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inampudi Umamaheshwara Rao and anr. Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Petn. No. 5370 of 1979
Judge
Reported inAIR1981AP70
ActsAndhra Pradesh Land Acquisition (Amendment) Act, 1976; Land Acquisition Act, 1894 - Sections 4(1), 5A, 5A(1), 9(1), 9(3), 17(4) and 55; Andhra Pradesh Land Acquisition Rules - Rule 1
Appellantinampudi Umamaheshwara Rao and anr.
RespondentState of Andhra Pradesh and ors.
Appellant AdvocateA. Panduranga Rao, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateGovernment Pleader of Land Acquisition and ;Krovvidi Narasimham, Adv.
Disposition Petition dismissed
Excerpt:
.....is accepted as true, even then the notification under section 4(1) should fail, inasmuch as the local publication has been effected roughly after an interval of two months from the date of publication of the notification in the gazette. certain decisions of the supreme court are relied upon in support of this proposition, 5. the record produced before us by the government clearly contains an endorsement of the executive officer of the gram panchayat, dated 10-6-1979, on the copy of the gazette itself, that its contents have been published in the village and that, a copy thereof was also pasted on the notice-board of the gram panchayat. such a notice is relatable to both section 4(1) as well as section 5-a(1) of the act. the supreme court observed that unless both the publications..........is accepted as true, even then the notification under section 4(1) should fail, inasmuch as the local publication has been effected roughly after an interval of two months from the date of publication of the notification in the gazette. this interval is said to be unreasonably long. certain decisions of the supreme court are relied upon in support of this proposition, 5. the record produced before us by the government clearly contains an endorsement of the executive officer of the gram panchayat, dated 10-6-1979, on the copy of the gazette itself, that its contents have been published in the village and that, a copy thereof was also pasted on the notice-board of the gram panchayat. the stamp of the executive officer is also found below the signature. the petitioners have not produced.....
Judgment:

Jeevan Reddy, J.

1. The petitioners are challenging the validity of a notification issued under Section 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act, as amended by the Andhra Pradesh (Amendment) Act, (22 of 1976), on the following grounds, viz.. (i) that, the notification under Section 4(1) was not published in the Gazette; (ii) that the substance of the notification was not published in the village, as required by law; and (iii) that, the Andhra Pradesh (Amendment) Act No. 22 of 1976 is unconstitutional and invalid. We may dispose of the first and the third objections in the first instance.

2. In the counter-affidavit it is stated that the notification under Section 4(1) has been published in the Krishna District Gazette, dated 14-4-1979. A copy of the Gazette, found in the record, has also been placed before us. The first contention, therefore, fails.

3. So far as the third contention is concerned, a Full Bench of this Court has upheld the constitutionality of the Amendment Act, except in so far as it provides for payment of compensation in instalments in case of acquisition of agricultural lands below the ceiling limit. The third contention also, accordingly, fails.

4. The main question canvassed before us pertains to the second contention raised by the petitioners. As is contended by Sri A. Panduranga Rao, the learned counsel for the petitioners, that in fact there was no publication in the locality and that, the endorsement of the Executive Officer of the Gram Panchayat, now produced before the Court, is a subsequent fabrication. Learned counsel contended alternatively that, even if the said endorsement is accepted as true, even then the notification under Section 4(1) should fail, inasmuch as the local publication has been effected roughly after an interval of two months from the date of publication of the notification in the Gazette. This interval is said to be unreasonably long. Certain decisions of the Supreme Court are relied upon in support of this proposition,

5. The record produced before us by the Government clearly contains an endorsement of the Executive Officer of the Gram Panchayat, dated 10-6-1979, on the copy of the Gazette itself, that its contents have been published in the village and that, a copy thereof was also pasted on the Notice-Board of the Gram Panchayat. The stamp of the Executive Officer is also found below the signature. The petitioners have not produced before us any material whatsoever to doubt or disbelieve the said endorsement. In fact, the petitioners came forward with an allegation that there was no local publication at all. It was never their case that though there was no such publication, an endorsement was obtained subsequently from the Executive Officer. We must, therefore, hold that the publication has been effected in the locality, as required by Section 4(1) of the Act.

6. It is then argued that the interval of about two months between the date of publication in the Gazette and the date on which the local publication took place, is unreasonably long. Rule 1 of the Rules framed by the Governor of Andhra Pradesh, under Section 55 of the Act, is relied upon to contend that the local publication should take place immediately after the publication of the notification in the Gazette. Rule 1 reads as follows;--

'1. Immediately after the publication of the notification under Section 4(1), the Collector shall issue a notice stating that the land is needed or is likely to be needed, as the case may be, for a public purpose and requiring all persons interested in the land to lodge before the Collector within 30 days after the issue of the notification a statement in writing of their objections if any to the proposed acquisition. This notice should be published at convenient places in the said locality, and copies thereof fixed up in the office of the Collector, the Tahsildar, and in the nearest police station'. (Emphasis is ours)

7. The argument of Mr. Panduranga Rao is that Rule 1 contemplates objections being filed within thirty days of the publication of the notification. If so, the substance of the notification must be published in the locality immediately after the publication in the Gazette. If the local publication itself if done after thirty days of the publication in the Gazette, it is argued, how can the objections be filed within thirty days of the publication of the notification? We are unable to agree. A careful reading of Rule 1 would show that it provides for issuance of a notice.....and the publication of substance of notification containing two things: one, an intimation that the land is needed or is likely to be needed, as the case may be, for a public purpose, and second, requiring all persons interested in the land to lodge their objections before the Collector within thirty days of the issue of notification. Such a notice is relatable to both Section 4(1) as well as Section 5-A(1) of the Act.

8. It must be noted that a notification under Section 4(1) merely declares that a land is needed or is likely to be needed, for a public purpose. The notification under Section 4(1) does not call for any objections. Objections from the persons interested are called for under Section 5-A(1) only. It would, therefore, appear that Rule 1 is attracted only in cases where the enquiry under Section 5-A is not dispensed with. In cases where the enquiry under Section 5-A is dispensed with as is the case herein the notice contemplated by Rule 1 would be meaningless and out of place. We are, therefore, of the opinion that no argument can be built up on Rule 1 to say that the local publication should take place simultaneously, or, at any rate, immediately after the publication in the Gazette. This does not mean that local publication need not be effected where the enquiry under Section 5-A is dispensed with.

9. Local publication is provided for by Section 4(1) itself and it has to be complied with in every case. It is equally clear that though Section 4(1) itself does not prescribe any time limit for effecting publication in the locality, it has to be done within a reasonable time. What is a reasonable time, is, of course, always a question to be determined on the facts and circumstances of a given case. No hard and fast rule can be laid down in that behalf. Indeed, when the Act itself has not chosen to prescribe a time limit, the Court, by a process of construction, evolves a time limit.

10. We find that an argument based on Rule 1 was also advanced before another Bench of this Court, consisting of one of us (the learned Acting Chief Justice) and P. Ramachandra Raju, J., reported in G. Bheemappa v. State of Andhra Pradesh. : AIR1980AP85 . In that case, it was argued that since Rule 1 requires that the publication in the locality should take place immediately, any delay in effecting the same would vitiate the notification itself. This argument was dealt with in the following words:--

'......This leads us on to the question as to what meaning is to be given to the expression 'immediately'. As has been noticed, it is in Rule 1 that it is provided that the substance of the notification should be published immediately after the notification in the Gazette. The normal meaning of the word 'immediately' is 'forthwith', vide (1906) ILR 30 Bom 275. It is no doubt true that there may be circumstances where it is impossible to publish a notification in the village immediately (in the sense forthwith) after the notification is published in the Gazette. Even so, it cannot be denied that it should be published as expeditiously as possible within a reasonable time......'

It was found in the case that the local publication was effected on 16-1-1979, whereas the publication in the Gazette was on 20-7-1978. The explanation furnished by the Government for the delay was held to be unacceptable, and it was held that the interval is unreasonably long. It must, however, be mentioned that, in that case, it was assumed that Rule 1 applies even in cases where the enquiry under Section 5-A is dispensed with, and that assumption was not questioned by the learned Government Pleader. But, inasmuch as we have held herein before that the said Rule has no application where the enquiry under Section 5-A is dispensed with, no argument can be built upon the language of Rule 1. The notice contemplated by Rule 1, which is also required to be published in the locality, is distinct from the notification under Section 4(1), the substance whereof is required to be published by Section 4(1) itself. Rule 1 (framed by the Governor of Andhra Pradesh) contemplates a composite notice, to be issued in cases, where the enquiry under Section 5-A has not been dispensed with. The requirement of Rule 1 is over and above the requirement of Section 4(1). We are thus of the opinion that Rule 1 has no bearing on the question at issue, namely, what is the period within which publication in the locality, provided by Section 4(1), should take place.

11. Mr. A. Panduranga Rao then relied upon the decision of the Supreme Court in Narinderjit Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh, : [1973]2SCR698 , and in particular upon the following sentence occurring in Paragraph 3:

''......It lays down in unequivocal and clear terms that both things have to be simultaneously done under Section 4(1), i. e., a notification has to be published in the official Gazette that the land is likely to be needed for any public purpose and the Collector has to cause notice to be given of the substance of such notification at convenient places in the locality in which the land is situated......'

The emphasis is upon the word 'simultaneously'. It is accordingly argued that both the publications should be simultaneous and that, an interval of about two months, as in this case, vitiates the very notification. We are unable to agree with the learned counsel that the decision of the Supreme Court can be construed in the manner suggested by him. The Supreme Court was dealing with the necessity of local publication and its mandatory nature. Even in cases where the urgency clause in Sub-section (4) of Section 17 is invoked and the enquiry under Section 5-A is dispensed with, it was laid down, the publication in the the locality is obligatory. In that sense, the Supreme Court observed that Section 4(1) provides for both the publication in the Gazette, and the publication in the locality. They were not dealing with, nor were they concerned in that case with the question of time-lag, or the interval between the Gazette publication and the local publication.

12. The next decision relied upon by the learned counsel is State of Mysore v. Abdul Razak, : [1973]1SCR856 . That was a case where the enquiry under Section 5-A was not dispensed with. The notification under Section 4(1) was published in the Gazette on August 17, 1961, but the publication in the locality took place only on November 1 and 9, 1961. The persons interested filed their objections only on December 4, 1961. The High Court quashed the notification, which was carried in appeal to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court observed that unless both the publications provided by Sub-section (1) of Section 4 take place, it cannot be said that the mandatory requirements of that section are satisfied. It was observed that the local publication has an important purpose behind it, viz., to put the persons interested on notice to enable them to file their objections under Section 5-A, which is undoubtedly a very valuable right. Approving another decision of the Mysore High Court, the Supreme Court observed, 'it is only when the notification is published in the Official Gazette and it is accompanied by or immediately followed by the public notice, that a person interested in the property proposed tc be acquired can be regarded to have had notice of the proposed acquisition......' Learned counsel emphasized the words 'accompanied by or immediately followed by'. The above observations must be read in the context of a case where the enquiry under Section 5-A has not been dispensed with, and under which provision objections have to be filed within thirty days of the issue of the notification. But where such enquiry has been dispensed with, the Court would not and should not quash the notification merely on the ground that the local publication did not take placed soon after the publication in the Gazette. In such cases, it may be noted, the declaration under Section 6 can be and is very often published simultaneously with the notification under Section 4(1). Further, Section 9(1) again provides for a public notice to be published in the locality, stating the Government's intention to take possession of the land, and inviting claims to compensation from all persons interested. Section 9(3) provides for individual notice to the same effect. While there can be little doubt --as held by the Supreme Court -- that publication of the substance of the notification under Section 4(1) in the locality is mandatory, no particular time limit can be prescribed for that purpose, except to say that it must be done within a reasonable time. Of course, where the enquiry under Section 5-A has not been dispensed with, the local publication has to follow immediately upon the publication in the Gazette, because, in such a case, objections have to be filed within thirty days of the issuance of the notification.

13. It was suggested that in cases where the enquiry under Section 5-A has not been been dispensed with, objections can always be filed within thirty days of the local publication and that, the authorities cannot insist upon the filing of the objections within thirty days of the publication in the Gazette. It is submitted that the words 'issue of the notification' occurring in Section 5-A should be understood, in the light of Sub-section (1) of Section 4, to mean both Gazette publication and local publication. Though the observations of the Supreme Court in State of Mysore v. Abdul Razak, : [1973]1SCR856 tend to support this contention, it is unnecessary for us to express any opinion on this question, since it does not arise for decision before us.

14. In the circumstances, we are not satisfied that the delay of one month, 86 days in effecting the local publication in this case, is unreasonable or that ft vitiates the very notification. The writ petition, accordingly, fails and is dismissed; but in the circumstances of the case, there shall be no order as to 'costs. Advocate's fee: Rs. 150/-.


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