1. The petitioners are challenging in this petition the acquisition Survey Nos. 710/1, 710/2 and 710/4 admeasuring Ac. 1-95 cents for the purpose of constructing an electric sub-station. The acquisition has been made at the instance of the Andhra Pradesh State Electricity Board. The notification under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act was issued on 4-3-1976. The notification under Section 6 of the Act dated 20-5-76 was published on 3-6-1976.
2. Mr. R. Venugopala Reddy who appears for the petitioners has raised before me three contentions. Firstly he has contended that the substance of the notification issued under Section 4 was not published at convenient places in the locality. The second contention which he has raised is that about six years ago land bearing Survey No. 109 had been acquired for constructing this very sub-station and that proposal was dropped. Now this land is sought to be acquired by invoking the provisions of Sub-section (4) of Section 17 of the Land Acquisition Act. According to him therefore this acquisition is mala fide. The third contention which he has raised is that to south of the land under acquisition the petitioners have other lands, which if this land is acquired, would have no access whatsoever from any direction and that it would be rendered totally useless and inaccessible to the petitioners.
3. So far as the first contention is concerned it has been stated in the counter-affidavit that the substance of the notification under Section 4 was published in the village on 10-3-1976. However, it has been argued by Mr. R. Venugopal Reddy that it was not published at the convenient place, that is to say, near the land under acquisition. In my opinion if the substance of the notification under Section 4 was published in the village to which the land under acquisition belongs it is more than sufficient to satisfy the provisions of Sub-section (1) of Section 4 of the Act. It cannot in that case be said that it was not published at the convenient place in the locality. The first contention raised by the learned counsel is therefore without any substance and is rejected.
4. The second contention which he has raised also cannot be upheld. It has been stated in the counter-affidavit filed on behalf of the Electricity Board that Survey No. 109 which was proposed to be acquired earlier for constructing this very Electric sub-station was found to be in a low-lying area and that the Electric sub-station if constructed there would be water-logged during the rainy season. In my opinion that was a very good reason for abandoning that proposal and initiating a fresh proposal for acquiring some more suitable land. Water-logging around the electric sub-station would lead to failure of power supply. It is always undesirable to locate an electric sub-station at such place. Secondly it has been stated that when the proposal for acquiring Survey No. 109 was made the Electricity Board wanted to construct 33 K. V. Sub-station. Now with the increase in demand for the power supply in the area the Electricity Board wants to construct a 132 K. V. sub-station. In view of these facts which can hardly be controverted it is difficult to say that abandonment of the proposal to acquire Survey No. 109 and initiation of a fresh proposal to acquire the present land is mala fide. The second contention raised by Mr. R. Venugopala Reddy is therefore without any substance and is rejected.
5. The last contention which he has raised is that the acquisition of the present land renders the other lands of the petitioners completely useless and without any access. A sketch annexed to the counter-affidavit filed by the Land Acquisition Officer shows that Survey No. 697 which is situated south of the lands under acquisition and which belongs to the petitioners is bound in south and west by lands belonging to other persons, in east by a canal and its bund and in the north by the land under acquisition. It is therefore clear that Survey No. 697 which is not under acquisition and which belongs to the petitioners is completely land-locked and the petitioners will have no access whatsoever to the land after the present acquisition has been made. It has been stated by the Land Acquisition Officer in his counter-affidavit that the petitioners can use the canal-bund for access to Survey No. 697. Survey No. 697 is an agricultural land. The minimum requirement of an agriculturist is to have access to his land by a bullock cart so that he can carry manure, seeds and other things there and also carry back to the village the crops after harvest. It is difficult to imagine how a bullock cart, which is the minimum requirement of an agriculturist, can pass through a canal bund and go to Survey No. 697.
6. It has next been stated by the Land Acquisition Officer that he is not bound to provide a way to the petitioners. It is difficult to uphold the propriety of such a proposition in the facts and circumstances such as those which attend upon this case. It may be within the power of the State to acquire the land for a public purpose. But it is not within the power of the State, while exercising that power, to render the other adjoining lands of the owner absolutely and thoroughly useless and beyond his reach. Every compulsory acquisition of land produces in its wake some injurious effect for the owner. But that injurious effect cannot be so wide and so pervasive as to render the adjoining lands of the owner thoroughly useless, inaccessible and beyond his reach. Unless the Land Acquisition Officer is prepared to pay compensation for this land also the present acquisition cannot be upheld. The counter-affidavit filed in this case does not show that the Land Acquisition Officer is prepared to pay to the petitioners compensation in terms of the Land Acquisition Act. in respect of Survey No. 697. Therefore in so far as the present acquisition renders Survey No. 697. Therefore in so far as the present acquisition renders Survey No. 697 belonging to the petitioners thoroughly useless and worthless and places it beyond the reach of the petitioners altogether, the present acquisition cannot be upheld.
7. It has however, been stated that possession of the land under acquisition has been taken. In the counter-affidavit it has been stated that possession was taken on 25-6-1976. But the learned Government Pleader who appears for the Land Acquisition Officer states that possession was taken on 19-6-1976. Nothing turns upon the discrepancy in the date of taking possession. It has however been stated on behalf of the Electricity Board that not only possession of the land under acquisition has been taken but work has been in progress. But they have not stated what work they have started and what work is in progress. On the other hand the affidavit-in-reply filed by the petitioners shows that they have raised crops on the lands under acquisition. It is difficult in these circumstances to accept the averment made on behalf of the Electricity Board that the work is in progress. In my opinion the third contention which Mr. Venugopal Reddy has raised is a substantive contention and must be upheld. Therefore, the acquisition of the petitioners' land in question is bad in law and must be quashed.
8. In the result the petition is allowed and the impugned acquisition is quashed. The respondents are directed to return possession of the lands in question to the petitioners unconditionality. The respondents shall pay the costs of this petition to the petitioners.
9. Petition allowed.