Venkatasubba Rao, J.
1. The first question that arises is 'whether the purpose in question is a 'public purpose' within the meaning of Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act (I of 1894) as altered by the Amending Act (XXXVIII of 1923). So far, only a preliminary notification has been published under that section and the further stage of making the declaration under Section 6 has not yet reached, The plaintiff says that the purpose is not a public one and that is made a ground on which the suit for injunction is made to rest. The notification issued under Section 4, after referring to G.O. No. 3559, dated the 10th of November, 1917, says, that whereas it is intended to acquire the plots belonging to the plaintiff for Manaikats for Panchamas and other coolies, he should intimate to the officer specified, his objection, if any, within a certain stated time. The alleged public purpose stated in this notification is the provision of house-sites for Panchamas (persons of low castes) and other workmen. The subject of providing the Panchamas of Tanjore with house sites was examined by the Madras Government. An officer was placed on special duty to go into the question: He points out in his report the urgent necessity that exists for the Government providing Panchamas and other servants with houses. He describes the conditions in the district and shows that the houses in which the farm servants live are claimed by the landholders as their own, although the servants have been living in them for generations. He mentions that the disputes are carried to law courts, where, after unequal contests, the labourers are defeated. He further points out that the landholders contrive that the farm servants are for ever at their mercy and prevent their acquiring houses. These employers (says the report) sometimes adopt curious methods; they borrow petty sums of money from their own servants, on the security of the sites in which the latter live, thus making Panchama mortgagees recognise the right of the landholders to the sites mortgaged. This report was generally endorsed by the Collector, accepted by the Board of Revenue and ultimately by the Government. The Government thereupon passed the G.O. referred to above, which runs thus:
The Government have considered the proposals of M.R.Ry. K. S; Srinivasa Achariar regarding the provision of house-sites and land for the Panchamas of the Tanjore District and. accept his recommendation thatan endeavour should be made to secure to them, as well as to other labourers, the ownership of the sites in which they live. They agree with the Deputy Collector that the most satisfactory method of attaining the object will be to acquire the sites under the Land Acquisition Act and to hand them over to the applicants on payment. The opportunity should also be taken to provide pathways to 'cheries' which may be surrounded by cultivation.
Paragraph 32 (6).--The Government approve as a provisional measure the suggestion that applicants for sites should pay an initial deposit of 20 per cent. 6f the cost of acquisition and that the payment of the balance of the cost price of the site may be spread over a period of twenty years, recovery being effected in half-yearly or yearly instalments according to the convenience of the grantees. The rate of interest should be 7 per cent.
2. The question then is, is this a public purpose or not? The Government in order to remove the disabilities under which the depressed classes labour has undertaken to provide them with house-sites. The condition of the Panchamas calls for its intervention. The measures adopted, while directly benefiting the Panchamas, indirectly benefit the public at large. Even if only a section of the public is benefited, still the purpose is a public one. The expression includes a purpose in which the general interests, of the community, as opposed to the particular interests of the individuals is directly and vitally concerned (See Hamabai Framjee V. Secretary of State for India I.L.R. (1914) B. 279.) If the purpose in question is not a public purpose, I fail' to see what can possibly answer that description.
3. On behalf of the plaintiff, it is contended that the effect of the Government order is to enable it to acquire a particular house site for a particular individual. As the learned District' Munsif has very clearly pointed out, this is a matter of detail, which does not affect the general question of the purpose being a public one. What the Government proposes is, to acquire the lands and once they are acquired, it may allot them in such manner as it pleases. But it is obviously the most sensible and convenient course to allot to each servant that particular house which he has been occupying. How this renders the purpose any the less a public one, I am unable to follow. The view taken by the Subordinate Judge is untenable and must be rejected.
4. The next question that arises is, whether the proviso to Section 6(1) is fulfilled or not. It says that no declaration under that section shall be made unless inter alia the compensation to be awarded is to be paid wholly or partly out of public revenues. It seems to me in the first place that it is premature to raise this question. As I have said the proceedings have not gone further than the issue of the preliminary notification. The difference between Section 4 and Section 6 is that whereas the former section refers to land in a particular locality, the latter contemplates a particular land; and again, whereas under Section 4, it must only appear to the Government that land is needed or likely to be needed for a public purpose, under Section 6 it must be finally satisfied, that it is so needed. It is only when the second stage referred to in section. 6 is reached that the Government is to make a declaration as provided in that section. That declaration when made, the section goes on to enact, shall be conclusive evidence that the land is needed for a public purpose. The section further prescribes that' no such declaration shall be made unless inter alia the compensation to be awarded is to be paid wholly or partly out of public revenues; It is the final declaration that can be called in question if this condition is not fulfilled. What the Government has so far done is, to merely outline its present intention in this respect There is nothing to prevent it from changing its mind, and the point of time that matters is, the date of the declaration and not any earlier date. It has now notified that it proposes to advance out of public funds, 80 per cent. of the price, to be recovered in instalments in a period of 20 years. Having regard to the design of the Act, this must be deemed; to be. but a tentative proposal, which may or may not be adhered to, at the time when the final declaration is made. The decisions have held that it is open to a party to question the propriety of such a declaration, on the ground that the condition in question has not been satisfied. That right, therefore, a party may exercise after the declaration has actually been made. Thus, the suit is premature, in so far as it seems to question the propriety of the Government's action, on the ground that it offends against the proviso to Section 6.
5. In any case, I am prepared to hold that the facts of this case bring it within the proviso. Only 20 per cent. of the cost is furnished by the future owners and the remaining 80 per cent. the Government provides in the first instance. Mr. 'Justice Sundaram Chetty in a case bearing on this very notification has held that the requirement of the proviso has been fulfilled. (See Secretary of State v. Murugesam : AIR1930Mad248 .) My reason for agreeing with his view is this. The validity of the declaration under Section 6 cannot be made to depend upon some future contingent event. Supposing that, at the time of the declaration, the entire cost was met out of public funds, but ten years later, it was recovered from the party to whom the land was transferred, are the proceedings on that account to be held invalid? Again let us suppose, that initially the cost is, wholly borne by the party himself, can it be held that the declaration is valid because, on a later date, the Government means to pay back the amount to the party? In each case, the answer is obviously in the negative. These considerations dispose me to the view, that what the Court in construing the proviso must have regard to is, the state of things at the time of the declaration. A contrary view is bound to lead to inconvenient and absurd results. Though the wording of the proviso is unfortunately not explicit, the Courts must construe it reasonably. It is suggested for the Government that there is the possibility of its not recovering the 80 per cent. either wholly or in part. In my opinion, this is a factor that does not count. The section says that some portion of the cost must be paid out of the public revenue. That condition is here literally complied with. That is all with which the Court is concerned. On this point also, the view of the learned District Munsif is right and that of the Lower Court wrong.
6. In the result, the second appeal is allowed and the suit is dismissed with costs, throughout.