1. The petition is to quash the proceedings taken by the respondent for compulsory acquisition of one acre and 75 cents out of two acres 86 cents comprised in S. No. 577/1 in Kumarapalayam village Coimbatore Taluk. It appears that the notification under S. 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act was published on 2-5-1962. A declaration under S. 6 was published on 23-5-1962. The acquisition was said to be for the purpose of rehabilitation of slum dwellers in slaughter house area and certain other areas. The main ground on which the validity of the proceedings is questioned is that the respondent arbitrarily invoked the power to dispense with the application of S. 5-A. If this contention is well founded, there is not doubt the land-acquisition proceedings upto the stage of the notification under S. 4(1) should be quashed.
(2) This court has repeatedly held that, if the Collector or the Government opined that the matter was urgent, the position cannot be reviewed as is an appeal. But where a party alleges that the emergency powers have been arbitrarily invoked, the court will have to satisfy itself with reference to the materials on record as to whether the contention is well founded. Section 17(2)(b), which is the provision involved in the instant case, states that whenever in the opinion of the Collector it becomes necessary to acquire the immediate possession of any land, application of S. 5-A could be dispensed with. Nowhere in the record of the Collector does it appear how he came to form the opinion that it became necessary to acquire immediate possessions of the land. The acquisition would appear to have been started in view of a resolution of the Coimbatore Municipality in October 1960 to acquire lands for the purpose of a scheme to provide rehabilitation of slum dwellers. But the notification under S. 4(1)(a) was only published nearly 18 months later. In his report to the Government dated 28-12-1961, the Collector merely stated :
'As the lands are required urgently for slum clearance purposes, it is proposed to apply urgency clauses under S. 17(2) of the Land Acquisition Act.'
On that report the Sate Government in its order dated 17-4-1962, merely stated :
'The Government accept the view that the acquisition is an urgent one under S. 17(4) of the Land Acquisition Act, and direct that the provisions of S. 5-A of the Act shall not apply to this case.'
Beyond the passages I have extracted the record throws no light whatever on the circumstances constituting the urgency and on the basis of which he Collector and the Government formed their opinion.
(3) The use of the emergency powers cannot be lightly resorted to and can be applied only in cases or real urgency, for their application would mean that the person whose land is acquired is deprived of a opportunity to make his representations in respect of the existence of public purpose or the need to acquire a particular land or to suggest an alternative land for acquisition. That is a valuable right of the owner. That right can only be deprived of for proper reasons. That does not mean that informing opinion the Collector or the Government are expected to give elaborate reasons. But there must be something on the record to show that the opinion of the Collector or the Government has been reasonably and fairly formed and neither arbitrarily or capriciously. As I said, this court will look to such material so as to satisfy itself as to the proper exercise of the power.
(4) In this case, there is no doubt, at any rate so far as the record sent up to this court disclosed, there as no material or circumstance appearing in the record on he basis of which the Collector could he formed the opinion that his was an urgent matter. Even looking at the purpose of acquisition and the surrounding circumstances I am not satisfied that here was any real urgency for acquisition in order to take possession of the land immediately. It follows that the power under Section 17(4) has not been validly exercised. The result is the petition is allowed and the land acquisition proceedings except the first notification under Section 4(1) but excluding the application of the urgency provision are hereby quashed. In view of this, the land acquisition authority will fix a time and notify the same to the petitioner for forwarding his objections to him under S. 5A of the Act. No costs.
(5) Order accordingly.