1. This is a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution and has come to us as a result of a reference made by Mr. Justice Dwivedi.
2. There are three plots of land bearing Nos. 1708, 1709 and 1710 situated in Mohalla Nal Bazar in the town of Basti within the limits of the Municipal Board of that town. According to the petitioner plot No. 1710 contains the 'Asthan' of Sri Karwa Baba and is on that account a place of pilgrimage.' There is a Shiv Asthan also on the plot adjacent to an old well. The petitioner is constructing a 'dharamshala' near the 'Asthan' for the convenience of the pilgrims visiting the place.
On the 28th of June 1955 a notification under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act was issued for the acquisition of the land of these plots. The petitioner filed an objection under Section 5-A of the Land Acquisition Act (hereinafter referred to as the Act) against the proposal to acquire the land. The objection was enquired into by the Land Acquisition Officer who submitted a report to the Government recommending that the objection was well founded. The petitioner alleges that as a result of the report the acquisition proceedings were dropped and the notification issued under Section 4 was cancelled. In connection with the Water Works Scheme for the' town, the Municipal Board of Basti got a tube-well sunk on a part of the land to which the petitioner objected. After the land acquisition proceedings were dropped the petitioner proceeded with the construction of his 'dharamshala' which is still incomplete.
On the 10th of November 1960 a fresh notification under Section 4 of the Act was issued by the Government. This time the Government proposed to acquire only a part of the land in respect of which the previous notification bad been issued but this time along with the notification under Section 4 of the Act the Government also issued a notification under Section 17(4) of the Act directing that the provisions of Section 5-A of the Act shall not apply to the acquisition. This was followed by a notification issued under Section 6 of the Act on the 29th of November 1960. This notification contained a notification under Sections 17(1) and 17(1-A) of the Act. This time thepurpose for which the land was being acquired was mentioned in the notification as completion of the Water Supply Scheme of old Basti.
The petitioner challenges the validity of the acquisition proceedings and prays that the notifications dated the 10th of November 1960 and the 29th of November 1960 be quashed by a writ of certiorari. A writ of 'mandamus, order or direction in the nature of mandumas is also prayed for directing the opposite parties not to in any manner interfere with the petitioner's possession over the land on the basis of the aforesaid notification'.
Several grounds were mentioned in the petition but the only grounds of challenge urged before us by the learned counsel for the petitioner are:
(1) That Section 17(4) of the Act was not applicable to the case and exercising its powers under that sub-section it was not open to the Government to declare that Section 5-A of the Act shall not apply;
(2) That Section 17(4) of the Act was 'ultra vires' as it offended Article 14 of the Constitution;
(3) That the earlier acquisition proceedings having been dropped as a result of the petitioner's objection it was not open to the authorities to start fresh proceedings for the acquisition of the same land; and
(4) That Section 17(1-A) of the Act was inapplicable as the acquisition was not being made for any of the purposes contemplated by that clause.
3. When the petition first came up for disposal before Mr. Justice Dwivedi reliance in support of the first contention was placed on the case of Gur Dayal v. State of U. P., AIR 1960 All 564. It was, however pointed out that there was an earlier decision in S. V. S. Mahaswami v. State of Uttar Pradesh AIR 1957 All 127 which was in conflict with the decision in Gur Dayal's case, AIR 1960 All 564. The learned Judge thought that it was necessary to resolve the conflict and, therefore, referred the case to a larger Bench.
4. Under the scheme for acquisition provided in the Act the acquisition proceedings start by the publication of a preliminary, notification under Section 4. After that notification is published, Section 5-A authorises any person interested to file an objection to the proposed acquisition of the land. The objector is heard by the Collector who has to submit the case along with his report for the decision of the Government and the decision of the appropriate Government on the objection is declared to be final. After the objection has been disposed of a notification under Section 6 has to be published. Then a notice under Section 9 has to be issued to all the persons interested in the land to be acquired. An enquiry has then to be made by the Collector and the award given by him under Section 11. As soon as the award becomes final under Section 12 the Collector takes possession under Section 16 and the land becomes free from all encumbrances.
If the land acquisition proceedings are allowed to take their ordinary course some delay is bound to occur between the starting of the acquisition proceedings and the taking of possession by the Government as a result of the award. Section 17, therefore, provides for the exercise of special powers in the case of urgency. The only sub-sections of the section which are relevantfor our present purposes are Sub-sections (1) and (4). They read as follows :
'17 (1). In cases of urgency, whenever the appropriate Government so directs, the Collector, though no such award has been made, may, on the expiration of fifteen days from the publication of the notice mentioned in Section 9, Sub-section (1), take possession of any waste or arable land needed for public purposes or for a Company. Such land shall thereupon vest absolutely in the Government, free from all encumbrances.
X X X X XX
4. In cases of any land to which, in the opinion of the appropriate Government, the provisions; of Sub-section (1) or Sub-section (2) are applicable, the appropriate Government may direct that the provisions of Section 5-A shall not apply, and, if it does so direct, a declaration may be made under Section 6 in respect of the land at any time after the publication of the notification under Section 4, Sub-section (1).''
5. By U. P. Act XXII of 1954 besides some other amendments Sub-section (1-A) has been added to Section 17. Section 6 of the amending Act reads as follows:
'After Sub-section (1) of Section 17 of the principal Act: the following shall be inserted as a new Sub-section (1-A). :--(1-A) The power to take possession-under Sub-section (1) may also be exercised in the case of other than waste or arable land where the land is acquired for or in connection with sanitary improvements of any kind or planned development.'
6. Though this amending Act XXII of 1954; inserted Sub-section (1-A) after Sub-section (1) in Section 17 no consequential amendment was made in Sub-section (4) of the section and it was not inserted in that sub-section that the powers conferred by it will be exercisable in cases covered by Sub-section (1-A) also. Relying on this omission it is urged on behalf of the petitioner that even if it be conceded that Sub-section (1-A) was applicable and that the Collector was entitled to take possession of the land in dispute because it was going to be acquired in connection with sanitary improvements or planned development it was not open to the Government to take advantage of Sub-section (4) and to provide in the notification that Section 5A would not be applicable and thus to deprive the petitioner, of his right to file objections to the acquisition proceedings under that section.
The argument is that if the intention of the Legislature was to authorise the Government to act under Sub-section (4) even in cases which were not covered by Sub-section (1) but were covered by Sub-section (1-A) it was necessary to insert in Sub-section (4) that the notification under that section could be issued in cases to which the provisions of Sub-section (1-A) were also applicable. As that was not done, the application of Sub-section (4) remained confined to cases covered by Sub-section (1) only and cases falling under Sub-section (1-A) fell outside its purview.
7. A similar contention urged before Mehrotra, J. in AIR 1957 All 127, was rejected but was accepted by Mathur J. in AIR 1960 All 564.
8. Sub-section (1) of Section 17 applied only to two kinds of land, i.e. waste and arable, and authorised the appropriate Government in case of urgency to authorise the Collector to take possession of such land even before the award has beenmade under Section 11. Three conditions were, therefore, necessary before the powers under Sub-section (1) could be exercised. In the first place, theland to be acquired was to be arable or waste;secondly the appropriate Government was to be satisfied that it was a case of urgency; and thirdly as a result of its satisfaction about the urgency the Government was to issue a direction to theCollector to act under the sub-section. If all thesethree essentials were fulfilled the powers underSection 17(1) could be exercised and the case becameone to which Section 17(1) was applicable.
The clear purpose of inserting Sub-section (1-A) after Sub-section (1) by the State Government appears to be to enable the powers under Sub-section (1) to be exercised even in cases of land not waste or arable provided the land was being acquired for planned development or in connection with sanitary improvements. This purpose could have beenachieved in a number of ways depending on the ingenuity of the person who was drafting the amendment. Thus instead of enacting a new subsection called (1-A) it was possible to achieve thesame purpose by adding the words ''or land acquired for or in connection with sanitary improvements of any kind or planned development' after the words 'arable land' and before the wordneeded' in Sub-section (1). The alternative methodopen was the one actually adopted by the State Legislature.
Mehrotra, J., was, therefore, if we may say so with respect, justified in his observation:
'The effect of the new Section 17(1-A) is that theCollector can exercise power under Section 17(1) ofthe Act not only in respect of waste or arable landbut also in respect of land required in connectionwith a planned development scheme; but the power is still exercised under Section 17(1) and not under Section 17(1-A).'
In fact, Section 17(1-A) does not confer any powers at all. It only refers to Section 17(1) and declares that the powers possessed by the Collector under that sub-section can be exercised not only in respect of waste and arable land but also in respect of that land also which is being acquired for or in connection with the purposes mentioned in the new subsection. In respect of land acquired for or in connection with any sanitary improvement or planned development, therefore if the other two requirements of Sub-section (1) are present the Collector can take possession before making the award and Sub-section (1) will in that case become applicable to the acquisition o such land. The scope Of Sub-section (1) was thus increased in one respect by the addition of Sub-section (1-A) and though the form in which the amendment was given was the addition of a new sub-section to Section 17 the real effect of the amendment was only to add a few words in the old Sub-section (1).
That being the position, in our opinion, it was not necessary to add anything to Sub-section (4)as a consequence of the amendment. The powers under Sub-section (4) could be exercised in all cases where Sub-section (1) was applicable. If that section was applicable also to cases covered by Sub-section (1-A), viz. the land acquired for or in connection with sanitary improvements of any kind or planned development, such a land also became land to which Sub-section (1) was applicable and in respect of such land the powers under Sub-section (4) could be exercised without any change being introduced in that sub-section.
No reasons were given by Mathur, J. in Gur Dayal's case for taking the view that:
''But as Sub-section (4) was not correspondingly amended, the enquiry contemplated by Section 5-A has to be held with regard to and which could be covered by new Sub-section (1-A) of Section 17.''
With great respect we are unable to share that view.
We, therefore, find no force in the contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner thatbecause Sub-section (4) was not amended a notification under it excluding the application of Section 5-A could not be issued in respect of the acquisition of the land now in dispute. The first ground urged by the learned counsel is, therefore, untenable.
9. A two-pronged attack was made to assail the validity of Section 17(4). It was urged in the first place that Sub-section (4) of Section 17 confers a very important power On the Government--a power which can easily be misused. The power is to suspend the application of Section 5-A to a particular land acquisition proceeding and thus to deprive the person interested of his right to file an objection to the acquisition and to prevent his land from being taken away. It is urged that the power conferred by Sub-section (4) is an arbitrary power. The Government at its own sweet will may exercise the power in one case and may not do so in another. Emphasis is laid on the word 'may' used in the sub-section. It is urged that no guidance has been given to regulate the exercise of the power. The sub-section, it is urged, contains nothing on the basis of which the appropriate Government has to decide whether to exercise the power in a particular case or not. The sub-section, it is contended, on that account contravenes the principles of equality before law guaranteed by Article 14 of the Constitution.
10. It is urged secondly that Sub-section (4) is a case of exercise and unauthorised delegation as by it the Legislature has delegated to the executive Government its own function to suspend the operation of a law viz. Section 5-A of the Act. Reference was made by learned counsel in support of this latter contention on an observation to be found on page 232 of the First Volume of Cooley's 'Constitutional Limitations', 8th Edn. There it had been stated:
''The suspension of a statute is a legislative act unless based upon some condition, contingency, exigency or state of facts declared by the legislative enactment to be sufficient to warrant the suspension by an executive or administrativebody whose duty it is to execute or administer the law suspended. Under express constitutional provisions, in some jurisdictions, the power of suspending statutes can be exercised only by the legislature, or by its authority. A constitutional provision restricting the power of suspension to the legislature is not violated by the suspension of an act upon a contingency, when such suspension is expressly provided for in the act itself.'
It is pointed out that there is a similar observation in Sutherland's 'Statutory Construction', 3rd Edn. Vol. I, at page 80. The passage relied upon reads as follows :
'The suspending or dispensing power is usually implicitly granted to an administrative agency through its fact-finding authority, but when it is expressly granted in the statute, the power is frequently held invalid because it is said, to grant the power to ''repeal' existing statutes or because it implies the possibility of making special or unreasonable discriminations. The general rule, however, apparently is that if adequate standards for administrative action are established, the validity of the suspending power is similar to that of regulatory power and a grant with an adequate standard is a valid delegation.'
11. It is true that Sub-section (4) confers a discretionary power on the Government but discretion does not necessarily amount to discrimination. All provisions which confer a discretion, on some authority or person are not necessarily void. From the very nature of things the Legislature cannot be expected to deprive the authority administering an act from all discretion and to enact only compelling provisions which have to be used in all cases. Whether a particular power is to be exercised in a particular case or not will naturallydepend on many facts and circumstances which cannot always be visualised by the Legislature or laid down by it in all its details.
An analysis of Sub-section (4) of Section 17 willshow that:
(1) The powers conferred by the sub-section can be exercised only by the appropriate Government and not by a subordinate authority;
(2) The Government has to form an opinion that it is necessary to exercise the powers conferred by the sub-section;
(3) The case should be of a land to which the provisions of Sub-section (1) or (2) are applicable. The last requirement refers back to Sub-sections (1) and (2).
As we have already observed, Sub-section (1) will apply only if the appropriate Government is satisfied about the urgency of the case and the land is one of the kinds mentioned either in that sub-section or Sub-section (I-A). For the application of Sub-section (2) also some conditions are necessary. Thus immediate taking of possession of land must be necessary for the Railway Administration on account of sudden change in the channel of anynavigable river or other unforeseen emergency. The purpose for taking immediate possession must be the maintenance of Railway traffic or making a river-side or ghat station or providing convenient connection with Or access to such station. Before action can be taken the previous sanction of theappropriate Government has to be obtained. If possession is to be taken in respect of a, building or its part, at least 48 hours' notice or longer as may be reasonably sufficient of the intention to take possession has to be given to the occupier to enable him to remove his movable property without unnecessary inconvenience.
The power conferred by these sub-sections is, therefore, not entirely unguided. Adequate safeguards have been provided and the power can be exercised only under the limitations and conditions specified in these sub-sections. The very fact that a high authority like the Government has to make up its mind on the question of urgency under Sub-section (1) and on the question whether a case has been made out for taking action under Sub-section (2) prevents all likelihood of the powers under the sub-sections being misused. The purpose for which these two sub-sections as well as Sub-section (4) have been enacted and the fact that they are to be utilised only in case of urgency provide the necessary guide for deciding when action is to be taken under these provisions and when the provisions are not to be utilised. It cannot, therefore, be said that the power conferred is naked or arbitrary or that the authorities concerned are left without any guide.
12. No reasonable exception can, in our view be taken to the use of the word 'may' in Sub-section (4). It is true that on account of the use of that word it is open to the Government not to exclude the application of the provisions of Sub-section 5A in any particular case even if Sub-section (1) or Sub-section (2) are applicable to it. But the discretion conferred by the use of that word appears to have been advisedly conferred by the Legislature. 'It is not at all difficult to conceive of cases in which the urgency contemplated by Sub-section (1) and (2) may be there but may not be so acute that it may be necessary to exclude the application of Section 5-A. The Legislature could not, therefore, be expected to make it compulsory for the Government to exclude the application of Section 5-A in all cases covered by Sub-sections (1) and (2).
13. Useful reference may be made in this connection to the case of Arjan Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 1959 Punj 538, in which the provisions of Section 17 as a whole were being challenged on the ground that the powers conferred were unregulated. Rejecting the contention Bishan Narain, J. observed :
'It was then argued that the word 'urgency' is no classification at all, and it is open to Government to apply the provisions of Section 17 to any case arbitrarily. I am unable to accept this suggestion. In certain circumstances, namely the cases of urgency, the Government has been empowered to take possession of the land within a short time without complying with the provisions of Section 5-A etc. This power to determine whether there is urgency or not is obviously wide power. It is, however, not necessarily arbitrary power. It is to be used to further the object of acquisition.
It is to be noticed that this power has been given to the Government itself and not to any petty official. This assures fair use of the power. If this power is, however, abused, then the aggrieved party may seek remedy in Courts of law, but on that ground Section 17 cannot be considered to be ultra vires of the Constitution (vide Matajog Dobey v. H. C. Bhari, (S) AIR 1956 SC 44, and Leach and Co. Ltd. v. Jardine Skinner and Co., (S) AIR 1957 SC 357).'
14. In R. L. Aurora v. State of U. P., AIR 1958 All 872, also the validity of Sub-sections (1) and (4) of Section 17 was being questioned on the ground that the sub-sections conferred an arbitrary power on the State Government to determine when a state of urgency exists and thus to deprive person of his right under Section 5-A to object to the acquisition of his property. The contention was, however, rejected with, the observation.
'We think that the Act contains a clear indication that the powers conferred on the State Government by the two sub-sections in question are to be exercised only when it is in the public interest that the acquisition of waste or arable land should not be delayed. The powers are not unfettered and the sub-sections do not in our judgment contravene the provisions of Article 14.''
15. It may be conceded for the sake of argument that the right to exclude the application of Sub-section 5A is a right of suspension referred to by Cooley and Sutherland. But when the Legislature took care to provide in the Act itself the contingencies in which and the limitations under which it could be exercised the enactment cannot in our opinion, be held to be unconstitutional on the ground of excessive delegation. The rule which applies is the general rule referred to by Sutherland that if adequate safeguards for administrative actions are established the suspending power stands on the same footing as the regulatory power. If adequate standards are prescribed, as has been done in the present case, even a suspending power can be validly delegated.
16. Moreover, as was laid down by the Supreme Court in Vasanlal Maganbhai v. State of Bombay, AIR 1961 SC 4:
'In dealing with the challenge to the vires of any statute on the ground of excessive delegation. It is therefore, necessary to enquire whether the impugned delegation involves the delegation of an essential legislative function or power and whether the Legislature has enunciated its policy and principle and given guidance to the delegate or not.'
If this test is applied it will not be difficult to see that the policy of the legislation has been laid down by the Legislature itself. It has not been delegated to the Government. The only power which has been delegated to the Government is to apply the policy to particular cases as the occasion arises. As we have already indicated the Legislature has given the necessary guidance to the government enabling it to decide When action is to be taken under Sub-section (4). It has also provided the conditions which are necessary and must be present before action can be taken under that section. This does not, therefore, appear to be a case of excessive or unauthorised delegation at all.
17. We are, therefore, unable to accept the contention that Sub-section (4) of Section 17 is invalid either on the ground that it is a case of unauthorised delegation or on the ground that it clothes theGovernment with arbitrary and unguided powers. The second contention of the petitioner thus also fails.
18. An effective answer to the third contention is provided by Sub-section (2) of Section 5-A itself. That Sub-section says :
'Every objection under Sub-section (1) shall be made to the collector in writing, and the collector shall give the objector an opportunity of being heard either in person or by pleader and shall, after hearing all such objections and after making such further inquiry, if any, as he thinks necessary, submit the case for the decision of the appropriate Government, together with the record of the proceedings held by him and a report containing his recommendations on the objections. The decision of the appropriate Government on the objections shall be final.'
It is, therefore, clear that the Collector, who hears the objection filed under Section 5A, has no power to decide the same. He can only submit the case for the decision of the appropriate Government. The entire record must be submitted to the Government along with the collector's report. Of course, his recommendations on the objections are also to go along with the report; but the deciding authority is the Government and it is the decision of the Government which is to be final.
In the present case the only thing alleged is that the petitioner filed an objection to the earlier notification under Section (4) and that after bearing the objection the collector submitted his report to the State Government. No copy of the report of the Collector or his recommendation have been produced. It is not even suggested that the appropriate Government upheld the petitioner's objection or recorded any decision in respect of the same. The only thing alleged is that after the report and the recommendation of the Collector had been submitted the proceedings were dropped. It is also suggested that the recommendation of the Collector was in favour of the petitioner, Granting for the sake of argument that it was so, that could not conclude the matter.
Before the petitioner could take advantage of Sub-section (2) of Section 5A it was necessary for him to establish that the Government had actually recorded a decision on his objection either on the basis of the Collector's recommendation and report or otherwise and that the decision upheld the petitioner's objection. No material has been produced by the petitioner in these respects. On behalf of the State the learned Senior Standing Counsel stated that in fact the Government did not arrive at any decision on the report and the recommendation made by the Collector. The former land acquisition proceedings were certainly dropped after the report bad been submitted. But it cannot be said that they were dropped as a result of the acceptance of the recommendations or because the Government decided to accept the petitioner's objection.
The proceedings could be dropped for a thousand and one reasons. The first sub-section of Section 48 authorises the Government to withdraw from the acquisition of any land of which possession has not been taken. It is not disputed thatpossession of the land which was being sought to be acquired had not been taken before the proceedings were dropped and the Government withdrew from the acquisition. The petitioner is, therefore, not correct when he submits that because of the dropping of the earlier proceedings at was not open to the Government to start fresh proceedings for the acquisition of the land in 1960.
19. In this connection a question also arose as to whether the land now being acquired was identical with the land which was being acquired previously. Without going into the question in detail we may mention that the land now being acquired is only a part of the land that was being acquired earlier.
20. Two cases reported in Mowasi v. State of U. P., AIR 1953 All 595, and Yusuf Ali v. State of Assam, AIR 1958 Assam 154, were referred to by the learned counsel for the petitioner. Neither of these cases can be of any help to the petitioner for the simple reason that in both these cases there was evidence to show that in respect of the earlier proceedings the Government had taken a decision on the objection filed under Section 5A. The petitioner has not established in the present case that any such decision had been arrived at. The third contention of the petitioner must, therefore, be rejected.
21. The fourth and the last contention urged is that the present acquisition proceedings have been started because the Municipal Board is bent upon harassing the petitioner and the purpose for which the acquisition is being made is not one contemplated by Section 17(1-A) of the Act. The notification issued under Section 4, however, clearly states that the purpose for which the land was being acquired was the completion of Water Supply Scheme of old Basti. It is admitted that On a portion of this land a tube-well has already been sunk. The completion of Water Supply Scheme may or may not be included in planned development but it cannot, in our opinion, be disputed that it is included in the expression 'sanitary improvements of any kind'. The water of Basti is notoriously unhealthy. The sanitation of the town can-riot be improved till the water supply becomes better. Without arranging for the supply of healthy water in sufficient quantities it is not possible to stop the emergence of epidemics or to improve the health of the inhabitants of the locality. The purpose for which the land in dispute is now being acquired is, therefore, the sanitary improvement of the town and falls clearly under Sub-section (1-A) of Section 17 of the Act. The acquisition proceedings cannot in the circumstances be questioned on the ground that that sub-section was not applicable and consequently Sub-section (4) could not apply.
22. All the four grounds urged in support of the petition being found untenable the petition must, in oar opinion, fail and is dismissed with costs. (for one set).