I.S. Tiwana, J.
1. The two notifications published by the State Government on Dec. 16, 1976 and Dec. 13, 1979 under Sections 4 and 6 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894(for short, the Act) respectively are impugned in these petitions Nos. 3705 and 3745 of 1982 inter alia on the ground that the action of the respondent-authorities in acquiring the land of the petitioners for the setting up of a residential urban estate at Mansa, a sub-divisional town, is arbitrary and colourable exercise of power under the Act. To support this claim of theirs, the petitioners point out that but for the publication of the abovesaid notifications, respondent-authorities have not take any meaningful step towards the completion of the acquisition proceedings and the sole purpose of the Government in issuing these notifications was to peg down the prices of the land in question and to acquire the same at a later date suiting their convenience. It is the admitted position that subsequent to the issuance of the above-noted notifications the first and the only step taken by the respondent-authorities, in August, 10981 was the issuance of notices to the petitioners under S. 9 of the Act for filing their claims to the compensation to be awarded for the land in question. It is again the admitted position that neither the claims filed by the petitioners have been determined nor has any award in terms of Section 11 of the Act been made so far.
2. The sole explanation for this non-action on the part of the respondent-authorities is 'that the acquisition proceedings could not be completed as the Collector rates of the land have not been supplied by the District Collector, Bhatinda despite repeated requests.' This explanation not only is no explanation in the light of the provisions of paras 10 and 12 of the Financial Commissioner's Standing Order No. 28 which S. O. undisputably is in the form of executive instructions and is binding on the departmental authorities to justify the non-completion of the acquisition proceedings within a reasonable the lack of bona fides in exercise of the power of compulsory acquisition under the Act. It is beyond comprehension that the acquiring authorities, if serious at all are not in a position to get the information from the Collector of the district for years. These paras of the Standing Order not only lay down the time limit within which the Collector of the district is supported to supply the relevant data for preparing the necessary estimate of the value of the land against to be acquired but also indicate (paragraph 16) that all this has normally to precede the issuance of the notification under Section 4 of the Act. The relevant parts of these paras read as under :
'10. The departmental officer shall ask for the data, necessary for an estimate of the value of the land including the value of the trees, buildings of other property from the Collector of the district at the time when he sends the draft notification under Section 4 for countersignatures or earlier if possible and in case the Collector does not supply this data within three months and in urgent cases within one month, the Special Land Acquisition Collector shall frame and estimates by collecting the data from the Revenue Field Staff through his own agency of the land acquisition staff. The data so collected shall be forwarded to the Departmental Officers and a copy thereof to the Collector for his approval. The Collector shall accord his approval within one month and the award will be announced accordingly. If the approval of the Collector is not received within that period, the approval will be presumed. If however, the Collector does not approve of this data, he shall within this period furnish his own data to the departmental officer and the land acquisition Collector and the same will be taken into consideration at the time of framing the award.
12. On receipt of the application or instructions, the Collector of the district will furnish data in the shape of rates per acre of the land along with a preliminary estimate of the value of the trees, buildings, and other property, if any, for which compensation will have to be paid.'
It is thus patent that the Land Acquisition Collector who alone has filed the return on behalf of respondent Nos. 1 and 2 is not as helpless in the matter as he poses to be. If the Collector of the district chooses to sleep over the matter and fails to supply the requisite data in terms of para. 10 above within the specified time then the Land Acquisition Collector has to collect the data from the revenue filed staff through his own agency. As per these instructions, which as already indicated, are binding upon the departmental authorities--the process of acquisition is time bound. Para 28 of the Standing Order lays down that under ordinary circumstances the acquisition proceedings are to be completed within six months after the issuance of the notification under Section 6 of the Act. This is how para 28 reads :
'Where acttion is taken under this part, i. e. the land is acquired compulsorily it is essential to conclude the is compatible with accuracy. When the Collector of the district knows that a notification under S. 6 is likely to issue, he should have all preparations complete as regards acquiring officer establishment forms, etc., so that on issue of the notification the proceedings may begin at once. Under ordinary circumstances the transaction should not take more than six months after issue of the notification under Section 6. When necessary the services of a special officer should be applied for (vide para. 32 infra).'
The case in hand thus is not only a case of flagrant violation of the abovenoted departmental instructions but the totality of facts and cricumstances irrefutably indicate that at the time of the issuance of notification under S. 4 of the Act there was no genuine need of the land sought to be acquired and it was only with a view to peg down the market price of the acquired land to that particular date that the same was issued. In a recent pronouncement by a Full Bench of this Court in Radhey Sham Gupta v. State of Haryana, (1982) 84 Pun LR 743 : (AIR 1982 Punj and Har 519), it has been ruled that 'long unexplained procrastination, either by itself and in any case coupled with other factors clearly tends to prove the lack of bona fides in the exercise of the power of acquisition. If it can be established beyond cavil that the real motivation behind the acquisition was not any specific public purpose and its expenditious execution but was a mere ruse to peg down the prices by an issuance of notification under Section 4 and thus holding the citizens to ransom for years at the whim and caprice of the State to finalise the acquisition proceedings when it chooses (if at all it is so done) is clearly a factor for establishing the colourable exercise of power.'
It has further been observed that 'unexplained inordinate delay in the finalization of the acquisition proceedings under the Act may well taint it with the vice of a colourable exercise of power and thus vitiate the same.' Keeping in view the facts and circumstances of the case, I feel that the ratio of the above noted authoritative pronouncement completely covers the merits of this case and in view of that the impugned notifications deserve to be quashed so far as these relate to the petitioners lands.
3. For the reasons recorded above, we allow these petitions and quash the impugned notifications so far as these relate to the land of the petitioners. They are also held entitled to the costs of this litigation which are determined at Rs. 300/- in each case.
S.S. Sandhawalia, J.
4. I agree.
5. Petitions allowed.