1. This writ petition arises under the Urban Ceiling Act (hereinafter referred to as the Act). The petitioner was admittedly holding excess vacant land. He had therefore made declaration under the Act showing the excess land. Following the procedure prescribed by the Act, the excess holding has been determined under S. 10, Cl. 3 of the Act. The Competent Authority by a notification published in the official Gazette of the State declared the excess vacant land. As a result of that notification and by reason of Cl. 3 of S. 10 of the Act the vacant land is vested absolutely in the State Government, free from all encumbrances. Now subsequent to the aforesaid notification made under S. 10 Cl. 3 of the Act, the petitioner had made an application before the State Government on 12-6-84 under S. 20 of the Act, seeking exemption of the excess vacant land from the provisions of the Act. That application has not yet been disposed of by the Government. But the Competent Authority acting under S. 10 Cl. 5 of the Act, has directed the petitioner to surrender and deliver possession of the excess land to the special Deputy Tahsildar. Now this writ petition has been filed challenging that notice issued by the competent authority directing the petitioner to deliver possession of the excess vacant land as determined by S. 10 Cl. 3 of the Act.
2. The argument of the learned counsel for the petitioner is that while his application for exemption under S. 10 is pending with the State Government, the competent authority cannot issue this direction. The question that arises is and in fact, that is the only question, whether the competent authority can put Cl. 5 of S. 10 into operation while the petitioner's application for exemption is still pending with the Government. The answer to that question depends upon the answer to the question whether the Government can legally grant any exemption in a case like this with respect to the excess land which had been notified by the competent authority under S. 10 Cl. 3 of the Act and which by reason of the provisions of Cl. 3 of S. 10 of the Act is deemed to have been vested absolutely in the State Government free from all encumbrances. On an examination of the language of S. 20 I entertain no hesitation in holding that the language of S. 20 of the Act would be inapplicable to situation of this nature. For the application of S. 20 there are certain conditions to be fulfilled. The first condition that must be satisfied is that a person should be holding vacant land in excess of the ceiling limit and the second condition is that the State Government should be satisfied that, having regard to certain factors mentioned in S. 20 of the act, it is necessary and expedient in the public interest to exempt such vacant land from the provisions of that chapter. Now, in my opinion, the first condition that a person should hold vacant land in excess of the ceiling limit is impossible to be fulfilled by the application for this case, because long before he had filed an application for exemption under S. 20 of the Act, he had ceased to hold any vacant land in excess of the ceiling limit by reason of the notification made by the competent authority under S. 10, Cl. 3 of the Act and by the operation of the provisions of that Act. In other words, on the day of his application, the petitioner did not possess vacant land in excess of ceiling limit. When once S. 10, Cl. 3 notification has been made, the excess vacant land vests in the State Government absolutely. Thus when once the excess vacant land vested in the State Government, no person can be said to be holding that vacant land in excess of the ceiling limit. It is therefore really impossible for the petitioner to fall under S. 20 of the Act, because the petitioner is not holding any vacant land in excess of the ceiling limit on the day of his application or subsequently. Section 20, therefore, in my opinion, can have no application. But the argument of the learned counsel for the petitioner is that Cl. (1) of S. 20 begins with a non obstante clause and that therefore, the Government can grant exemption even after the land is vested in the Government. I am unable to agree with this contention. The non obstante clause will have operation and would enable the Government to exercise its power of exemption only if the pre-conditions for the exercise of that power as enumerated in S. 20 are satisfied. In other words, the non-obstante clause has no impact whatsoever on the need for the petitioner fulfilling the preconditions mentioned in S. 20 of the Act. The non obstante clause would not detract from the force of the pre-conditions. They have to be complied before that section is attracted. It is further stated that the Government may not object to the grant of exemption on the ground that the land is vested in the Government and that in view of the fact that the land is vested in the Government, the Government should be free to grant exemption if it so chooses and that till the Government decides to reject the petitioner's application the operation of S. 10, Cl. 3 read with Cl. 5 of S. 10 of the Act must be stayed. I am unable to agree with this contention. Unfortunately, it is easily forgotten that we have only a Government of laws and not of men. The State Government can act in a case like this according to the a statutory provisions of the Act. If those provisions direct that exemption shall be granted only subject to such conditions and only when the land is held by a person in excess of his ceiling limit, the Government cannot ignore those conditions and grant exemption even when those conditions cannot be fulfilled. If the State Government were to do so, it will be guilty of disobeying the law made by the Parliament. I am therefore unable to admit this writ petition and it is accordingly dismissed.
3. Petition dismissed.