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Prabhu Lal and ors. Vs. Special Land Acquisition Officer and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSpecial Appeal No. 520 of 1967
Judge
Reported inAIR1973All647
ActsUttar Pradesh Town Improvement Act, 1919 - Sections 36, 42 and 58; Uttar Pradesh Nagar Mahapalika Adhiniyam, 1959 - Sections 365(4) and 376; Land Acquisition Act, 1894 - Sections 23(2), 23(3) and 48A; Constitution of India - Article 14; Uttar Pradesh Land Acquisition (Amendment) Act, 1954
AppellantPrabhu Lal and ors.
RespondentSpecial Land Acquisition Officer and ors.
Appellant AdvocateS.W. Misra and ;S.K. Tewari, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateN.D. Pande, Standing Counsel
DispositionAppeal allowed
Excerpt:
.....be a just and fair compensation. 12. lastly, it was urged that the amendments made in the land acquisition act in regard to the payment of compensation by paragraph 10 of the schedule to the act as well as paragraph 10 of the ii schedule to the adhiniyam, in 30 far as they provide that the owner whose land is acquired shall be paid compensation not according to the market value of the land, but the market value shall be computed according to the use to which the land was put on the date with reference to which the market value is to be determined and that such owner shall not be paid solatium of 15 per cent which he would have got if the land had been acquired under the land acquisition act being hit by article 14 of the constitution are invalid. the result is that even though..........the scheme was being executed in part from time to time and notice under section 9 of the land acquisition act was issued on 30-8-1961, in so far as the plots belonging to the appellants are concerned. an award was given on 25-9-1961 and a reference in regard to the amount of compensation made to the nagar mahapalika tribunal is said to be still pending. the compensation, however, was awarded on the basis of the market value of the land in 1928 when the notification under section 36 was issued. the writ petition was pressed on various grounds. none of them, however, found favour with the learned single judge and the writ petition was dismissed. the points urged before the learned single judge have been reiterated before us.2. the first submission made by the counsel for the.....
Judgment:

N.D. Ojha, J.

1. This special appeal has been filed against the judgment of a learned Single Judge dismissing a writ petition filed by the appellants challenging acquisition of their plots and the assessment of compensation. The Improvement Trust of Allahabad framed a scheme under the U. P. Town Improvement Act, 1919 (hereinafter referred to as the Act). The scheme was known as South Housing Scheme. Part II. The relevant notification under Sections 36 and 42 of the. Act were published on 23-6-1928 and 8-7-1936 respectively. The scheme was being executed in part from time to time and notice under Section 9 of the Land Acquisition Act was issued on 30-8-1961, in so far as the plots belonging to the appellants are concerned. An award was given on 25-9-1961 and a reference in regard to the amount of compensation made to the Nagar Mahapalika Tribunal is said to be still pending. The compensation, however, was awarded on the basis of the market value of the land in 1928 when the notification under Section 36 was issued. The writ petition was pressed on various grounds. None of them, however, found favour with the learned Single Judge and the writ petition was dismissed. The points urged before the learned Single Judge have been reiterated before us.

2. The first submission made by the counsel for the appellant was that since no action was taken in regard to issue of notice under Section 9 in respect of the appellants' land from 1936 when the notification sanctioning the scheme was published under Section 42, till the year 1961, the proceedings initiated in 1961 were illegal in view of the provisions of Sub-section (4) of Section 365 of the U. P. Nagar Mahapalika Adhiniyam, 1959 (hereinafter referred to as the Adhiniyam). It may be mentioned that on the coming into force of the Adhiniyam the proceedings for acquisition started under the Act were continued under the Adhiniyam by virtue of the provisions contained in Section 577 of the Adhiniyam. Sub-section (4) of Section 365 of the Adhiniyam on which reliance was placed by the learned counsel before its amendment by the U. P. Nagar Mahapalika (Amendment) Act, 1972 read as follows:--

'All acquisition of land and interest in land for an improvement scheme authorised under this Chapter shall be completed at least up to the stage of making of awards within a period of five years from the date of the notification of the scheme under Section 363 and any land in respect of which the acquisition is not so completed and the owner and occupier thereof shall, cease to be subject to any liabilities under this chapter :

Provided that the State Government may in any particular case before the expiry of such period and for reasons to be recorded in writing, extend the period by one year :

Provided further that in relation to any improvement scheme notified under Section 42 of the U. P. Town Improvement Act, 1919, or Section 60 of the Kanpur Urban Area Development Act, 1945, this section shall be so construed as if for the words ''within a period of five years from the date of the notification of the scheme under Section 363', the words 'on or before the 31st day of December of 1967' were substituted.'

The aforesaid Sub-section (4) was amended by Section 7 of the U. P. Nagar Mahapalika (Amendment) Act, 1972. The said Section 7 provides:

'In Section 365 of the Principal Act in Sub-section (4)-

(i) After the words 'an improvement scheme authorised under this chapter' the words 'other than a bhavi sarak yojana or a nagar prasar yojana' shall be inserted and be deemed always to have been inserted;

(ii) For the provisos thereto the following provisos shall be substituted and be deemed always to have been substituted namely,

(a) In relation to any improvement scheme (other than a deferred street scheme or a town expansion scheme) notified under Section 42 of the United Provinces Town Improvement Act, 1919, or Section 60 of the Cawnpore Urban Area Development Act, 1945, which by virtue of Clause (c) of Section 577 may be continued, and if it had been initiated under this Act, this Sub-section shall be so construed as if for the words and figures 'within a period of five years from the date of the notification of the scheme under Section 363' the words and figures, 'on or before the 31st day of December 1973' were substituted;

(b) In relation to any improvement scheme notified under Section 363 before the commencement of the Uttar Pradesh Nagar Mahapalika (Amendment) Act, 1972 this sub-section shall be so construed as if for the words 'five years' the words 'ten years' were substituted:

Provided further that the State Government by general or special order made before the expiry of the said period of five years, or of ten years, or as the case may be the said period pending on the 31st day of December, 1973 may for reasons to be recorded in writing extend the said period by one year.'

3. In the instant case, the award was given on 25-9-1961, and the proceedings for acquisition cannot, therefore be held to be invalid.

4. It was then urged that the improvement scheme, in so far as the appellants' land is concerned was abandoned and, at any rate, should be deemed to have been abandoned on account of no action having been taken from 1936 to 1961 in furtherance of the said scheme. In this connection reliance was placed upon a letter from the Collector, Allahabad to the Administrator, Improvement Trust, Allahabad, dated 27-5-1955, a true copy of which was filed as Annexure 'AAA' with the supplementary affidavit. The relevant portion of the said letter reads:

'With reference to your D. O. No 17/111-C dated 19-5-55 I am to inform you that the acquisition proceedings in respect of the properties mentioned in your letter No. 3937/11(1)W, dated 31-10-53 and letter No. 3033/111AC, dated Sept. 1, 1953 were started and you were requested to meet the cost of acquisition but neither any reply was received nor any fund was allotted hence the acquisition proceedings were stopped and the files were consigned on 15-9-54. However, the files have now been taken out from Record Room and necessary action for the acquisition is being taken.'

5. On a plain reading of this letter it is apparent that the scheme was never abandoned. The proceedings were only stopped for some time on account of non-availability of funds. The said letter in fact clearly goes to show that necessary action for the acquisition was being taken.

6. In support of the submission that the scheme should be deemed to have been abandoned, reliance was placed on Section 42 (1) of the Act which is to the following effect:--

'Whenever the State Government sanctions an improvement scheme, it shall announce the fact by notification and except in the case of a deferred street scheme, development scheme or town expansion scheme, the Trust shall forthwith proceed to execute the same.'

It was urged that the word 'forthwith' would mean a reasonable time and a period of nearly twentyfive years from the date of the publication of the notification under Section 42 could by no stretch of imagination come within the meaning of the word 'forthwith' used in the said section. It was urged that even if no specific time is fixed, it has to be a reasonable time. In support, of his contention the learned counsel placed reliance upon Murat Patwa v. Province of Bihar. AIR 1948 Pat 135 (FB) and M.R.S. Mani v. District Magistrate : AIR1950Mad162 . We are, however, unable to accept the submission of the learned counsel. Firstly, the Act does not empower the authorities to abandon an improvement scheme which has been sanctioned and published under, Section 42 of the Act. In Ram Dayal v. Kanpur, Urban Areas D.B. Paramat, Kanpur, 1956 All LJ 595 it was held by a learned Single Judge of this Court that there was no express power given under the U. P. Town Improvement Act, 1919, to the improvement trust to abandon any scheme after it had been submitted to the State Government for sanction and had been sanctioned. It was further held that there was no limitation prescribed in the Act for carrying out a particular scheme and that there was nothing in Section 42 of the Act from which it could be argued that if the scheme was not executed forthwith no steps could be taken to execute it afterwards. The judgment of the learned Single Judge in the above case was affirmed in Special Appeal No. 207 of 1956 decided on 8-12-1960 (All).

7. The second ground on which the submission of the learned counsel cannot be accepted is that the word 'forthwith' used in Section 42 of the Act is not mandatory, but only directory. (See: Civil Misc. Writ No. 3304 of 1963, Rameshwar Prasad Bagla v. Kanpur Nagar Mahapalika, decided by a Bench of this Court on 14-9-1965 (All.))

8. Thirdly, from the counter-affidavit and Annexure 'C' thereto, it is clear that between 1936 and 1952 various awards were given in respect of different plots of land sought to be acquired under the scheme, which clearly indicates that the scheme was being executed from the date of the notification under Section 42. Under these circumstances, it cannot be said that the scheme was either abandoned or would be deemed to have been abandoned.

9. The learned counsel then urged that the acquisition of the appellants' land by continuation of the scheme under the Adhiniyam is hit by Article 14 of the Constitution inasmuch as if a new scheme was framed under Chapter 14 of the Adhiniyam, the said scheme would have, in view of Sub-section (4) of Section 365 of the Adhiniyam, to be completed at least up to the stage of making of awards within a period of five years from the date of the notification of the scheme under Section 363 or at most, within six years, if the said period was extended by one year under the first proviso to the aforesaid subsection; whereas, if an old scheme was continued, it could be completed on or before the 31st of December, 1967. According to the learned counsel this was bound to be prejudicial to those whose land was sought to be acquired under the old scheme, inasmuch as those whose land is sought to be acquired under the old scheme, would be paid compensation in accordance with the market value of the land as it existed on the date when the relevant notification was issued under the Act, which may be 30 years or 40 years before the completion of the scheme; whereas, the persons whose land is acquired under Chapter 14 of the Adhiniyam the difference between the dates on which the notification is issued under Section 363 and the date on which the scheme is completed, would only be five years, or at best six years. The argument though it appears to be attractive, has no legs to stand upon. Section 58 of the Act contains provisions for the modification of the Land Acquisition Act. The modifications made in the Land Acquisition Act as referred to in Section 58 are contained in the schedule to the Act. By para 14 of the schedule a new Section 48-A after Section 48 was inserted which reads :

'48-A. Compensation to be awarded when land not acquired within two years-- (1) If within a period of two years from the date of the publication of the declaration under Section 6 in respect of any land, the Collector has not made an award under Section 11 with respect to such land, the owner of the land shall, unless he has been to a material extent responsible for the delay, be entitled to receive a compensation for the damage suffered by him in consequence of the delay.

(2) The provisions of Part III of this Act shall apply so far as may be, to the determination of the compensation payable under this section.'

Similar is the position under the Adhiniyam. Section 376 of which provides for the modifications in the Land Acquisition Act. The modifications are contained in Schedule II to the Adhiniyam and by para 14 of this Schedule too a provision similar to Section 48-A referred to above, was inserted.

10. Under these provisions the appellants are entitled to receive compensation for the damage suffered by them in consequence of the delay. Difference between the market value of the land sought to be acquired as it existed on the date when the relevant notification was issued under the Act and on the date when the award was given, may be a good measure for assessing the damages payable to the appellants under the aforesaid provisions, and the compensation would thus payable to the appellants, be a just and fair compensation. The submission based on Article 14 of the Constitution also, therefore, fails.

11. It may be pointed out that in connection with the submission about compensation learned counsel for the appellants relied upon Doongarsee and Sons v. State of Gujarat : AIR1971Guj46 and Venkatamma v. C. I. Trust Board (AIR 1972 Mys 193) (FB) and urged on the authority of these cases that the material date for determining the market value of the land sought to be acquired, should not be the date when the relevant notification was issued under the Act, but should be the date on which the award was given. In the view we have taken on the basis of the modifications contained in the schedules to the Act and the Adhiniyam referred to above, we find it unnecessary to go into this question.

12. Lastly, it was urged that the amendments made in the Land Acquisition Act in regard to the payment of compensation by paragraph 10 of the Schedule to the Act as well as paragraph 10 of the II Schedule to the Adhiniyam, in 30 far as they provide that the owner whose land is acquired shall be paid compensation not according to the market value of the land, but the market value shall be computed according to the use to which the land was put on the date with reference to which the market value is to be determined and that such owner shall not be paid solatium of 15 per cent which he would have got if the land had been acquired under the Land Acquisition Act being hit by Article 14 of the Constitution are invalid. A similar amendment had been made by paragraph 10 of the Schedule to the Nagpur Improvement Trust Act, 1936, and has been held to be violative of Article 14 of the Constitution by the Supreme Court in Nagpur Improvement Trust v. Vithal Rao (AIR 1973 SC 689). Learned counsel for the Nagar Mahapalika, however, urged that the notifications under Sections 36 and 42 of the Act having been published on 23-6-1923 and 8-7-1936 respectively, i.e. long before the commencement of the Constitution, the proceedings for acquisitioncould not be held to be invalid on the ground urged by learned counsel for the appellant. Reliance was placed on Dal Chand v. Delhi Improvement Trust : AIR1967SC87 . In that case not only the notifications under Sections 36 and 42 of the Act as extended to Delhi had been published before the coming into force of the Constitution, but even the award had been given before the said date and as such, the case is distinguishable from the facts of the present case where the award was given long after the commencement of the Constitution, namely on 25-9-1961. Reliance was then placed on B. C. Ltd. v. State of U. P. : AIR1973All468 . In that case too not only the notifications under Sections 4 and 6 had been issued before the commencement of the Constitution the award also had been given and possession of the land taken before that date and it was held that in these circumstances Article 14 of the Constitution could not be applied retrospectively. Counsel for the Nagar Mahapalika then invited our attention to an un-reported decision of a Division Bench of this Court in Civil Misc. Writ No. 4473 of 1964. Om Prakash v. State of U. P. decided on 19-3-1968 (All). In that case proceedings for acquisition of land were initiated under the Town Improvement Act and the sanction of the scheme was published in the Gazette dated 17-6-1944. Before the giving of the award under Section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act the said Act was however, repealed by the Nagar Mahapalika Adhiniyam and subsequent proceedings were continued under the Adhiniyam. The award was thus obviously given after the commencement of the Constitution. One of the questions raised in that case was that the modifications made by the Adhiniyam in Section 23 of the Land Acquisition Act regarding compensation were violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. It was held as follows:--

'Where the property is acquired for the Mahapalika for the scheme purpose or non-scheme purpose, the property owner gets one and the same compensation. We are unable to discern any invidious discrimination in the instant legislation with respect to the quantum of compensation. Persons whose property is acquired for the Mahapalika are placed in a single class and are treated alike.'

It may, however, be pointed out that near about a month later the Supreme Court on 23-4-1968 had occasion to consider a similar question in Belammal v. State of Madras : [1969]1SCR90 with regard to the provisions of the Madras City Improvement Act. The said Act fey Clause 6, Sub-clause (2) of the Schedule attached to it made a provision which deprived the owners of statutory right to solatium at the rate of fifteen per cent on the market value of the land. The said provision was held to be violative of the equality clause of the Constitution. In the case of Nagpur Improvement Trust, AIR 1973 SC 689 (supra) the Supreme Court while referring to the nature of proceedings under the Kanpur Urban Development Act, held:--

'This Court held in Nadeshwar Prasad v. U. P. Government : [1964]3SCR425 , that the fact that the land could be acquired for a scheme under the Kanpur Urban Development Act (U. P. Act VI of 1945) did not prevent the Government from acquiring the lands for the same purpose under the Land Acquisition Act (as amended by the Kanpur Act). We may mention that the Kanpur Act amended the Land Acquisition Act by the Schedule for the purpose of acquisition of land for the Board in a similar manner as in the Nagpur Improvement Trust Act.'

It was, further, held:--

'Can acquisition be made on the basis of the authority acquiring the land. In other words, can different principles of compensation be laid if the land is acquired for or by the Improvement Trust, or Municipal Corporation, or the Government. It seems to us that the answer is in the negative because as far as the owner is concerned, it does not matter to him whether the land is acquired by one authority or the other.

It is equally immaterial whether it is one Acquisition Act or another Acquisition Act under which the land is acquired. If the existence of two Acts could enable the State to give one owner different treatment from another equally situated the owner who is discriminated against can claim the protection of Article 14.'

13. We may point out that the Kanpur Urban Areas Development Act referred to in the case of Nagpur Improvement Trust. AIR 1973 SC 689 (supra) had also by paragraph 10 of the Schedule attached to it, made amendments in the Land Acquisition Act similar to those as made by paragraph 10 to the Schedule of the Town Improvement Act. The ground on which the argument about the applicability of Article 14 of the Constitution was repelled in Writ No. 4473 of 1964, D/- 19-3-1968 (All.) (supra) has been considered and negatived specifically by the Supreme Court in the case of Nagpur Improvement Trust, AIR 1973 SC 689 (supra). Apparently the said decision does not now hold the field and the law declared by the Supreme Court has to be followed in view of Article 141 of the Constitution.

14. It is only such transactions which had been completed before the commencement of the Constitution and vested rights had come into being that cannot be challenged on the ground of being in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution. If proceedings are continuing the case stands on a different footing. No one has a vested right in procedure and such proceedings as are taken after the commencement of the Constitutions have to be in conformity with the Constitution. If they are hit by Article 14, recourse to such proceedings cannot be taken. See Lachhman Das v. State of Bombay : 1952CriLJ1167 .

15. In so far as the question of discrimination in regard to the mode of calculating the compensation payable for land sought to be acquired is concerned, the relevant point of time for determination as to whether the procedure provided for the said purpose is discriminatory or not, is the date when the award is given under Section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act in pursuance of the notice issued under Section 9 of the said Act. The Schedule to the Town Improvement Act has added Section 17-A in the Land Acquisition Act. A similar section has been added by the second Schedule to the Adhiniyam also. The section as added by the Adhiniyam reads:--

'In every case referred to in Section 16 or 17, the Collector shall upon payment of the cost of acquisition make over charge of the land to the Mukhya Nagar Adhikari, and the land shall thereupon vest in the Mahapalika subject to the liability of the Maharjalika to pay any further costs, which may be incurred on account of its acquisition.'

16. It would be seen that the land vests in the Mahapalika after the award has been given under Section 11 and charge of the land made over to the Mahapalika as contemplated by Section 17-A. Till then, no vested right comes into being in favour of the Mahapalika. As already pointed out above, in the instant case, the award was given on 25-9-1961, i.e. after the commencement of the Constitution and as such, it is open to the appellants to urge that the amendments made to the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act by paragraph 10 of the Schedule to the Act, or the Adhiniyam, were hit by Article 14 of the Constitution. Relevant portion of paragraph 10 of the Schedule to the Act which has been challenged reads thus-

'10. Amendment of Section 23-

(1) ...............

(2) The full stop at the end of Sub-section (2) of Section 23 of the said Act shall be deemed to be changed to a colon and the following proviso shall be deemed to be added;

'Provided that this sub-section shall not apply to any land acquired under the United Provinces Town Improvement Act, 1919, except-

(a) land acquired under Sub-section (4) of Section 29 of that Act.

(b) buildings in the actual occupation of the owner or occupier free of rent by a relative of the owner and the land appurtenant thereto, and

(c) gardens not let to tenants, but used by the owners as a place of resort.

(3) At the end of Section 23 of the said Act the following shall be deemed to be added, namely.

'(3) For purposes of clause first of Sub-section (1) of this section-

(a) 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.'

Paragraph 10 of the Second Schedule to the Adhiniyam reads:--

'10. Amendment of Section 23......

(1) ...............

(2) (****)

(3) At the end of Section 23 of the said Act the following shall be deemed to be added namely.

'(3). For purposes of clause first of Sub-section (1) of this section-

(a) 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.'

It may be pointed out that by sub-paragraph (2) of paragraph 10 to the second Schedule of the Adhiniyam an amendment similar to that made by sub-paragraph (2) of paragraph 10 to the Schedule of the Act had been initially made, but sub-paragraph (2) of Paragraph 10 to the second Schedule of the Adhiniyam was subsequently deleted by U. P. Act XXIII of 1961.

17. It is further to be noted that in so far as the State of Uttar Pradesh is concerned by sub-paragraph (2) of Paragraph 8 of the Schedule to the Land Acquisition (U. P. Amendment) Act, 1954 (U. P. Act XXII of 1954). Sub-section (2) of Section 23 of the Land Acquisition Act was deleted. Sections 2 and 3 of the said Act provide:

'2. Amendment of Act I of 1894 in its application to Uttar Pradesh. In its application to Uttar Pradesh, the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (hereinafter referred to as the Principal Act) shall in so far as it relates to acquisitions of Land-except for the purposes of the Union have effect subject to the amendments specified in the Schedule:

(3) Savings-

'Notwithstanding anything contained in Section 2, Section 23 of the Principal Act shall in respect of any acquisition of land made in pursuance of notification under Section 4 of the said Act issued prior to the commencement of this Act have effect as if Sub-section (2) thereof had not been omitted.' Paragraph 2 (1) of the Schedule to the Town Improvement Act provides:-- '(1) The first publication of a notice of an improvement scheme under Section 36 of this Act shall be substituted for and have the same effect as publication in the official gazette and in the locality of a notification under Sub-section (1) of Section 4 of the said Act except where a declaration under Section 4 or Section 6 of the said Act has previously been made and is still in force.'

As already pointed out above, the notification under Section 36 of the Act was, in the instant case, issued on 23-6-28, i.e. long before the commencement of the Land Acquisition (U. P. Amendment) Act, 1954. Since a notification under Section 36 of the Act stands on the same footing as the notification under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, for purposes of the instant case, in view of the saving clause contained in Section 3 of the Land Acquisition (U. P. Amendment) Act, 1954, it would be deemed that Sub-section (2) of Section 23 of the Land Acqauisition Act has not been omitted.

18. In view of the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Nagpur Improvement Trust, AIR 1973 SC 689 (supra) we are of the opinion that the proviso added to Section 23(2) of the Land Acquisition Act in so far as those cases are concerned where the notification under Section 36 of the Town Improvement Act had been issued prior to the commencement of the Land Acquisition (U. P. Amendment) Act, 1954, and Sub-section (a) added to Section 23(3) of the said Act by paragraph 10 (3) of the schedule of the Act, and Sub-section (a) added to Section 23(3) of the Land Acquisition Act by paragraph 10 (3) to the second Schedule of the Adhiniyam, as quoted above, are hit by Article 14 of the Constitution. The result is that even though the proceedings for acquisition would not be bad, the amendments made in the Land Acquisition Act by the aforesaid provisions of the Act and the Adhiniyam could not have been taken into consideration while determining the compensation payable to the appellants.

19. In the result the appeal succeeds and is allowed with costs. The judgment of the learned Single Judge is set aside. The writ petition is allowed and the award dated 25-9-1961 given by the Special Land Acquisition Officer, Allahabad respondent No. 1, is quashed and he is directed to give a fresh award in accordance with law and in the light of the observations made above.


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