D.M. Chandkashekhar, C.J.
1. These appeals are from the common order of Jagannatha Shetty, J., in W. Ps. Nos. 4428 to 4430 of 1976. The appellants herein were the petitioners therein and will hereinafter be referred to as the petitioners. The respondents herein were respondents therein.
2. In these petitions under Article 226 of the Constitution, the petitioners had impugned the acquisition of their lands for the purpose of providing house sites to the weaker sections of the people under the provisions of the Karnataka Acquisition of Land for Grant of House Sites Act 1972, (hereinafter referred to as the Act), They had contended inter alia, that:
(i) They had no opportunity of being heard as required under Rule 6 (3) of the Karnataka Acquisition of Land for Grant of House-sites Rules, 1973, (hereinafter referred to as the Rules) framed under the Act.
(ii) The Assistant Commissioner had no jurisdiction to hear the petitioners' objections to the proposed acquisition of their lands and
(iii) the Deputy Commissioner did not hear the petitioners.
3. The learned single Judge dismissed the petitions holding against the petitioners on all the above three points.
4. In these appeals, Sri Veerabhadrappa, Advocate, who is appearing in certain pending writ petitions in which similar questions are raised, was permitted to intervene and to address arguments.
5. In these appeals, we permitted Sri M. Gangi Reddy, learned Counsel for the appellants, to urge a new contention which had not been urged before the learned single Judge since that contention is purely one of law. That contention is that unless the Government had issued a notification under Sub-section (3) of Section 2 of the Act specifying who are weaker sections of people, no acquisition could be made under the provisions of the Act To appreciate this contention, it is necessary to refer to the definition of the expression 'weaker sections of people' in Sub-section (3) of Section 2 of the Act as 'persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes, landless labourers and such other class or classes of persons as the State Government may, having regard to their economic backwardness, by notification specify.'
6. The clause 'as the State Government may, having regard to their economic backwardness, by notification specify' in the above definition, governs the words 'such other class or classes of persons' and not the words 'Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes and landless labourers'. So far as the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and landless labourers are concerned, they have been recognised by the Act itself as constituting weaker sections of people, The sub-section empowers the State Government to specify any other class or classes of persons besides the above three classes of per-sons as constituting weaker sections of people having regard to their economic backwardness. The Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and landless labourers are statutorily recognised as constituting weaker sections of people and there is no need for the Government to specify them by a notification under Section 2(3). Hence, even in the absence of any notification under Section 2(3), it was competent for the authorities to acquire under the Act lands for granting house sites to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and landless labourers. Thus, we are unable to accept the contention of Sri Gangi Reddy and Sri Veerabhadrappa that unless the Government had issued a notification under Section 2(3) specifying the weaker sections of people, the Government could not acquire lands under the Act.
7. It is common ground that the objections of the petitioners to the proposed acquisition of their lands, were heard under Section 3(3) of the Act by the Assistant Commissioner of the Revenue Sub-Division. It was contended by Sri Gangi Reddy and Sri Veerabhadrappa that the Assistant Commissioner had no jurisdiction to hear under Sub-section (3) of Section 3 the objections of the petitioners to the proposed acquisition of their lands and that the only authority competent to hear their objections was the Deputy Commissioner.
8. Sub-section (3) of Section 3 reads;
'After considering the cause, if any, shown by the owner of the land and by any other person interested therein, and after giving such owner and person an opportunity of being heard, the State Government may pass such orders as it deems fit,'
9. Section 6 provides that the State Government may, by notification, delegate to any of its officers, subject to such conditions and restrictions as may be specified in such notification, any of its powers under this Act except the power to make rules under Section 7.
10. By Notification No. DPC 221 DRH 73 (1) dated 10-10-1973 the State Government delegated some of its powers under the Act to Assistant Commissioners in charge of Revenue Sub-Divisions. The relevant portion of that Notification reads:
'Sub-sec. (3) of Section 3 (Only the power of giving an opportunity to the owner and other persons of being heard).'
11. The relevant portions of sub-rules (2) and (3) of Rule 6 of the Rules read:
'(2) If any objection is received from a person interested in the land on or before the date specified in the notice under Sub-section (2) of Section 3, the Assistant Commissioner shall fix a date for hearing the objections and give notice thereof to the objectors.
(3) On the date fixed for enquiry or on any other date to which the enquiry may be adjourned by him, the Assistant Commissioner shall hear the objector or his Advocate and the Block Development Officer or the Chief Officer or their representative, as the case may be, and record any evidence that may be produced in support of the objections.'
12. Rule 8 reads:
'8. Assistant Commissioner to Report to Government. -- On completion of the enquiry, the Assistant Commissioner shall as expeditiously as possible submit his report and recommendations as to each objection, whether admissible or inadmissible for the orders of the State Government under Sub-section (3) of Section 3,'
13. Rule 9 reads:
'9. Consideration of Objections and issue of Final Notification.--
On consideration of the objections and the report of the Assistant Commissioner, if the State Government decides, --
(a) that the land should be acquired for the purpose specified in the Notification issued under Sub-section (1) of Section 3, it shall, by Notification, make a declaration in Form 'C' under Sub-section (4) of Section 3;
(b) that the land should not be acquired, it shall publish a notification cancelling the notification issued under Sub-section (1) of Section 3.'
14. Subsequently, the Government, by its Notification dated 10-1-1975 issued under Section 6, delegated to Deputy Commissioners of the Districts its powers under Sub-section (1) of Section 3 and also its powers under Sub-section (3) and (4) of that Section in cases where no cause had been shown by the owners of lands or other persons to notices issued under Sub-section (2) of that Section and where such cause had been shown, the powers under Sub-sections (3) and (4) of Section 3 had been de-legated to Divisional Commissioners. By its Notification-I. No. FD 2406 HLA 74 dated 23-6-1975, issued in supersession of the Notification dated 10-1-1975, the Government delegated to the Deputy Commissioner its powers under Sub-sections (1), (3) and (4) of Section 3 of the Act.
15. Sri Gangi Reddy and Sri Veerabhadrappa contended that as the Notification of the Government dated 23-6-1975 superseded the earlier Notification dated 10-1-1975, after the issue of the later Notification (dated 23-6-1975) it was the Deputy Commissioner and not the Sub-Division Officer who was competent to hear objections under Sub-section (3) and that in the present cases the hearing of objections by the Assistant Commissioner was without jurisdiction,
16. The above contention overlooks that what had been superseded by the Notification dated 23-6-1975 was only the Notification dated 10-1-1975 and not the earlier Notification dated 10-10-1973 under which the power to hear objections under Section 3(3) had been delegated to the Assistant Commissioners and that such delegation of power to Assistant Commissioners had not been superseded by any subsequent Notification. It is true that under the Notification dated 23-6-1975 the powers of the Government under Section 3(3) of the Act had been delegated to the Deputy Commissioners, but such delegation is not inconsistent with the earlier delegation to the Assistant Commissioners of the power to hear objections under Section 3(3). After 23-6-1975 both the Assistant Commissioners and the Deputy Commissioners had been empowered to hear objections. Thus, we are unable to accept the contention of learned counsel that the Assistant Commissioner had no jurisdiction to hear objections.
17. It was next contended by Sri Veerabhadrappa, that the Deputy Commissioner who passed the orders under Section 3(3) to acquire the lands, should have himself heard the objections and that it was not permissible for the Assistant Commissioner to hear the objections and the Deputy Commissioner to decide on the basis of the report of the Assistant Commissioner whether the land should be acquired. He maintained that the authority who decides, should itself hear objections. In support of his contention, he strongly relied on the following observations of Subba Rao, J. (as he then was), who spoke for the majority of the Bench in G. Nageshwara Rao v. Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation : AIR1959SC308 :
'Personal hearing enables the authority concerned to watch the demeanour of the witnesses and clear up his doubts during the course of the arguments, and the party appearing to persuade the authority by reasoned argument to accept his point of view. If one person hears and another decides, then personal hearing becomes an empty formality.'
His Lordship did not express his dissent from the following earlier enunciation by the Supreme Court in Pradyat Kumar v. Chief Justice of Calcutta : 2SCR1331 :
'It is well recognised that a statutory functionary exercising such a power cannot be said to have delegated his functions merely by deputing a responsible and competent official to enquire and report. That is the ordinary mode of exercise of any administrative power. What cannot be delegated except where the law specifically so provides -- is the ultimate responsibility for the exercise of such power.'
18. As pointed out by a Division Bench of this Court in V.C. Thimmarayappa v. State of Mysore (1968 (1) Kant LJ 113 at p. 118: (AIR 1968 Mys 296) in G. Nageswara Rao's case : AIR1959SC308 (supra) the question raised was regarding the validity of rules providing for hearing by one decision by another, in the absence of specific statutory provision enabling such a procedure being followed. The Andhra Pradesh Government had framed rules for which there was no specific sanction of the statute for departing from the basic concept of judicial procedure. But, in this Act the function of hearing objections to the proposed acquisition, is separated from the function of deciding (after considering such objections) whether or not to acquire the land. Sub-section (3) of Section 3 deals with the former function while Sub-section (4) of that Section deals with the latter function. Section 6 permits delegating different functions and powers of the Government to different authorities. Hence, it is permissible for the Government to delegate to one person or authority its functions and powers under Sub-section (3) of Section 3 and to another person or authority its functions and powers under Sub-section (4) of that Section. As pointed out by the Supreme Court in A.K. Kraipak v. Union of India : 1SCR457 , the rules of natural justice operate only in areas not covered by any law validly made and do not supplant the law of the land but supplement it.
19. Thus, we are unable to accept the contention of learned Counsel that there was any infirmity in the impugned acquisition on account of the petitioners' objections having been heard not by the Deputy Commissioner who decided to acquire the lands, but by the Assistant Commissioner.
20. Lastly, it was contended that there was no material to show that the Deputy Commissioner who made the declaration under Sub-section (4) of Section 3, had satisfied himself that the petitioners' lands should be acquired for the purpose of providing house sites. All that was stated in the writ petitions was that the Deputy Commissioner had mechanically passed the order under Section 3(4) and that he had not considered properly the report submitted by the Assistant Commissioner,
21. From the order of the learned single Judge it does not appear that the above contention was urged before the learned single Judge. This contention raises a mixed question of
law and fact and hence we cannot permit the petitioners to urge this contention for the first time in these appeals.
22. All the contentions urged in these appeals fail and we dismiss these appeals.
23. In the circumstances of the cases, we direct the parties to bear their own costs in these appeals.
24. Appeals dismissed.