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ishwarlal Girdharlal Joshi Vs. the State of Gujarat and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil;Property
CourtGujarat High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1967)8GLR729
Appellantishwarlal Girdharlal Joshi
RespondentThe State of Gujarat and anr.
Cases ReferredArnold Rodricks v. State of Maharashtra
Excerpt:
- - by a notification dated 10th march 1965 issued under section 4 of the act, the government notified that the said lands were likely to be needed for the public purpose, namely, construction of proposed gandhinagar, the capital of the gujarat state and after reciting that the government was satisfied that the said lands were arable lands, the notification proceeded to state: of these grounds, grounds (1) to (3) were directed inter alia against the validity on the direction issued by the government under section 17 sub-section (4) and it was contended that the invalidity of this direction vitiated the impugned notifications under both sections, namely, 4 and 6. now it is no doubt true that if the direction under section 17 sub-section (4) is invalid on any of grounds (1) to (3), the.....p.n. bhagwati, j.1. these petitions challenge the validity of acquisitions made by the government of gujarat for the construction of gandhinagar, the new capital of gujarat. the facts giving rise to the petitions are identical barring only the difference in the survey numbers of the lands sought to be acquired and the dates of the notifications issued under sections 4 and 6 of the land acquisition act, 1894, acquiring such lands and it will, therefore, be sufficient to state the facts of petition no. 1003 of 1965 which has been heard as the main petition and in which the arguments have been principally advanced. the petitioner in this petition owned at all material times several lands bearing different survey numbers situate in village pethapur, taluka gandhinagar, district gandhinagar......
Judgment:

P.N. Bhagwati, J.

1. These petitions challenge the validity of acquisitions made by the Government of Gujarat for the construction of Gandhinagar, the new capital of Gujarat. The facts giving rise to the petitions are identical barring only the difference in the survey numbers of the lands sought to be acquired and the dates of the notifications issued under Sections 4 and 6 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, acquiring such lands and it will, therefore, be sufficient to state the facts of Petition No. 1003 of 1965 which has been heard as the main petition and in which the arguments have been principally advanced. The petitioner in this petition owned at all material times several lands bearing different Survey numbers situate in village Pethapur, Taluka Gandhinagar, District Gandhinagar. By a notification dated 10th March 1965 issued under Section 4 of the Act, the Government notified that the said lands were likely to be needed for the public purpose, namely, construction of proposed Gandhinagar, the capital of the Gujarat State and after reciting that the Government was satisfied that the said lands were arable lands, the notification proceeded to state:

The Government of Gujarat is further pleased to direct under Sub-section (4) of Section 17 of the said Act that as the acquisition of the said lands is urgently necessary, the provisions of Section 5A of the said Act shall not apply in respect of the lands.

In view of this direction of the Government under Section 17 sub Section (4; no inquiry was held under Section 5A. The Government thereafter issued a notification dated 31st July 1965 under Section 6 declaring that the said lands were needed for the public purpose, namely, construction of proposed Gandhinagar, the capital of the Gujarat State and this notification also contained a direction that:

The Government of Gujarat is further pleased to direct under Sub-section (1) of Section 17 of the said Act, that the Collector shall on the expiration of fifteen days from the publication of the notice relating to the said lands under Sub-section (1) of Section 9 of the said Act take possession of all arable lands specified in the Government Notification aforementioned.

The notice under Section 9 Sub-section (1) was then issued on some date in August 1965 and on the issue of the notice the petitioner preferred Petition No. 1003 of 1965 challenging the validity of the notifications under Sections 4 and 6 on various grounds. The petitioners in other petitions also similarly preferred their petitions challenging the validity of the respective notifications issued in respect of their lands on the self-same grounds. The grounds on which the validity of the notifications under Sections 4 and 6 was challenged were principally five and they were:

(1) Section 17 Sub-scetions (1) and (4) were violative of Articles 14 and 19(1)(f) of the Constitution and the directions issued by the Government under Section 17 Sub-sections (1) and (4) were, therefore, without authority and void;

(2) The lands sought to be acquired being admittedly cultivated lands, could not possibly be regarded as arable lands within the meaning of that expression as used in Section 17 Sub-section (1) and the opinion formed by the Government that the said lands were arable lands was, there fore, based on a mis-interpretation of the true meaning of the expression 'arable land' and was consequently no opinion at all so as to warrant the issue of direction under Section 17 Sub-section (4) and the direction issued by the Government under Section 17 Sub-section (4) was, therefore, invalid. Since the said lands were not arable lands, the direction issued by the Government under Section 17 Sub-section (1) was also void.

(3) There was no formation of opinion by the Government as regards urgency and in any event even if an opinion was formed by the Government, it was arbitrary and based on no grounds or on extraneous grounds and directions given by the Government under Section 17 Sub-sections (1) and (4) were, therefore, invalid.

(4) The purpose for which the lands were sought to be acquired was vague and was in any event not a public purpose within the contemplation of Article 31 of the Constitution and Section 6 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894.

(5) L. F. Raval who signed the impugned notifications under Section 6 was not duly authorized to do so under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, and the impugned notifications under Section 6 were, therefore, invalid and of no effect.

Of these grounds, grounds (1) to (3) were directed inter alia against the validity on the direction issued by the Government under Section 17 Sub-section (4) and it was contended that the invalidity of this direction vitiated the impugned notifications under both sections, namely, 4 and 6. Now it is no doubt true that if the direction under Section 17 Sub-section (4) is invalid on any of grounds (1) to (3), the impugned notifications under Section 6 would be baa as having been issued without complying with the requirements of Section 3 A but we do not think the impugned notifications under Section 4 would be vitiated in their entirety, it is now well-settled by two decisions of this Court, one an unreported decision of Desai S.T., C.J., as he then was and Bakshi J., in The Irish Presbyterian Mission Trust Association, Anand v. The State of Gujarat and Ors. S.C. A. 247 of 1960 decided on 31st October 1960 and the other a reported decision of Shelat C. J., as he then was and Mehta J. in Hiralal v. State : (1964)5GLR924 that it a direction given by the Government under Section 17 Sub-section (4) is invalid, the direction alone would be liable to be struck down and not the whole notification under Section 4 since the direction can be easily severed without affecting the rest of the notification under Section 4. With these preliminary remarks we will now proceed to examine the aforesaid grounds in the order in which we have set them out.

2. In order to appreciate the arguments which have been urged before us relating to these grounds, it is necessary to refer briefly to some of the relevant provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. The Act, as its long title and preamble show, has been enacted to amend the law for the acquisition of land for public purposes and for Companies. Section 3 defines various terms used in the Act and Clause (aa) which was introduced in Section 3 by Bombay Act 27 of 1950 gives an inclusive definition of 'arable land' by saying that arable land includes garden land. Section 4 provides that whenever it appears to the Government that land in any locality is needed or is likely to be needed for any public purpose, a notification to that effect shall be published in the Official Gazette. Section 5A which was introduced in the Act by Central Act 38 of 1923 then declares:

(1) 5A. Any person interested in any land which has been notified under Section 4, Sub-section (1), as being needed or likely to be needed for a public purpose or for a company may, within thirty days after the issue of the notification, object to the acquisition of the land or of any land in the locality, as the case may be.

(2) Every objection under Sub-section (1) shall be made to the Collector in writing, and the Collector shall give the objector an opportunity of being heard either in person or by pleader and shall, after hearing all objections and after making such further inquiry, if any, as he thinks necessary, submit the case for the decision of the appropriate Government, together with the record of the proceedings held by him and a report containing his recommendations on the objections. The decision of the appropriate Government on the objections shall be final.

This is the general rule but Section 17 Sub-section (4) authorizes a departure from that rule and empowers the Government to dispense with the inquiry under Section 5A. Section 17 Sub-section (4) runs in the following terms:

(4). In the case of any land to which, in the opinion of the appropriate Government, the provisions of Sub-section (1) or Sub-section (2) are applicable, the appropriate Government may direct that the provisions of Section 5A shall not apply, and, if it does so direct, a declaration may be made under Section 6 in respect of the land at any time after the publication of the notification under Section 4 Sub-section (1).

There is a reference in this provision to Section 17 Sub-sections (1) and (2) and we must, therefore, see what those sub-sections say. But before we do so, it would be appropriate to refer to Section 6. Omitting portions immaterial, that section says:

5. (1) Subject to the provisions of Part VII of this Act when the appropriate Government is satisfied, after considering the report, if any, made under Section 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 Secretary to such Government or of some officer duly authorized to certify its orders.

After the issue of the notification under Section 6 the Collector is required to take order for the acquisition of the land and amongst other things the Collector has to give notice under Section 9 Sub-section (1) inviting claims to compensation for all interests in the land and hold an inquiry into the objections, if any, which any person interested may lodge pursuant to the notice under Section 9 Sub-section (1) and make an award determining the amount of compensation which in his opinion should be allowed for the land and the apportionment of the amount of compensation amongst all persons known or believed to be interested in the land. It is only after the Collector has made an award that he can take possession of the land and on his taking possession, the land vests absolutely in the Government free from all encumbrances under Section 16. There is a departure made in respect of this provision too and that departure is to be found in Section 17 Sub-sections (1) and (2) which run as follows:

(1) In cases of urgency, whenever the appropriate Government so directs, the Collector, though no such award has been made, may, on the expiration of fifteen days from the publication of the notice mentioned in Section 9. Sub-section (1), take possession of any waste or arable land needed for public purposes or for a company. Such land shall thereupon vest absolutely in the Government free from all encumbrances.

(2). Whenever, owing to any sudden change in the channel of any navigable river or other unforeseen emergency, it becomes necessary for any Railway Administration to acquire the immediate possession of any land for the maintenance of their traffic or for the purpose of making thereon a river side or ghat station, or of providing convenient connection with or access to any such station, the Collector may, immediately after the publication of the notice mentioned in Sub-section (1) and with the previous sanction of the appropriate Government, enter upon and take possession of such land, which shall thereupon vest absolutely in the Government free from all encumbrances.

In cases falling within Section 17 Sub-section (1) the Collector can take possession of the land on the expiration of fifteen days from the publication of the notice under Section 9 Sub-section (1) though no award has been made by him and in cases falling within Section 17 Sub-section (2) the Collector need not even wait for the expiration of fifteen days from the publication of the notice under Section 9, Sub-section (1) and he can proceed to take possession immediately after the publication of such notice. Section 17 Sub-section (3) provides for compensation to the persons interested in the land for the standing crops and trees (if any) on the land and the provisions it enacts is:

(3). In every case under either of the preceding sub-sections the Collector shall at the time of taking possession offer to the persons interested compensation for the standing crops and trees (if any) on such land and for any other damage sustained by them caused by such sudden dispossession and not excepted in Section 24; and, in case such offer is not accepted, the value of such crops and trees and the amount of such other damage shall be allowed for in awarding compensation for the land under the provisions herein contained.

These are the relevant provisions of the Act which have to be borne in mind in dealing with the various arguments advanced on behalf of the parties.

3. Now it is clear on a plain reading of Section 17 Sub-section (4) that the issue of a direction under that sub-section that the provisions of Section 5A shall not apply in respect of any land is dependent on the subjective satisfaction of the Government that the land is one to which the provisions of Section 17 Sub-section (1) are applicable. The provisions of Section 17 Sub-section (1) would apply to a land if two conditions are fulfilled, namely, that there is urgency and that the land is waste or arable land. The opinion which the Government has to form under Section 17 Sub-section (4), therefore, relates both to urgency as well as to the nature and condition of the land. The Government has to be satisfied in respect of two objective facts, one that there is urgency and the other that the land is waste or arable land and the subjective satisfaction of the Government in respect of these two objective facts is a condition precedent to the exercise of the power to give direction under Section 17 Sub-section (4). Section 17 Sub-section (1) also, like Section 17 Sub-section (4) makes the issue of direction under that sub-section dependent on the subjective satisfaction of the Government as regards urgency-this was common ground between the parties-but there is one important difference between the two sub-sections and it is that, unlike Section 17 Sub-section (4), Section 17 Sub-section (1) does not leave the determination of the objective fact whether the land is waste or arable land to the subjective determination of the Government nor makes the exercise of the power to issue direction dependent on the opinion of the Government that the land is waste or arable land. The power to give direction under Section 17 Sub-section (1) cm be exercised only in relation to waste or arable land is, therefore, a condition precedent to the exercise of the power to give direction under that sub-section and not the subjective satisfaction of the Government in respect of such objective fact.

4. Having analysed the relevant provisions of the Act, we will now proceed to consider the question of vires of Sub-sections (1) and (4) of Section 17. The constitutional validity of these sub-sections was challenged on the ground of violation of Articles 19(1)(f) and 14 of the Constitution. We will presently examine the challenge founded on Article 14 but so far as the challenge under Article 19(1)(f) is concerned, we may straightway point out that there is no substance in it and it stands negatived by the decision of this Court in Mangalbhai v. State (1964) 5 G.L.R. 329. A Division Bench of this Court consisting of Shelat C. J. as he then was and myself held in that case that Articles 19(1)(f) and 19(5) have no application to cases falling within Articles 31(2) and 31(2A) after the Fourth Constitution Amendment Act, 1955. Shelat C. J. speaking on behalf of the Court said: the dictum in Kochuni's case that the decision in Bhanji Manji's case no longer held the field was confined only to cases falling under Article 31(1) and therefore the principle laid down in Bhanji Manji's case would still apply to cases falling under Article 31(2) and (2A) and therefore Article 31(2) and (2A) must be held to be self-contained dealing with cases of acquisition or requisitioning and not subject to Article 19(1)(f) or Article 19(5). There is a further reason for holding so because once the Parliament laid down in Clause (2) of Article 31 that the pre-requisites for the exercise of the power of acquisition or requisitioning were the existence of a public purpose and the provision for compensation, the very same Parliament would not again lay down the very same test or reasonableness provided in Article 19(5). The existence of a public purpose being itself a criterion of reasonableness it is hardly conceivable that Parliament would again subject an act of acquisition or requisition to the same test of reasonableness under Clause (5) of Article 19. For these reasons, the contention of the learned Advocate General that Article 19(1)(f) and Article 19(5) would not apply to cases falling under Article 31(2) and (2A). must be sustained.

The Land Acquisition Act, 1894 which is a law relating to acquisition of land and, therefore, falling within Article 31 (2) and 31(2A) is consequently not required to meet the challenge of Article 19(1)(f) and the validity of Sub-sections (1) and (4) of Section 17 which deal with the procedure to be followed in acquisition of land under the Act cannot be challenged on the ground that they contravene Article 19(1)(f). That leaves for consideration the challenge founded on Article 14.

5. The contention of the petitioners under this head of challenge was that Section 5A conferred a valuable right on the owner to object to the acquisition of the land but Section 17 Sub-section (4) empowered the Government to deny the exercise of this right to the owner at its sweet will and pleasure and thus to discriminate between the owner of one land and the other of another and the discrimination was, therefore, inherent in Section 17 Sub-section (4). Section 17 Sub-section (4), it was urged, vested a naked arbitrary power in the Government to dispense with the inquiry under Section 5A and the Legislature did not lay down or even indicate any guiding principle or policy to control or regulate the discretion of the Government in the matter of dispensing of the inquiry under Section 5 A and the whole matter was left to the unrestrained will of the Government without there being anything which would ensure proper execution of the power. The argument was that Section 17 Sub-section (4) thus fell within the third category of cases set out in Ramkrishna Dalmia v. Justice Tendolkar : [1959]1SCR279 and was, therefore, violative of the equal protection clause contained in Article 14. The validity of Section 17 Sub-section (1) was also attacked on the same ground, namely, that a discretion was given to the Government to select any waste or arable land for action under Section 17 Sub-section (1) without a guiding principle or policy furnished by the Legislature for the purpose of regulating and controlling the exercise of such discretion. This contention is for reasons which follow totally devoid of merit and must be rejected.

6. While considering this question it is necessary to bear in mind that Section 17 Sub-section (4) was introduced in the Act at the same time as Section 5A. Section 5A no doubt conferred a valuable right on the owner to object to the acquisition of land on limited grounds but at the time of conferring this right, the Legislature made it clear that this right should not be available if the Government on being satisfied that there was urgency and that the land was waste or arable land directed that the provisions of Section 5A shall not apply in respect of the land and the reason for enacting Section 17 Sub-section (4) was obvious. The object of the Act being to provide for acquisition of land for a public purpose or for a company and as pointed out by me in Gandalal v. The State (1963) 4 G.L.R. 379, the purpose of a company would also be a public purpose-it was quite possible that in a given case where the acquisition of the land was urgent, the procedure set out in Section 5A might operate to cause delay and the implementation of the purpose might be retarded if not defeated. The Legislature, therefore, while conferring the right of objecting on the owner of land under Section 5A thought that in a case of urgency, this right should not be available to the owner and for that reason provided in Section 17 Sub-section (4) that if in the opinion of the Government there was emergency and the land was waste or arable land, the Government could dispense with the inquiry under Section 5A. Section 17 Sub-section (4) thus on the face of it made a classification between lands of which acquisition was urgent and lands of which acquisition was not urgent and this classification of lands on the basis of urgency of acquisition was based on an intelligible differentia which had a reasonable relation to the object sought to be achieved by the Act, namely, acquisition of land for a public purpose for compliance with the provisions of Section 5A might well impede the urgent acquisition of land. Section 17 Sub-section (4) therefore satisfies the test of permissible classification and would clearly fall within the first category of cases set out in Ramkrishna Dalmia v. Justice Tendolkar (supra). But even if the view be taken that Section 17 Sub-section (4) does not on its face make a classification but leaves it to the discretion of the Government to select lands for applying the provisions of the sub-section, we are satisfied that there is a policy or principle laid down by the Legislature for the guidance of the exercise of the discretion by the Government in the matter of selection of land for applying the provisions of the sub-section. That principle or policy is furnished by the requirement that there should be urgency in regard to acquisition of land. It is by reference to this standard furnished by the Legislature that the Government would have to decide whether or not to apply the provisions of Section 17 Sub-section (4) to any particular land and it is, not possible to say that Section 17 Sub-section (4) provides for the delegation of arbitrary or uncontrolled power to the Government so as to enable it to discriminate between owners of lands similarly situate. Section 17 Sub-section (4) would, therefore, in any event fall within the fourth category of cases set out in Ramkrishna Dalmia v. Justice Tendolkar (supra) and must be held to be outside the inhibition of Article 14.

7. But it was contended on behalf of the petitioners that the question whether there was urgency or not in any given case was left to the subjective determination of the Government and it was, therefore, open to the Government to select any particular land for discriminatory treatment under Section 17 Sub-section (4) by deciding in the exercise of its discretion that there was urgency and this rendered the differentia or principle of classification incapable of regulating or controlling the discretion of the Government in the exercise of its power under Section 17 Sub-section (4) and did not save Section 17 Sub-section (4) from the vice of conferring unguided and uncontrolled discretion on the Government in the exercise of power under that sub-section. This contention plausible though it may seem is wholly unsustainable. It is defective in that it overlooks several important considerations which must weigh with us in determining the question of constitutionality of Section 17 Sub-section (4) with reference to Article 14. It must be remembered that the object of the Legislature in enacting Section 17 Sub-section (4) was to enable the Government to dispense with the inquiry under Section 5A in a case where urgent acquisition of land is necessary. As is evident from Section 5A the inquiry under Section 5 A would be likely to take a fair amount of time and the Legislature, therefore, thought it necessary to give power to the Government to eliminate this inquiry in case of urgent acquisition of land. Now urgency may arise in innumerable ways and many different and diverse factors may enter into the determination of the question of urgency and quite often it may be a matter of policy decision and, therefore, the Government would be the authority best fitted for the purpose of deciding whether acquisition of land in any particular case is urgent. In the tempo of prevailing conditions in modern society events occur which were never foreseen add it is impossible for the Legislature to anticipate all events or to provide for all eventualities and it cannot possibly lay down conditions determining urgency and it must, therefore, leave the question of urgency to the determination of the Government. Moreover it must be remembered that the power of acquisition for a public purpose is the power of eminent domain as the American jurists call it and is a power which is the necessary concomitant of sovereignty and the decision that the acquisition of land in a particular case is urgent so as to dispense with the inquiry under Section 5A may reasonably be left to the determination of the Government. If the question of urgency was not left to the determination of the Government but the existence of objective fact of urgency was made a condition precedent to the exercise of the power under Section 17 Sub-section (4), the action of the Government under Section 17 Sub-section (4) would be liable to be subjected to the scrutiny of the Court in legal proceedings and such a procedure would in many cases hold up the acquisition proceedings and the Government would by means of protracted litigation be prevented from effectuating urgent acquisition of land and the purpose for which the power is conferred under Section 17 Sub-section (4) would be defeated. Merely because the decision of the Government on the question of urgency is not made justiciable it does not mean that Section 17 Sub-section (4) is discriminatory. Furthermore, it must be remembered that the power to decide whether there is urgency or not is conferred on the Government and not on a minor official. 'It has to be borne in mind', as observed by the Supreme Court in Matajog Dobey v. H.C. Bhari : [1955]28ITR941(SC) 'that a discretionary power is not necessarily a discriminatory power and that abuse of power is not to be easily assumed where the discretion is vested in the Government and not in a minor official'. Vide Pannalal Binjraj v. Union of India : [1957]1SCR233 and Ram Krishna Dalmia v. Justice Tendolkar (supra) at page 551. We may repeat what was said by S.R. Das, C. J. in Ram Krishna Dalmia's Case that 'if this law is administered by the Government with an evil eye and an unequal hand or for an oblique or unworthy purpose the arms of this Court will be long enough to reach it and to strike down such abuse with a heavy hand'. Section 17 Sub-section (4) does not, therefore, offend against the equal protection clause contained in Article 14 and if the validity of Section 17 Sub-section (4) cannot be attacked on the ground of violation of Article 14, the attack against the validity of Section 17 Sub-section (1) must also fail on the same ground.

8. That takes us to the next ground of attack based on the argument that the lands sought to be acquired were not arable. As already pointed out, the power to issue direction under Section 17 Sub-section (1) cannot be exercised unless the land in respect of which the direction is sought to be issued is waste or arable land. The objective fact that the land is waste or arable land is a condition precedent to the exercise of power to give direction under Section 17 Sub-section (1). It, therefore, becomes material to investigate whether the lands in the present case were waste or arable lands. It was common ground between the parties that the lands were not waste lands-indeed that was not the ground on which the direction under Section 17 Sub-section (1) was based and the only question which, therefore, arises for consideration is whether the lands were arable lands. That raises the question what is 'arable land': what is the true connotation of that expression as used in Section 17 Sub-section (1)? Now it is well-settled that when a question arises as to what is the true meaning of a word in a statute, it is for the Court to interpret the true meaning but a reference to dictionaries is permissible as affording either by definition or by illustration some guide to the use of the word in the statute. The Oxford English Dictionary which is recognised as an authoritative dictionary in the English language gives the following meaning of 'arable': 'capable of being ploughed; fit for tillage; opposed to pasture or woodland'. The argument of the petitioners based on the dictionary meaning was and this argument was supported by a decision of a Division Bench of the Bombay High Court in Sadruddin Suleman v. J.A. Patwardhan : AIR1965Bom224 that this dictionary meaning refers only to land capable of being ploughed or fit for tillage and does not include tilled or cultivated land and cultivated land would not, therefore, be included within the meaning of 'arable land'. Reliance was placed on the observations of Kotval J. in that case where the learned Judge after referring to the Oxford Dictionary meaning said 'What is more significant however is what the Oxford Dictionary omits to mention. It does not mention any other sense in which the word 'arable' could possibly be understood'. But this argument, with the greatest respect to the learned Judges of the Bombay High Court is, to us, incomprehensible and we find ourselves unable to accept it. The word 'arable' describes the nature and condition of the land and according to the dictionary meaning, it means capable of being ploughed or fit for tillage. It is difficult to imagine how land fit for cultivation or tillage ceases to be so when it is cultivated. The nature or condition of the land denoted by the expression 'fit for cultivation or tillage' cannot change because the land is used for cultivation. As a matter of fact, it is because land is fit for cultivation that it can be cultivated. Or to put it differently, if land is cultivated, a fortiori it must be fit for cultivation. It is, therefore, not possible to accept the argument that because the Oxford Dictionary does not specifically in so many terms include cultivated land amongst the various meanings of 'arable land', cultivated land cannot be said to be 'arable land'. The meaning given includes cultivated land it and was, therefore, not necessary to make a specific enumeration of it. As a matter of fact the illustration given in Oxford Dictionary from Rogers Agriculture and Prices namely: 'Half the arable estate, as a rule, lay in fallow' clearly suggests that arable land may be fallow or may be cultivated. It is also significant that the Oxford Dictionary meaning specifically excludes pasture lands and woodlands but does not exclude cultivated land. Webster in his famous Dictionary specifically includes cultivated land in the meaning of 'arable land'. He gives inter alia the following meaning of 'arable': 'engaged in or involving the production of cultivated crops (farming)'. Stroud in his Judicial Dictionary, Volume 1 (Third Edition) page 179 also gives the same meaning when he quotes a passage from the judgment of Chatterton, V.C. in Palmer v. M'Cormik 25 L.R. Ir. 119 that 'In a deed 'arable' does not only mean land actually ploughed up or in tillage, but also land capable or fit to be so'. It is, therefore, manifest that 'arable land' according to its plain natural meaning includes cultivated land.

9. But apart from the plain natural connotation of 'arable land', the legislative history of the provision in which the expression occurs also throws considerable light on the question. Prior to the enactment of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, the law relating to acquisition of lands that was in force was the Land Acquisition Act, 1870, and Section 17 of that Act was in the following terms:

17. In cases of urgency, whenever the Local Government so directs, the Collector (though no such reference has been directed or award made) may, on the expiration of fifteen days from the publication of the notice mentioned in the first paragraph of Section 9, take possession of any waste or arable land needed for public purposes or for a company.

The Collector shall offer to the persons interested compensation for the standing crops and trees (if any) on such lands; and in case such offer is not accepted, the value of such crops and trees shall be allowed for in awarding compensation for the land under the provisions herein contained.

The fust clause, like the present Section 17 Sub-section (1), confined the applicability of the section to waste or arable land and the second clause provided for payment of compensation to persons interested in the land for standing crops and trees (if any) on the land. The Legislature thus clearly contemplated in the second clause the possible existence of standing crops on land to which the urgency clause was applied under the first clause. Now there could not conceivably be any standing crops on waste land and the possibility of existence of standing crops could, therefore, have been contemplated by the Legislature only in reference to 'arable land'. 'Arable land' must, therefore, he held to include cultivated land. If 'arable land' on a true interpretation did not include cultivated land, the words 'standing crops...if any' would be rendered inappropriate and superfluous and that would sin against the fundamental rule of construction that a meaning should, if possible, be given to every word in a statute and no word should be rejected as 'superfluous, void or insignificant'. There is, therefore, no doubt that in the Land Acquisition Act, 1870, the expression 'arable land' was used so as to include cultivated land. If the expression 'arable land' had this meaning in the Land Acquisition Act, 1870, it must be presumed, in the absence of any indication to the contrary, that the Legislature used that expression in the same sense when it came to enact the present Act dealing with the same subject and containing an identical provision in Section 17 Sub-sections (1) and (3). It is no doubt true that in the present Act the Legislature added Sub-section (2) in Section 17 but that does not make any difference, for that provision does not refer to waste or arable land but is applicable generally to any land. The expression 'arable land' must therefore be held to include cultivated land.

10. We have dealt with this question in some detail but we have been constrained to do so, as there are at least two reported decisions of the Bombay High Court which have taken a view different from that we are taking. One is Sadruddin Suleman's Case to which we have already referred and the other is Ganesh Narayan v. Commissioner of Nagpur Division : AIR1965Bom92 . For reasons given above we are unable to agree with the view taken in those decisions. We may point out that our view finds support in the observations of V.S. Desai J. in Navnitlal v. State of Bombay 62 Bom L.R. 622 at 624 and Shelat C. J. in Hiralal v. State : (1964)5GLR924 and the decisions of the Patna High Court and the Allahabad High Court in Lakshmi Devi v. State of Bihar : AIR1965Pat400 and Baldeo Singh v. State of U.P. : AIR1965All433 also support the same view. We must, therefore, hold that the expression 'arable land' as used in Section 17 Sub-section (1) includes cultivated land and the direction given by the Government under Section 17 Sub-section (1) in respect of the lands in question was a valid direction.

11. The direction given under Section 17 Sub-section (4) would also be sustainable on the same ground. It is however necessary to point out a slight difference in approach in regard to the two sub-sections. Under Section 17 Sub-section (4) it is not the objective fact that land is waste or arable land that is a condition precedent to the exercise of the power under that sub-section but the subjective satisfaction of the Government that the land is waste or arable land. Now the impugned notifications under Section 4 recited that the Government was satisfied that the lands in respect of which the notifications were issued were arable lands and the condition precedent to the exercise of the power was, therefore, fulfilled. But, contended the petitioners, the satisfaction of the Government recited in the impugned notifications under Section 4 was no satisfaction in the eye of the law as it was based on an improper and irrelevant test, namely, that even cultivated land could be regarded as arable land within the meaning of Section 17 Sub-section (1) and the exercise of the power under Section 17 Sub-section (4) was, therefore, invalid. This contention is without merit for it is based on a wrong premise. As pointed out above, cultivated land is included within the connotation of 'arable land' and the test applied by the Government in forming the opinion that the notified lands were arable lands was, therefore, not an improper or irrelevant test. The second ground of attack against the validity of the directions under Section 17 Sub-sections (1) and (4) must, therefore, fail.

12. We now pass on to the third head of challenge which relates to the question of urgency. Now as pointed out above, the question whether there is urgency or not in a given case is left to the subjective determination of the Government and the satisfaction of the Government on the point is a condition precedent to the exercise of the power under both Sub-sections (1) and (4) of Section 17. The first contention of the petitioners in regard to this point was that the impugned notifications under Sections 4 and 6 did not recite that the Government was satisfied that there was urgency and the condition precedent to the exercise of the power under Section 17 Sub-sections (1) and (4) was, therefore, not fulfilled. But this contention is manifestly unsustainable for the impugned notifications under both Sections 4 and 6 clearly set out the opinion of the Government that 'the acquisition of the said lands is urgently necessary. ' It is no doubt true that the words 'the Government is satisfied' or similar words are not used but there is no magic incantation in these words and there is no law which requires that the satisfaction of the Government must be expressed in any particular formula. The words 'the acquisition of the said lands is urgently necessary' used in the impugned notifications clearly show that the Government applied its mind to the question and formed the opinion that the acquisition of the lands was urgent and for that reason it applied the provisions of Section 17 Sub-sections (1) and (4). The question is: when and under what circumstances can the satisfaction of the Government on the point be interfered with by the Court? This question becomes directly relevant to the main contention urged on behalf of the petitioners under this head of challenge.

13. Now it is well-settled that where exercise of power by an authority is made dependent on the subjective satisfaction of the authority as to the existence of an objective fact, the Court cannot be invited to consider the propriety or sufficiency of the grounds on which the satisfaction of the authority is based. The Court cannot on a review of the grounds substitute its own opinion for that of the authority, for what is made a condition precedent to the exercise of the power is not the existence of the objective fact but the opinion of the authority as regards the existence of the objective fact and if an opinion is formed by the authority that the objective fact exists, the conditions of exercise of the power would be fulfilled. But it is implicit in this statement of the pro-position that the Court can examine whether the requisite satisfaction is arrived at by the authority: if it is not arrived, the condition precedent to the exercise of the power would not be fulfilled and the exercise of the power would be bad. Now there are several grounds evolved by judicial decisions on which it can be said that no satisfaction is arrived at by the authority as required under the statute. The simplest case is where the authority has not applied its mind at all: in such a case the authority could not possibly be satisfied as regards the fact in respect of which it is required to be satisfied. Emperor v. Shibnath Bannerji A.I.R. 1943 F. C. 92 is a case in point. Then there may be a case where the power is exercised dishonestly or for a corrupt purpose: such a case would also negative the existence of satisfaction on the part of the authority. The satisfaction, moreover, must be a satisfaction of the authority itself and, therefore, if in exercising the power the authority has acted under the dictation of another body as the Commissioner of Police did in Commissioner of Police v. Gordhandas Bhanji (1952) S.C.R. 135 and the Officer of the Ministry of Labour and National Service did in Simms Motor Units Ltd. v. Minister of Labour and National Service (1946) 2 All E.R. 201, the exercise of the power would be bad and so also would the exercise of the power be vitiated where the authority has disabled itself from applying its mind to the facts of each individual case by self-created rules of policy or in any other manner. The satisfaction said to have been arrived at by the authority would also be futile where it is based on the application of a wrong test, as for example, where the authority misconstrues the meaning of the word 'arable' and on the basis of such misconstruction applies a wrong test for the purpose of satisfying itself that the land is 'arable land'. Where this happens, the satisfaction of the authority would not be in respect of the thing in regard to which it is required to be satisfied. Then again as observed by Lord Macmillan in Liveridge v. Anderson (1942) A.C. 296, ''satisfied' cannot import an arbitrary or irrational state of being satisfied'. The satisfaction must be grounded 'on materials which are of rationally probative value'. Machindar v. King A.I.R. 1950 F.C. 129. The grounds on which the satisfaction is based must be such as a rational human being can consider connected with the fact in respect of which the satisfaction is to be reached. They must be relevant to the subject matter of the inquiry and must not be extraneous to the scope and purpose of the statute. If the authority has taken into account, it may even be bona fide and with the best of intentions, as a relevant factor something which it could not properly take into account in deciding whether or not to exercise the power or the manner or extent to which it should be exercised, the exercise of the power would be bad. Pratap Singh v. State of Punjab : (1966)ILLJ458SC . Where the satisfaction is based on 'alien and irrelevant grounds' having no rational connection with the fact in respect of which the satisfaction is required to be reached, the case would, in the ultimate analysis, be one of no satisfaction at all and the order made in exercise of the power would be beyond the scope of the power. Pilling v. Abergale U.D.C. (1950) 1 K. B. 636. So also where there are no grounds at all on which the authority could be reasonably satisfied, an inference may be drawn either that the authority 'did not honestly form that view or that in forming it, he could not have applied his mind to the relevant facts'. Ross-Clunis v. Papadopoullos (1958) 1 W.L.R. 546. These are all instances of ultra vires character of the exercise of power and they broadly indicate the principles on which the exercise of power dependent on the subjective satisfaction of an authority can be challenged. See also the observation of Shelat J. in the Supreme Court case of Barium Chemicals Ltd. v. Company Law Board 36 Company Cases 639 at page 685. It is in the light of these principles that we will have to examine whether the satisfaction said to have been arrived at by the Government as regards the existence of urgency can be successfully challenged.

14. Before, however, we proceed to examine this question it is necessary to consider one other matter and that relates to the question of burden of proof. The impugned notifications under Sections 4 and 6 on the face of them appear to be validly made and they contain a recital that the Government is satisfied that the acquisition of lands is urgent. On whom then does the burden of proof lie when this satisfaction is challenged? Is it for the petitioners to show that in fact there was no satisfaction of the Government or that the satisfaction was improper on any of the grounds above mentioned or is it for the Government to establish the truth and accuracy of the recital that it was satisfied The question is one of some importance but it is no longer open to doubt or controversy. The rule on the subject has been stated clearly and succinctly by the Supreme Court in Swadeshi Cotton Mills Ltd. v. State Industrial Tribunal : (1961)IILLJ419SC and according to this statement of the rule, two kinds of cases may arise where the subjective satisfaction of an authority as regards the existence of an objective fact is a condition precedent to the making of a valid order under a statute. The order may contain a recital that the condition precedent is satisfied or the order may not contain a recital to that effect. If the order does not contain a recital as to satisfaction of the condition precedent and it is challenged on the ground that the condition precedent was not satisfied, the authority passing the order would have to satisfy the Court by other means that the condition precedent was satisfied before the order was passed. But if, on the other hand, the order ex facie valid contains a recital that the condition precedent is satisfied, the Court would presume the regularity of the order including the fulfilment of the condition precedent and the existence of the recital would, in the absence of any evidence as to its inaccuracy, be accepted by the Court as establishing that the necessary condition was fulfilled and the burden would be on the petitioners to produce admissible evidence sufficient to establish that the recital is incorrect and the condition precedent was in fact not complied with by the authority. Applying this rule in the present case, since the impugned notifications under Sections 4 and 6 are ex facie valid and they contain a recital as to satisfaction of the Government as regards the existence of urgency, the presumption must arise that, as stated in the recital, the requisite as to the satisfaction of the Government as regards the existence of urgency was complied with and the onus would be on the petitioners to rebut that presumption by establishing that there was in fact no satisfaction of the Government and the condition precedent to the exercise of the power to issue the directions was not fulfilled. A fortiori, therefore, the petitioners must allege in their petitions that the Government had not arrived at the requisite satisfaction as regards the existence of urgency or that the satisfaction, even it arrived at, was liable to be challenged on any of the above mentioned grounds and aver facts necessary to support such allegation. Bearing in mind this approach on the question of burden of proof, we will now proceed to examine the merits of the contentions on this point.

15. The first contention of the petitioners was that in fact there was no satisfaction of the Government on the question of urgency and the recital in the impugned notifications was incorrect. This contention was not taken in so many terms in the petitions but it was developed in the course of arguments on the basis of the affidavits filed on behalf of the State in reply to the petitions. The case of the State in Petition No. 1003 of 1965 was and whatever we say in this connection in regard to Petition No. 1003 of 1965 must apply equally to the other petitions mutatis mutandis-that L. P. Raval who was at the material time an Under-Secretary of the Revenue Department had applied his mind and arrived at the requisite satisfaction as regards the existence of urgency before issuing the direction under Section 17 Sub-section (4) in the impugned notifications under Section 4 and so far as the direction under Section 17 Sub-section (1) in the impugned notifications under Section 6 was concerned, the requisite satisfaction as regards the existence of urgency was arrived at by L. P. Raval and also by one T. K. Jayraman who was at the material time a Deputy Secretary in the Revenue Department before issue of the said direction and the condition precedent to the exercise of the power to issue directions under Section 17 Sub-sections (1) and (4) was, therefore, fulfilled. This case was challenged on behalf of the petitioners and there were two grounds on which the challenge was based-one was purely factual and the other was partly factual and partly legal. The first ground was that the case of satisfaction of L. P. Raval and T. K. Jayraman put forward on behalf of the State was factually unacceptable and appeared to be an afterthought and the second ground was that even if that case was factually correct, there was nothing to show that the satisfaction of L. P. Raval and T. K. Jayraman constituted the satisfaction of the Government so as to attract the applicability of the provisions of Section 17 Sub-sections (1) and (4). Both the grounds were pressed by the learned advocate of the petitioners with great vehemence and zeal but in our view there is no substance in them and they must be rejected. Our reasons for saying so are as follows.

16. So far as the factual part of the case of the State is concerned, that was put forward for the first time only in the affidavits of L. P. Raval and T. K. Jayraman filed on 30th November 1966 after the hearing of the petitions had commenced and proceeded for sometime and that was urged as a strong circumstance which should induce us to disbelieve this case set up on behalf of the State. It was contended on behalf of the petitioners that though two affidavits, one of D. C. Shah and the other of L. P. Raval were filed on behalf of the State at the time of admission of the petitions and thereafter a detailed affidavit in reply to the petition was filed by B.S. Nimbalkar, another Undersecretary in the Revenue Department, this case was not set up in any of these affidavits and it was only after the petitions were heard for sometime and the question of the satisfaction of the Government was raised in the course of arguments that the affidavits of L. P. Raval and T. K. Jayraman were filed setting up this case on behalf of the State and we should, therefore, be reluctant to accept this case and hold that there is no material on which it could be said that the requisite satisfaction was arrived at by the Government. But this contention is unsustainable. It proceeds upon an erroneous assumption that the burden of showing that the requisite satisfaction was arrived at by the Government rests upon the State so that if the affidavits of L. P. Raval and T. K. Jayraman are rejected, there would be no evidence on behalf of the State to show that the Government had arrived at the requisite satisfaction. The burden of establishing that the requisite satisfaction was not arrived at by the Government lies on the petitioners and the rejection of the affidavits of L. P. Raval and T. K. Jayraman cannot help to discharge that burden. The contention of the petitioners is at best only a negative contention. But quite apart from this argument which provides an answer in limine to the contention of the petitioners, we do not see any reason why we should reject the affidavits of L.P. Raval and T. K. Jayratnan. It is necessary to point out that in the petition no contention was raised by the petitioner that the recital in the impugned notifications was incorrect and the Government had not arrived at the requisite satisfaction and the only contention was that there was in fact no urgency and the issue of direction under Section 17 Sub-section (4) was a colourable exercise of power. D. C. Shah and L. P. Raval in the affidavits filed by them at the time of the admission of the petitions and B.S. Nimbalkar in the affidavit filed by him in reply to the petition were, therefore, not called upon to meet the case that no satisfaction was in fact arrived at by the Government and the absence of any mention of the persons who arrived at the requisite satisfaction on behalf of the Government in these affidavits cannot be regarded as of any consequence. As a matter of fact, even if a contention had been raised in the petition challenging the existence of the requisite satisfaction on the part of the Government, the burden of proving non-existence of the satisfaction being on the petitioners, the State would not be called upon to affirmatively establish the requisite satisfaction and for that purpose to file the affidavit of the person who arrived at the requisite satisfaction on behalf of the Government unless the burden lying on the petitioners was prima facie discharged by them. The petitioners cannot by merely making an allegation that the requisite satisfaction was not arrived at by the Government without averring facts prima facie sufficient to establish such an allegation throw the burden on the State to prove that the requisite satisfaction was arrived at by the Government by producing the affidavit of the person who arrived at the requisite satisfaction on behalf of the Government. No fault can, therefore, be found with the State for not having come out with the names of L. P. Raval and T. K. Jayraman as persons who arrived at the requisite satisfaction on behalf of the Government in the affidavits of D. G. Shah, L. P. Raval and B.S. Nimbalkar. Some point was made of the fact that B.S. Nimbalkar did state in his affidavit that T. K. Jayraman was subjectively satisfied on behalf of the Government as to the condition of the land and the nature of the acquisition proceedings but he did not mention the name of L. P. Raval but this circumstance cannot help the petitioners, for at that stage, as pointed out above, no question was raised on behalf of the petitioners that the requisite satisfaction was not arrived at by the Government and the statement referred to was consequently not made in the context of a discussion of that question. What is, however, important to note is that this statement so far as it went was quite accurate and consistent with the case put forward in the subsequent affidavits. The question as to whether the Government had in fact arrived at the requisite satisfaction was raised by the petitioners for the first time at the hearing of the petitions and an argument was made that the person who had arrived at the requisite satisfaction on behalf of the Government had not made an affidavit and, therefore, though the burden of proving that the requisite as to the satisfaction of the Government was not complied with was on the petitioners and no prima facie case of non-existence of the satisfaction having been made out by the petitioners, it was altogether unnecessary for the State to point out who was the person who had arrived at the requisite satisfaction on behalf of the Government and to produce the affidavit of such person for the purpose of establishing the requisite satisfaction on the part of the Government, the State fairly and candidly placed the correct facts on record by filing the affidavits of L. P. Raval and T. K. Jayraman who stated on oath that they were the persons who had arrived at the requisite satisfaction at the time of the issue of the directions under Section 17 Sub-sections (1) and (4). There is no reason why we should disbelieve these affidavits filed by L. P. Raval and T. K. Jayraman. They have given in detail the circumstances in which they came to form the opinion that the acquisition of the lands was urgently necessary and we accept their affidavits in proof of the fact that they arrived at the requisite satisfaction as regards urgency before issue of the directions under Section 17 Sub-sections (1) and (4).

17. But the question still remains whether their satisfaction could be regarded as satisfaction of the Government, for it is the satisfaction of the Government which is a condition precedent to the exercise of power under Section 17 Sub-sections (1) and (4). In order to establish that the satisfaction of these two officers was the satisfaction of the Government, the State filed three affidavits, one of Utsavbhai Parikh who was at the relevant time the Minister in charge of the Revenue Department and the other two, of two Secretaries, namely, S.M. Dudani and A.S. Gill who were respectively, one after the other, Secretaries in the Revenue Department during the material period. These affidavits were tendered after the dictation of the judgment had commenced but even so we allowed them to be filed and took them on record and our reasons for doing so were as follows. The affidavits of L. P. Raval and T. K. Jayraman to which we have referred a little earlier were filed in Court on 30th November 1966 and liberty was given to the petitioners to file an affidavit-in-rejoinder to these affidavits on or before 2nd December 1966. The hearing of the petitions on the remaining points was thereafter concluded on 1st December 1966 and the petitions were adjourned to 2nd December 1966 for further hearing after the affidavit-in-rejoinder was filed by the petitioner. The petitioner swore an affidavit-in-rejoinder on 1st December 1966 and supplied a copy of it to the State on the same day and it was actually filed in Court on 2nd December 1966 at the resumed hearing of the petitions. In this affidavit-in-rejoinder the petitioner raised a contention that even if L. P. Raval and T. K. Jayraman had arrived at a satisfaction as regards the existence of urgency as alleged by them in their respective affidavits, there was nothing to show that they were authorized on behalf of the Government to arrive at such satisfaction and their satisfaction was consequently not the satisfaction of the Government. When this contention was raised, the learned Advocate General stated that L. P. Raval and T. K. Jayraman were authorized under the Rules of Business to arrive at the requisite satisfaction on behalf of the Government and that he would produce the Rules of Business and satisfy the Court in the course of the day. We did not wish to adjourn the hearing of the petitions on this count and we, therefore, intimated to the learned Advocate General that he could satisfy us on this point at the close of the day and in the meantime we would start dictating the judgment. We accordingly started dictating the judgment in open Court and the judgment remained part delivered at the close of the day. The learned Advocate General was presumably not in a position to deal with this point at the close of the day and he, therefore, said nothing at that time. Before resuming the dictation of the judgment on 5th December 1966 we asked the learned Advocate General what was his reply to the contention of the petitioner when he made an application to us for adjourning the dictation of the judgment for the purpose of enabling him to file an affidavit of the Minister to prove the authority of L. P. Raval and T. K. Jayraman. He stated that the Minister was out of town since 2nd December 1966 and was expected on 6th December 1966 and he would, therefore, file the affidavit of the Minister latest by 7th December 1966. This application for adjournment and permission to file fresh affidavits was strongly opposed on behalf of the petitioners but in the interests of justice we allowed it as we felt that it would not be fair and just to the State to deny it an opportunity to prove the authority of L. P. Raval and T. K.. Jayraman when the challenge to the authority was levelled specifically for the first time in the affidavit in rejoinder sworn on 1st December 1966 and filed on 2nd December 1966. We, therefore, adjourned the petitions upto 9th December 1965 and in the meantime the State filed the aforesaid three affidavits of the Minister and the two Secretaries and the petitioner also filed his affidavit-in-rejoinder to these affidavits. Further hearing of the petitions thereafter took place on affidavits and after the further hearing was concluded, we resumed dictation of our judgment.

18. Now the affidavits of the Minister and the two Secretaries, if accepted, would show that after the completion of the preliminary work for land acquisition and preparation of land plans and schedules, the Minister in charge had for the purpose of urgently acquiring lands required for the Capital Project, given instructions initially to S.M. Dudani and subsequently to A.S. Gill and made arrangements with them, during their respective tenures as Secretaries of the Revenue Department, to take necessary action for urgent acquisition of lands for the Capital Project and had also instructed them that they or the concerned Deputy Secretaries or Under - Secretaries in the Revenue Department may, without bringing the cases to his personal notice and without referring such cases to him, issue notifications under Sections 4 and 6 and may apply urgency clause under Section 17 Sub-sections (1) and (4) wherever it was possible to invoke the urgency clause according to law and that in pursuance of these arrangements and instructions given by the Minister, S.M. Dudani and A.S. Gill had, during their respective tenures as Secretaries of the Revenue Department, given instructions to the concerned Deputy Secretaries or Under - Secretaries in the Revenue Department to take necessary action under Sections 4 and 6 and to apply the urgency clause wherever it was possible according to law and the decisions to issue notifications under Sections 4 and 6 and to give the directions under Section 17 Sub-sections (1) and (4) were accordingly taken by the concerned Secretary or Deputy Secretaries or Under - Secretaries, as the case may be, under the authority of the Minister in pursuance of these arrangements and instructions given by the Minister. But the question is whether these affidavits should be accepted as correct and we should rely on these affidavits. The argument urged on behalf of the petitioners was that the deponents of these affidavits were vague as to the time when the arrangements stated in the affidavits were made by the Minister with the Secretaries or the instructions were given by the Minister to the Secretaries and the same vagueness also extended to the time when persuant to these arrangements and instructions given by the Minister, instructions to the concerned Deputy Secretaries or Under - Secretaries of the Revenue Department were alleged to have been given by the respective Secretaries. The petitioners urged that not only were the date and month not given in the affidavits but even the year or years in which the arrangements were made and the instructions given were not set out in the affidavits. No documentary evidence in the shape of notings either of the Minister or of the Secretaries or even of the concerned Deputy Secretaries or Under-Secretaries was produced along with the affidavits and, therefore, it was argued, we should be slow to accept the oral statements contained in the affidavits. An application was also made on behalf of the petitioners for permission to cross-examine the deponents of these affidavits and it was pointed out that if such permission was granted, the petitioners would be able to show that the deponents of these affidavits were not telling the truth when they deposed to the various statements contained in the affidavits. These arguments were addressed to us with an appeal that the rights of property of the subject were at stake and if we did not accept the contention of the petitioners, we would be failing in our duty to protect the subject against wrongful deprivation of his property by the State. We may at once hasten to point out that we yield to no one in the recognition of the value of the jealous scrutiny which the Court, in a form of Government limited by the Constitution, is expected to exercise against any wrongful encroachment by the executive on the property or liberty of the subject, but despite our anxiety in that respect, we are unable to accede to the contention of the petitioners.

19. It is undoubtedly true that these affidavits of the Minister and the two Secretaries were filed at a late stage of the proceedings after the dictation of the judgment had actually commenced, but we have set out the circumstances in which these affidavits came to be filed and those circumstances explain the reason for what might otherwise appear to be a rather extra-ordinary delay in the filing of these affidavits. Prior to the filing of the affidavits of L. P. Raval and T. K. Jayraman the only contention raised was that the person who had arrived at the requisite satisfaction on behalf of the Government had not made an affidavit and this contention was not by the State by filing the affidavit of L. P. Raval and T. K. Jayraman. It was only after the affidavits of L P. Raval and T. K. Jayraman were filed on 30th November 1966 that a contention was raised for the first time on behalf of the petitioners in the affidavit in rejoinder sworn on 1st December 1966 and filed on 2nd December 1966 that L.P. Raval and T. K. Jayraman had no authority to arrive at the requisite satisfaction on behalf of the Government and their satisfaction was, therefore, not the satisfaction of the Government and it was this contention which necessitated the filing of the affidavits of the Minister and the two Secretaries. There was thus no occasion or necessity prior to 2nd December 1966 for filing the affidavits of the Minister and the two Secretaries and we cannot regard these affidavits as constituting a related attempt to sustain a factually incorrect position. There is in our opinion no such delay in the making of these affidavits as would justify us in casting a suspicion of untruth on the statements contained in these affidavits. We may point out that the statements made in these affidavits do not make even the slightest departure from the position taken up by the State in the earlier affidavits. The earlier affidavits stated that the requisite satisfaction on behalf of the Government was arrived at by L, P. Raval and T. K. Jayraman and there was no change in this position made or even inasmuch as suggested in the subsequent affidavits of the Minister and the two Secretaries as a matter of fact the statements made in the latter affidavits wholly supported this position. It must also be noted that these affidavits have . been made by responsible officers of the Government. This of course does not mean that whatever is stated by responsible officers of the Government must be accepted by the Court without scrutiny but when there is an affidavit made by a responsible officer of the Government, the Court would not lightly reject the affidavit unless there is sufficient reason for doing so. In the present case we do not find any cogent reason for rejecting the affidavits made by the Minister and the two Secretaries. It is true that beyond the bare statements of the Minister and the two Secretaries in their respective affidavits, there is no other evidence to support the veracity of their statements but merely because of the absence of documentary evidence it would not be right to reject the affidavits. We must examine whether the absence of documentary evidence such as notings etc., constitutes such an infirmity in the case of the Government that in the absence of such documentary evidence we should decline to accept the truth of the statements contained in the affidavits. Now in the present case when the Minister conferred authority on the concerned Secretaries, Deputy Secretaries and Under Secretaries to issue notifications under Sections 4 and 6 and apply the urgency clause under Section 17 Sub-sections (1) and (4) for urgent acquisition of lands for the Capital Project as deposed to in the affidavits, the Minister was not making an order in any particular case where one would ordinarily expect the Minister or the Secretaries to make a noting on the file relating to that particular case. Instructions which were given by the Minister were general instructions with a view to expeditious acquisition of lands for the Capital Project pursuant to the policy decision taken by the Government for urgent implementation of the Capital Project. It is, therefore, not altogether unnatural that no notings of these instructions were made by the Minister or the Secretaries or the concerned Deputy Secretaries and Under Secretaries. It must of course be conceded that the practice of making notings is a very desirable practice but in actual working of the Government much would depend upon the personal equation between the Minister and the Secretary and the method of work prevailing between them and the absence of notings cannot be regarded by itself as a factor which should compel the Court to reject a statement on oath made by the Minister and the two Secretaries. The petitioners are to a certain extent right when they say that the particulars of the date when instructions were given by the Minister to the Secretaries and by the Secretaries in their turn to the concerned Deputy Secretaries and Under Secretaries are not given in the affidavits of the Minister and the two Secretaries. But it must be remembered that the period during which these instructions must have been given has been indicated in the affidavits with reasonable certainty. The learned advocate on behalf of the petitioners stated before us that the Minister making the affidavit assumed charge of the Revenue Department sometime in September 1964 and the proceedings for acquisition of the land required for the Capital Project admittedly started in October or November 1964. The instructions mentioned in the affidavits must, therefore, have been given during this period between the assumption of the charge of the Revenue Department by the Minister and the commencement of the proceedings for acquisition of the lands. According to these affidavits the Secretaries in their turn instructed the concerned Deputy Secretaries or Under Secretaries in the Revenue Department and though no particulars as to the date when such instructions were given were mentioned in the affidavits, it is reasonably clear on reading the affidavits as a whole and particularly the last paragraph of the affidavits, that according to the deponents of the affidavits, the instructions were given prior to the issue of the notifications under Sections 4 and 6 and the said notifications were issued and the urgency clause was applied pursuant to those instructions. When general instructions of this nature are given it would not be possible, unless a contemporaneous record of the instructions is made, to state precisely after a period of about two years as to what was the precise point of time at which the instructions were given and merely from the absence of the particulars as regards the date when the instructions were given, we would not be justified in rejecting the sworn statement of the Minister and the two Secretaries. We, therefore, accept the affidavits in proof of the facts therein stated and hold that the factual position in regard to the authority of L. P. Raval and T. K. Jayraman was as set out in the affidavits.

20. Before we part with this point we must deal with the application of the petitioners for permission to cross-examine the Minister and the two Secretaries in regard to the statements made in their respective affidavits. We do not think we can accede to this application. There are several reasons why we must reject it. In the first place these are petitions under Article 226 of the Constitution and though the Court has undoubted power to take oral evidence where disputed questions of fact are involved, the Court generally, in the exercise of its discretion, does not take such oral evidence for the purpose of deciding disputed questions of fact save in rare and exceptional cases. No circumstances are pointed out to us which would bring this case within the category of rare and exceptional cases. The only argument of the petitioners was that affidavits have been made by high and responsible officers of the Government and the statements contained in these affidavits are vague and indefinite and therefore an opportunity should be given to the petitioners to cross-examine them. But this by itself cannot be a ground for permitting cross-examination of the deponents of the affidavits. The burden of proving that there was in fact no satisfaction of the Government on the question of urgency is on the petitioners and the petitioners when confronted with the affidavits of the Minister and the two Secretaries cannot seek to discharge the burden which lies upon them by saying that they should be permitted to cross-examine the deponents of the affidavits. Moreover it must be remembered that in the present case there are no allegations of mala fides against the Minister and the two Secretaries nor are there any personal allegations against them which if denied might require investigation by the Court by means of oral evidence. There is also here no positive case on the side of the petitioners so that the Court has to choose between two opposing sets of facts. The case of the petitioners is only one of denial of the facts stated in the affidavits and the only question which, therefore, requires to be considered is whether the facts stated in the affidavits should be accepted by the Court and this question can certainly be decided on the affidavits. We are, therefore, of the view that the application of the petitioners must be rejected.

21. That takes us to the question as to whether authority could be orally conferred by the Minister on L. P. Raval and T. K. Jayraman in the manner deposed to in the affidavits of the Minister and the two Secretaries. The satisfaction which is a condition precedent to the exercise of power under Section 17 Sub-sections (1) and (4) is the satisfaction of the Government and, therefore, unless the satisfaction of L. P. Raval and T. K. Jayraman pursuant to the authority conferred by the Minister could be said to be the satisfaction of the Government, the directions under Section 17 Sub-sections (1) and (4) would be unsustainable. Now the Government is an impersonal body and it can function only through the machinery and in the manner prescribed by law. Clause (60) of Section 2 of the General Clauses Act, 1897 defines 'State Government' as respects anything done or to be done after the commencement of the Constitution (Seventh Amendment) Act, 1956, to mean, in a State, the Governor, and in a Union territory, the Central Government. Article 154(1) of the Constitution provides that the executive power of the State shall be vested in the Governor and shall be exercised by him either directly or through officers subordinate to him in accordance with the Constitution. Article 163(1) enacts that there shall be a Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister at the head to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions, except in so far he is by or under the Constitution required to exercise his functions or any of them in his discretion. Article 166(1) prescribes the manner in which the executive action of the Government must be expressed and Article 166(2) provides for authentication of orders and other instruments made or executed by the Governor. Article 166(3) is an important Article for the purpose of the present discussion and it empowers the Governor to make rules for the more convenient transaction of the business of the Government of the State and for allocation among Ministers of the said business in so far as it is not business with respect to which the Governor is by or under the Constitution required to act in his discretion. In exercise of the power conferred under Clauses (2) and (3) of Article 166 the Governor of Gujarat has made Rules styled as 'The Gujarat Government Rules of Business'. Rule 10 provides that without prejudice to the provision of Rule 7, the Minister-in-charge of a Department shall be primarily responsible for the disposal of the business appertaining to that Department. The subject of acquisition of property constitutes item No. 15 of the subjects allotted to the Revenue Department and the Minister-in-charge of the Revenue Department is, therefore, under Rule 10 primarily responsible for the disposal of business relating to acquisition of property. Rule 15 says that the Rules may to such extent as may be necessary be supplemented by instructions to be issued by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister and in pursuance of this rule the Governor has on the advice of the Chief Minister issued instructions for the more convenient transaction of the business of the Government. Paragraph l(1)(vii) of the Instructions defines a 'Secretary' to mean a Secretary to the Government and to include an Additional Secretary, a Joint Secretary, a Deputy Secretary, an Under Secretary and an Assistant Secretary. Paragraphs 3 to 6 of the Instructions are very material and they may be set out in extenso:

3. Except as otherwise provided in these Instructions, cases shall ordinarily be disposed of by, or under the authority of the Minister-in-charge, who may by means of standing orders, give such directions as he thinks fit for the disposal of cases in the Department. Copies of such standing orders shall be sent to the Governor and the Chief Minister.

4. Each Minister shall arrange with the Secretary of the Department what matters or classes of matters are to be brought to his personal notice.

5. Except as otherwise provided in these Instructions cases shall be submitted by the Secretary in the Department to which the case belongs to the Minister-in-charge.

6. A weekly list containing copies of the orders issued in all cases disposed of by the Secretary without reference to the Minister-in-charge shall be tabulated and submitted to the Minister-in-charge. The Minister may send for any case entered in such list and may take action which he considers necessary with reference to it in accordance with the Rules and these Instructions.

The argument of the learned Advocate General was that though under Rule 10 the Minister-in-charge of the Revenue Department was primarily responsible for the disposal of business relating to acquisition of property, he could under paragraph 3 of the Instructions confer oral authority on the Deputy Secretary and the Under Secretary to dispose of case or cases relating to acquisition of property by issuing notifications under Sections 4 and 6 and giving directions under Section 17 Sub-sections (1) and (4) and the satisfaction of L. P. Raval and T. K. Jayraman under Section 17 Sub-sections (1) and (4) was, therefore, the satisfaction of the Government. The learned advocate for the petitioners demurred to this argument and contended that the Minister-in-charge of the Revenue Department could certainly confer authority on the Deputy Secretary and the Under Secretary to perform the function of the Government to be satisfied under Section 17 Sub-sections (1) and (4) but that authority could be conferred only by means of standing orders under paragraph 3 of the Instructions and could not be conferred orally. These rival contentions raise an interesting question of construction of paragraph 3 of the Instructions.

22. Now the primary rule of construction applicable alike to statutory instruments as to statutes is that the words used must be construed according to their plain and natural meaning, for the words used must declare the intention of the law-giver. Paragraph 3 starts by saying that except as otherwise provided in these Instructions, cases shall be disposed of by, or under the authority of the Minister-in-charge. These words standing by themselves without anything more clearly suggest that the cases arising in the Department can be disposed either by the Minister-in-charge himself or by an officer of the Department under the authority of the Minister-in-charge. There is nothing in these words to limit the manner in which the authority may be conferred by the Minister: the authority may be in writing or it may be oral. But the contention of the petitioners was that the following words make a substantial difference and introduce a limitation on the manner in which authority could be confer red by the Minister. The petitioners urged that by reason of those words the authority could be conferred by the Minister only by means of standing orders. This construction does not appeal to us. The words 'who may by means of standing orders, give such directions as he thinks fit for the disposal of cases in the Department' do not qualify 'authority' but as a matter of plain grammar they relate only to the immediately preceding words, namely, 'Minister-in-charge' and it is, therefore, not possible to read these words as delimiting the manner in which the authority can be conferred by the Minister-in-charge. If the intention of the Governor were to prescribe the mode in which the authority may be conferred by the Minister-in-charge, we should have expected a clearer provision saying something to this effect: 'shall ordinarily be disposed of by the Minister-in-charge or under his authority conferred by means of standing orders. ' The words used on the contrary seem to suggest that the Minister-in-charge can authorize orally or in writing any Officer in Department to dispose of a case arising in the Department and he can also issue standing orders for disposal of cases generally in the Department. The expression 'standing orders' is descriptive of orders which are going to stand, that is, subsist for a period of time and, these words confer an additional power on the Minister-in-charge to issue standing orders which are intended to stand, that is, enure for a period of time and to regulate generally the disposal of specified classes of cases in the Department and they do not detract from the width and amplitude of the preceding words which contemplate that the Minister may confer authority orally or in writing for the disposal of cases in the Department.

23. Paragraph 4 of the Instructions also supports the construction which we are inclined to place on paragraph 3. Paragraph 4 provides that each Minister shall arrange with the Secretary of the Department what matters or classes of matters are to be brought to his personal notice and this paragraph has obviously reference to matters or classes of matters which are to be brought to the personal notice of the Minister with a view to be disposed of by him. The power conferred by this paragraph on the Minister to make arrangement with the Secretary as to which matters or classes of matters must be brought to his personal notice also carries with it by necessary implication the power to arrange as to what matters or classes of matters may not be brought to his personal notice but may be disposed of by the Secretary. The Minister can under this paragraph make arrangement with the Secretary as to what cases may be brought up before him for his decision and what cases may be disposed of by the Secretary and unlike Rule 20 of the West Bengal Rules of Business, this paragraph does not provide that such arrangement shall be made by the Minister by means of standing orders. Such arrangement may be oral or in writing and it need not find expression through the standing orders. This provision in paragraph 4 thus reinforces the view that even under paragraph 2 authority to dispose of cases arising in the Department can be conferred orally by the Minister on the Secretary.

24. It may also be noted that the question whether a particular function of the Government should be delegated by the Minister to the Secretary or not may be a question of policy and, therefore, one of some importance but once it is decided that the function may be delegated to the Secretary, it can be of no consequence whether the delegation is made by an oral order or by means of a standing order. The manner of delegation of the authority would not be a question of policy and would be entirely a matter between the Minister and his Secretary and in the context of rules for convenient transaction of business of the Government, it is difficult to imagine any reason for insisting that the authority shall be conferred only by means of standing orders.

25. It is said that the consequences of a suggested construction can not alter the meaning of a statute but they certainly help to fix its meaning and let us, therefore, contemplate the consequences of the construction contended for on behalf of the petitioners. If that construction is accepted, the result would be that whenever any case arises in the Department which is not covered by the standing orders, the Minister himself would have to dispose it of and he would be incompetent to instruct the Secretary to deal with it. Not only would the Minister be unable to pass an oral order authorising the Secretary to deal with such case but even a written order would be beyond his power, for such an order confined only to a particular case would not fall within the category of standing orders and the Minister would have no choice but to decide the case himself. Now in a modern welfare-State, the functions of the Government have become so vast and complex that an infinite variety of questions are bound to arise for the decision of the Government and by their very nature it would not be possible to provide in anticipation for disposal of all such questions by means of standing orders and if in every case where such question arises which is not covered by standing orders, the Minister is required to take a decision himself and he cannot authorize the Secretary to deal with it, which would be the inevitable consequence of the construction canvassed on behalf of the petitioners, smooth and efficient functioning of the Governmental machinery would become impossible and rules of business which are made for the convenient transaction of the business of the Government would become clogs in the smooth functioning of the machinery of the Government. The Court would be slow to accept a construction which leads to such an undesirable result.

26. We are, therefore, of the view that under paragraph 3 of the Instructions the Minister can confer oral authority on the Secretary to dispose of cases arising in the Department and under paragraph 4 the Minister can orally make arrangement with the Secretary as to what cases may not be brought to his personal notice and may be disposed of by the Secretary. This construction does not entail any harm or public mischief for paragraph 6 requires that a weekly list containing copies of the orders issued in all cases disposed of by the Secretary without reference to the Minister shall be tabulated and submitted to the Minister and the Minister may send for any case entered in such list and may take such action which he considers necessary with reference to it in accordance with the Rules and the Instructions and, therefore, even where an oral authority is conferred on the Secretary or an oral arrangement is made with him, the Minister would immediately know what action is taken pursuant to such authority or arrangement and if he doss not approve of such action, he can interfere with such action provided of course rights in third parties have not arisen as a result of such action. We, therefore, reach the conclusion that by reason of the oral authority conferred on the concerned Deputy Secretaries and Under Secretaries by the Minister and the oral arrangement made by the Minister with the Secretaries, L. P. Raval and T. K. Jayraman were entitled to exercise the powers under Section 17 Sub-sections (1) and (4) and their satisfaction as regards the existence of urgency was the satisfaction of the Government.

27. We may mention in the passing that it was also suggested on behalf of the petitioners that according to the affidavits of the Minister and the two Secretaries, the authority to exercise the powers under Section 17 Sub-sections (1) and (4) was conferred on the Secretaries by the Minister and the Secretaries being the delegates of such authority, were not in their turn entitled to sub-delegate it further to the concerned Deputy Secretaries and Under Secretaries. But this suggestion is totally unfounded and it is based on a misreading of the affidavits. On a proper reading of the affidavits there was no sub-delegation of the authority by the Secretaries to the concerned Deputy Secretaries and Under Secretaries. What the affidavits stated was that the Minister gave instructions to the Secretaries and made arrangements with them that they or the concerned Deputy Secretaries or Under Secretaries may, without bringing the cases to his personal notice, exercise powers under Section 17 Sub-sections (1) and (4) and the authority to exercise the powers under these two sub-sections was therefore, conferred by the Minister directly on the concerned Deputy Secretaries and Under Secretaries. The contrary argument proceeds on the assumption that authority can be conferred by the Minister on a Deputy Secretary or Under Secretary only by directly communicating with him. This assumption is obviously unfounded and does not need any argument to refute it.

28. The learned advocate appearing on behalf of the petitioners in some of the petitions also placed reliance on a decision of the Orissa High Court in Shyamaghana Ray v. State : AIR1952Ori200 and his argument based on this decision was that Rule 10 having provided that the Minister shall be primarily responsible for the disposal of the business of his Department, it was not competent to the Governor to provide by issuing Instructions under Rule 15 for delegation of that responsibility by the Minister to the Secretary. This argument is patently erroneous for it fails to give due effect to the provision contained in Rule 15. Rule 15 in terms provides that the Rules of Business may, to such extent as necessary, be supplemented by Instructions to be issued by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister. The Governor who was entitled to make rules for the convenient transaction of the business of the Government under Article 166(3) could validly make Rule 15 providing for making of supplementary rules in the nature of Instructions for the same purpose. And in exercise of this power reserved under Rule 15 the Governor could provide in paragraph 3 of the Instructions that the Minister may authorize the Secretary to dispose of any case arising in the Department. The provision contained in paragraph 3 of the Instructions was in any event within the power of the Governor under Article 166(3). It is, therefore, not possible for us to see how the validity of paragraph 3 of the Instructions can be assailed by the petitioners. So far as the decision of the Orissa High Court is concerned, it does seem to support the contention of the petitioners, but for reasons already discussed, we are unable to agree with the view taken by the Orissa High Court. On the view taken by the Orissa High Court, Rule 2 of the subsidiary rules of business made under Rule 14 of the main rules of business of the Orissa Government was rendered completely infructuous and according to that view the Minister-in-charge could not even make standing orders for the disposal of cases arising under the Land Acquisition Act by the Secretary. We cannot accept such a narrow and constricted view as regards the power of the Minister to authorize his Secretary to deal with cases arising in the Department. We must, therefore, hold that the petitioners have failed to discharge the burden of showing that the recital in the impugned notifications was incorrect and there was in fact no satisfaction of the Government as regards the existence of urgency.

29. We then pass on to consider the second branch of the argument under this head of challenge. The contention in regard to this branch of the argument was that the satisfaction said to have been arrived at by the Government was arbitrary and based on no grounds at all and was in any event founded on irrelevant grounds. The facts averred in the petition in support of this contention were that though the notification under Section 4 was issued on 10th March 1965, the notification under Section 6 was issued on 31st July 1965 after a period of about five months and possession of the lands was sought to be taken from the petitioners on 1st October 1965 after a further period of about two months and the argument was that these facts showed that there was in fact no urgency and the directions under Section 17 Sub-sections (1) and (4) were a colourable exercise of power on the part of the Government. It was contended that urgency which demanded dispensation with the provisions of Section 5A must necessarily be an urgency which will not brook a delay of 30 days and, therefore, in view of the aforesaid facts the direction under Section 17 Sub-section (4) was clearly an invalid exercise of power. It was also pointed out that the Capital Project was a huge project likely to take a long time and this statement was sought to be supported by reference to the affidavit of B.S. Nimbalkar and, therefore, no prejudice would have been caused to the Government if the provisions of Section 5A had been complied with and the award proceedings were completed before taking possession of the lands. It appears that in some of the petitions, according to the Scheme of the Capital Project, the lands were intended for being utilised for residential and industrial sites and the argument of the petitioners in those petitions, therefore, was that in any event so far as they were concerned, the acquisition of their lands could not possibly be said to be urgently required as the residential and industrial sites were not likely to be developed for a number of years and the directions under Section 17 Sub-sections (1) and (4) issued in their cases were manifestly arbitrary and capricious. These contentions were vehemently pressed by the learned advocates appearing on behalf of the petitioners in the various petitions but we are of the view that there is no substance in them and they must be rejected. 30. In order to appreciate the question which arises for consideration on these contentions, it is necessary to consider what is the urgency in respect of which the Government is required to arrive at a satisfaction. The marginal note to Section 17 which can be referred to as furnishing a clue to the meaning of the section says that the section is concerned with special powers in cases of urgency. Where there is in the opinion of the Government urgency, the Government can dispense with the inquiry under Section 5A by issuing direction under Section 17 Sub-section (4) and take possession before the award proceedings by issuing direction under Section 17 Sub-section (1). Now the object and purpose of the various provisions contained in the Act is acquisition of land and, therefore, the urgency referred to in Section 17 Sub-sections (1) and (4) must obviously be urgency in regard to acquisition of land. The power under Section 17 Sub-sections (1) and (4) can, therefore, be exercised when the Government takes the view that there is urgency as regards acquisition of the land Now urgency in regard to acquisition of the land would arise when the public purpose is to be urgently implemented and when that situation arises, the two stages of possible delay in the acquisition of land, one by holding the inquiry under Section 5A and the other by going through the award proceedings are permitted to be eliminated by the Government. The elimination of these two stages is thus consequence of urgency and the determination of urgency is not limited by a consideration of the time likely to be occupied by these two stages. The existence of urgency is not to be judged only by reference to these two time factors and the satisfaction of the Government as regards urgency is not tied down to a consideration of these two time factors alone though they are certainly relevant. Once the Government is satisfied that the implementation of the public purpose is urgent and there is consequently urgency in regard to acquisition of the land, the Government can eliminate the possible delay which might be caused by these two time-factors which are by their very nature of an indefinite and uncertain character in that, in many cases, it may not be possible to predicate with any reasonable degree of certainty as to how long compliance with these two time factors might take. But from this provision it would not be right to conclude that there can be urgency only if the acquisition proceedings cannot brook the delay which might be caused by complying with the provisions of Section 5A and going through the award proceedings. That is not the test to be applied for determining the existence of urgency. The condition of urgency is not qualified by the requirement that prejudice must be likely to be caused by complying with the provisions of Section 5A and going through the award proceedings. We should not, therefore, while examining the contention of the petitioners on this point allow ourselves to be guided by the question: could not the acquisition of the lands have waited if the procedure prescribed in Section 5A had been complied with and the award proceedings had been completed We must see whether there was any material of really probative value on the basis of which Government could come to the conclusion that the public purpose for which the lands were sought to be acquired needed urgent implementation and there was, therefore, urgency in regard to the acquisition of lands. If this test is applied, there can be only one answer to the question, namely, that there was ample material before the Government on the basis of which the Government could be satisfied as regards existence of urgency.

31. Before we proceed to refer to the facts of the cases we may advert to a decision of the Kerala High Court on which considerable reliance was placed on behalf of the petitioners and that is the decision of the Kerala High Court in Seshagiri v. Spl. for Land Acquisition 1965 Kerala 92. In that case a Single Judge of the Kerala High Court observed that since Section 5A gives only 30 days' time to a person affected or interested to file his objections to the proposed acquisition under the notification under Section 4, any urgency that demands dispensation with Section 5A must necessarily be an urgency which will not brook a delay of 30 days. This observation, in our view, does not represent the correct law and there are two very good reasons why we find ourselves unable to accept the validity of this observation. The first is that the observation seeks to determine the urgency by reference only to the time likely to be taken up by the inquiry under Section 5A which, as we have pointed out above, is not the correct test for determining the question of urgency and secondly the observation seems to proceed on the assumption that the only time which is likely to be taken up in the inquiry, under Section 5A is a period of 30 days. But this assumption is wholly unfounded as the period of 30 days referred to in Section 5A is merely the period given by the section for filing objections against the proposed acquisition. This period can, under the Rules made by the Government under Section 55, be extended by the Collector, if proper cause is shown. After the objections are filed, a date has to be fixed for hearing the objector in person or by pleader. The hearing then takes place and if the Collector permits, oral as well as documentary evidence can be led and where evidence is led by one party, the opposite party has to be given an opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses of the first party as also to rebut the case by means of other evidence. The Collector then has to consider the objections and to make his report to the Government and the Government has to decide the objections after taking into account the report of the Collector. This elaborate procedure is bound to take a considerable amount of time and it is difficult to see how the learned Judge of the Kerala High Court has limited the determination of the existence of urgency by saying that the urgency must be of such a nature as cannot brook a delay of 30 days. We find ourselves unable to agree with this view taken by the Kerala High Court. As a matter of fact apart from this solitary decision of the Kerala High Court, there is no other decision of any other High Court which has taken such a view. The argument founded upon this view must, therefore, be rejected.

32. We may also at this stage make one or two observations which are of considerable assistance in the determination of this question. An earlier neglect or default or omission of the Government cannot by itself negative the existence of urgency at a given point of time. It may happen sometimes that by reason of such neglect, default or omission itself, urgency may arise. The cause of the urgency would be irrelevant in considering whether urgency in fact exists or not. So also subsequent delay in implementation cannot necessarily of itself lead to the inference that there was no urgency at a given point of time for it is possible that despite existence of urgency, delay might be caused in the implementation owing to various factors and circumstances. Merely from subsequent delay therefore an inference would not necessarily follow that there was no urgency and the satisfaction of the Government on the question of urgency was arbitrary, unless of course the delay is of such a nature, as for example, is so gross that, unexplained, it must irresistibly lead to the conclusion that there could not be urgency: if there was urgency, such delay could not possibly have occurred. On the facts of the present case it is no doubt true that after the issue of the notification under Section 4 on 10th March 1965 there was a delay of about five months in issuing the notification under Section 6 and thereafter there was a delay of a further period of two months before a demand for possession of the lands was made but in the context of acquisition of a large area of land comprising about 5700 survey numbers and affecting about 2000 owners for carrying out a huge project like the establishment of a new capital, this delay cannot be regarded per se as so unreasonable or inconsistent with the existence of urgency that the Court would necessarily come to the conclusion that there could not have been urgency and the Government could not have been satisfied as regards the existence of urgency at the time of issue of the notification under Section 4. Moreover, the Government has in fact explained in the affidavit of B.S. Nimbalkar, the circumstances in which the delay occurred and it cannot, therefore, be concluded on the basis of this delay that the satisfaction of the Government as regards the existence of urgency was arbitrary or capricious.

33. We must also bear in mind that the acquisitions in the present case were made for establishment of a new capital for the Gujarat State. These are not cases of acquisition of individual plots of land for different public purposes but they are cases of acquisition of large area of land for the capital project. The public purpose for which the acquisitions were made was one and indivisible purpose, namely, establishment of the capital and there were no separate purposes such as construction of schools, hospitals, Sachivalaya, etc. The project of establishing the capital must, therefore, be considered as a whole for the purpose of determining the question of urgency and it would not be permissible to artificially subdivide the public purpose into its several constituent parts and determine the existence of urgency by reference to the requirement of the land for each constituent part. The test to be applied would be: is the implementation of the entire project urgent or not and if on the material before the Government, the Government could reasonably form the opinion that this test was satisfied, the Government would be justified in applying the urgency clause. The argument of the petitioners in some of the petitions required the Court to look at each parcel of land separately and see whether the acquisition of that land could have waited having regard to the use to which it was intended to be put under the scheme. But this is not a correct approach to the question. Each parcel of land coming within the capital project was required for the public purpose of establishing the capital and if the implementation of the capital project was urgent, the urgency clause could be applied by the Government in respect of each parcel of land. It must be remembered that when a new township is planned, the planning has to be done at a time on an overall basis and the project has to be viewed as an integral whole from all aspects and all sides and the process of establishment has to be simultaneous and not piecemeal and therefore the question of acquisition of land required for the township has to be considered as a whole and not from the limited point of view of the use to which any particular parcel of land is likely to be put. It may be that at the time of the acquisition it may not have been decided to what use a particular parcel of land should be put or even if it is decided, the scheme may change and that particular parcel of land may ultimately be put to another use. It is, therefore, not possible to say that merely because a particular piece of land was under the existing Scheme of the capital project intended to be used for a purpose which might to be immediately carried out, there could not be urgency in regard to the acquisition of such land. The lands of some of the petitioners under the existing Scheme undoubtedly fell within the area of residential and industrial sites but that would have no relevance to the question of urgency. The fact that the construction on residential and industrial sites might not take place for ten years would not be the test of urgency. If the acquisition was only for residential or industrial sites, this might have been a relevant consideration, but it must be remembered that the residential and industrial sites form part of the capital project complex and if that project as a whole is to be implemented in an urgent manner, the question of urgency must be judged by reference to the implementation of the project as a whole and not by reference to the actual use to which the land might be put under the Capital Project Scheme. Now so far as the public purpose of establishment of the capital is concerned, it cannot be said that it is not a matter of urgent necessity. The facts stated in paragraphs 11 and 12 of the affidavit of L. P. Raval dated 30th November 1966 clearly show that the establishment of the capital was urgently necessary and in view of those facts it cannot be stated that the view taken by the Government that there was urgency in regard to the implementation of the capital project was arbitrary or unreasonable. The satisfaction of the Government as regards the existence of urgency in the acquisition of lands for the establishment of the new capital must, therefore, be held to be unassailable. 34. We may point out that even if the determination of the existence of urgency were to be judged by reference to the delay which might be caused by holding the inquiry under Section 5A and going through the award proceedings, it would still not be possible to say that the satisfaction of the Government as regards the existence of urgency was arbitrary or improper. It must not be forgotten that this was not a case of a solitary acquisition of an individual plot of land but it was an acquisition of a large area of lands for a public purpose of a vast magnitude and the total survey numbers which were being acquired came to about 5700 and the total number of persons interested were on a conservative estimate in the neighbourhood of about 2000. If, therefore, the inquiry under Section 5A were not dispensed with, the elaborate procedure set out in Section 5A would have to be gone through in the case of all the 2000 interested persons and in that event, as stated in paragraph 16 of the affidavit of L. P. Raval dated 30th November 1966 'looking to the magnitude of the Capital Project and looking to the largeness of the area proposed to be acquired for Capital Project and inter alia having regard to the fact that the total survey Nos. were about 5700, if urgency clause was not applied and 5A inquiry had to be gone into, the acquisition proceedings relating to the Capital Project would have been delayed minimum by about two years' and if the acquisition of the lands had been delayed in this manner that would have had its repercussions on the progress of the Capital Project. So also if possession of the lands was to be taken after going through the award proceedings, there would have been a further delay of about two to three years and that would have delayed the various schedules in completing the different stages of the Capital Project. Taking the Capital Project as an integral whole it cannot be said that the satisfaction arrived at by the Government that there was urgency in regard to the acquisition of the lands was arbitrary or capricious or based on no grounds at all or was founded on any irrelevant grounds. This ground of attack against the validity of the directions under Section 17 Sub-sections (1) and (4) must, therefore, fail.

35. The next ground of attack urged on behalf of the petitioners was that the purpose for which the lands were sought to be acquired was vague and was not in any event a public purpose within the contemplation of Article 31 of the Constitution and Section 6 of the Land Acquisition Act. So far as the ground of vagueness is concerned, it is difficult to see how the purpose of establishment of a new capital for the State can be regarded as vague. The vastness or generality of the purpose cannot make it vague. Perhaps what the petitioners meant to say was that the purpose was too general and it was necessary for the Government to state in the acquisition of each plot of land as to what was the specific purpose for which such plot of land was being acquired and that was the same ground on which it was contended that the purpose was not a public purpose. But this ground is in our opinion without substance for the purpose of establishment of a new capital for the State is clearly a definite public purpose and acquisition can be made for such public purpose. It must be remembered that the acquisition of each plot of land is for the capital project as a whole and not for each constituent item of the project and the actual use to which any particular plot is to be put is neither necessary nor relevant to be mentioned in the notifications for acquisition of such land. When acquisition is made for the purpose of establishment of a new Capital for the State, the actual use to which any particular plot of land is to be put may not have been decided and even if it is decided, it may change in the course of execution of the Capital Project, for planning and execution may well go together. The purpose for which the lands are sought to be acquired, namely, the establishment of the new capital for the State cannot, therefore, be regarded as vague or indefinite nor can it be said that it is not a public purpose as contemplated by Article 31 or Section 6. This view which we are taking receives considerable support from the decision of the Supreme Court in Arnold Rodricks v. State of Maharashtra : [1966]3SCR885 . In that case the acquisition of land was made for a public purpose which was described as 'development and utilisation of the lands as industrial arid residential areas' and this was held to be a public purpose for which the acquisition of the lands could be made under the Act. It is important to note that the Government had not prepared any scheme for utilisation of lands before issuing the notifications but even so the Supreme Court held that the notifications were valid. We must, therefore, also reject this ground of attack against the validity of the impugned notifications under Sections 4 and 6.

36. That takes us to the last head of challenge, namely, that, L. P. Raval who signed the impugned notifications under Section 6 was not duly authorized to do so under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. The short answer to this contention is that Section 6 does not require that the Officer signing the notification under that section must be duly authorized under that section to sign the notification. All that the section says is that the notification shall be signed by a Secretary to the Government or 'some officer duly authorized to certify its orders'. The signature of any officer of the Government who is duly authorized to certify the orders of the Government would, therefore, be sufficient compliance with the requirements of the section. L. P. Raval being an Under Secretary was admittedly authorized under the rules of business to authenticate and certify the orders of the Government and he was, therefore, competent to sign the impugned notifications under Section 6.

37. These were all the contentions urged on behalf of the petitioners and since in our view there is no substance in them, the petitions fail and the rules are discharged. In view of the fact that the petitions challenged the vires of the Land Acquisition (Bombay Amendment) Act, 1960 and after the filing of the petitions the said Act was repealed by Gujarat Act 1 of 1966, the petitioners were justified in approaching the Court by filing the present petitions and, therefore, we think it fair and just that in each petition the parties should bear and pay their own costs. The learned advocates on behalf of the petitioners apply for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court under Articles 132(1) and 133(1)(c) of the Constitution. Having regard to the fact that on the question as to what is 'arable land' we have taken a view different from that taken by the Bombay High Court and also on the question of urgency we have disagreed with the view taken by the Kerala High Court and an important question relating to the construction of the Rules of Business and Instructions issued by the Governor under Rule 15 arises in the petitions, we think this is a fit case for granting leave to appeal to the Supreme Court under Article 133(1)(c) of the Constitution. We, therefore, grant to the petitioners in each petition leave to appeal to the Supreme Court under Article 133(1)(c) of the Constitution, There will also be an interim injunction in each petition restraining the State Government from taking possession of the lands for a period of fifteen days after the certified copy of the judgment is delivered to the petitioner in Special Civil Application No. 1003 of 1965.


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