B.K. Mehta, J.
1. The 1st petitioner-Company is a public limited company registered under the Companies Act, 1956 having its registered office at Bombay and one of its branches at Dharampur in Junagadh district. The second petitioner is the Chairman and shareholder of the 1st petitioner-Company.
2. The Petitioner-Company purchased from the Collector, Junagadh agricultural land bearing Section No. 1/2/part admeasuring about 150 acres situate within the revenue limits of village Dharampur in Ranavav taluka of the Junagadh district. By an order of March 14, 1968, the State Government granted the said land to the petitioner-Company at the rate of Rs. 1,000/- per acre. The Collector, Junagadh had passed an order in that behalf on March 20, 1968. The land was purchased for purposes of putting up the factory of the petitioner-Company. The Collector by the said order of March 20, 1968, fixed non-agricultural assessment on the said land at the Rs.-Ana-Pai rate of 0-0-2 per sq. yard. It was also stated in the said order that the State Government would be entitled to alter the assessment from time to time. The petitioner Company thereafter required more land and the State Government granted another piece of land of about 50 acres to the petitioner-Company which was required for purposes of constructing staff quarters. The said land was sold at the rate of Rs. 1,200/- per acre. Similarly another piece of land admeasuring about 5 acres was sold to the petitioner-Company at the rate of Rs. 2,500/- per acre for purposes of constructing officers' quarters.
3. The terms and conditions on which the said two pieces of land aggregating about 55 acres were granted to the petitioner-Company, were stated in the order passed by the Collector on May 27, 1969. The non-agricultural assessment fixed for these additional two pieces of (Rs.-Ana-Pai) land was same, namely, 0-0-2 per sq. yard. By the Gujarat Land Revenue (Amendment) Rules, 1969, the unit for levying non-agricultural assessment was changed from square yard to square metre and the rate (Rs.-Ana-Pai) of 0-0-2 was substituted by two paise. The Collector was, therefore, empowered to fix the non-agricultural assessment upto a maximum limit of two paise per sq. metre. The Collector, Junagadh did not alter the non-agricultural assessment on the land of the petitioner-Company till 1980. The petitioner-Company, therefore, continued to pay the non-agricultural assessment at the rate of two pai per sq. yard as per the orders of grant.
4. Pursuant to the Gujarat Land Revenue (Amendment) Rules, 1977, the Collector, Junagadh by his notification of December 8, 1976 divided the villages of Junagadh district in exercise of his power under Rule 81(1) of the said Amendment Rules and included village Dharampur in Class-E of Table-A of Rule 81(2). It appears that ultimately by notification of March 20, 1978, the Collector, Junagadh fixed the non-agricultural assessment with effect from 1st November, 1977 on the lands comprised in Class-E at the rate of one paise per sq. metre for Industrial and or Commercial purpose.
5. It appears that the Collector, Junagadh issued a notification on June 19, 1978 changing the classification and including village Dharampur in Class-B on the ground that it is near the industrial area and, therefore, it is a developed area and the non-agricultural assessment should be varied accordingly. It is this notification which is challenged in the present petition.
6. It should be noted at this stage that village Dharampur in the revenue limits of which the lands of the petitioner-Company are situate was originally classified by the Collector, Junagadh vide his notification of December 8, 1976 in Class 'E' of Table-A of Rule 81(2). Class 'E' comprises of villages with a population of 5,000 inclusive of population in the areas falling under Clause II of Class 'B' within those villages. Clause II of Class 'B' includes such industrial and allied areas as may be notified in this behalf by the State Government from time to time irrespective of the population of such area. By the impugned notification, the Collector has de-classified Dharampur from Class 'E' and included in Class 'B' since in the opinion of the Collector, village Dharampur is near an industrial area and, therefore, a developed area.
7. All the contentions which have been raised in Special Civil Application No. 583 of 1978 and other companion matters have been raised in this petition besides the specific contention that the impugned notification is bad in law and void inasmuch as the petitioners were not heard before de-classifying village Dharampur from Class 'E' and including it in Class 'B' of cities, towns and villages under Rule 81(1) of the impugned Amendment Rules of 1977. It is on this short ground that we are inclined to allow this petition for the obvious reason that it cannot be gainsaid that the action of the Collector of de-classifying village Dharampur from Class 'E' and including the entire village in Class 'B' by the impugned notification has far-reaching consequences involving large financial implications for the petitioners. It should be recalled that the Collector, Junagadh had by his notification of December 8, 1976 included village Dharampur in Class 'E' and he could not have de-classified the entire village Dharampur and included it in Class 'B' without giving any opportunity to the petitioners to make submissions in the behalf. There is an additional reason in support of the view which we are inclined to take that the entire village could not have been included in Class 'B' since that class relates to cities and towns other than corporation cities and having population exceeding 50,000. If at all any area can be justifiably included in Clause II of Class 'B' of Rule 81(1), it can be such industrial or allied areas as may be notified by the State Government from time to time irrespective of its population. Unless, therefore, some area or for that matter the entire village Dharampur is notified by the State Government as industrial and or allied area, the Collector cannot include it in Class 'B'. The petitioners could have shown that there is no such notification in that behalf or the State Government could not have issued the notifications in fact and/ or in law. In that view of the matter, therefore, the impugned notification of June 19, 1978 Annexure 'F' to the petition must be and is quashed and set aside. The Collector shall be at liberty, if he is so advised, to give an opportunity to the petitioners of hearing before de-classifying village Dharampur from Class 'E' and including it in any other class as may be permissible in law.
Rule is made absolute accordingly with no order as to costs.