1. The temple of Sri Venkateswara on Tirumali Hills is one of the most renowned and ancient Vaishnative temples of our country. Every day devotees by thousands flock to the temple to have 'darshan' of the Lord and to offer worship. On festival days, which are numerous, the number of devotees thronging the temple and its precincts increases ten-fold and twenty-fold. In recent years, with the facility of easy and convenient methods of transport, there is a daily increase of the number of pilgrims. These are matters of common knowledge in this State. With the great increase of the daily influx of pilgrims it appears to have been thought desirable that more amenities should be provided to them and care should be taken to eliminate insanitary conditions so as to prevent disease and epidemic. It was also thought necessary that the Sannidhi Street leading to the temple and the Mada Streets surrounding the temple should be widened. The Director of Town-Planning accordingly prepared a Town-Planning Scheme for the Tirumalai Hill Panchayat area and proceedings for acquiring the private Property situated in the area for the purposes of the Scheme were started under Sections 33(b), 34 and 35 of the Andhra Pradesh Town-Planning Act. These proceedings, were, however, quashed by a judgment of this Court in W. P. Nos. 653, 667, etc. of 1966 on the ground on the ground that the proceedings were instituted more than three years after the date of notification of the Scheme under the Town-Planning Act. This, however, did not preclude the Government from proceeding under the Land Acquisition Act. Accordingly, the Government issued notifications under Section 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act in respect of several items of property. The notifications invariably stated that the lands specified in the notifications were needed for public purposes, namely, widening the Sannidhi Street, Gopuram Street and East Mada Street, construction of Police Station, Co-operative Stores, urinals and lavatories and providing for marketing centre and canteen for pilgrims. IN one notification which is the subject matter of W. P. No. 700 to 1967, the purpose is stated to be widening of East Mada Street and extension of Vahana Mandapam. The several petitioners in these writ petitions object to the proceedings under the Land Acquisition Act and have filed these writ petitions under Art. 226 of the Constitution to quash the several notifications under S. 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act. They have done so without availing themselves of the opportunity afforded by Section 5A of the Land Acquisition Act of objecting to the acquisition and without awaiting the declaration under Section 6 of the Act.
2. Sri Babulu Reddy, learned Counsel for petitioners in W. P. Nos. 699 and 700 of 1967 urges that the proposed acquisition is not for a public purpose and that the acquisition is merely meant to acquire private property and vest it in the temple. There is no force whatever in this contention. Where immovable property is acquired for the purposes of a Town-Planning Scheme whether the machinery provided by the Land Acquisition Act as contemplated by Section 33 (a) of the Town-Planning Act as contemplated, by Section 33 (b) of the Act is employed, in either case, Section 33 provides that immovable property required for the purposes of a town planning scheme shall be deemed to be land needed for a public purpose, within the meaning of the Land Acquisition Act' Even apart from Sec. 33 of the Town-Planning Act, there can be little doubt that widening of the streets leading to the temple and surrounding the temple, construction of public urinals and lavatories and provision for marketing centres and canteens for the benefit of the pilgrims are certainly public purposes. This is not also seriously disputed, though Mr. Babulu Reddy contends that at any rate extension of Vahana Mandapam which is one of the purposes mentioned in the notification which is the subject matter of W. P. No. 700 of 1967 is not a public purpose. I do not agree with this contention either. The extension of Vahana Mandapam must be viewed in the context of the multitudes of pilgrims likely to gather at the Mandapam and in the context of the Scheme prepared by the Town-Planning authorities. Viewed in that context, I have no doubt that the acquisition of land for extension of Vahana Mandapam is also a public purpose.
3. The next submission of Sri Babul Reddy is that the compensation payable under the Land Acquisition Act is proposed to be paid by the Tirumalai Tirupati Devasthanam and not 'wholly or partly out of public revenues or some fund controlled or managed by local authority.' This Mr. Babul Reddy submits, is sufficient to invalidate the proceedings for acquiring the lands of the petitioners. The simple and straight answer to this argument is that the stage has not yet arrived for the Government to State whether the compensation is to be paid 'wholly or partly out of the public revenues or some fund controlled or managed by local authority. All that has happened so far is the issue of notification under S. 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act. The Land Acquisition Officer has yet to hear the objections of the aggrieved persons under Section 5A of the Act before finally issuing a notification under Section 6 of the Act. The decision as to who should pay the whole or part of the compensation must be taken before a declaration under Section 6 is made. There is, therefore, yet time for the Government to decide whether the compensation is to be paid 'wholly or partly out of public revenues or some fund controlled or managed by local authority' or even to drop the land acquisition proceedings altogether. My attention is drawn to the following statement in the counter affidavit filed on behalf of the Government.
'It is true that the third respondent (T. T. D Board) has made necessary arrangements to pay the compensation amount in full since entire compensation has to be met from the funds of the Panchayat.'
It may be that the Devasthanam Board is ready and willing to pay the entire amount of compensation and has communicated its willingness to do so to the Government. But that does not mean that the Government will not contribute a part of the compensation. I am of the view that the complaint of the petitioners in this regard is premature. Sri Babul Reddy contends that even at a later stage the Government cannot contribute any part of the compensation as, according to him, that will cut at the very concept of a secular State and the Government will, in such a case, be acting directly in contravention of the provisions of the Constitution. The basis of this argument is that the acquisition is for the benefit of the temple. This is an ill-founded assumption. It is the duty of the State, Whenever and wherever people congregate in large numbers, to provide for basic amenities, to prevent disease and epidemic and to promote orderliness, etc. The State cannot refuse to perform its ordinary duty merely because crowds have gathered there for the purpose of offering worship in a temple. What is important, so far as the State is concerned, is the presence of the multitude and not the reason for its presence. The argument of the petitioner proceeds on a confusion which is the result of identifying the temple with the pilgrims that attend the temple. I am firmly of the view that by contributing a part of the amount of compensation the Government, in the present cases, will not be contravening any provisions of the Constitution. It is unnecessary to consider another argument of Sri Babul Reddy that Tirumalai Panchayat through which the Devasthanam proposes to pay the amount of compensation is not in fact a Panchayat constituted in accordance with the provisions of the Village Panchayats Act and cannot, therefore, be considered to be a local authority for the purpose of Section 6 of the Land Acquisition Act. As I have stated earlier, this argument is premature as the stage for taking a decision as to who should pay the compensation has not yet arrived.
4. Mr. I. V. Rangacharya, learned Counsel for Sri Digyadarshan Rajendra Rama Dassjee Varu, Mahant of Sri Swami Hathiramjee Mutt and others, petitioners in W. P. Nos. 2040, 2048 etc. of 1967, advanced a further argument based on the statement in the counter-affidavit that the acquisition is sought on behalf of the Tirumalai Panchayat, Mr. Rangacharya submits that the Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act inclusive of Section 84, which declared that the Tirumalai Hill area shall be deemed to be a village for the purpose of the Madras Village Panchayats Act of 1950, has been repealed and Section 90 of the Andhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act, 1966, provides for the constitution of a Civic Committee for the Tirumalai Hills Area and does not provide for the constitution of any Gram Panchayat under the Gram Panchayats Act. Mr. Rangacharya submits that the Tirumalai Panchayat being non-existent, there is no one in whom the acquired property can vest and none to carry out the purposes for which the acquisition is being made. I am unable to accept this contention. It is not necessary that there should be any authority other than the Government in whom the property should vest after acquisition for carrying out the purposes of acquisition. In fact, under Section 16 of the Land Acquisition Act, on the making of an award by the Collector and on his taking possession, the property will vest absolutely in the Government. Thereafter, it is for the Government to carry out the purposes of acquisition in such manner as it thinks best. It may entrust the task to a local authority and vest the acquired property in it. Again, it may not. It may decide upon some other course to achieve the object. The statement in the counter-affidavit that the acquisition is sought on behalf of the Tirumalai Panchayat must be read with reference to the point of time when the proposals for acquisition were first made. At that time there was a Panchayat in existence and the Town-Planning Scheme was prepared for the Panchayat Area. But because the Panchayat has ceased to exist, it does not mean that the public purposes have ceased. The purposes for which the acquisition was originally proposed continues to exist and the need is certainly greater now. If there is no Gram Panchayat in existence, the Government may entrust the work to a Civic Committee to be constituted under Section 90 of the Andhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act, 1966, or to the Township Committee which may be constituted under Section 5 of the Andhra Pradesh Gram Panchayats Act or it may undertake the work itself. I do not see how the non-existence of a Panchayat can invalidate notifications under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act for avowedly public purposes.
5. The learned Counsel for the petitioners relied upon Bangalore City Municipality v. Rangappa AIR 1954 Mys 171 and Manick Chand Mahata v. Corporation of Calcutta, AIR 1921 Cal 159, in support of their argument. In the Calcutta case, the Chairman of the Corporation of Calcutta sought to acquire certain property for the Calcutta Improvement Trust. Under Section 357 of the Calcutta Municipal Act, the Corporation was empowered to acquire land for the purpose of widening, extending or otherwise improving any public street. Greaves J., held that S. 357 did not enable the Corporation to acquire land for the benefit of the Calcutta Improvement Trust. That case has no application to the facts of the present case. In the Mysore case similarly the Government started proceedings at the instance of the Bangalore City Municipality to acquire certain land for the benefit of Siddaroodaswami Mandali, the Mandali itself undertaking to pay the cost of acquisition. Under Section 43 of the City Municipalities Act, land could be acquired at the request of the Municipal Council for the purposes of the Municipalities Act. A Bench of the Mysore High Court held that acquisition for the purpose of adding to the premises to Siddaroodaswami Mandali could hardly be said to be any purpose under the Municipalities Act and that the Municipality was incompetent to acquire land for the Mandali. The learned Judges also held that it could not be said that the Municipality was paying the compensation as contemplated by the Section . This case also is not of any assistance to the petitioners. The acquisition in the present case is not for the purpose of adding to the properties of the Tirumalai Devasthanam, nor is it for the purpose of conferring any benefit on the Devasthanam. The purpose of acquisition is to provide amenities and convenience to the pilgrims congregating there by establishing marketing centre, canteen, urinals, lavatories and by widening the streets leading to the temple and surrounding the temple.
6. In the result all the writ petitions are dismissed with costs.
7. Petitions dismissed.