1. This writ petition has been filed under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India for quashing the Notifications under Section 4 read with Section 17 and Section 6 read with Section 7 and 17(2) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act'), dated March 9, 1972, published in the Punjab Government Gazette, dated March 17, 1972.
2. The facts of this writ petition briefly are that the petitioner is the owner of the land measuring 75 Kanals situated in Village Rasulpur, tehsil Dasuya, district Hoshiarpur (hereinafter referred to as 'the land in dispute'). Adjoining to the said land, he owns another block of land measuring 48 kanals. Thus the total land of the petitioner is about 123 kanals. He installed two electric tube-wells and one diesel engine tube-well for irrigation on the said land. He also constructed about 1500 feet of pucca drain at a considerable cost for irrigation purposes. The State of Punjab issued notifications under Section 4 read with Section 17 and Section 6 read with Sections 7 and 17(2) of the Act and acquired agricultural land mentioned therein including the land in dispute for alleged public purpose, namely for setting up a New Mandi for Tanda Urmar. He challenged the aforesaid notifications on various grounds but he made his submission only on one ground, namely, that respondent No. 2 did not cause public notice of the substance of the Notification (Annexure 'A') at convenient places in the locality published where the land sought to be acquired was situated as required by sub-section (1) of Section 4 of the Act. The State has filed the return and contested the writ petition. Inter alia, it is stated that the possession of the land notified under Sections 4 and 6 read with Section 17(2)(c) of the Act, is yet to be taken. It is further stated that public notice of the publication of the notification is being made.
3. The only submission of the learned counsel for the petitioner is that between publication of the notifications under Sections 4 and 6 it was mandatory for the Collector to have given a public notice of the substance of the notification at convenient places in the locality where the land is situated. He also submits that if such a public notice was not given at places in the locality, no notification under Section 6 of the Act could be issued. In support of his contention, he relies on the observations of Sarkaria, J. in Gurdit Singh v. State of Punjab, 73 Pun LR 592=(AIR 1972 Punj 12) which are in the following terms:--
'Held that complying with Section 4(1) of the Land acquisition Act is mandatory and not directory. The notification under the said section without publication of the substance thereof at convenient places in the locality would be void and the land acquisition proceedings taken pursuant thereto would be void. Even if the urgency provisions contained in Section 17 of the Act had been invoked and the normal procedure prescribed in Section 5A had been superseded, the status gives no power to the Government or any other authority to dispense with any of the mandatory requirements of Sections 4(1) of the Act'.
4. The facts of the aforesaid case were that some land was acquired and notifications under Sections 4 and 6 of the Act were published simultaneously in the Punjab Government Gazette dated September 23, 1969. In the notification under Section 6 of the Act, a direction was given to the Collector under Section 17(2)(c) of the Act that he could proceed to take possession of the land specified in that notification. In pursuance of that direction, the possession was delivered to the acquiring departments by the Revenue authorities. At the end of the report in the Patwari's Roznamcha, it is stated that loud publication has been got done in the village through Rup Singh. Thus the allegations in the petition that the substance of the notification was not published in the locality was correct. The aforesaid observations were the learned Judge in the said circumstances. Reliance was placed by Mr. Chhibar on the following observations of their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Smt. Somawanti v. State of Punjab, AIR 1963 SC 151:--
'A notification under sub-section (1) of Section 4 is a condition precedent to the making of notification under sub-section (1) of Section 6. If the Government, therefore, takes a decision to make such a notification and, thereafter, takes to further decisions, that is, to dispute with compliance with the provisions of the Section 5A and also to declare that the land comprised in the notification is in fact needed for a public purpose, there is no departure from any provision of the law even though the two notifications are published on the same day. 'In under Section 4(1) was made on August 18, 1961 and a declaration as to the satisfaction of the Government on August, 19, 1961, though both of them were published in the Gazette of August, 25, 1961. The preliminary declaration as well as the subsequent declaration are both required by law to be published in the Official Gazette. But the law does not make the prior publication of a notification under sub-section (1) of Section 4, a condition precedent to the publication of a notification under sub-section (1) of Section 6. Where acquisition is being made after following the normal procedure the notification under the latter section will necessarily have to be published subsequent to the notification under the former section because in such a case the observance of procedure under Section 5A is interposed between the two notifications. But where Section 5A is not in the way there is no irregularity in publishing those notifications on the same day.'
5-6. The learned counsel for the petitioner submits that the notifications under Sections 4 and 6 may be published in the same Gazette on the same date but before publication of notification under Section 6 of the Act, the public notice as required by Section 4 should be issued and in case no such notice has been issued, the notification under Section 6 will be bad. I am unable to accept this contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner in view of the law laid down by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Smt. Somawanti's case, AIR 1963 SC 151(supra). Similar observations were also made in Vijay Cotton and Oil Mills Ltd. v. State of Gujarat, (1969) 1 SCJ 697. It rather appears improbable that notifications under Sections 4 and 6 may be published on the same day in compliance with Section 4, substance of notification be given before publication of notice under Section 6 of the Act. It may be mentioned that in the case before me the notification was published in Gazette on March, 17, 1972, and the writ petition was filed by the petitioner on March, 18, 1972. In the said petition, a Civil Miscellaneous Application No. 1951 of 1972 was filed under Rule 1-A(v), Chapter 4-F(b) of the High Court Rules and Orders, Volume V, and Section 151 of the Code of Civil Procedure, for dispensing with the notices as required to be given under the aforesaid rule. In the said application, it was stated by the petitioner that respondents 1 to 4 through their subordinate officers were taking immediate steps to actually and physically dispossess from the land in dispute, which is in his cultivating possession and on which his crops were standing. Even a single day's time was not given to the State to give public notice as required by sub-clause (1) of Section 4 of the Act. On March, 20, 1972, the Motion Bench ordered 'Notice of motion returnable for March 30, 1972. Dispossession of the petitioner from his land stayed till ten. Dasti'. The stay order continues till today.
7. The learned counsel for the petitioner has then relied on a Single Bench judgment of this Court in Bir Singh v. The State of Punjab, (Civil Writ No. 478 of 1971) decided by S. S. Sandhawalia, J., on 8-2-1972 (Punj). In that case also notifications under Sections 4 and 6 of the Act were issued on October 16 and November, 5, 1970 respectively. The petitioner came to know about the aforesaid notification for the first time on Feb 7, 1971. The learned counsel for the State had conceded in that case in the Court, that no publicity was made of the notification as required by the Act. In those circumstances, the learned Single Judge quashed the acquisition proceedings commenced by the aforesaid notifications. The two cases cited by the learned counsel for the petitioner are materially differentiable on facts from the present case. In this case, firstly, the writ has bee filed as stated above on the next day of publication of the notifications in the Gazette. Secondly, the State in its return as stated that before taking possession, it will cause public notice of the substance of the notification published. In my view, if the notices under Sections 4 and 6 read with Section 17 are published in the Official Gazette on the same day, it is not necessary that the public notice should be given of notification under Section 4 of the Act, before the publication of the notification under Section 6 of the Act in the Official Gazette. In such an eventually, the public notice can be given subsequent thereto,. Gurdit Singh and Bir Singh's cases have been decided on the peculiar facts and the observations made therein are not applicable in the present case. It was not pressed before the learned Judges deciding those cases that the public notices of the substance of the notification should have been given after the publication the publication of preliminary notification under Section 4 and notification under Section 6 of the Act read with Section 17, in case they were issued on the same day. The learned counsel for the respondents has placed reliance on a Division Bench judgment of this Court in Gulzar Singh v. State of Punjab (Civil Writ No. 243 of 1972 (Punj), decided on 6-4-1972 by S. S. Sandhawalia and M. R. Sharma, JJ., wherein the learned Judges overruled the decision in Satnam Singh v. State of Punjab, 1969-71 Pun LR 345. He submits that there were also similar observations in Satnam Singh's case as have been made in Gurdit Singh's case and as Satnam Singh's case has been overruled, therefore, Gurdit Singh's case shall also be deemed to have been overruled by the learned Division Bench. I asked the learned counsel for the respondents to read from the judgment in Guljar Singh's case where the matter regarding public notice of the substance of the notification has been dealt with. He was unable to point out any para in the aforesaid judgment of the learned Division Bench. In fact, the learned Division Bench did not decide this matter at all. There were certain other matters also which were decided by the learned Single Judge in Satnam Singh's case and only those matters were decided by the learned Division Bench in Gulzar Singh's case. In the circumstances, I am unable to agree with the contention of the learned counsel for the State that the decision in Gurdit Singh's case has been overrules by the learned Division Bench in Gulzar Singh's case/ No reference has been made in that judgment of Gurdit Singh's case.
8. The learned counsel for the State also states that the public notice is not necessary if urgency provisions under Section 17 of the Act are invoked. I am unable to accept this contention also in view of the observations in Gurdit Singh's case, 73 Pun LR 592=(AIR 1972 Punj 12).
9. For the reasons recorded above, I accept this petition to the extent that the State will not take possession of the property unless public notice is given at convenient places in the locality regarding the substance of the notification under Section 4 of the Act, but, in my view, it is not necessary to quash notifications under Sections 4 and 6 of the Act, In the circumstances of the case I make no order as to costs.
10. Order accordingly.