1. The petitioner owns certain extent of lands within the Hyderabad Urban agglomeration covered by the Urban Land Ceiling Act. Out of those lands, Ac. 9-28 guntas situate in S. No. 122 of Bhaloolkhanguda, Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, was found to be excess vacant land. Such excess land was liable to be surrendered to the government for being disposed of by the government according to the provisions of the Urban Land Ceiling Act. Of those purposes, the provision of house sites to weaker sections of the society is very prominent. But this Ac. 9-28 cents falls within a recreational zone as per the Master Plan prepared or deemed to have been prepared under the A. P. Urban Development Act. Now the petitioner had applied to the State Government under Section 20 of the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976 for grant of exemption of these lands from the operation of the above Act. The Andhra Pradesh Government in G. O. Ms. No. 152 dated 4-2-1982 granted exemption of these Ac. 9-28 guntas of land from the operation of the provisions of the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976. Exemption was granted subject to the condition that the said land should be utilised only for the purpose of construction of a 'drive-in-theatre and an ordinary theatre. It is a stipulation of the exemption that the project should be completed within a period of three years from the date of the grant of exemption. Strangely, the same piece of land measuring Ac. 9-28 guntas was earlier sought to be acquired by the Government, paying market value, for providing house-sites to the Scheduled Castes Scheduled Tribes and Weaker Sections. For that purpose the Government published a gazette publication under section 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act, dated 21st Jan., 1982. The present writ petition had been filed challenging the validity of the Notification published under section 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act. It may be mentioned that section 5-A inquiry had been dispensed with under the Land Acquisition Act. From the counter-affidavit it appears that the substance of section 4(1) notification had been locally published only on 17th Feb., 1982, that is to say, some twenty-seven days after the Gazette Notification.
2. Now the petitioner has challenged the section 4(1) Notification on several grounds. The first ground is that the Government had acted mala fide in issuing that notification. He says that the Government while granting him exception in one breath had issued these acquisition proceedings for acquiring the same land in another breath. It is also argued that the acquisition proceedings are bad for the reason that they are not for a public purpose. The further contention is that the local publication which was made about twenty-seven days after the date of the gazette publication had vitiated the entire acquisition proceedings.
3. On behalf of the respondent-Government the District Social Welfare Officer, Hyderabad, had denied the charge of male fide. On the other hand, in his counter filed in this case in opposition to the writ petition, he had charged the writ petitioner with acts of suppressing the real facts from the notice of the Government and misguiding the Collector, Hyderabad to recommend the land for exemption. Para 3 of the counter affidavit reads thus:-
'the petitioner has intentionally and with a view to avoid acquisition approached the Collector, Hyderabad, obtained recommendation to exempt the land as already been declared as surplus by the Special Officer. Competent Authority, Urban Land Ceiling published in Andhra Pradesh Gazette No. 92 dated 17-2- 1980.'
I am unable to find any acts on the part of the writ petitioner of suppressing the material facts or misguiding the Collector. The Urban Land Ceiling Act is an open book for all to read. It is an act passed by the parliament for the vowed purpose of acquiring excess land for the purpose of distributing those lands among the weaker sections of the society, who are in need of shelter. For this laudable purpose, the compensation payable is fixed by the very law. It is not necessary that the provisions of the Act be read to the government or the government should be told for what purposes the statute was made by the parliament. The Government and its officers also know all about it. In fact, the petitioner has been making his request to the government openly without concealing the fact that the land exemption was required by him for the purpose of constructing a drive-in-theatre. knowing full well its elitise purpose which is wholly antithetical to the purpose which is wholly anticitherical to the purpose of the Land Ceiling Act, but acting for reasons only known to itself, the Government had granted exemption. I have no manner of doubt that the present charges of fraud and suppression and misguiding alleged against the petitioner by the government are levelled in order to cover up its real intentions. It is really attempting to get out of an awkward situation of apparent collusion with the petitioner in issuing the exemption contrary to the purposes of the Urban Land Ceiling Act. Although the petitioner openly stated his purpose of exemption as the construction of a drive-in-theatre, one officer after another had recommended his application for grant of exemption without pointing our that the purpose of the Act would be defeated partially by the grant of such exemption. Obviously the Government, like the lady in Hamlet methinks protests too much. Clearly by granting exemption the government wanted to please the petitioner. Now it is trying to please the weaker sections by its efforts to acquire the same land at an enormously higher cost to the public exchequer. In this case the Government granted exemption to a piece of land which was by then proposed to be acquired by a Notification published in the Gazette. The Gazette publication under the Land Acquisition Act was dated 21st Jan., 1982. I cannot, therefore, hold that the government granted the exemption contrary to the purpose of the urban Land Ceiling Act without knowing the fact that the land is required and can be used for housing the weaker sections. There must have been some other reason strong and compelling enough that have operated on the Government for granting this exemption. I accordingly reject the Government Contention that exemption was granted by reason of the duplicity practised by the petitioner.
4. The legal effect of granting of exemption is merely to take away the petitioner's land of Ac. 9-28 guntas from the purview of Urban Land Ceiling and Regulation Act and the Exemption could not prevent the government from acquiring the land under section 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act. I cannot, therefore, strike down Section 4(1) notification on this ground alone urged by the petitioner.
5. But it appears to me that Section 4(1) Notification dated 21st Jan., 1982 is liable to be struck down on the ground that there can be no public purpose in the proposal to acquire this land. It was stated by the petitioner in the writ petition and it had been admitted by the Government in its counter-affidavit that the entire extent of Acs. 9-28 guntas are part of recreational zone created under the provisions of the Andhra Pradesh Urban Areas Development Act 1975. The lands which have been demarcated as falling within the recreational zone under the statutory provisions of the above-mentioned Andhra Pradesh Urban Areas Development Act 1975, cannot lawfully be used for house constructional purpose. The public purpose mentioned in section 4(1) Notification is to provide house sites to the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and backward classes and other weaker sections. Now the purpose mentioned in section
4 (1) clearly runs counter to the statutory provisions in the Urban Areas Development Act. Such a purpose is unauthorised and illegal. Construction of houses on the site of Acs. 9-28 guntas would be contrary to the provisions of the Andhra Pradesh Urban Areas Development Act, 1975. If so, the acquisition of the petitioner's land for that purpose. An illegal purpose can never be a public purpose. Public purpose however wide should be lawful. for that reason I hold that section 4(1) Notification issued by the Government is liable to be set aside.
6. It is argued by the learned Government pleader that the user of this land should not be determined by reference to section 4(1) notification. He said that such user can be changed subsequently. But I think this argument is not tenable. It is not really material how exactly these lands would be used in future. For deciding the question whether section 4(1) notification is legal or not what is permissible to be considered is only the purpose mentioned in the Act. That question can only be decided on the basis of Sec. 4(1) notification and with reference to the position obtaining on 21st Jan., 1982. only. On that day the petitioner's land formed part of a recreational zone. On the date of notification the proposal to use that land as house sites can only be illegal and unlawful. The validity of that notification cannot be judged by the uncertain events of the future that might or might not take place. For these reasons, I reject the learned Government pleader's contention that S. 4(1) notification may be considered as lawful on Jan., 21st 1982.
7. Section 4(1) notification is also liable to be set aside on the ground that the substance of the Gazette notification has been published not simultaneously but twenty-seven days after the date of the Gazette notification. The insistence of publication of substance of notification under section 4(1) is based exclusively upon the need to enable the land-holder to make objections within thirty days from the date of the gazette notification. For that purpose which the statute seeks to achieve simultaneous publication becomes unavoidable. In this case the land-holder by reason of the land publication had been left with only three days time to make his objections, while statutorily he has been given thirty days. For the reason also I quash Section 5-A inquiry has been dispensed with in this case cannot make any difference to the above reasoning. The law requires the publication of the substance of the Gazette Notification locally both where section 5-A is dispensed with and where it had not been dispensed with. The time allowed by the statute for local publication must therefore be taken to be uniform.
8. In the circumstances mentioned above, I allow this writ petition with cost. Advocate's fee Rs. 250/-.
9. Petition Allowed.