1. This is an application under Article 226 of the Constitution filed by twenty-eight persons who are tenants of as many quarters in a building known as 'Gupta Colony' which was constructed in about May or June 1950 by one R. C. Gupta on land belonging to him situate on the Canal Road, Civil Lines Delhi. On the 6th of April 1951, the Collector of Delhi issued notices purporting to be under Section 3 (3) of the Delhi Premises (Requisition and Eviction) Act, 1947, upon each of the applicants. These notices were typed and ran as follows:
'WHEREAS in my opinion it is necessary to requisition the premises in the schedule hereto appended for a public purpose, the proper and efficient functioning of the Government of India and maintenance of supplies and services essential to the life of the community; NOW, THEREFORE, in exercise of the powers conferred by Sub-section (3) of the Delhi Premises (Requisition and Eviction Act, 1947 (XLIV of 1947) (sic), I, Rameshwar Dayal, Collector, Delhi, do hereby call upon the landlord and the tenant or the person in possession of the said premises to show cause within seven days from the date of this notice why the said premises should not be requisitioned. I further direct that the premises specified below shall not without my permission be disposed of or structurallyaltered.'
In the schedule the various quarters of the applicants were severally specified. This notice was served on the landlord R. C Gupta and upon each of the applicants.
2. On the 27th of August 1951 the Collector passed further orders purporting to be under Section 3 (4) of the Act. These orders were in the following form:
ORDER OP REQUISITION
WHEREAS with a view to requisition the premises specified in the schedule hereto appended for a public purpose, I. R. Dayal, Collector, Delhi, issued a notice under Sub-section (3) of Section 3 of the Delhi Premises (Requisition and Eviction) Act 1947 (XLIX of 1947) (sic) calling upon the landlord and the tenant-or the person in possession of the said premises, to show cause within seven days why the said Premises should not be requisitioned;
AND WHEREAS, the said period of seven days has expired and the cause/causes shown by the landlord, the tenant and the person in possession of the said' premises has/have been considered by me and I am satisfied that it is necessary to requisition the said premises for a public purpose, viz.-
NOW, THEREFORE, in exercise of the powers conferred by Sub-section (4) of Section 3 of the said Act, I do hereby requisition the said premises with effect from 22-8-1951 until further orders and direct the landlord/tenant or any other person in possession of the said premises, to deliver possession thereof with all fittings and fixtures therein in the forenoon of 3-9-1951 to the Tahsildar, Delhi, or such officer as may be deputed by him in this behalf, failing which possession shall be taken by the said Tahsildar or the said officer on my behalf.'
To this order was appended a schedule specifying the various quarters occupied by the present applicants.
3. On the 20th of August 1951, petitioners Nos. 11 to 19 filed separate appeals under Section 5 of the Act to the Chief Commissioner of Delhi. According to Mr. Grover for the applicants, the other petitioners were not able to appeal at that time on account of poverty. It is claimed by the present application that the action taken by the Collector of Delhi was not in conformity with the requirements of the Delhi Premises (Requisition and Eviction) Act, 1947, was taken for a purpose other than that contemplated by the Act and therefore was 'mala fide' in law. On these grounds it was claimed that the order should be set aside.
4. An answer has been filed by the Collector in which it is said that the original notices issued under Section 3 (3) of the Delhi Premises (Requisition and Eviction) Act, 1947 stated the public purpose for which the requisition was proposed, namely the proper and efficient functioning of the Government of India and the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the life of the community. It is said that the representations of the petitioners were duly considered and the order under Section 3 (4) was passed only after such consideration. It is further stated that the premises were constructed by R. C. Gupta without obtaining sanction from the Delhi Improvement Trust, and that he was prosecuted and fined for violation of U. P. Town Improvement Act as applied to Delhi, but in spite of the fine imposed on him he continued the construction. He was again prosecuted and fined. It is further stated that the site falls within the Trusts Civil Lines Town Expansion Scheme and forms part of land earmarked for a medical enclave under a notificationissued on the 12th of June 1948 under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act. It is said that under the circumstances neither R. C. Gupta nor any of his tenants had a right to occupy the unauthorised buildings. It is said that although no legal obligation exists the Collector will not disturb the tenants without offering them alternative accommodation.
5. The first question which calls for our consideration is whether by reason of the right of appeal created by Section 5 of the Act we should exercise our powers of writ under Article 226 of the Constitution. It is well settled that the existence of an alternative remedy is not of itself a bar to the exercise of our jurisdiction under that Article, and if in fact the existing alternative remedy is found not to be efficacious, then an applicant should not be deprived of the remedy afforded to him by the Constitution. As already stated, certain of the present applicants did file appeals to the Chief Commissioner on the 20th of August 1951. An affidavit has been filed by the first petitioner that these appeals have not been decided and in fact no date has been fixed for their hearing. This is not disputed by the learned counsel for the State. When admitting the appeals it appears that the Chief Commissioner granted a stay order for a period of seven days only, in these circumstances it seems to me that by reason of circumstances no doubt beyond the control of the Chief Commissioner, the remedy of appeal granted by Section 5 is not an efficacious remedy in the present case and I do not think we should refuse to the applicants a right of hearing until such time as the appeals filed might be heard.
6. On the merits of the matter, it is clear that this is a case in which we should interfere. The answer filed by the Collector shows that the true reason why these premises were requisitioned was that R. C. Gupta had violated provisions of the U. P. Town Improvement Act as applied to Delhi. The issue of a notification as long ago as the year 1948 under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act created no bar against the construction of the premises. If that scheme is ever carried into fruition, the existence of buildings on the site will make no difference to that scheme. R. C. Gupta may be entitled to no compensation for having constructed them, but that is not a matter which has any relation to the Delhi Premises (Requisition and Eviction) Act. 'Public purpose' is not defined in the Act itself, but in the Rules framed under the Act it is stated that for the purpose of the Rules 'public purpose' shall include a purpose connected with:
(i) the proper and efficient functioning of theGovernment of India;
(ii) maintenance of public safety;
(iii) maintenance of public order;
(iv) maintenance of supplies and services essential to the life of the community;
(v) the functioning of any institution of public utility, such as school, orphanage, hospital, library of culture centre including the provision of accommodation for persons connected with the management of any such institution;
(vi) the defence of India;
(vii) the accommodation of representatives ofForeign Governments; and
(viii) provisions for suitable alternative accommodation for a landlord or tenant under the proviso to Sub-section (4) of Section 3 of the Act.
7. It is plain that the purpose for which the order of requisitioning was made could not beconsidered to fall with any of these eight purposes. The eight purposes set out in the Rules no doubt are not exhaustive. In the notices issued under Section 3 (3), however, the public purpose was stated to be the proper and efficient functioning of the Government of India and maintenance of supplies and services essential to the life of the Community. This statement of public purpose was not written in the order but appears in the typed notice itself, and this lends support to the suggestion that the order was merely a stereotyped form and it was considered enough to insert any of the examples of the public purpose set out in the Rules, and there was no application of the mind of the Collector to consideration of whether the particular public purpose stated was to be served. This argument receives support from the second order passed under Clause (4) of Section 3 in which the public purpose stated necessary to be served is left entirely blank. Clause (4) of Section 3 requires the order under that clause to be 'an order in writing to that effect.' By 'that effect' clearly is meant that the public purpose contemplated to be served by the requisitioning shall be stated. This is made plain by Section 8 (i) of the Act which provides that where any premises are requisitioned under the Act, the competent authority may use or deal with the premises for such purpose as may be mentioned in the order of requisition. This refers to the order under Clause (4) of Section 3 and confirms that the public purpose should be stated in such order.
8. Although public purpose is not to be confined to the illustrations given in the Rules and no exact definition of it may be possible, public purpose is not synonymous with any purpose thought convenient to be served by the requisitioning authority. The Act confers very drastic powers upon the competent authority, to interfere with the right of a citizen to hold and to use his property as he pleases, and those powers must not be abused for the purpose of serving purposes beyond the legitimate scope of public purpose. It will not be a proper use of the Act to use the power of requisitioning property for the purpose of punishing delinquents under the guise that some public purpose is served thereby. The public purpose to be served must relate to the necessity of occupation and use of the premises by the requisitioning authority. No such necessity appears in the present case. I think, therefore, the orders made by the Collector were bad on two grounds, firstly, that no public purpose whatever was stated in the order of requisitioning under Clause (4) of Section 3, and, secondly, that the purpose now stated to have been intended to be served is one outside the scope of public purpose Justifying requisition under Act. I think, therefore, we should make the rule granted absolute in this case and set aside the several orders under Section 3 (4) of the Act made by the Collector in respect of the premises occupied by the petitioners in the Gupta Colony, Canal Road, Delhi. The respondent must bear the costs of the petitioners in this case which we assess at Rs. 100/-.
9. I am of the same opinion.