1. In exercise of the powers conferred by S. 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (Central Act I of 1894) as amended by Karnataka Act 17 of 1961 (hereinafter referred to as the Act), Government of Karnataka issued preliminary notification No. RD 327 AQY 73 dt. 9-4-1973 (Exhibit-A) proposing to acquire an extent of 4 acres of land in S. Nos. 59 and 63 of Chandahalli village, B. G. Pura Hobli Malavalli Taluk, Mandya District, owned by the petitioner for purpose of village extension. In the said notification, Government appointed the Assistant Commissioner, Mandya Sub Division, Mandya (hereinafter referred to as the A- C.) to perform the functions of the Deputy Commissioner under the Act.
2. On service of notice of the said acquisition, the petitioner filed his detailed objections before the A. C. and urged for dropping the acquisition; proceedings on the various grounds urged in his objection statement. At the hearing afforded by the A. C., the petitioner reiterated his objections, and urged for dropping acquisition proceedings. But, the A. C., overruling the objections filed by the petitioner, recommended to the 11 Government to sanction the Acquisition proposed in the preliminary notification dt. 9-4-1973. On an examination of the report made by the A. C., Government has 1, issued final notification No. RD 102 AQY 74 dt. 21-6-1974 (Exhibit-C) under S. 6 of the Act declaring the acquisition of the land proposed in the preliminary notification.
3. Before the A. C. could take further steps in pursuance of the final notification and make an Award thereto, the petitioner filed a petition before Government under S. 15-A of the Act setting out various grounds which according to him justified the dropping of the acquisition proceedings. But, Government by its Endorsement No. RD 12 AQY 74 dt. 3-71976 (Exhibit-E) has rejected the same and the same reads thus:
Sub: Land Acquisition in S. Nos. 59 and 63 of Chandahalli village, Malavalli Taluk, for Village Extension.
With reference to his revision petition dt. 20-8-74 under S. 15-A of the Land Acquisition Act, Sri Javaraya Gowda is hereby informed that his request for dropping land acquisition proceedings in S. Nos. 59 and 63 of Chandahalli village is rejected.
Sd/- S. M. Ramahanumaniah,
I/c Under Secretary to Government,
In this petition under Art. 226 of the Constitution, the petitioner has challenged the preliminary and final notifications issued by Government.
4. The petitioner has-asserted that on more than one occasion, proposals for acquisition of the very land had been initiated for the very purpose on which it is now acquired and accepting his case, those proposals had been dropped and there was no change in, those circumstances to justify Government to take a different view on the present occasion. On this very plea, the petitioner has alleged that the acquisition proceedings have been initiated and completed at the instance of respondent - 3 who bears ill-will against him. Lastly, the petitioner has urged that the order made by Government on 3-7-1976 is I not a speaking order.
5. In denial of the allegations made by the petitioner, the respondents have not filed their return. But, at the hearing respondents 1 and 2 produced their records and sought to justify the impugned notifications.
6. Sri M. S. Gopal, learned counsel for the petitioner, contends that the order made by Government rejecting the revision petition filed under S. 15 of the Act without examining the material grounds urged and recording reasons for the same is pot a speaking order and is manifestly illegal apparent on the face of the record. In support of his contention, Sri Gopal strongly relies on the ruling of the Supreme Court in The Siemens Engineering and Mfg. Co. of India Ltd., v. Union of India : AIR1976SC1785 .
7. Sri S. Lakshminarayan, learned High Court Government Pleader, appearing for respondents 1 and 2 and Sri Chandrashekhariah, learned counsel for respondent-3, contend that in a petition filed under S. 15-A of the Act, the petitioner was not entitled for an opportunity of hearing or for a reasoned order. In support of their contentions, learned counsel for the respondents, strongly rely on the ruling of Jagannatha Shetty, J., in H. H. Jayadevaswami Garu v. State of Mysore [1974(2) K. U Short Notes, Item No. 232].
8. Section 15-A of the Act without expressly stating so, has virtually conferred power of revision on Government which can be exercised by it either suo motu or on a petition filed by an aggrieved person. S. 15-A empowers Government to examine the legality, regularity and propriety of a proceeding or an order made by any authority subordinate to it in any proceeding initiated, pending or completed under the Act. The only limitation placed by S. 15-A is that the power of revision cannot be exercised by Government after an award is made by the Deputy Commissioner under S 11 of the Act. Except for this, no other limitation is placed on the power of Government. The true scopes of the terms 'legality', 'regularity' or 'propriety' of the proceeding or an order appearing in various other statutes have been explained by the Supreme Court and this Court in more than one case and it is not necessary to refer to all of them. .
9. Almost immediately the A. C. overruled his objections and submitted his recommendations, the petitioner filed his petition under S. 15-A of the Act before Government. As on the day the petitioner filed his petition under S. 15-A of the Act, it is not in dispute that the A. C. had not made his award under S. 11 of the Act and therefore this case has to be examined as if there was no award made by the Land Acquisition Officer before the petitioner presented his petition under S. 15-A of the Act. Any subsequent development that has taken place during the pendency of these proceedings, cannot defeat the rights of the petitioner to have his petition adjudicated on the basis of the facts and circumstances that prevailed on the date of the presentation of his petition before Government.
10. Earlier, I have extracted the endorsement/ order made by Government on the petition filed by the petitioner under S. 15-A of the Act in its entirety. In that endorsement or order, Government has not examined the material contentions urged by the petitioner and has not given reasons for rejecting all or any of them. The only merit of the order of government is its extreme brevity.
11. As to the necessity to give reasons even if the authority is exercising administrative or quasi judicial functions, the matter is completely concluded by the ruling of the Supreme Court in Siemens Engineering and Manufacturing Company's case : AIR1976SC1785 . In that case, the Court speaking through Bhagawati, J., has expressed thus (At p. 1789) :
'If Courts of law are to be replaced by administrative authorities and tribunals, as indeed, in some kinds of cases, with the proliferation of Administrative law, they may have to be so replaced, it is essential that administrative authorities and tribunals should accord fair and proper hearing to the persons sought to be affected by their orders and give sufficiently clear and explicit reasons in support of the orders made by them. Then alone administrative authorities and tribunals exercising quasi judicial functions will be able to justify their existence and carry credibility with the people by inspiring confidence in the adjudicatory process. The rule requiring reasons to be given in support of an order is, like the principle of audi alteram partem, a basic principle of natural justice which must inform every quasi judicial process and this rule must be observed in its proper spirit and mere pretence of compliance with it would not satisfy the requirement of law.'
On this enunciation, it follows that the order made by Government which is bereft of reasons is not a speaking order and is therefore liable to be interfered with by this Court under Art. 226 of the Constitution.
12. Sri Chandrashekhariah contends that since Government had agreed with the very reasons given by the Assistant Commissioner, it was under no legal obligation to give reasons with reference to the contentions urged by the petitioner in his petition under S. 15-A of the Act.
13. This contention of Sri Chandrashekhariah has only to be stated to be rejected. The fact that the A. C. had given certain reasons for overruling the objections of the' petitioner did not take away the right of the petitioner to challenge that very opinion or proceeding of the A. C. before Government under S. 15-A of the Act which he had done in his petition. When that was so, it would be idle to contend that Government could reject the petition filed under S. 15-A of the A& by stating that it has concurred or concurs with the view expressed by the A. C. The acceptance of this contention would virtually result in robbing the power conferred on Government under S. 15-A of the Act and the right of an aggrieved person to approach Government under that provision for relief. For these reasons, I see no merit in this contention of Sri Chandrashekhariah and I reject the same.
14. As I have found that the order made by the Government is not a speaking order,, there is no other alternative for me except to quash that order and direct Government to restore the petition filed by the petitioner to its original file and deal with the same on merits. Before Government properly examines the petition filed by the petitioner under S. 15A, it would not be proper for this Court to examine the other contentions urged for the petitioner on the validity of the preliminary and final notifications issued under the Act Without any doubt, Government has to modulate its order in the light of the decision it may take on t e petition filed by the petitioner under S. 15A of the Act Before that, it would not be proper for this Court to examine the other contentions urged for the petitioner. 1, therefore, leave open them to be examined and decided by Government in the first instance.
15. In H. H. Jayadevaswamigalu's case 1974 (2) Ker LJ (SN) Item No. 232, this Court has expressed the view that a person who has presented a petition under S. 15--A of the Act was not entitled for an opportunity of oral hearing. Whether that principle still holds good on the principles enunciated by the Supreme Court in later cases, notably in Mohinder Singh Gill v. The chief Election Commr., New Delhi : 2SCR272 and Smt. Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India : 2SCR621 does not require a detailed examination in this case as it is open to Government to afford an opportunity of hearing to the petitioner as that will undoubtedly advance the cause of justice only. I have every hope Government will do so only.
16. Before Government takes a final decision on the petition filed by the petitioner under S. 15-A of the Act, it is not proper for respondents I and 2 to take any further proceedings in pursuance of the final notification issued by Government If that is not done, the very purpose of filing the revision petition before Government which stands remitted by this Court would be defeated.
17. In the light of my above discussion, I quash the Endorsement/ Order No. RD 12 AQY 74 dt.3-7-1976 (Exhibit-B) issued by Government and direct Government to restore the petition filed by the petitioner under S. 15-A of the Act before it to its original file and dispose of the same in accordance with law and the observations made in this order. But, till Government disposes of the said petition, respondents 1 and 2 are directed not to take any further steps in pursuance of the final notification issued by Government.
18. Writ Petition is disposed of in the above terms. But, in the circumstances of the case, I direct the parties to bear their own costs.
19. Let this order be communicated to respondents 1 and 2 within 10 days from this day.
20. Order accordingly