1. In these three Writ petitions, though the petitioners are different, all of them attack: the proceedings in connection with the acquisition ot the properties which are owned by the respective petitioners and in respect of which action is taken by the State Government for acquisition by virtue of the notification issued under Section 6 of the Travancore Land Acquisition Act, 11 of 1089, dated 24th June 1960. The petitioner in O. P. No. 1066 of I960 is interested in the following items.
The petitioner in O. P. 1067 of 1960 is Interested in thefollowing items :
The petitioner in O. P. No. 1318 of 1960 is interested in only one item, namely, 408/1-C-4 ot an extent of 44 cents.
2. All these lands, along with certain other lands, were notified under Section 6 of the Travancore Land Acquisition Act by the State Government on 24th June 1960, that they are needed for 3 public purpose, for the use of the N. S. S. Polytechnic Institute at Pandalam and consequential proceedings were directed to be taken by the Sub-Collector, Chengannur, who is appointed to perform the functions of a Collecttor under the Act.
3. There are several other items mentioned in Ext. P-1 which is the relevant notification under Sec. 6 and marked in O. P, No. 1066 of 1960. The notification, which is challenged in the other two writ petitions is also the same.
4. It will be seen that the purpose of theacquisition is stated to be that these lands, along with the other items of land mentioned therein, are needed for a public purpose viz-, for the use of the N. S. S. Polytechnic Institute.
5. The various petitioners attack these proceedings that are sought to be taken for acquiring the lands under the Land Acquisition Act on the ground that the public purpose for which the lands are stated to 6e acquired has not been stated in the notification issued under Section 6 of the Act. Then there are certain other grounds of attack made against the acquisition also.
6. On behalf of the petitioners in O. P. Nos. 1066 and 1067 of 1960, Mr. K. P. Abraham, learned counsel for the petitioners urged that in the absence of any indication, in the notification issued under Section 6 of the Travancore Land Acquisition Act regarding the public purpose for which the lands were acquired the notification should be held to be illegal. ' In order to appreciate the circumstances under which these lands are sought to be acquired it is necessary to state a few facts. No doubt, according to the petitioners the lands that are sought to be acquired are absolutely unnecessary for the purpose of the Polytechnic in question and that the authorities of the Stats Government have not certainly been able to make out a case that the acquisition is really for a public purpose. The petitioners state that they are no doubt, interested as residents of the locality, in the establishment of the Polytechnic Institute in question and that they have also given lands necessary for its location ft nominal prices in the interests of the public good.
But the grievance of the petitioners is that the extent of land now sought to be acquired, is absolutely unnecessary for the convenient and beneficial enjoyment of the Polytechnic, in question, because they are already possessed of sufficient lands, which if properly utilised, the acquisition of the further lands would become unnecessary. In fact, it is stated by the petitioners that the minimum requirement of an institution like the Polytechnic in question, as can be seen from the recommendation of the All India Technical Education Southern Regional Councilis only 25 acres and in the case of an Engineering College the minimum land that is required is 50 acres. It is also the case of the petitioners that in this case, the Polytechnic in question has certainly got the minimum extent of land, which is necessary for running that institution efficiently and properly.
7. Allegations no doubt, are made that the object of the acquisition is only with a desire for gain in two respects, namely (a) the benefit by the future rise in the price of the land and (b) to deprive the owners of the real value ot the properties, by the production of the documents of properties given to the institute. The petitioners state that there is no public purpose, because the institute is possessed of sufficient lands which, according to the recommendation of the Regional Council referred to already, are sufficient for its purpose. The petitioner, in each of these cases, also expresses the hardship that will be caused to these persons by the particular acquisition of their properties and they also tried to make it appear that they have got legitimate 'grievance in respect to the proposed acquisition.
8. On the other hand, the Society for whom the lands are sought to be acquired had no doubt, filed in the first instance a counter-affidavit to the effect that the lands mentioned in the notification, under attack are absolutely needed for the proper functioning of the institute, and that the land in the possession of the committee is not sufficient and that more lands are necessary, it has also controverted the allegations made in the affidavits, filed in support of these petitions, that the object of the acquisition is only to make a profit out of the said acquisition.
9. The counter-affidavit filed by the State, in the first instance, was also to the effect that the acquisition in this case was sanctioned by the Government as it was satisfied that the acquisition was for a public purpose and that the lands in question are needed for a public purpose, namely for the use of the Polytechnic at Pandalam. The Government also took up the position that it is not necessary, in issuing the notification under Section 6 of the Act to state what the purpose is and inasmuch as they are satisfied about the acquisition being for a public purpose, they have taken proceedings under the provisions of the Travancore Land Acquisition Act. The further allegation that the acquisition is sought to be made only with a view to make profit has also been denied by the State. The State also mentions that the acquisition in this case is really to meet the requirements of the educational institution, which serves a public purpose. The State also refers to certain applications file by some of these petitioners for exempting the properties from acquisition and while those petitions were pending adjudication by the State Government the latter states that the petitioners have come up to this Court asking for relief under Article 226 of the Constitution.
10. There was a further affidavit filed by the Society setting out the circumstances under which the institute was started as also the vari-ous principles governing the management of this institution as well as the admission of students to this institution. It is also intended to show that the establishment of institutions, like the Polytechnic in question is reatly a part of the Central Government Scheme under the Second Five Year Plan. In particular, it is mentioned in the further supplementary affidavit, that has been filed by the respondent Society, to the effect that the Governing Body is the Managing Committee constituted as per the recommendation of the Co-ordinating Committee, of the All India Council of Technical Education.
They have also filed along with the supplementary counter-affidavit certain exhibits to show how exactly this institution has come into existence and also the rules governing the management of that institution. In particular, it is seen under Ext. R-2 which has been filed along with the supplementary counter-affidavit filed by the Society on 9-6-1961, that the Central Government had taken a decision that under the second Five year Plan schemes for the establishment of new technical institutions by private enter-, prise is to be given effect to in the manner referred to therein. It deals very elaborately with the assistance that is to be given by the Central' Gowmment regarding the recurring and nonrecurring expense of the particular institution. There is also an Annexure to Ext. R-2 which deals with the establishment of the Polytechnic Institute at Pandalam, namely, the particular institution in question; and it gives also the conditions under which the grants are to be made and regarding the admission of students and other matters.
In particular clause No. 15 of the annexure to Ext. R-2 filed along with this supplementary counter-affidavit, states that ths institute should not mortgage their movable or immovable properties and clause 16 is also to-the effect that in case the Institute happens to be closed down for whatever reasons, all the movable and immovable properties are to vest in the State Government without any encumbrance and there is also a further direction, that the grants that, are to be made are subject to the condition that the accounts of the institution should be open for test check by the Comptroller and Auditor-General at his discretion.
11. The said supplementary counter-affidavit filed by the Polytechnic also refers to the constitution of the governing body of the N. S. S. Polytechnic Institute at Pandalam- It is further stated that the Governing Body consists of 11 members of whom five are nominated by the management, one by the Government of India, one nominated by the State Board of Technical Education one nominated by the Government of Kerala, 1 nominated by the All India Council of Technical Education, 1 representative of Industries and one, the Principal.
12. The said supplementary counter-affidavit also mentions the grant that is to be made by the Central Government in respect of nonrecurring expenditure of buildings and equipment and also as to how exactly the deficit is to be shared. They also refer to the fact that 80per cent or the admission to tha institution is made from students selected by the State Selection Committee and the remaining 20 per cent is to be selected by the management on the basis of minimum standards laid down by the Government.
13. I am adverting to some of these aspects mentioned in this supplementary counter-affidavit filed by the Institute on 9-10-1961 to show, (that this institution is really sponsored. more or less by the Central Government and that the institution has been established as part of the Central Government Scheme under the Second Five Year Plan to have new technical institutions by private enterprise and' also render all assistance to such institutions.
14. To this supplementary affidavit filed by the Institute, the petitioner has filed a reply affidavit, wherein he has again stated that the requirement of a Polytechnic Institute is only an extent of 25 acres of land and for an Engineering College the requirement is 50 acres of land. The petitioner in O, P. 1066 of 1960, along with this reply affidavit filed on 11-10-1961' Has also filed in this Court a letter received by him from the Education Officer (Technical) wherein the officer says that a minimum of 15 to 20 acres of well developed land is required for 'the establishment of a Polytechnic Institute and about 50 acres of well developed land is required for the Establishment of an Engineering College.
This communication is probably a reply to the letter sent by the writ petitioner, asking for information on this aspect. Similarly he has also filed a notification issued by the State Government under Section 6 of the Travancore Land Acquisition Act regarding the acquisition of 24-24 acres and 500 Sq. links of land for the establishment of the Central Polytechnic Institute at Trivandrum at Vettiyoorkavu and this also has been filed to show that the requirement of a Polytechnic Institute will be amply satisfied by having 25 acres of land. The petitioner again states in his reply affidavit that any additional land above the standard fixed for a Polytechnic Institute, namely, 25 acres, is to be regarded as a luxury and not needed according to the standard fixed by the Ministry of Scientific Research and Cultural Affairs, and therefore he has further stated that the additional land now sought to be required is certainly not needed for the Institute.
It is further averred in this supplementary reply affidavit that the petitioner, in consideration of the usefulness of the institution and to prevent unnecessary dispute, has given also 1 acre 95 cents of land to the said Polytechnic Institute.
15. The petitioner further says in thereply affidavit that he reliably understands thatthe Government Body is proposing to plant rubberon the area in excess of the requirements of theInstitute, which comes to more than 20 acres.
16. In view of the persistent contention taken before me that there is nothing on record to show that the State Government has, as suchapplied its mind to ihe question, as to whether the land in this case, is needed for a public purpose and if so for what public purpose, the State Government through the learned Government Pleader has filed a supplementary affidavit on 20-10-1961. It is stated therein that there was a communication received from the Principal of the N. S. S. Polytechnic Institute at Pan-dalam dated 5-12-1958 by ihe Collector, Allep-pey, wherein the principal has stated that the existing extent of property of the Polytechnic Institute is found inadequate to house the Hostel and Staff Quarters and therefore requesting tha Government to acquire an area of 17.2 acres in the Survey Numbers mentioned therein; and it is also stated that the management was prepared to remit the value of the plots. as and when required.
There is a further request in that communication sent by the Principal that as the Hostels and Staff Quarters are to be constructed in the plots proposed for acquisition the acquisition is to be done as expeditiously as possible. That communication received by the Collector-of Alleppey from the Principal, N. S. S. Polytechnic Institute, dated 5-12-1958 is also filed as an enclosure to the Supplementary affidavit filed on 20-10-1981.
17. It is further averred in this affidavit by the State that the request of the Principal for the acquisition of 17-2 acres, for putting: up hosteb and staff quarters was considered by the Government, and they took a decision that it is a public purpose and therefor(c) by its memorandum dated 3-1-1957 directed the Collector to take necessary steps for acquiring the lands. Subsequently, it appears that the institute was able to purchase some plots of land by private negotiation, and. therefore the actual notification was issued only for the acquisition of 12-15 acres of land. Therefore, it is stated that the Government have satisfied themselves about, the necessity and it being for a public purpose.
18. The petitioner hag again filed a supplementary reply affidavit wherein practically the averments made in his previous affidavits are again repeated. The petitioner further states that even in the supplementary affidavit filed by the State there is nothing to show that the lands are really acquired for a public purpose. On the other hand. It is stated that there is no indication as to how much of land sought to be acquired is necessary to provide hostel facilities and how much is necessary tor construction of staff quarters. The petitioner fur-there avers that there is nothing again to show that the Government has actually satisfied itself regarding the acquisition being for a public purpose.
19. I have extracted the pleadings exhaustively in O. P. No. 1066 of 1960, and as these pleadings more or less form the background in the other two writ petitions, it is not-necessary for me to advert to these matters. There is one special contention raised by Mr. T. S. Krishnamurthi lyer in O. P. No. 1318-and that will be dealt with by me after dispos-ing of the common contentions raised by Mr. K. P. Abraham in O. P. Nos. 1066 and 1067 of 1960.
20. The contentions that are ur ed by Mr. K. P. Abraham learned counsel for the petitioner in the two original petitions referred to above and which have also been adopted by Mr; T. S. Krishnamurthi lyer learned counsel in O. P. .1318 of 1980, are (1) inasmuch as the notification issued under Section 6 of the Travancore Land Acquisition Act does not refer to the actual public purpose for which the acquisition is sought to be made, the notification is itself illegal and no action can be taken on the basis of this notification; (2) there is nothing to show that the Government have independently considered and satisfied themselves that the acquisition of the plots, in question, are really needed for a public purpose.
21. So far as the first contention referred to above is concerned, it will be seen that, in view of the recent decision of the Supreme Court in Babu Barkya Thakur v. State of Bom-Say AIR' 1960 SC 1203 this contention cannot certainly be accepted. No doubt, the notification issued uader section 6 of the Travancore Land Acquisition Act in this case merely says that the land specified1 in the notification are needed for a public purpose to wit, for the use of the N. S. S. Polytechnic Institute at Pan-dalam. Therefore, the point that is urged is that inasmuch as there is no indication in the notification itself as to what the public purpose is the notification is 'bad. Such a contention was raised before their Lordships of the Supreme Court, no doubt, regarding a notification issued by the Government under Section 4 of the Central Land Acquisition Act, and that contention was considered by the learned Judges of the Supreme Court and rejected.
It is not really necessary to consider the various other aspects that are dealt with by their Lordships of the Supreme Court. The relevant point that is necessary to Be adverted to for the present discussion, is that their Lordships held that it is not absolutely necessary to the validity of the land acquisition proceedings, that the Statement that the land sought to be acquired was needed for a public purpose should find a place in the notification actually issued. Their Lordships have further held that the requirement of law will be satisfied, if in substance, it-is found on investstigation, and the appropriate Government is satisfied as a result of investigation that the land was needed for a public purpose.
22. Therefore, the mere circumstance that the notification issued under section 6 of the Travancore Land Acquisition Act, which more or less is modelled on section 4 of the Central enactment does not indicate as to what is the actual public purpose sought to be served, will not make the notification illegal or void On that ground as laid down by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in the decision referred to above. Therefore, the first contention of both the earned counsel regarding the Invalidity ofthe notification issued under Section 6 cannot certainly be sustained.
23. The second contention that has been raised by the learned counsel as I mentioned earlier, is that there is nothing in the proceedings before the Court to show that the Government have realty satisfied themselves that there is a public purpose to be served by the proposed acquisition.
24. No doubt, in this connection Mr K. P. Abraham, learned counsel, relied upon the decision of their Lordships of the Supreme Court in State of Bombay v. R. S. Nanji, (S) AIR 1956 SC 294 as well as my judgment reported in Kamalamma v. State, 1960 Ker LT 232 : (AIR 1960 Kerala 321) wherein it has been held that the question as to whether a particular acquisition is for a public purpose or not is justiciable by the Court in proceedings under Article 226.
25. The proposition stated, as such by Mr. K. P. Abraham is certainly beyond dispute as will be seen from the observations of trieir Lordships of the Supreme Court in (S) AIR 1956 SC 294 at p. 297 to the effects:-
'Prima facie the Government is the best Judge as to whether 'public purpose' is served by issuing a requisition order, but it is not the sole Judge. The courts have the jurisdiction and it is their duty to determine the matter whenever a question is raised whether a requisition order is or is not for a 'public purpose''.
The question as to what will constitute a public purpose, has been considered elaborately in a case which came before me and reported fin 1960 Ker LT 232 : (AIR I960 Kerala 321). Therefore the position now is when a question is raised that a particular acquisition is not lor a public purpose there is jurisdiction vested in this Court to consider all the materials placed before the Court and find out as to whether the acquisition is for a public purpose or not.
26. Then the only question is whether in this case there are materials enough to show that the acquisition is for a public purpose and whether the State Government before they issued the notification under section 6 of the Travancore Land Acquisition Act, have satisfied themselves about the Acquisition being for a public purpose.
27. No doubt, there was a very feeble attack sought to be raised by both learned counsel to the effect that the Institution, in question, is really controlled by the N. S. S. which is a private organisation, and therefore the acquisition in this case is really for a private purpose and for benefiting a private organisation. I am not inclined to accept this contention advanced as such. I have already adverted to the various communications Issued by the Central Government and they have been referred to in the supplementary counter-affidavit filed on behalf of the Polytechnic Institute to show that such institutions are really started at the instance and sponsored by the Central Government, and encouragement is given by the Central Government even to private individuals to start such institutions as part of givingtraining in technical education under the Second Five Year Plan. I have also adverted to the various provisions to show the nature of the grant made by the Central Government and also how exactly the Managing Board of this institution is constituted and also the various ruless regarding the disposal of property and the admission of students to this institution.
28. Therefore, from the fact that the initial management or control of this institution may be in the hands of a private body it cannot certainly be stated that the institute which has the avowed object of training technicians and Engineers for the benefit of the public ana for national advancement, is one which does not satisfy the requirements of public purpose.
29. In fact, I do not think even the petitioners go to the extent of saying that the establishment of institutions, like this, cannot certainly pass the test of public purpose. On the other hand they have stated in their affidavit that, considering the usefulness of this institution to the public, they have also voluntarily surrendered some of their lands in order to enable the institution to serve the public better.
30. The only question that will have to be adverted to is whether the acquisition of the additional lands for the purpose of the Polytechnic satisfies the test of public purpose. I have already mentioned that the State Government in its latest supplementary affidavit, have referred to the request made by the Principal of this Institute to the Collector of Alleppey stating that the existing land in their possession is not sufficient for the purpose of construction of hostels 'and staff quarters. When once the establishment of a Polytechnic is considered to a public purpose ordinarily the acquisition of additional land for such an Institution should also be considered to be for a public purpose, and more so, when materials have been placed before this Court to show that the acquisition is' really intended to enable the Institute to construct staff quarters and provide hostel facilities.
31. I am not impressed with the contention that has been raised before me by learned counsel for the petitioners that the extent of land sought to be acquired is really not necessary for the purpose of the institution. As to what is the. extent that may be necessary in tha particular circumstances unless it is shown to be arbitrary -- in my view is essentially a matter for the authorities and the State Government to satisfy themselves.
32. No doubt, the petitioners have also stated that the sole object of the acquisition is only with a view to make profit and' that allegation has been promptly denied by the State Government and also by the Polytechnic itself. The petitioners seem to rely very much upon this fact, namely, that the minimum extent of land necessary to start a Polytechinc is only 25 acres and the minimum requirement to start an Engineering College is 50 acres and therefore they proceed on the basis that anything more than 25 acres, in respect of a Polytechnic is absolutely unnecessary and cannot be consider-ed to be a public purpose. I am not inclined to accept this kind of reasoning either.
What is referred to in the recommendation of the Committee or what is referred to in the letter of the Assistant Educational Officer (Tech' meal) is not that more than 25 acres is unnecessary; but on the other hand the minimum extent of land needed to enable a person to start a Polytechnic Institute is 25 acres. That certainly is not conclusive of the fact that it is enough it a Polytechnic has got 25 acres for all time to come and for all purposes to be met with. After all. in the face of the letter sent by the Principal of the Institute to the Collector of Alleppey that more lands are necessary for the purpose of constructing staff quarters and hostel buildings, and the further fact that the Government have considered that aspect and satisfied themselves that these lands are necessary, in my view, the test of an acquisition being for a public purpose is amply satisfied in the circumstances of this case.
As to whether the lands of the petitioners are to be acquired or whether the lands of other parties are to be acquired are not matters, in my opinion to be considered by this Court sitting in proceedings under Article 226 but it is really for the authorities concerned to consider and take a decision one way or the other. It is also brought to my notice that some of the petitioners have filed applications before the State Government for exempting their lands from acquisition. The State Government I dare say, will consider- all aspects and pass suitable orders on those applications.
33. Before I close this part of the case, I may also refer to a decision of the Punjab High Court reported in Arjan Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR .1959 Punj 538 where also an acquisition for a similar Polytechnic run by a private association was held to be for a public purpose.
34. Mr. T. S. Krishnamurthi Iver raised a further contention in O. P. 1318 of 1960 to the effect that there is no provision in the Travan-core Land Acquisition Act by which the State Government can make an acquisition and transfer the property in favour of a party, like the N. S. S. who is in charge of the Polytechnic Institute in this case.
35. In particular, Mr. T. S. KrishnamOor-thy lyer relied upon the provisions of section 35-A of the said Act where provisions have been made for acquisition of land for a local authority. The absence of any such provision, regarding acquisition for other persons, Mr- Krtsh-namurthi lyer urged, will show that the provisions of the Travancore Land Acquisition Act cannot be invoked by the State Government for purpose of acquisition in this case for the N. S. S., however laudable the object of the acquisition may be.
36. 1 am not inclined to accept this contention of the learned counsel. As pointed out by Mr. Vekyudhan Nair, learned counsel tor the, first respondent, and also by the learned Government pleader appearing for the State,. the preamble to the said Act dearly shows thatit is expedient to amend the law for the acquisition of the tend needed for public purpose and for determining the amount of compensation to be paid on account of such acquisition. There is no other restriction, so far as I could see in any of the provisions of the Act which in any way can assist the contention of Mr. T. S. Krishnamoorthy lyer, learned counsel for the petitioner, that an acquisition like the one be. fore me cannot be made by the State Government. In my view, once it is shown that the intended acquisition is really for a public purpose, the provisions of the Act can certainly be put into force.
37. Section 35-A of the Act is really only provision to the effect that if the provisions of the Act are sought to be put in force for the purpose of acquiring land at the cost of any fund controlled or managed by a local authority, it provides that the charges incidental to such acquisition are to be borne from such fund. There is also a further provision made in subsection (3) of Section 35-A giving a right to the local authority, for whom the acquisition is made, to raiae a dispute regarding the area of land or the amount of compensation, and that sub-section also gives a right to such local authority, to ask for a reference to the District Court; whereas in all other cases of acquisition for a public purpose there is no provision which enables the party or the institution, for whose benefit the lands are sought to be acquired, to intervene and take part in the proceedings and raise a dispute either regarding the area or regarding the compensation payable in such matters.
In my view, section 35-A certainly cannot assist Mr. T. S. Krishnamurthy lyer in support of his contention that the said nrovision enables the State Government to make an acquisition-only for a local authority, and there are no other provisions in the Act giving such a power to the State Government to make an acquisition on behalf of anybody else. Therefore all the contentions raised by both the learned counsel in these three writ petitions fail and the orders under attack will have to be sustained.
38. In the result, all the writ petitions are dismissed and each of the writ petitioners will pay the costs of the respondents therein one set.