) of Section 5-A makes it obligatory on the  Collector
to give an objector  an  opportunity  of  being  heard.  After  hearing  all
objections and making further  inquiry  he  is  to  make  a  report  to  the
appropriate Government containing his recommendation on the objections.  The
decision of the appropriate Government on the objections is then final.  The
declaration under Section 6 has to be made after the appropriate  Government
is satisfied, on a  consideration  of  the  report,  if  any,  made  by  the
Collector  under  Section  5-A(2).  The  legislature  has,  therefore,  made
complete provisions for the persons interested to  file  objections  against
the proposed acquisition and for the disposal of  their  objections.  It  is
only in cases of urgency that special powers  have  been  conferred  on  the
appropriate Government to dispense with the provisions of Section 5-A."



29.  In State of Punjab v. Gurdial  Singh,  (1980)  2  SCC  471,  the  Court
observed as under:

"16.  ...it is fundamental that compulsory taking of a man's property  is  a
serious matter and the smaller the man the more serious the matter.  Hearing
him  before  depriving  him  is   both   reasonable   and   pre-emptive   of
arbitrariness, and denial of this administrative fairness is  constitutional
anathema except  for  good  reasons.  Save  in  real  urgency  where  public
interest does not brook even the minimum time needed to give a hearing  land
acquisition authorities should not, having regard to Articles 14 (and   19),
burke an enquiry under Section 17 of the Act.  Here  a  slumbering  process,
pending for years and  suddenly  exciting  itself  into  immediate  forcible
taking, makes a travesty of emergency power."



30.  In Shyam Nandan Prasad v. State of Bihar, (1993) 4 SCC 255, this  Court
reiterated that compliance of Section 5-A is mandatory and observed:

"10.  ...The decision of  the  Collector  is  supposedly  final  unless  the
appropriate Government chooses to interfere therein and  cause  affectation,
suo motu or on the application of any person interested in the  land.  These
requirements obviously lead to the positive conclusion that  the  proceeding
before the Collector is a  blend  of  public  and  individual  enquiry.  The
person interested, or known to be interested, in the land is  to  be  served
personally of the notification, giving him the opportunity of  objecting  to
the acquisition and awakening him to such right. That the  objection  is  to
be in writing,  is  indicative  of  the  fact  that  the  enquiry  into  the
objection is to focus his individual cause as well as public cause. That  at
the time of the enquiry, for which prior  notice  shall  be  essential,  the
objector  has  the  right  to  appear  in  person  or  through  pleader  and
substantiate his objection by evidence and argument."



31.  In Raghbir Singh Sehrawat's case, this Court referred to the  judgments
in Munshi Singh v. Union of India, (1973) 2 SCC  337,  State  of  Punjab  v.
Gurdial Singh, (1980) 2 SCC 471, Shyam Nandan  Prasad  v.  State  of  Bihar,
(1993) 4 SCC 255, Union of India v. Mukesh Hans, (2004) 8 SCC 14,  Hindustan
Petroleum Corporation Ltd. v. Darius Shapur Chenai, (2005) 7 SCC 627,  Radhy
Shyam v. State of U.P., (2011) 5 SCC 553 and observed:


"39.  In this context, it  is  necessary  to  remember  that  the  rules  of
natural justice have been ingrained in the scheme  of  Section  5-A  with  a
view to ensure that before any person is deprived of  his  land  by  way  of
compulsory acquisition, he must get an opportunity to  oppose  the  decision
of the State Government and/or  its  agencies/instrumentalities  to  acquire
the particular parcel of land. At the hearing,  the  objector  can  make  an
effort to convince the Land Acquisition  Collector  to  make  recommendation
against the acquisition of his land. He can also point  out  that  the  land
proposed to be acquired is not suitable for the  purpose  specified  in  the
notification issued under Section  4(1).  Not  only  this,  he  can  produce
evidence to show that another piece of land is available and  the  same  can
be utilised for execution of the particular project or scheme.


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."


32.  In Kamal Trading (P) Ltd. v. State of West Bengal (supra),  this  Court
again considered the scope of Section 5-A and observed:


"13.  Section 5-A(1) of the LA Act gives a right to  any  person  interested
in any land which has been notified under Section 4(1) as  being  needed  or
likely to be needed  for  a  public  purpose  to  raise  objections  to  the
acquisition of the said land. Sub-section (2) of Section  5-A  requires  the
Collector to give the objector an opportunity of being heard  in  person  or
by  any  person  authorised  by  him  in  this  behalf.  After  hearing  the
objections, the Collector can, if  he  thinks  it  necessary,  make  further
inquiry. Thereafter, he has to make a report to the  appropriate  Government
containing his recommendations on the objections together  with  the  record
of the  proceedings  held  by  him  for  the  decision  of  the  appropriate
Government and the decision of the appropriate Government on the  objections
shall be final.


14. It must be borne in mind that the  proceedings  under  the  LA  Act  are
based on the principle of  eminent  domain  and  Section  5-A  is  the  only
protection available to a person whose lands are sought to be  acquired.  It
is a minimal safeguard afforded to  him  by  law  to  protect  himself  from
arbitrary acquisition by pointing out  to  the  authority  concerned,  inter
alia, that the important ingredient, namely, "public purpose" is  absent  in
the proposed acquisition or the acquisition is mala fide. The LA  Act  being
an expropriatory legislation,  its  provisions  will  have  to  be  strictly
construed.


15. Hearing contemplated under Section 5-A(2) is  necessary  to  enable  the
Collector to  deal  effectively  with  the  objections  raised  against  the
proposed acquisition  and  make  a  report.  The  report  of  the  Collector
referred to in this provision is  not  an  empty  formality  because  it  is
required to be placed before the appropriate Government  together  with  the
Collector's recommendations and the record of the  case.  It  is  only  upon
receipt of the said report that the Government can take a final decision  on
the objections. It is pertinent to note that  declaration  under  Section  6
has to be made only after the appropriate Government  is  satisfied  on  the
consideration of the report, if any, made by the Collector under Section  5-
A(2). As said by this Court in Hindustan  Petroleum  Corporation  Ltd.,  the
appropriate Government while issuing declaration under Section 6 of  the  LA
Act is required to apply its mind not only to the objections  filed  by  the
owner of the land in question, but also to the report which is submitted  by
the Collector  upon  making  such  further  inquiry  thereon  as  he  thinks
necessary and also the recommendations made by him in that behalf.


16.  Sub-section (3) of Section 6 of the LA Act makes  a  declaration  under
Section 6 conclusive evidence that the land is needed for a public  purpose.
Formation of opinion by the appropriate Government  as  regards  the  public
purpose must be preceded by application of mind as regards consideration  of
relevant factors and rejection of irrelevant ones. It  is,  therefore,  that
the hearing contemplated under Section 5-A and the report made by  the  Land
Acquisition  Officer  and  his  recommendations  assume  importance.  It  is
implicit in this provision that before making declaration  under  Section  6
of the LA Act, the State Government  must  have  the  benefit  of  a  report
containing recommendations of the Collector submitted under Section 5-A  (2)
of the LA Act. The recommendations must indicate  objective  application  of
mind."


33.  The ratio of the aforesaid judgments  is  that  Section  5-A(2),  which
represents statutory embodiment of the rule of audi  alteram  partem,  gives
an opportunity to  the  objector  to  make  an  endeavour  to  convince  the
Collector that his land is not required for the public purpose specified  in
the notification issued under Section 4(1) or that  there  are  other  valid
reasons for not acquiring the same. That section also  makes  it  obligatory
for  the  Collector  to  submit  report(s)  to  the  appropriate  Government
containing his recommendations on the objections, together with  the  record
of the proceedings held by him so that the Government may  take  appropriate
decision on the objections. Section 6(1) provides that  if  the  appropriate
Government is satisfied, after considering the report, if any, made  by  the
Collector  under  Section  5-A  that  particular  land  is  needed  for  the
specified  public  purpose  then  a  declaration  should   be   made.   This
necessarily implies that the State Government is required to apply  mind  to
the report of the Collector and take final decision on the objections  filed
by the landowners and other  interested  persons.  Then  and  then  only,  a
declaration can be made under Section 6(1).


24)   The aforesaid dicta  was  reiterated  recently  in  Women's  Education
Trust and  another  v.  State  of  Haryana  and  others[5]  emphasising  the
importance of Section 5-A in the following words:
"5.  The principles which can be culled out from the  above-noted  judgments
are as under:


5.1.  The rule of audi alteram partem engrained in the scheme of Section  5-
A of the Act ensures that  before  depriving  any  person  of  his  land  by
compulsory acquisition, an effective opportunity must be  given  to  him  to
contest the decision taken by the State Government /competent  authority  to
acquire the particular parcel of land.


5.2.  Any person interested in the  land,  which  has  been  notified  under
Section 4(1) of the Act, can file objections under Section  5A(1)  and  show
that the purpose specified in  the  notification  is  really  not  a  public
purpose or that in the guise of acquiring the land for a public purpose  the
appropriate Government wants to confer benefit upon private persons or  that
the decision of the appropriate Government is arbitrary or is  vitiated  due
to mala fides.


5.3.  In response to the notice issued by  the  Land  Acquisition  Collector
under Section  5A(2)  of  the  Act,  the  objector  can  make  all  possible
endeavours to convince the Land Acquisition Collector that  the  acquisition
is not for a public purpose  specified  in  the  notification  issued  under
Section 4(1); that his land is not  suitable  for  the  particular  purpose;
that other more suitable  parcels  of  land  are  available,  which  can  be
utilized for execution of the particular project or scheme.


5.4.  The Land Acquisition Collector is duty bound to  objectively  consider
the arguments advanced  by  the  objector  and  make  recommendations,  duly
supported by brief reasons, as to why the particular piece  of  land  should
or should not be acquired and whether the plea put forward by  the  objector
merits acceptance. In other words, the  recommendations  made  by  the  Land
Acquisition Collector should reflect objective application of  mind  to  the
entire record including the objections filed by the interested persons.


5.5. The Land Acquisition Collector is required to  submit  his  report  and
the recommendations to  the  State  Government  along  with  the  record  of
proceedings to enable the latter to take final  call  on  the  desirability,
propriety and justification for the acquisition of the particular  parcel(s)
of land.


5.6  The declaration under Section 6(1) of the Act can  be  issued  only  if
the appropriate Government, on an  objective  application  of  mind  to  the
objections filed by the interested persons including the landowners and  the
report of the Land Acquisition Collector, is  satisfied  that  the  land  is
needed for the particular  purpose  specified  in  the  notification  issued
under Section 4(1) of the Act.


6.  It is unfortunate that despite  repeated  judicial  pronouncements,  the
executive authorities entrusted with the task of acquiring private land  for
any specified public purposes have time and again exhibited  total  lack  of
seriousness in the performance of their  duties  under  the  statute.  Often
they do not comply with the mandate of Section 5A of the Act, which is  sine
qua non for making a valid declaration under Section 6(1) of the Act.   This
batch of appeals is illustrative of the malady that has afflicted the  State
authorities who are keen to acquire private lands in  the  name  of  planned
development of various urban areas, but do not bother  to  comply  with  the
relevant statutory provisions and the rules of natural justice."


                                                         [Emphasis Supplied]


25)   We, thus, are of the opinion that appellants are  deprived  of  proper
and reasonable opportunity of persuading the authorities concerned to  spare
that part of the land which is not  required  for  construction  of  Missing
Link-II but is intended to be used  for  commercial  purpose.   We  are  not
influenced by the arguments of the respondents that in  the  drawings  which
were kept for  inspection,  this  part  of  land  is  shown  for  commercial
development.  First of all, it is disputed by the appellants and nothing  is
produced on record by the respondents to substantiate  this  plea.   In  any
case, we are of the view that such a drawing by itself would  not  meet  the
mandatory requirement of the Act in the absence of specific  stipulation  in
this behalf in the notification itself.

26)   In the aforesaid backdrop, we find strength in the submission  of  the
appellants that the hidden purpose for acquiring "surplus"  land,  i.e.  the
land apart from what is required for constructing Missing  Link-II,  was  to
develop it as commercial area  (which  is  not  stated  in  the  acquisition
notification) so that the finances could be  arranged  for  construction  of
road or for some other purpose.  This cannot be treated as  public  purpose.
If the land was to be utilised for commercial purpose, there  has  to  be  a
proper planning into it and it needs to be demonstrated that utilisation  of
the land serves some public purpose.  We do not find it  to  be  so  in  the
present case.

27)   Mr. Khanna had cited certain judgments in support  of  his  submission
that  even  if  the  land  is  acquired  for  one  particular  purpose,  the
authorities are empowered to utilise the same for  another  public  purpose.
However, it  is  permissible  in  those  circumstances  where  the  original
purpose for which the land was acquired had to be  changed  for  some  valid
reasons.  Even that is not the case herein.  From the  very  beginning,  the
authorities had in mind to use  the  extra  chunk  of  land  for  commercial
purpose but the same was not even stated in the notifications  issued  under
Sections 4 or 6 of the Act.  It is stated at  the  cost  of  the  repetition
that  insofar  as  notifications  are  concerned,   purpose   mentioned   is
construction of Missing Link-II,  and  in  this  scenario,  the  authorities
cannot acquire more land than what is required for construction  of  Missing
Link-II.   The notifications to the extent they acquire land over and  above
which is needed for construction of Missing Link-II are, thus,  held  to  be
bad in law and set aside.

28)   This brings us to the validity of  second  notification.   As  already
mentioned above, 55.41 acres of land has  been  acquired  vide  notification
No.3 dated 07.08.2010 and the  public  purpose  stated  is  "Development  of
Urban Estate, mainly to adjust oustees of Missing Link-II (Dhandra  Road  to
Sidhwan Canal via Malerkotla Road, Ludhiana)".  The main plank of attack  of
the appellants to this notification is that land  of  the  appellants  could
not be acquired to rehabilitate other persons, and in the process  rendering
the appellants homeless and landless.  Such  an  action  was  arbitrary  and
illegal  which  also  amounted  to  depriving  the   appellants   of   their
livelihood.  It was also argued that in the process, the changes which  made
were much more serious violating the master plan.  It was also  argued  that
the aforesaid stated purpose is totally vague, since it only says  that  the
same is for the development of a residential urban estate.   It  was  argued
that the public purpose of "residential" has been held by this Court  to  be
vague in Madhya Pradesh Housing Board v. Mohd. Shafi[6]:

14.   Apart from the defect in the impugned notification, as noticed  above,
we find that even the "public purpose"  which  has  been  mentioned  in  the
schedule to the  notification  as  "residential"  is  hopelessly  vague  and
conveys no idea about the purpose of acquisition rendering the  notification
as invalid in law. There is no indication as to  what  type  of  residential
accommodation was proposed or for whom  or  any  other  details.  The  State
cannot acquire the land  of  a  citizen  for  building  some  residence  for
another, unless the same is in 'public interest" or for the benefit  of  the
"public" or an identifiable section thereof. In the absence of  the  details
about the alleged "public purpose" for which  the  land  was  sought  to  be
acquired, no-one could comprehend as to why the land was being acquired  and
therefore was prevented from taking any further steps in the matter.
                                                         [Emphasis Supplied]

29)   It was also submitted that the notification  acquiring  land  for  the
Missing Link road is for an area of approx. 74.52  acres.   Yet,  more  than
55.41 acres of land has been acquired for adjusting the oustees of the  said
road.  Thus, the acquisition is  for  a  far  greater  area  than  what  was
required even as per the stated public purpose inasmuch as  55.41  acres  of
land was sought to be given to those from  whom  74.52  acres  of  land  was
taken.

30)   Mr. Gupta concluded his arguments with the  submission  that  such  an
acquisition was not at all necessary,  apart  from  being  illegal,  unfair,
unjust and against the principles of natural justice as the  appellants  are
being  ousted  from  their  land  in  order  to  accommodate,   adjust   and
rehabilitate others who are similarly situated as the appellants.  In  other
words, the appellants are being rendered oustees  in  order  to  accommodate
other oustees.  Such a patently unjust and  unfair  action  cannot,  by  any
stretch of imagination, be termed as 'public purpose' as  grave  harm,  loss
and injustice is being caused to the appellants for no  sustainable  reason.
He also emphasised that  the  land  from  which  the  appellants  are  being
ousted, in order to  accommodate  other  oustees,  is  the  sole  source  of
livelihood for the appellants.  Part of the acquired land  is  agricultural,
part of it is inhabited and part  of  it  has  functioning  industries.   As
such, there  is  no  rationale  whatsoever  in  uprooting  well  established
livelihoods merely to accommodate others.  The respondents action  evidences
absolutely no application of mind  as  there  is  vacant  agricultural  land
nearby where the oustees could have been adjusted.  It is  argued  that  the
real  reason  behind  present  acquisition  is  that  in  actual  fact   the
respondent-government intends to use the  acquired  land  for  profit-making
purposes.  It is submitted that the respondents  are  planning  to  use  the
major part of the land under acquisition for commercial purposes.

31)   The aforesaid arguments of the appellants was sought to be negated  by
Mr. Rakesh Khanna with the submission that the specific stand was  taken  by
the respondents that  the  eligible  land  owners  /  structure  holders  of
Missing Link-II road as well as urban estate both  will  be  considered  for
allotment of plot/house as per oustee policy of the  State  Government.   It
was submitted that there are 949 land owners involved in this acquired  land
for Missing Link-II and urban estate.  Firstly, it is only 48  of  them  who
are before this Court.  Therefore, 901 of them  have  no  objection  to  the
acquisition.  Secondly, even out of the 48 owners, only 33  appellants  were
parties before the High Court and 15 have  filed  SLP  for  the  first  time
being SLP No. 14124 of 2012.  Two of them being appellants in SLP No.  15365
of 2012, have since withdrawn the SLP.

32)   After considering the  submissions  of  counsel  for  the  parties  on
either side and on going through the records, we find  force  and  merit  in
the case set up by the respondents.  The defence put up  by  the  respondent
authorities, as noted  above  in  the  submissions  of  Mr.  Rakesh  Khanna,
appears  to  be  attractive  wherein  it  is  stated  that  the  purpose  of
acquisition of this land is not only to accommodate the oustees of the  land
owners whose land was acquired  for  construction  of  Missing  Link-I,  the
acquired land shall be used to provide shelter to the appellants and  others
who will be divested of their land.  In this behalf, it is stated  that  all
949 land owners will be entitled for allotment of plots as per  the  oustees
policy.

33)   It is also to be borne in mind that out  of  949  land  owners,  whose
land is  sought  to  be  acquired  by  the  instant  impugned  notification,
majority of them, numbering 901 persons, have raised  no  objection  to  the
acquisition and even accepted the compensation.  Only  48  affected  persons
challenged the notification before the High Court.   After  the  High  Court
dismissed the challenge vide impugned judgment, out of these 48 only 15  had
preferred to come to this Court.   We  have  also  noted  that  as  per  the
oustees policy of rehabilitation, all persons who have built  up  structures
over the land, will be entitled for  allotment  of  plot.   There  were  128
structures on the Missing Link-II and 36 structures in  the  urban  estates.
Therefore, 164 structure holders will be entitled for  allotment  of  plots.
Besides this, all 949 land owners will be entitled for  allotment  of  plots
as per the oustees policy.  As per the plan for the area which is placed  by
the appellants at the time of hearing, there are in  total  452  residential
plots only in the urban estates which will be, by and large, sufficient  for
rehabilitation of the eligible  allottees.   It  was  also  brought  to  our
notice that the Government is providing free  registration/zero  stamp  duty
if the land owners purchase land within  Punjab,  equal  to  the  amount  of
compensation received, within two  years  from  the  date  of  receiving  of
compensation.  Several land owners,  who  have  received  compensation,  had
already availed this benefit.  For all these reasons, we would not  like  to
go into the validity of challenge made to the second notification.

34)   At the same time, it is  necessary  to  reflect  upon  some  pertinent
aspects of the case which were highlighted by the  appellants.   An  attempt
was made by the appellants to show that there is  vacant  agricultural  land
nearby which is more suitable for the purpose for which appellants  land  is
sought to be acquired.  On this basis, a  suggestion  was  mooted  that  the
Government should consider acquiring  the  said  land  nearby  as  there  is
vacant agricultural or barren land nearby.  It  was  also  argued  that  the
notification acquiring land for the Missing Link road  is  for  an  area  of
approx. 74.52 acres.  Yet, more than 55.41 acres of land has  been  acquired
for adjusting the oustees of the said road.  Thus, the acquisition is for  a
far greater area than what was  required  even  as  per  the  stated  public
purpose inasmuch as 55.41 acres of land are sought  to  be  given  to  those
from whom 74.52 acres of land was taken.  However, it is not for this  Court
to consider as to  which  particular  piece  of  land  is  more  suited  for
acquisition by the authorities.  Likewise, though, prima facie,  it  appears
that acquisition of 55.41 acres of land to rehabilitate  the  oustees  whose
land acquired measuring 74.52 acres is quite  substantial,  it  is  not  for
this Court to decide as to what should be the extent of land that  needs  to
be acquired for this purpose.  It is for the Government to look  into  these
aspects.  For this purpose, we give liberty to  the  appellants  to  make  a
suitable representation to the respondents in this behalf  within  a  period
of 30 days from today.  If such a  representation  is  preferred,  the  same
shall be considered in accordance with law and decision thereupon  shall  be
taken within 2 months from said representation.  However,  this  liberty  of
making representation is going only to the appellants herein, which  benefit
shall not enure to those who  have  not  approached  this  Court.   We  also
expect that the Government  shall  take  a  pragmatic  view  and  would  not
consider  the  representation  with  closed  mind.    While   deciding   the
representation, the authorities will  particularly  consider  the  following
aspects:
(a)   Whether the land of the appellants herein, keeping in view  the  total
area involved, be  released  as  not  required  if  the  remaining  land  is
sufficient for the purpose for which the said land is acquired?

(b)   Even if some more land is needed for the stated  purpose,  whether  it
would be possible to release the land of the appellants and  acquire  vacant
agricultural or barren land nearby which may be more suitable?
(c)   It may also be kept in mind that the land of  the  appellants  is  not
only  Abadi  land,  the  appellants  have  their   residential   houses   or
industrial/commercial premises as well.
(d)   The authorities may also keep in mind the location of the land of  the
appellants and consider as to whether different chunks of land owned by  the
appellants are scattered in between rest of the land acquired  and  on  that
count, is it possible or not to hive off the land of the appellants?

35)   However, we make it clear that while  affording  this  opportunity  to
the appellants to make a representation, we are not  providing  fresh  cause
of action to the appellants, though, we expect the respondents  to  consider
the representation with open mind.

36)   The upshot of  the  aforesaid  discussion  would  be  to  allow  these
appeals partly in the manner indicated above.  However, there  shall  be  no
order as to costs.

                             .............................................J.
                                                              (ANIL R. DAVE)



                             .............................................J.
                                                                (A.K. SIKRI)


NEW DELHI;
MARCH 25, 2015.


-----------------------
[1]



      (2000) 1 SCC 533
[2]   (2002) 4 SCC 666
[3]   (2000) 7 SCC 296
[4]   (2013) 4 SCC 210
[5]   (2013) 8 SCC 99
[6]   (1992) 2 SCC 168

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