Hardayal Hardy, C.J.
(1) This judgment will dispose of a batch of 11 appeals against the judgment of a learned Single Judge of this Court in 11 petitions under Article 226 of the Constitution. The judgment was delivered on 19.7.1971 in No. 303 of 1970.
(2) Originally 14 writ petitions were filed by different petitioners. They related to different pieces of land but were posted and heard together as the facts and the points for determination were similar. They were also disposed of by a common judgment. It however seems that out of those 14 petitions, 11 appeals were filed in this Court.
(3) There is no dispute as to facts which lie in a narrow compass. On 13-11-1959 a notification under S. 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 which will hereafter be described as the Acquisition Act, was issued in respect of an area of 34070 acres of land stating that the said land was required by the Government at the public expense for a public purpose, namely, the planned development of Delhi.
(4) Subsequently on 18-3-1966 a declaration under Section 6 of the Acquisition Act was notified in respect of 2936 acres of land in village Khureji Khas comprising inter alia, the various lands belonging to the petitioners in the 14 petitions instituted in this Court.
(5) In February 1970, notices under Section 9(1) of the Acquisition Act were issued to the petitioners requiring them to state their objections if any, to the measurements of the respective lands and their claims regarding area and assessment of compensation. Thereupon 14 petitions were filed which were dismissed. Eleven persons have now come up in appeal and their prayer is that the notifications under Sections 4 and 6 of the Acquisition Act, be quashed.
(6) The respondents are the same in all the writ petitions and the appeals. They are (1) Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, (2) Delhi Administration and (3) Land Acquisition Collector Delhi. In opposition to the writ petitions, a counter affidavit of Shri K. N. Kashyap, Deputy Secretary (Land & Building) Delhi Administration was filed on behalf of the respondents in each of the writ petitions.
(7) Subsequent to the filing of the writ petitions, award No. 22 was made by the Land Acquisition Collector on 29-8-1970. Thereupon one of the petitioners filed an application (C.M. No. 2063 of 1970) praying for permission to amend his writ petitions by addition of certain paragraphs challenging the award made in respect of his land. The amendment was allowed by Rajinder Sachar J. on 19-11-1970. The said petitioner again filed another application (C.M. No. 813 of 1971) praying for further amendment of his writ petition by adding certain grounds in paragraph 15 of the writ petitions. This amendment was allowed by Tatachari J. on 22-4-1971.
(8) Similar applications for amendment were filed and allowed in other writ petitions excepting writ petitions Nos. 302, 387 and 388 of 1970.
(9) Shri Devinder K. Kapur, counsel for the respondents stated that the submissions made in the counter-affidavits filed on behalf of the respondents in reply to the applications for amendment of the writ petitions may be treated as replies to the amended portions of the writ petitions and that there was no need for fresh counter affidavits being filed by the respondents to the amended writ petitions.
(10) On behalf of the respondents, a preliminary objection was raised to the effect that the writ petitions were filed in 1970 challenging the notifications dated 13-11-1959 and 18-3-1966 and as such the writ petitions should not be entertained in view of the long delay. Learned Single Judge was of the opinion that the objection had some force but since the notices under Section 9 of the Acquisition Act, were issued in March 1970 and a rule nisi had been issued in the writ petitions the petitions were disposed of on merits rather than on the ground of delay.
(11) At the hearing of the appeals, counsel for the respondent reiterated the preliminary objection and submitted that in view of the two decisions of the Supreme Court in M/s. Tilokchand Motichand and other v. H. B. Munshi : 2SCR824 and Rabindra Bose and others v. Union of India and others : 2SCR697 the delay was fatal to the maintainability of the writ petitions. It was urged that because notices under Section 9 of the Acquisition Act had been issued in March 1970 or award itself was not made till August 1970, did not entitle the petitioners to file writ peititions in which the notifications dated 13-11-1959 and 18-3-1966 issued under Sections 4 and 6 of the Acquisition Act, were challenged. The attack of the petitioners was concentrated on the validity of the two notifications and since the writ petitions were filed more than three years after the notification under Section 6 was issued and more than 10 years after the notification under Section 4 was issued, the said notifications could not be challenged long after the expiry of the period of three years.
(12) As we are of the opinion that the appeals fail on merits it is un-necessary to deal with this aspect of the case.
(13) On behalf of the appellants the first contention urged by their learned counsel is that in fact and in substance the acquisition of land was for co-operative societies. Such acquisition could not be for a public purpose and would not be permissible under Part Vii of the Acquisition Act. It was argued that though the notifications under Sections 4 and 6 stated that the acquisition was for the planned development of Delhi, it was admitted in the counter-affidavit of Shri K. N. Kashyap that the land would be transferred to the co-operative house building societies which alone would develop the land. Whereas according to the award compensation payable to the appellants was at the rate of Re. 1.10 sq yard, the cooperative societies were being charged at the rate of Rs. 7.00 per sq. yard. To the extent of difference between the compensation payable to the appellants and the amount charged by the respondents from the co-operative house building societies the public revenue was being benefited instead of compensation or part of it being disbursed out of public funds. In other words, the payment of compensation was not from public revenue but from the funds of the co-operative house building societies.
(14) Land was acquired by the respondents and was passed on in the same condition to the house building societies who alone were required to develop the land. The purpose of acquisition thereforee was to transfer the land to the housing societies which by itself could not be a public purpose. In this connection reference was made to two decisions of the Supreme Court in Valjibhaiji Muljibhaiji Soneji and another v. The State of Bombay and others : 3SCR686 and Girdharilal Amratlal Shodan & others v. The State of Gujarat and others : 3SCR437 .
(15) In Valjibhaiji Muljibhaji Soneji it was held by the Supreme Court that the acquisition having been made for the benefit of a corporation, though for a public purpose, was bad because no part of the compensation was to come out of public revenues and the provisions of Part Vii of the Acquisition Act had not been complied with. Similarly in Girdharilal Amratlal Shodan case it was observed that a declaration for acquisition of the land for a public purpose could only be made if the compensation to be awarded for it was to be paid wholly or partly out of public revenues or some fund controlled or managed by a local authority. Where the compensation was paid entirely by a company the notification was invalid.
(16) It seems to us that there is no basis for the argument advanced on behalf of the appellants. Apart from the fact that in the present case the compensation is to be paid out of public revenues the two decisions relied upon by the appellants are entirely beside the point. In Valjibhaiji Muljibhaiji Soneji' s case there was a finding of fact that the entire compensation was to come out of the funds of State Transport Corporation. The notification under Section 4 of the Acquisition Act clearly stated that the acquisition was for a public purpose, namely for a State Transport Corporation. The notification under S. 6 reiterated that fact but it also went on to add that the land was needed to be. acquired for the purposes and at the expense of the State Transport Corporation. Their Lordships held that there was a declaration that the purpose' of acquisition was a public purpose but before effect could be given to a notification under sub-section ( 1) of Section 6 of the Acquisition Act, the terms of the proviso to that Section were also to be satisfied. Section 6(1) and the proviso read as follows:-
'SUBJECTto the provisions of Part Vii of this Act, when the appropriate Government is satisfied, after considering the report, if any, made under S. 5A, sub-section (2), that any particular land is needed for a public purpose, or for a Company, a declaration shall be made to that effect under the signature of a Secretary to such Government or of some officer duly authorised to certify its orders:- Provided that no such declaration shall be made unless the compensation to be awarded for such property is to be paid by a Company or wholly or partly out of public revenues or some fund controlled or managed by a local authority.' In that case it was found as a fact that no part of the cornpensation was to come out of public revenues and since the provisions of Section (1) were not complied with the notification was held to be invalid.'
(17) In the case of Girdhari Lal the notification under Section 4 clearly stated that certain land was likely to be needed for a public purpose viz. for construction of a house for a co-operative society at Ahmedabad. The notification issued under Section 6 also stated that the land was needed to be acquired for the aforesaid public purpose at the expense of the co-operative house building society. There is no such declaration in the present case. On the other hand Shri K. N. Kashyap clearly stated in his countre-affidavit that the land mentioned in the petition is not being acquired for the specific purpose of allotment to the co-operative house building societies. The allotment of a portion of the land to the cooperative house building societies is to be made in accordance with the scheme of a Large Scale Acquisition, Development and Disposal of Land in Delhi. The development of that portion of the land is to be carried out by the societies according to the standard of development prescribed, that thereafter in terms of agreements, perpetual leases would be granted to the societies and plots would be allotted to the members of the societies for construction of houses and that sub-leases would thereafter be executed by the said members.
(18) It is clear from the above averments that after acquiring the land for the planned development of Delhi a portion of the land according to the scheme of the Government is to be developed by the Government and the rest by allotment to the various co-operative house building societies. In other words the transfer or allotment to the societies is one of the modes in which the planned development of Delhi mentioned in the notifications under Sections 4 and 6 of the Acquisition Act, is to be effected.
(19) Dealing with this argument the learned Single Judge observed: -
'THUSit is incorrect to say that the acquisition was for transfer to the societies. The acquisition was for planned development of Delhi and as part of the scheme of planned development of Delhi a portion of the acquired land is allotted or transferred to house building societies which develop the land so allotted or transferred to them. The development of the land by the Government or by the societies is only an incidental step in the course of the planned development of Delhi.'
(20) We are in entire agreement with that has been stated above.
(21) It is no doubt true that according to the award, compensation is payable to the .appellant at the rate of Rs. 1.10 per sq. yard and that the co-operative house building societies concerned with the allotment or transfer of the land in dispute in these cases. are required to pay to the respondent Rs. 7.00 per sq. yard. They have also to carry out the work of development according to the prescribed scale. But that. by itself will not lead to the conclusion that public revenues are to be benefited to the extent of Rs. 5.90 per sq. yard. The award made by the Collector is not final. It is only an offer made by the Collector to the appellants. They have also a right to challenge the quantum of compensation in a reference to the District. Judge with a right of further appeal to tile High Court and Supreme Court. But even if it is held that there is difference between the compensation payable to the appellants and the price which the co-operative societies have to pay to the respondents for the allotment and transfer of the land. that would not warrant the conclusion that public revenues are being benefited at the expense of the appellants and in reality there is no payment of compensation by public revenues.
(22) According to the counter-affidavit of Shri K.N. Kashyap, there was a scheme k- develop a small township of about 1700 acres consisting of about 1300O dwelling units in East Zone Shahadra in which the lands in question are situated, that under the scheme most of the areas were to be allotted to co-operative house building societies which have been waiting for allotment of land for various periods ranging from 9 to 10 years and that the remaining land would be utilised for other schemes of the Government including 'Group Housing'. As a part of the scheme, the Government had already constructed four bridges over the river Yamuna in addition to the existing rail-cum-road bridge. that the Government had invested nearly 15/16 crores of rupees on various projects for the development of the afore-said zones and that 39 co-operative house building societies had also paid nearly 4 crores of rupees to the Government of India in expectation of getting land which they were assured by the Government as far back as the year 1964.
(23) According to the afidavit of Shri K.N. Kashyap, all the moneys that were needed for acquisition were disbursed out of the public funds put apart by the Government to meet the need for implementation of the scheme and for carrying out the planned development of Delhi and for completing the acquisition of land required for that purpose in the larger interest of the general public. The disbursement of Rs. 15/16 crores for the construction of bridges over Yamuna and approach roads etc. and a provision of Rs. 5 crores made by the Government as a revolving fund for the execution of the scheme for planned development of Delhi go to show that the over-all expenditure on the development of Delhi, according to the plan, has to be met by the Government from public funds. If there is any margin between the compensation paid to the appellants and the price charged from the co-operative housing societies the excess goes to add to the money provided for by public funds for the purpose of planned development of Delhi and spent on that purpose. It cannot thereforee be said that the payment of compensation to the appellants has to be made by the funds provided for by the co-operative societies. The argument that public revenues are enriched at the expense of the appellants has thereforee no meaning.
(24) Counsel for the appellants next referred to the decision of the Punjab High Court in Bhagwat Dayal & others v. Union of India and others . In that case the land was acquired by the State Government for the purpose, namely, of construction of houses by Dera Ismail Khan House Building Co-operative Society Limited. The contention on behalf of the Government was that acquisition of land for such societies was necessarily for a public purpose. Dealing with the said contention the learned Judges observed in paragraph 21 as follows:-
'THEpurpose of construction of dwelling houses cannot be considered necessarily or per se to be a public purpose. Construction of houses in an area where the dwelling accommodation is in excess of requirement cannot advance a public purpose. Similarly construction of houses in a heavily congested area or in slum area cannot be said to serve a public purpose because it would only worsen the congestion and thereby adversely affect the health of the public'.
'ONthe other hand the construction of houses in an area where there is shortage of dwelling accommodation and there is suitable land available for constructing houses then public purpose will be served by facilitating their construction. It, thereforee, depends on the circumstances of each case whether construction of houses will further a public purpose or not.'
(25) The learned Judges further observed in paragraphs 28 and 29 as follows:-
'CONSIDERINGthe acute shortage of dwelling accommodation and of building sites available in Delhi and considering also the locality of the area in dispute there can be no doubt that the acquisition of this land for construction of houses will serve public purpose. 'The only question that remains to be considered is whether the agency selected by the State Governmnt will effectively serve that purpose.'
(26) On a consideration of the facts of that case the learned Judges came to the conclusion that the material on record in that case was not sufficient to lead to the definite conclusion to the effect that the opinion of the State Government that the public purpose would be served by the acquisition, was not correct. The petitioners before the Court were threrefore held to have failed to prove that the land had not been acquired for public purpose. On behalf of the respondents our attention was invited to a decision of Madras High Court in P. Thambiran Padayachi and others v. The State of Madras and others : AIR1952Mad756 where Venkatarama Aiyar J. sitting with Rajamannar C.J. observed that schemes for construction of houses for clearing slum areas, relieving congestion and housing poor people are for a public purpose as they tend to promote social welfare and prosperity. The learned Judge also held that in general building schemes were considered as advantageous to the public and even though the direct and immediate beneficiaries under the scheme might be individuals it would be a public purpose as it benefited the public generally.
(27) Mr. Dhamija who appeared for some of the appellants argued that in that case construction of houses for the poor was held to be a public purpose, but in the present case the societies to whom the land has been allotted consist of rich persons and there is no reason why land should be given to such persons. Apart from the fact appreciate the distinction between the rich and the poor so far as the facility of housing is concerned, we do not find any material on record to show that the societies to whom the land has to be ultimately allotted and transferred consist of rich persons only. We may in this connection refer to a decision of the Supreme Court in Radial Shankarbhai and others v. State of Gujarat and others : AIR1970SC984 where it was said by Hegde J. that where there is a declaration under Section 6 that the land proposed to be acquired is needed for a public purpose, the court cannot go into the question whether the need was genuine or not unless it is satisfied that the action taken by the Government was a fraudulent one. The conclusiveness of section 6(3) must necessarily attach not merely to a need but also to the question whether the purpose was a public purpose. The learned Judge further held that it cannot be contended that a housing scheme for a limited number of persons cannot be considered as a public purpose. The need of a section of the public may be public purpose. Ordinarily the Government is the best authority to determine whether the purpose in question is public purpose or not. The learned Judge relied on an earlier decision of the Supreme Court in Smt. Somawanti and others v. The State of Punjab and others : 2SCR774 .
(28) There is thus no substance in the argument advanced on behalf of the appellants.
(29) The appellants' counsel then referred to the long lapse of time between the notifications under section 4 and 6 of the Acquisition Act. We have already said that the notification under Section 4 was issued on 13-11-1959 while the notification under Section 6 was issued on 18-3-1966. The award was however not made till 29-8-1970. It was thereforee argued that while compensation was fixed in 1970 at the rates prevailing in 959 in spite of the steep rise in the rates during the intervening period the inordinate delay in completing the proceedings of acquisition had operated oppressively on the appellants. If the compensation was paid at the rates prevailing in 1970 the appellants would have got much more in view of the steep rise in prices between 1959 and 1970. The acquisition proceedings and the award, it was urged, should thereforee be quashed for the said reasons.
(30) Counsel for the appellants relied upon two decisions of Madras and Andhra Pradesh High Courts. In V.K. Kirshna lyer v. The State of Madras and another 1967-2 Mlj 422. P. Ramakrishnan J. observed: -
'............THOUGHthe statute does not prescribe any time-limit for issuing the section 6(1) declaration after the publication of the section 4(1) notification or for passing an award at a subsequent stage, that circumstance does not deprive the aggrieved party of a remedy, where undue prolongation of the proceedings has operated in oppressive manner on the owner of the land especially in circumstances where land values have increased by leaps and bounds in the intervening time.'
(31) In the case from Andhra Pradesh High Court, Saragadam Apparao and others v. Special Land Acquisition Officer and others 1969-A WR 282 a Division A Bench of the High Court (P. Jaganmohan Reddy C.J. and Gopal Rao Ekbote J.) observed as follows:
'THElong and inordinate delay in making this inquiry and passing the award and between the publication of the Section 6 notification and the notice under Section 9 and 10 ordinarily would justify our striking down the proceedings in the award. But in this case, the delay on the part of the petitioner is equally inordinate. It does not justify any relief bing given to him.'
(32) In State of Madhya Prndcsh and others v. Vishunu Prasad Sharma and others : 3SCR557 the Supreme Court made the following observation, no doubt in a somewhat different context: -
'............ASthe compensation has to be determined with reference to the date of the notification under section 4(1) the person whose land is to be acquired may stand to lose if there is a great delay between the notification under S. 4(1) and the notification under Section 6 in case prices have risen in the mean time. This delay is likely to be greater if successive notifications under Section 6 can be issued with respect to land comprised in the notification under Section 4 with greater consequential loss to the person whose land is being acquired if prices have risen in the mean time.'
(33) On the basis of these authorities it was argued that the delay between the date of notification under Section 4 and the Award had operated oppressively on the appellants. The prices of land had immensely increased during this interval and yet the appellants were being paid at the rates prevailing in the year 1959.
(34) The learned Single Judge while dealing with this argument has observed 'that the appellants had not mentioned any where if and when they filed their objections under Section 5A of the Acquisition Act and when the said objections were considered by the Land Acquisition Collector. In the absence of any specific averment in the petition it was not possible to determine whether the time taken in issuing the notification under Section 6 of the Acquisition Act or in making the award was due to any laches on the part of the Acquisition authorities or whether it was due to laches on the part of the petitioners.'
(35) Under Section 5A of the Acquisition Act such objections have to be filed within 30 days after the issue of the notification under Section 4. We were however told that no such objections were filed by the appellants and that it was only after the issue of notice under Section 9 of the Acquisition Act that they filed some objections. In the absence of any specific averments by the appellants of any laches on the part of the respondents, the learned Single Judge held that it could not be said that there was inordinate delay in issuing the notiFication under Section 6 of the Acquisition Act or in the making of the award.
(36) It was stated on behalf of the respondents that about 6000 persons had filed their claims and objections under the notification dated 13-1 1-1959. Proceedings for stay of proceedings were also taken by some of the owners of the land covered by the notification and as such issuance of the notification under Section 6 in respect of the lands of the appellants could not be regarded as unduly delayed nor could the making of the award in 1970 be considered to have been needlessly delayed.
(37) It may be mentioned here that the appellants did not file copies of the award before the learned Single Judge nor has any such copy of the award been filed before us. We however called upon the counsel for the respondents to produce the award. The award is dated 29-7-1970 and relates to village Khureji Khas. There is also another award which has been described as a supplementary award and is dated 19-10-1970. The question of delay in the making of the award, particulaly after the judgment of the Supreme Court in The State of Madhya Pradesh and others v. Vishnu Prasad Sharma and others received the attention of Government. The Land Acquisition ( Amendment and Validation) Ordinance I of 1967 was thereforee promulgated and was followed by the Land Acquisition (Amendment and Validation) Act, 1967. The validity of certain acquisitions was maintained under the said Ordinance and Act. As regards the delay in the issuing of a notification under Section 6 of the Acquisition Act after a notification under Section 4 of the said Act had been issued' earlier was specifically dealt with by sub-section (3) of Section 4. Under the said sub-section when a declaration under Section 6 was made after the expiry of 3 years from the date of publication of a notification under Section 4. a provision was made for payment of simple interest calculated at the rate of 6% per annum on the market-value of such land as determined under Section 23 of the Acquisition Act from the date of expiry of the said period of three years to the date of tender of payment of compensation awarded by the Collector for the acquisition of such land.
(38) The above provision is intended to help persons whose land has been acquired and there has been delay between the notifications under Section 4 and 6 by payment of simple interest at the rate of 6% per annum on the market value of such land. The provisions of the Amending Act were examined by the Supreme Court in Udai Ram Sharma and others v. The Union of India and others (AIR 1968 Sc 188). In paragraph 36 of the judgment the provisions were summed up by Mitter J. as follows: -
(A)To amend the Act for the future by empowering the making of more than one declaration under section 6. (b) To validate completed acquisitions on the basis of more than one declaration under that section. (c) To authorise more than one declaration under the said section in cases where there is already in existence a notification under S. 4. (d) To prescribe a time limit for future acquisitions as also pending proceedings not yet completed. (e) To provide additional compensation by way of interest in all cases where acquisition has not yet been completed and where a declaration under S. 6 is issued more than three years after the notification under S. 4.'
(39) Although the challenge in that case was to the validity of the provisions with reference to Articles 14 and 31(2) of the Constitution yet the award of interest was held by the Supreme Court to amount to providing additional compensation in all cases where acquisition had not been completed and where declaration under Section 6 was issued more than three years after the notific-uion under Section 4. If the Amending Act itself was valid and so was the acquisition Act, the payment of additional compensation would have to be held as sufficient compensation for the time taken by the respondents in issuing a notification under S. 6 or in the making of the award. It will be noticed that in the case be fore P. Ramkrishan J. of Madras High Court and in the case before the Division Bench of Andhra Pradesh High Court, there is no reference to the above-mentioned amendment.
(40) Counsel for the appellants contended that the payment of interest mentioned in the amendment is only because the money belonging to the appellants was being wrongly retained by the respondent. It has no bearing on the question of oppressive nature of the delay. If the prices of land have been rising immensely it is inequitable that compensation should be paid on the basis of notification issued in 1959 when a declaration for acquiring the land is made in 1966 and an award is made in the year 1970. We do not think we can strike down the acquisition and the award on the ground that it is inequitable that compensation should be paid at the rate prevailing in an earlier year, when the award itself is made long thereafter, especially when Parliament was aware of this inequity and yet it proceeded to compensate the persons having interest in the land by awarding additional compensation to them by means of interest. It is not for us to determine the adequacy of compensation. The principles underlying compensation have been laid by Parliament and our function is to give effect to them.
(41) The last contention urged on behaf of the appellants was with respect to two awards in respect of the same area of land instead of one award. Referring to a decision of Calutta High Court in Corporation of Calcutta v. Omeda Khatun Buwu : AIR1956Cal122 it was submitted that from the very nature of the case, more than one award can be made only in the two classes of cases, i.e. (a) where the land in respect of which the declaration under Section, 6 has been made is under the ownership of different individuals and (b) where the acquisition proceeding in respect of the declared land (whether under the ownership of single or different individuals) is held up by circumstances over which the acquiring authority has no control e.g. by an injunction or the decision of the superior court and that injunction is subsequently dissolved or decision over-ruled. Subject to these exceptions the ordinary rule is that there can be no piecemeal acquisition in respect of and for which a declaration has been made under Section 6 of the Acquisition Act.
(42) Learned judges in that case relied upon an earlier decision of Calcutta High Court in R.C. Sen v. Trustees for the Improvement of Calcutta AIR 1921 Cal 340 where it was said that a declaration may be issued for a quantity of land consisting of several holdings belonging to different owners, and there is no objection to separate proceedings being taken in respect of separate holdings. But it is a different matter where there is one holding. In such a case there can be no piecemeal acquisition.
(43) An examination of the two awards made in the instant case shows that out of an area of 2936 bighas 5 biswas, an area measuring 1291 bighas 16 bids was formed the subject of award No. 22 of 1970-71. The net available area for acquisition then was 1526 bighas 07 bids was for which a supplementary award was made by the Collector. On 19-10-1970 the Collector in both the awards was the same, namely, Shri G. Bahadur. Land Acquisition Collector Delhi. The necessity for making these two awards was that there were various slay orders and as long as those stay orders remained in force the final award could not be made. The writ petitions in which orders for staying dispossession were made by this Court are given in Annexure to the original award. Moreover there is nothing to show that the lands comprised in the two awards formed part of the same holding or they belonged to the same owners. The writ petitions themselves show that the land belonged to different owners. We are thereforee unabie to appreciate the argument advanced by the appellants that two separate awards could not be made in respect of the same holding or in respect of the land belonging to the same owner. The argument has thereforee to be repelled.
(44) These being the only contentions urged on behalf of the appellants there is no merit in these appeals and they are dismissed, but there will be no order as to costs.