1. This writ petition is directed against the acquisition of the land in dispute situated on Ring Road near Rajouri Gardens, New Delhi. In the writ petition, the petitioners have alleged that the petitioner constituted a partnership firm, acquired the land in dispute by purchase and by agreements of sale for purposes of housing and they prepared a lay-out plan and made other arrangements to carry out their scheme.
2. On 19th July, 1959 , the State issued a notification under S. 4 of the Land Acquisition Act (hereafter referred to as the Act) for acquisition of the land in dispute. Thereafter the petitioners filed objections on 9th August, 12956 and after some correspondence had been carried on, the land in dispute was denotified on 19th December, d1957. A fresh notification under Section 4 of the Act was, however, issued in respect of large areas of land including the land in dispute on 13th November, 1959. Within thirty days of the same, on 12th December, 1959 the petitioners filed objections against the said notification. On 1st July, 1960 would not be acquired an they specified 16 colonies for the purpose, but the colony of the petitioners was not denotified. Eventually on 16th August, 1962, a declaration under Section 6 of the Act was issued in respect of the land in dispute which had led to the filing of the writ petition.
3. In support of the petition, the petitioners have urged mainly two grounds namely, they had filed their won lay-out plan and the same had either in fact or in law been sanctioned and so the conditions laid down in the press note dated 1st July, 1960 and the acquisition of their colony was illegal. The second contention is that the land in dispute purports to have been acquired for the Master Plan which was published in July, 1960 and so they have not had nay adequate opportunity to prefer objections under section 5-A of the Act against the notification dated 13th November, 1959. In support of this contention, the he petitioners have relied upon a number of facts and circumstances which would be noticed in appropriate places.
4. The writ petition has been opposed on behalf of the State as well as the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and rejoinders were also filed on behalf of the petitioners. I shall now take up the first point. On 9th August, 1956, the petitioners made an application (Annexure R-1 on page 120) to the Secretary, Delhi Development Provisional Authority, New Delhi, in which they undertook to carry out the development of the site. They attached the site plan and stated that they were owners of the land and they would use it for purposes of a residential colony and they undertook to submit the site plans in triplicate, specifications and elevations in accordance with the municipal bye-laws. On 10th August, 1956, (Annexure R-2) the Administrative Officer wrote to the petitioners -- society that the documentary evidence of the ownership of the society must be furnished. Then some more correspondence followed between the parties which is not material at this stage. The on 14th November, 1956 (Annexure R-4) in reply to the letters of the petitioners, the Secretary of the Delhi Development Provisional Authority sated that the claim of the ownership of the petitioners in respect of the land in dispute could not be verified unless the petitioners field Jamabandi, Shajra Plan an key plan. After some more corespondent, the Authority again wrote a letter on 24th July, 1957 (Annexure R-7) calling for Jamabandi and Shajra plan. The petitioners maintained that on 27th August, 1958, they had furnished all the necessary documents of title, including title-deeds, Jamabandi, Shajra Plan etc., which were discussed by the Kanungo of the area subsequently in February, 1960. However, it appears that this Delhi Development Provisional Authority was superseded by another Authority known as Delhi Development Authority and the work of sanctioning this lay-out plan fell to the Delhi Municipal Corporation which had been constituted by Act 66 of 1957.
5. Subsequently the petitioners on 5th January, 1959 submitted their lay-out plan of the colony to the Commissioner, Delhi Municipal Corporation for approval. They stated in their application that they had previously submitted the key plan, the site plan an contour plan with documents relating to ownership and they were submitting the lay-out plans and the site plan. The application is Exhibit P. 1/A and its receipt is Exhibit P.1/B. The application was processed on 13th May, 1959 (Exhibit P.#, page 108). The Architect of the Municipal Corporation stated that in so far as planning was concerned, the lay-out plan was in order and that the required service plans be filed. Thereafter the petitioners filed service plans which the Architect of the Municipal Corporation by letter dated 18th September, 1959 (Exhibit P.2) found to be in order, but he stated that the documents of ownership were not complete and so he asked for the remaining documentary evidence in proof of ownership. The officer, however, took car to expressly state that final approval would only be conveyed when the lay-out plan would be approved by the Standing Committee. The documents of title were scrutinised and on 29th August, 1960, the Town Planner of Corporation requested a discussion of the documents of ownership and the stated that the case would be forwarded to the Standing Committee only after the documents of ownership were found to be in order. This is a letter dated 29th August, 1960 (Annexure R-9). On 16th November, 1960 the Town Planner stated by Annexure R.1 that the objections about proof of ownership had not bee removed. Lastly on 18th February, 1960, the Municipal Corporation conveyed by Annexure R.11 that the Standing Committee of the Municipal Corporation, in its meeting held on 8th January, 1960 decided that the applicants whose lay-out plans were under consideration, be asked to submit a certificate to the effect that the land of the lay-out plan had been excluded by the notification under Section 4 of the Act dated 13th November, 1959 and the petitioners were thereupon asked to produce the said certificate. In these circumstances it is obvious that the Standing Committee never expressly sanctioned the lay-out plan of the petitioners, whether before or after 13th November, 1959. The contention of the counsel for the petitioner, however, is that under Section 33 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, the lay-out plan would be deemed to have been sanctioned on the expiry of sixty days if the Standing Committee fails to reject the application or ask for further information. The relevant provisions of this section is that before utilising, selling or otherwise dealing with any land under Section 312, the owner thereof would send to the Commissioner a written application with a lay-out plain of the land showing the particulars mentioned in the relevant clauses. They, however, do not expressly include the documents of title, but it is urged that since the owners along can take advantage of this provisions, the Corporation is entitled to insist upon its satisfaction about the ownership of the applicant. However, sub-section (3) on which reliance is placed, reads as follows :--
'Within sixty days after the receipt of any application under sub-section (1) the Standing Committee shall either accord sanction to the lay-out platoon such conditions as it may thing fit or disallow it or ask for further information with respect to it.'
Sub-section (4) lays down the conditions under which the sanction may be refused and Clause (a) is to the effect that if the particulars shown in the lay-out plan are likely to conflict with scheme of development of Delhi under the Master Plan or a zonal development, the sanction may not be accorded. Sub-section (5) is material for purposes of this case which reads as follows:--
'No person shall utilise, sell or otherwise deal with any land or lay-out or make any new street without or otherwise than in conformity with the orders of the standing Committee, and if further information is asked for, no step shall be taken to utilise, sell or otherwise deal with the land or to lay-out or make the street until orders have been passed upon receipt of such information :
Provided that the passing of such orders shall not be in any case delayed for more than sixty days after the Standing Committee has received the information which it considers necessary to enable it to deal with the said application.'
6. On a construction of this provision of law, a Division Bench of this Court in Municipal Corporation of Delhi v. Smt. Kamla Bhandari, Letters Patent Appeals Nos. 138-D of 1964 and 143-D of 1965 decided on 1-12-1969 (Delhi) by S. N. Andley, J. (as he then was ) and Hardayal Hardy, J. observed that in spite of the fact that in Section 337 of the Corporation Act there was a provision for the sanction to be deemed to have been granted on the expiry of the statutory period, the result under Section 313 would be the same and the action of the standing committee would be intra virus if it was performed within the prescribed time and it would be ultra virus if performed after its expiry. The Court, thereforee, finally held : 'In our view the reasonable construction is that if the Standing Committee does not act within the time prescribed, the restriction upon the utilisation of the land removed.' This authority, so far as authoritatively. The result is if the Standing without rejecting the plan or asking for further information, it would be deemed to have been sanctioned.
7. Applying this rule of law to the facts of the case, I find that the fresh layout plans had been filed by the petitioners with the Municipal Corporation on 5th January, 1959. On 13th May, 1959, they had been approved and the service plans were asked for which were found in order on 18th September, 1959. The documents of title had been duly furnished on 22nd August, 1958 (vide Annexure P. 4/3). The Municipal Corporation did not ask for any further information with regard to the title-deeds till 1960 and the period of sixty days since the filing of the service plans expired before 13th November, 1959. Consequently in view of the authority of the Division Bench of this Court in Smt. Kamla Bhandari's case, L. P. A. Nos. 138-D of 1964 and 143-D of 1965, D/- 1-12-1969 (Delhi) the lay-out plan will be deemed to have been sanctioned and this would entitled the colony to be executed in terms of the press note. Whether a writ can be issued merely on the ground that the acquisition contravences the press note, need not be determined in this case since the writ is likely to succeed on the second point which will now be examined.
8. As is apparent from the date-sheet of the events given above, the first notification under Section 4 of the Act made on 19th July, 1956 was cancelled on 19th December, 1957. The notification in dispute was issued on 13th November, 1959 which is Annexure P. 5 on page 105. This is a blanket notification covering large areas of land and admittedly it includes the land in dispute. The petitioner, within thirty days of the same, filed their objections under Section 5-A of the Act, copy of which has been handed in at the hearing of the arguments by the counsel for the petitioners which is not opposed on behalf of the respondents . It is significant that in these objections the petitioners had stated that they were declaring this colony as a residential area and they raised other objections, but it is common ground that no objection had been raised against the applicability of the Master Plan to the land in dispute. In the return filed on behalf of the State, in the affidavit of Mr. A. V. Venkatasubban, Secretary (Local Self Government) Delhi Administration, Delhi, it is mentioned in paragraph F of the preliminary objections that there was a comprehensive plan for providing accommodation and regulating growth of the city and the Town Planning Organization was set up in 1955 which prepared an interim general plan in 1956 and then started working on the bigger project of preparing a Master Plan. It is expressly stated that the draft Master Plan was published in July, 1960, although the general pattern of development and the need for acquisition had been decided upon by the Government before the issue of the notification dated 13th November, 1959. The date of the draft Master Plan is July, 1960 and the final Master Plan was published in September, 1962. The State filed another affidavit in opposition to the writ petition after it had been amended and in paragraph F of the affidavit in opposition filed on 12th May, 1971, the facts mentioned above were reiterated.
9. The result that emerges from the survey of the facts is that the Master plan for the fulfillment of which the land was sought to be acquired, was, for the first time published in July, 1960 and was finalised in September, 1962, and, thereforee, the same was not available to the petitioners to inspect, scrutinise or raise objections against on 12th December, 1959 when they were expected to file their objections. The petitioners, thereforee, have not had any adequate opportunity to prefer objections against the acquisition of the land. I derive support from an authority of the Supreme Court reported as Munshi Singh v. Union of India, Civil Appeal No. 2356 of 1968, decided on 23-8-1972 : 1SCR973 . In this case, the object for which the land had been notified to be acquired was planned development of the area and a note had been appended to the notification that a plan of the land may be inspected in the office of the Collector. Grover, J. speaking for the Court observed that the public purpose to be stated in the notification under Section 4 must be particularised and unless it is done, the mere words 'planned development of the area' were wholly insufficient and conveyed no idea as to the specific purpose for which the land was to be utilised. The Court further observed that if Section 5-A of the Act has any purpose and if it has to be given its full effect, the person interested in the land proposed to be acquired, must have an opportunity to submit his objections under Section 5-A of the Act and that he can do only if the notification under Section 4(1), while mentioning the public purpose, gives some definite indication or particulars of the said purpose which would enable the persons concerned to object effectively and in the absence of such specification of particulars, the objector cannot file any proper or cogent objections under Section 5-A which he has a right to do under that provision. The Court was, thereforee, pleased to quash the land acquisition proceedings. In this decision, the Court also observed that if the Master Plan were available for inspection or if the knowledge of its existence on the part of the appellants had been satisfactorily proved, the position might have been different. This exception does not arise in the present case. On the date of the notification even the draft on the Master Plan had not been published and so it was futile for the petitioners to attempt to make inspection of anything which was still in the mind of the officers. The land acquisition proceedings in the case, thereforee, do not survive.
10. As a result, on the facts and circumstances of the case, I quash the proceedings for acquisition of the land in dispute. The declaration under Section 6 of the Act and the subsequent proceedings, if any, are set aside. The writ petition is accordingly allowed, leaving the parties to bear their respective costs.
11. Petition allowed.