K.N. Seth, J.
1. This appeal arises out of proceedings for the acquisition of about 67 bighas (1,73,677 square yards) of land situate within the Municipal limits of Ghaziabad. A resolution was passed by the Municipal Board, Ghaziabad, on 12th October. 1941 to acquire the aforesaid land for the improvement and expansion of Ghaziabad town. This resolution was not given effect to due to various conflicting forces working within the Municipal Board. The Municipal Board again passed a resolution on 15th February, 1946 for the acquisition of the aforesaid land under Sections 8 (1) (a) and 117 of the U. P. Municipalities Act and a notification dated 18th December. 1946 under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act was published in the Gazette dated 21st December, 1946. The notifications under Sections 6 and 17 were published in the Gazette dated 15th March. 1947 and possession of the land was taken on 5th February. 1948.
2. The appellant society was registered under the Registration of Societies Act and the certificate of Corporation was issued on 28th August, 1945. One of the objects of the Society was to acquire land, buildings and other properties by purchase, lease, mortgage, exchange or other means and for resale for Town Planning, building etc. with this object in view the Corporation purchased that very land for which the Board had initiated acquisition proceedings. The Corporation planned a housing scheme with roads, parks etc.
3. Objections under Section 9 of the Land Acquisition Act were filed regarding the amount of compensation treating the land as a potential building site. The Land Acquisition Officer gave his award on 1st April. 1949 allowing compensation to the objectors at the agricultural rates. The claimants then made an application to the Collector requiring that the matter be referred for determination of the Court. The claim was resisted by the State of U. P. on the ground that the land acquired had no potential value as a building site and was purely agricultural land in possession of the occupancy tenants and the compensation awarded on the market value of the land according to the use to which the land was put at the date of the publication of the notification under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act was a valid one.
4. The learned District Judge held that the land was validly acquired under Section 8 (1) (a) of the U. P. Municipalities Act and that the land when acquired was quite unfit for building purpose and had no special value. It was conceded that if Section 8 (1) (a) of the Municipalities Act applied to the facts of the case, the compensation awarded by the Land Acquisition Officer was adequate. The learned District Judge accordingly dismissed the reference giving rise to the present appeal.
5. The learned counsel for the appellant raised two questions before us : (1) that the land was not acquired under the provisions of Section 8 (1) (a) of the U. P. Municipalities Act and the provisions of Section 66 of the Town Improvement Act and Paragraph 10 (3) of the Schedule appended to the Town Improvement Act were not attracted; and (2) that Section 86 of the Town Improvement Act read with paragraph 10 (3) of the Schedule is void under Article 14 of the Constitution.
6. Under Section 66 of the Town Improvement Act whenever a Municipal Board, or other local authority, acquires land for any of the purposes mentioned in Clauses (a) and (c) of subsection (1) of Section 8 of the Municipalities Act, the modifications of the Land Acquisition Act contained in the schedule appended to the Town Improvement Act shall, so far as they are applicable, apply to every such acquisition. Paragraph 10 (3) of the Schedule provides that for purposes of Clause First of Sub-section (1) of Section 23 of the Land Acquisition Act, the market value of the land shall be the market value according to the use to which the land was put at the date with reference to which the market value is to be determined under that clause. Under clause (1) aforesaid the relevant date is the date of the notification under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act. The principal question for determination, therefore, is whether the land was acquired for purposes mentioned in Sub-clause (a) of Section 8 (1) of the Municipalities Act. It was conceded before us that if the provisions of Section 8 (11 (a) of the Municipalities Act were applicable, the compensation awarded by the Land Acquisition Officer was adequate. Section 8 (1) (a) of the U. P. Municipalities Act provides:--
'8 (1) A board may make provision, within the limits of the Municipality and with the sanction of the Prescribed Authority outside such limits for--
(a) laying out, in areas whether previously built upon or not, new public streets, and acquiring land for that purpose and for the construction of buildings, and their compounds, to abut on such streets;
the resolution passed by the Board on 15th February, 1946 was as follows :--
'whereas of late years there has been abnormal and ever increasing demand for and scarcity of houses at Ghaziabad which has led to profiteering and trafficing in land on the part of private owners individually and collectively and which has resulted in the springing up of disorderly and insanitary Purwas in defiance of municipal lanes, it is expedient and in public interest to undertake planning to facilitate development of the town on proper lines, to lay out new public streets and provide building sites thereon for the general public on moderate cost and to reclaim certain unhealthy localities near the populated area; the Board therefore does hereby resolve:--(a) That all the land which the Board decided to acquire by resolution No. 492 dated 12th October. 1941 and amended by resolution No. 179 dated 2nd June. 1942 be now acquired under Sections 8 (1) (a) and 117 of the Municipalities Act and the acquisition proceedings be reviewed.'
Under clause (2) of the Resolution the principles for disposal of the land so acquired were laid down. It is clear from the resolution that the Board requested acquisition of the land in question to lay out new public streets and buildings sites thereon and to reclaim certain unhealthy localities. Section 117 of the Municipalities Act provides that where a Board, for the purpose of exercising any power or performing any duty conferred or imposed upon it by or under the Municipalities Act or any other enactment, desires the State Government to acquire on its behalf any land under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, or of other existing law, the State Government may at the request of the Board acquire such land end on payment by the Board to the State Government of the compensation awarded thereunder and of the charges incurred by the State Government in Connection with the proceedings, the land shall vest in the Board. Under this provision the State Government is authorised to acquire land for the Municipal Board to enable the Board to exercise any power conferred upon it or perform any duty imposed upon it under the U. P. Municipalities Act. At the request of the Board the State Government initiated proceedings and the notifications under Sections 4 and 6 of the Land Acquisition Act stated the purpose for which the land was required to be 'for the expansion and improvement of Ghaziabad town.' Reading these notifications in the background of the resolution passed by the Board, it has to be held that the purpose for which the land was sought to be acquired was to lay out new public streets and provide buildings sites thereon with a view to facilitate development of the town in proper lines.
7. It was contended on behalf of the appellant that under Section 8 (1) (a) the power of the Municipal Board was limited to the purpose of acquiring land for building new public streets. It was urged that the words 'and acquiring land for that purpose' governed the preceding words 'new public streets1' and did not govern the words 'for the construction of buildings, and their compounds' which follow these words. It was urged that the Board had power of constructing buildings and their compounds but it had no power to acquire land for that purpose. We are unable to accept this interpretation of Section 8 (1) (a) which would defeat the very purpose underlying that provision. If the power of the Board to construct buildings was to be confined to the land which was already in its occupation, there was no sense in incorporating the words 'and for construction of buildings and their compounds' in this section. To us a reasonable interpretation of this section appears to be that the acquisition could be for the purpose of laying out new public streets and for construction of buildings and their compounds to abut on such streets. The power is not confined to acquiring land for the purpose of laying out new public streets only. It would not be reasonable to hold that though the Board has been conferred the power to lay out new public streets and to construct buildings and their compounds abutting on such streets, the purpose of acquiring land is confined to laying out new public streets and is not available for construction of buildings and their compounds to abut on such streets. Simply because the word 'purpose' is used in singular, it cannot be said that the power to acquire land is confined to only one of the purposes, that is, laying out new public streets and is not available for the purpose of construction of buildings which also occur under the same provision of the Act. The words 'laying out, in areas whether previously built upon or not' are also significant. These words indicate that the Municipal Board was given a power under the Act to acquire altogether new land for the purposes of public streets and for construction of buildings abutting those streets. On a careful analysis of the language of Section 8 (1) (a) we are not inclined to accept the contention of the learned counsel for the appellant that the land could be acquired under this provision only for the purpose of laying out new public streets and this power was not available for construction, of buildings and their compounds.
8. It was next contended that the purpose behind the acquisition being to provide buildings sites for the expansion and improvement of the town, it would fall under Section 8 (1) (II) or (m). We are unable to agree with this contention also. According to the resolution of the Board and the notifications issued under Sections 4 and 6 of the Land Acquisition Act, the purpose of acquiring land was to lay out public streets and provide buildings sites thereon for the expansion and improvement of _ Ghaziabad town. It was not the same thing as 'preparing and executing House and Town Planning Schemes'. Moreover, clause (II) was substituted by U. P. Act No. VII of 1949, that is, much after the Notifications under Sections 4 and 6 of the Land Acquisition Act and could not be availed of by the appellant. The purpose for which the land was sought to be acquired could also not be equated with a measure likely to promote the public safety, health, or convenience. Laying out new streets and making provisions for the construction of buildings and their compounds to abut on such streets have no direct bearing with public safety or health or convenience as contemplated under clause (m) of Section 8 (1).
9. The purpose for which the land was sought to be acquired fell squarely within the ambit of Section 8 (1) (a) of the U. P. Municipalities Act and the provisions of Section 66 of the Town Improvement Act were attracted and under Paragraph 10 (3) of the Schedule appended to the Town Improvement Act compensation was payable on the market value according to the use to which the land was put at the date of the notification under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act.
10. The second contention raised by the learned counsel for the appellant was that Section 66 of the Town Improvement Act read with Paragraph 10 (3) of the Schedule appended thereto is void under Article 14 of the Constitution inasmuch as it brings in a parallel provision whereunder only the use of the land can be taken into consideration while assessing the market value of the land acquired whereas under the Land Acquisition Act the potential value is to be taken into consideration in determining the compensation and as it is open to the authorities to take recourse to one or the other enactment, the aforesaid provisions of the Town Improvement Act are rendered void after the Constitution came into force. We are of the opinion that this argument is not open to the appellant in the present case. As mentioned earlier, the notifications under Sections 4 and 6 of the Land Acquisition Act were made much before the Constitution. Possession of the land was taken on 5th of February,
1948. The award of the Land Acquisition Officer was made on 1st April,
1949. The application for reference to the court was made on 29th April, 1949, that is, before the Constitution-It is thus obvious that the rights of the appellant in the land in question were extinguished much before the Constitution came into force and the land vested in the State. The right to compensation and the principle on which it had to be assessed also stood determined before the Constitution. All that the court had to determine was as to whether the Land Acquisition Officer had correctly assessed the amount of compensation. It is well settled that Article 14 of the Constitution has no retrospective operation. It was open to the authorities to adopt one of the two alternative procedures at a time when the Constitution had not come into existence. In Panna Lal Binjrai v. Union of India. AIR 1957 SC 397. It was laid down:--
'It is settled that Article 13 of the Constitution has no retrospective effect and if, therefore, any action was taken before the commencement of the Constitution in pursuance of the provisions of any law which was a valid law at the time when such action was taken, such action cannot be challenged and the law under which such action was taken cannot he questioned as unconstitutional and void on the score of' its infringing the fundamental rights enshrined in Part III of the Constitution.'
11. In Jagannath Prasad Sharma v. The State of Uttar Pradesh. AIR 1961 SC 1245 the validity of an enquiry commenced against a Government servant before the coming into force of the Constitution was held to be not open to challenge on the ground of violation of Article 14. It was observed:--
'Selection bv the authorities of one of these two alternative procedures at a time when Article 14 was not in operation, does not therefore enable the appellant to contest the validity of the enquiry on the plea of denial of equal protection of the laws.'
The same principle was reiterated in Rabindra Nath Bose v. Union of India, AIR 1970 SC 470. The petitioners who were 'Confirmed Assistant Commissioners of Income-tax in that case, challenged the (1) appointments of the respondents to Income-tax Officers Class I, Grade II Service; (2) Seniority List as existing on 1-1-1950; and (31 the Seniority Rules of 1949 and 1950, in so far as they had effect upto January 26. 1950. The court held that the petitioners could not complain of the breach of Articles 14 and 16 in respect of the aforesaid Rules. It was further observed that the fact that the Seniority List of the Officers was finally settled after the Constitution came into force would not enable the petitioners to appeal to Articles 14 and 16, the Rules applicable for preparing the Seniority List being Seniority Rules. 1949 and 1950.
12. It is not disputed that the provisions of Section 66 of the Town Improvement Act and the Schedule annexed thereto were valid laws when enacted and continued to be so till the Constitution came into force. It naturally follows that the rights and liabilities created in pursuance of the acquisition proceedings were validly done. The mere fact that the reference application came to be decided after the Constitution would not entitle the appellant to challenge the validity of the principles on which the compensation had to be assessed. The claimant was entitled to compensation at the market value of the land according to the use to which the land was put at the date of the publication of the notification under Section 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act. The appellant's rights were extinguished, subject to his claim for compensation, under a valid law. He had not rights which could survive the Constitution so as to enable him to claim the, protection of Article 14 of the Constitution.
13. The learned counsel lor the State of U. P. placed reliance on Dal-chand v. Delhi Improvement Trust. AIR 1967 SC 87. In that case under the U. P. Town Improvement Act 8 of 1908 as extended to the territory of Delhi, the Delhi Improvement Trust brought into force a scheme for industrial development under which lands were acquired. The Trust paid compensation based on the market value, but without the statutory solatium. It was observed in that case that if the land had been acquired under the Land Acquisition Act, the claimants would have been entitled to statutory solatium, but not when they were acquired for the Delhi Improvement Trust. The court observed that the validity of the Act was not open to challenge as the notifications for acquisition of land were issued many years before the date of the commencement of the Constitution and the land had vested in the Trust also before the commencement of the Constitution. It was held that no question of deprivation of a fundamental right of equality could therefore be set up and the claimants were not entitled to plead that if the land had been acquired under the Land Acquisition Act they might have become entitled to a statutory solatium in addition to the market value, whereas under the U. P. Town Improvement Act they were not so entitled. On the principles laid down in Dalchand's case, (supra) the appellant is not entitled to challenge the validity of the provisions of the Town Improvement Act.
14. The learned counsel for the appellant placed reliance on the Deputy Commr. and Collector, Kamrup v. Durganath Sarma, (AIR 1968 SC 349) and Balammal v. State of Madras, (AIR 1968 SC 1425). These cases can afford no guidance in deciding the question before us. In the former case the land had been taken over under an Act passed after the Constitution. In the latter case notifications acquiring certain land were issued under the Madras City Improvement Trust Act 16 of 1945. This Act was repealed and was replaced by Madras City Improvement Trust Act (37 of 1950). It was provided that all the proceedings commenced under Act 16 of 1945 were deemed to have been taken under Act 37 of 1950. Under Sub-clause (.2) of clause 6 of the Schedule to Act 37 of 1950 persons whose lands were compulsorily acquired were deprived of the right of solatium which would have been awarded if the lands were acquired under the Land Acquisition Act. The Supreme Court struck down the aforesaid provision in so far as it deprived the owners of the lands of the statutory solatium to the market value of the lands under Section 23(2) of the Land Acquisition Act as violative of the equality clause of the Constitution. In this case also the impugned provision was a post Constitution legislation and the principle laid down in this case could not be applied to the facts of the present case. The dictum laid down in Lachmandas Kewalram v. State of Bombay, AIR 1952 SC 235 that the conviction of an accused on trial and the sentence passed on him after the date of the Constitution according to the special procedure which had become void under Article 13 of the Constitution could be of no assistance to the appellant. In the instant case no question of adopting a procedure which had become void is involved. No other point was pressed before us.
15. The contentions raised by the appellant have no merits. In the result the appeal fails and is accordingly dismissed with costs.