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P. Thambiran Padayachi and ors. Vs. the State of Madras Represented by the Secretary to Government, Revenue Department, Government of Madras and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Petn. Nos. 72, 74, 76, 78 and 215 of 1951 and C.M.P. Nos. 2778 of 1951 and 457, 10637 of 1950 a
Reported inAIR1952Mad756; (1952)2MLJ208
ActsConstitution of India - Articles 19(1) and 31(2); Land Acquisition Act, 1894 - Sections 6 and 17; Madras Land Acquisition (Amendment) Act, 1948; Madras Co-operative Societies Act, 1932
AppellantP. Thambiran Padayachi and ors.
RespondentThe State of Madras Represented by the Secretary to Government, Revenue Department, Government of Ma
Appellant AdvocateR. Kesava Aiyangar, ;L.V. Krishnaswami Aiyar and ;K. Rajah Aiyar, Advs. for ;V. Ramaswami Aiyar, ;T.A. Ramaswami Reddi, ;K. Bhashyam, ;S. Ramayya Nayak, ;M. Natesan and ;M.K. Nambiar, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateAdv. General, i/b., State Counsel and Govt. Pleader
DispositionPetition dismissed
Cases ReferredHeman Santlal v. State of Bombay
constitution of india, article 19(1)(f)--to be read subject to article 31(2)--co-operative society-construction of houses for members of--acquisition of lands by government for the same--'public purpose', within articles 31(2) of the constitution and section 3(f), land acquisition act (i of 1894)--notification by government--presumption of public purpose; article 19(1)(f) of the constitution which guarantees the right to acquire, hold and dispose of property must be read subject to article 31(2) and where there is a valid acquisition under that article there is no property in respect of which the rights conferred under article 19(1)(f) could be claimed.; a.k. gopalan v. the state, [1950] s.c.r. 88, raja suryapalsingh v. u.p. government, a.i.r. 1951 all. 674 (f.b.), and dwarkadas v......1. these are petitions filed under article 226 of the constitution of india challenging the validity of various notifications issued by the state of madras under section 6 of the land acquisition act, i of 1894, declaring that certain lands were to be acquired for construction of houses. the petitioners are the owners of the lands proposed to be acquired under the notification and their contention is that the purpose mentioned in the declaration is not a public one and that, in consequence, the acquisition is in contravention of article 31(2) of the constitution and, therefore, void. in some of the petitions, certain other points have also been raised but we have reserved consideration of these points to a later stage and heard arguments on the constitutional issue as to the validity of.....
1. These are petitions filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India challenging the validity of various notifications issued by the State of Madras under Section 6 of the Land Acquisition Act, I of 1894, declaring that certain lands were to be acquired for construction of houses. The petitioners are the owners of the lands proposed to be acquired under the notification and their contention is that the purpose mentioned in the declaration is not a public one and that, in consequence, the acquisition is in contravention of Article 31(2) of the Constitution and, therefore, void. In some of the petitions, certain other points have also been raised but we have reserved consideration of these points to a later stage and heard arguments on the constitutional issue as to the validity of the acquisition.

2. It will be convenient to take writ petition No. 76 of 1951 for a statement of the material facts, that being the main petition argued and typical of the rest. Within the municipal limits of the City of Tiruchirapalli at a place called Chintamani there is a block of lands of the extent of 45 acres consisting of several fields owned by a number of persons. The petitioner owns some of them. A society called the Tiruchira-palli Co-operative House Construction Society Ltd. was formed and registered under the Madras Co-operative Societies Act (VI of 1932) with the object of enabling its members to construct houses. This society considered that the aforesaid block of lands would serve as suitable building sites and moved the Government for its acquisition. The Government gave its consent to the scheme and on 15th June 1950 issued a notification declaring that the lands were "needed for a public purpose, to wit, construction of houses" and in pursuance of this notification proceeded to acquire the lands. Awards were passed on 29th May 1951 and 31st May 1951. The petitioner has filed the present application attacking the validity of the acquisition proceedings.

3. Though it was alleged in the affidavit of the petitioner that no part of the compensation came from public funds and that, therefore, the requirements of Section 6(1) had not been complied with, the objection was not pressed, the Advocate General having made a statement that one anna in the rupee was paid by the Government.

This ground of attack must, therefore, be rejected. Vide Suryanarayana v. The Province of Madras', ILR (1946) Mad 153 (FB).

4. It was also argued that the acquisition proceedings were an infringement of the fundamental right of the petitioner to hold property recognised in Article 19(1)(f) and that, therefore, they are void. But Article 19(1)(f) must be read subject to Article 31(2) and where there is a valid acquisition under that Article there is no property in respect of which the rights conferred under Article 19(1)(f) could be claimed. In 'A.K. Gopalan v. State of Madras', 1950 S.C.J. 174 at p. 294 the following observations occur in the judgment of Das J.:

"But suppose a person loses his property by reason of its having been compulsorily acquired under Article 31 he loses his right to hold the property and cannot complain that his fundamental right under Sub-clause (f) of Clause (1) of Article 19 has been infringed."

Referring to this observation the same learned Judge observed in 'Chiranjit Lal v. Union of India',1951 SCJ 29 at p. 57:

"In 'GOPALAN'S CASE', I pointed out that the rights conferred by Article 19(1)(a) to (e) and (g) would be available to the citizen until he was under Article 21 deprived of his life or personal liberty according to procedure established by law and that the right to property guaranteed by Article 19(1)(f) would likewise continue until the owner was under Article 31 deprived of such property by authority of law. Therefore it will be necessary to consider first whether the shareholder of the company has been deprived of his or its property by authority of law under Article 31 for if he or it has been so deprived then the question of his or its fundamental right under Article 10(1)(f) will not arise.

In 'Raja Suryapal Singh v. The U. P. Government', a Full Bench of the Allahabad High Court following the observations of the Supreme Court in 'A. K. Gopalan v. The State of Madras', 1950 SCJ 174 held that the right to property guaranteed in Article 19(1)(f) would cease when it is compulsorily acquired under Article 31. In 'Dwarkadas v. Sholapur S. and W. Co.', in negativing the contention that acquisition of property under Article 31 was a violation of the fundamental right guaranteed under Article 19(1)(f), the learned Judges observe:

"It would seem, therefore, on the same analogy that the right to acquire, hold and dispose of property guaranteed to the citizen under Article 19(1)(f) would only be operative in the case of those whose property has not been taken away under Article 31. That must he so logically because if a man has been deprived of property under Article 31(1) or 31(2) no question of his acquiring, holding and disposing of that property could possibly arise under Article 19. This right can only be made justiciable provided the Legislature has not validly taken action under Article 31 and it is only then that the question might arise whether any restrictions placed upon that right under Sub-clause (5) of Article 19 are reasonable restrictions or not."

This contention must, therefore, be overruled.

5. The substantial contention urged by Mr. L. V. Krishnaswami Iyer, the learned advocate for the petitioner, is that the acquisition is not for a public purpose within the meaning of Article 31(2) and that therefore it is void. It is argued that the lands now sought to be acquired will when assigned by the building society come to be held by individual members as their own private property, that the building of houses by them would result only in benefit to them, that the public as such will have no interest in the land or buildings, that neither the public nor even a considerable portion thereof will be benefited by the scheme, and in effect the acquisition would amount to taking property of one individual and transferring it to another and that, therefore, there was no public purpose.

6. It was further contended that the persons who would really be benefited would be the shareholders of the society, that the profits of the scheme will go into their pockets, that under the rules of the society the public had not even a right to participate in the scheme because the management had the power to refuse to admit any person as a member without assigning any reasons, that the society could lease the properties and sell them to any person even a non-member and that, therefore, it could not be regarded as a truly public company. On this aspect of the matter, the learned Advocate General invited our attention to the various provisions of the Madras Co-operative Societies Act VI of 1932, under which the building society has been registered. The preamble to the Act states that it is expedient to facilitate the formation and working of co-operative societies for various purposes one of which is bringing about better living. Under Section 4 it is only societies which have for their object the promotion of the economic interest of its members in accordance with the co-operative principles, that could be registered under the Act. The rules of the society have to be approved by the Registrar who has under the Act large powers of control over the societies. Section 35 provides that no part of the funds of a registered society shall be divided by way of bonus or dividend or otherwise among its members, and rules are laid down as to how the profits are to be dealt with. In this particular society there is a rule that only five per cent of the profits shall be available for distribution among its members. It also appears from the counter affidavit that there are 332 members on the rolls of the society and that 278 of them have applied for houses and paid the full share capital. The provision that the management shall have power to refuse admission to any person without assigning any reason is the usual one adopted by co-operative societies for ensuring the smooth working of the institution and for preventing undesirable persons from getting in and creating factions. We are, accordingly, of opinion that there is no substance in the objection that the society could not be regarded as constituted for the benefit of the public.

7. The question that has to be decided is whether the acquisition of lands for enabling members of the society to construct houses for themselves can be said to be a public purpose. "Public purpose" is not defined in the Constitution nor is much light thrown on it by the definition in the Land Acquisition Act, Section 3(f), which is in these terms:

"The expression 'public purpose' includes the provision of village sites in districts in which the (Provincial Government) shall have declared by notification in the Official Gazette that it is customary for the Government to make such provision."

Mr. K. Rajah Aiyar who appeared for one of the petitioners relied on the amendment to Section 17 of the Land Acquisition Act introduced by the Madras Act, XXI of 1948. Under this section the Collector is authorised to take possession of any land urgently if in his opinion it becomes necessary to do so

"(i) for the purpose of any library or educational institution, or

(ii) for the construction, extension or improvement of--

(A) any building or other structure in any village for the common use of the inhabitants of such village, or

(B) any godown for any society registered or deemed to be registered under the Madras Co-operative Societies Act, 1932, or

(C) any dwelling house for the poor, or

(D) any irrigation tank, irrigation or drainage channel or any well, or

(E) any road."

8. The contention that is urged is that the section is exhaustive of all purposes which the Legislature considered to be public; that the construction of building would be a public purpose only if it was of the character mentioned in Sub-clauses A, B and C, and as the buildings to be constructed by the members of the society do not fall within the categories of A, and B and as there is no limitation in the rules of the society that the houses arc to be constructed only as dwelling houses for the poor, the acquisition was not for a public purpose. But this argument ignores the true scope of Section 17 which is limited in its operation to cases of emergency and the purposes mentioned in that section cannot therefore be turned into a general definition of what are public purposes under the Act. Mr. K. Bhashyam Iyengar who appeared for one of the petitioners relied on Section 40(1)(a) of the Land Acquisition Act wherein it is provided that the Provincial Government should not consent to any acquisition of land for a company--co-operative society is a company as defined in Section 3(e) of the Act--unless it is for construction of dwelling houses for workmen employed by the company. It is argued that this is an indication that construction of dwelling houses for other persons is not a public purpose and that, therefore, the present acquisition is illegal. But this section again does not purport to give a definition of what a public purpose under the Act is; Section 40(1)(a) does not even refer to a public purpose; much less does it indicate that construction of dwelling houses for persons who are not workmen would not be a public purpose. It is intended merely to guide Provincial Government in giving consent to acquisition of lands for a company and indeed once such consent is given by the Government it does not appear that the acquisition proceedings started, thereunder could be challenged on the ground that consent should not have been granted under Section 40 of the Act. Moreover, the section obviously has reference only to companies which carry on commercial undertakings involving employment of workmen on a large scale and any inference which may be drawn from the language of the section would be inapplicable to a co-operative society which does not employ any workmen but consists only of members constructing houses for themselves. Thus, neither Sec, 17 nor Section 40 of the Land Acquisition Act is of much help in deciding the genera1 question as to whether the construction of houses is a "public purpose".

9. There is considerable authority in America as to what constitutes a public purpose and the question has been considered with reference to schemes for construction of houses. The power to acquire private property compulsorily is called "Eminent Domain", under the American law and it is a condition of the exercise of that power that it should be for "public use". Two views have been held on the connotation of the words "public use". The older and stricter view is that unless the property is dedicated for user by the public at large or a considerable section thereof it would not be a public use. Vide Nichols on "Eminent Domain", Vol. II, p. 430 (1950 Edn.). But the modern and more liberal view is that it is not an essential condition of public use that the property should be transferred to public ownership or for public user and that it is sufficient that the public derives advantage from the scheme. According to this view, it is no objection to the validity of an acquisition that it is in favour of a private corporation or of individuals provided it results in public advantage. Vide Nichols page

435. In 'Fallbrook Irrigation District v. Bradley', (1896) 164 U.S. 112 (161, 162): 41 Law Ed. 369, (389) the facts were that an Act of California provided for the acquisition of lands whenever 50 land-owners or a majority of them in a particular locality required it for construction of a watercourse, the object of the legislation being to enable dry lands to be brought under wet cultivation. The validity of the Act was challenged on the ground that the acquisition would only benefit particular land owners who could take water from the channel, that the public as such had no direct interest in the matter and that consequently there was no public user. This contention would be right if the stricter view were to be adopted but it was rejected and the acquisition was upheld, the court observing:

"To irrigate and thus bring into possible cultivation these large masses of otherwise worthless lands would seem to be a public purpose and a matter of public interest, not confined to the land-owners, or even to anyone section of the State. The fact that the use of the water is limited to the land-owner is not, therefore, a fatal objection to this legislation. It is not essential that the entire community, or even any considerable portion thereof, should directly enjoy or participate in an improvement in order to constitute a public use.....It is not necessary, in order that the use should be public that every resident in the district should have the right to the use of the water."

This statement of the law was approved and followed in 'Clark v. Nash', (1905) 198 U. S. 361 : 49 Law Ed. 1085, 'Strickly v. Highland Boy Mining Co.', (1906) 200 U. S. 527 : 50 Law Ed. 581 and 'Mt. Vernon-Wood-Berry Cotton Duck Co. v. Alabama I. P. Co.', (1916) 240 U. S. 30 : 60 Law Ed. 507. In 'Rindge Co. v. Los Angles County', (1923) 262 U. S. 700 : 67 Law Ed. 1186, it is observed again:

"It is not essential that the entire community or even a considerable portion should directly enjoy or participate in an improvement in order to constitute a public use."

Willis in his work on "Constitutional law" states the law thus:

"What is a public use? On this question there have been two viewpoints. One may be called the older viewpoint and the other the newer viewpoint. According to the older viewpoint, in order to have a public use, there must be a use by the public.....According to the newer viewpoint there is a public use if the thing taken is useful to the public.....In these cases there is not necessarily a general use by the public, but there is a general benefit to the public. Private enterprises are thus allowed to exercise sovereign power of eminent domain, not because they are taking the property for their own use, but because in taking the property for their use they are benefiting the public." (1936 Edn., pp. 817-820).

Referring to this newer viewpoint Nichols writes :

"Judicial opinion which follows the broad or liberal concept considers that the narrow doctrine has been repudiated and is no longer the prevailing view. 'Public use' is considered 'public benefit' and it is not considered essential that the entire community or even any considerable portion thereof should directly enjoy or participate in any improvement in order that it constitutes a public use" (Nichols, "Eminent Domain", pp. 434, 445).

The same writer also observes that where the acquisition is for the public benefit it is immaterial that there is incidental benefit to private individuals and the following observations with reference to an acquisition on behalf of private corporation are particularly relevant with reference to the contention on behalf of the petitioners that it is the shareholders of the cooperative society that are benefited by the acquisition :

"While the primary object in taking and holding such land is the public benefit which alone justifies a taking without the consent of the owner and incidental object is the hope of profit to be derived by the corporation from the use of the land, it is well settled that the incidental benefit to the stock-holders in the profits arising from tolls, fares and other charges does not render the taking for a private use, if the tolls, fares and charges are to be derived from serving the public." '(Nichols on "Eminent Domain", Vol. 2, page


10. The question whether schemes for building of houses could be held to be for a public purpose has come up frequently for decision before American State Courts.

In 'New York City Housing Authority v. Muller', 270 N.Y.P. 333: 105 A.L.R. 905 certain lands were taken in pursuance of a governmental project for clearing slums and for providing housing accommodation at low rents to persons with low income. The validity of this acquisition was questioned on the ground that the uses were private and not public. The court overruling this contention observed:

"Over many years and in a multitude of cases the courts have vainly attempted to define comprehensively the concept of a public use; and to formulate a universal test even though it were possible, would in an inevitably changing world be unwise if not futile"..... and holding that those purposes were for the benefit of the public the court went on to observe "It is also said that since the taking is to provide apartments' to be rented to a class designated as persons of low income or to be leased or sold to limited dividend corporations the use is private and not public. This objection disregards the primary purpose of the legislation. Use of a proposed structure, facility or service by everybody and anybody is one of the abandoned, universal tests of a public use."

In 'Muray v. La Guardia', 291 N. Y. 320 the facts were somewhat similar to the present case. A corporation called Stuyvesant Town Corporation was formed for acquiring 18 city blocks and constructing buildings thereon. It was financed by the Metropolitan Insurance Company which held all the stocks of the corporation. The owners of the lands which had been taken contended that the scheme would benefit only some individuals and the insurance company which was a private corporation and that there was no public use in the project. The court held that to provide low rent houses to families with low income and to clear slum areas would both be public uses. Then dealing with the contention that there was no public use in the project because the insurance company was benefited the court observed:

"Nor do we find merit in the related argument that

unconstitutionality results from the fact that in the present case the statute permits the city to exercise the power of "Eminent domain" to accomplish a project from which 'Metropolitan' a private corporation may ultimately reap a profit. If upon completion of the project the public good is enhanced it does not matter that private interests may be benefited."

This decision was taken on a writ before the Supreme Court and was affirmed without a judgment. Vide 'Muray v. La Guardia', 291 N. Y. 320.

11. Dealing with this topic Nichols writes as follows:

"It had been contended by those who sought to impede and defeat the object of the proponents of low cost housing and slum clearance that legislation in support of such object was for the benefit of particular individuals and classes and that, therefore, there was no public use involved. In overruling such contention the courts have held that determination of the question of public use depends not at all upon the factor of the right to use the housing facilities and who shall be permitted to exercise such right but rather upon the factor of the general public benefit which must of necessity ensure upon the removal of disease infested and crime breeding communities.....The primary purpose of housing legislation is to safeguard the general public by eliminating the evil aspects of slum areas rather than to benefit a special or limited group. There is no constitutional mandate that each and every member of the public must derive a direct benefit from, the public monies which are expended for such purpose" (Nichols, Vol. 2, pp. 517-518).

12. This passage deals with clearance of slum areas but as already mentioned the same principle has been applied to acquisitions made for constructing houses with low rent to families with low income. Vide Nichols, page 520. 'William v. Powel', referred to in the annotation to 'New York City Housing Authority v. Muller', 270 N. Y. 333 : 105 A. L. R. 905 is an instance of a legislation which permitted acquisition for relieving congestion in a municipal area and its legality was upheld. Generally it has now been held that acquisition of land for a public use is not limited to the taking of lands in slum area. It can be in lands deemed necessary for a housing project: 'Housing Authority of Dallas v. Hig-Ginbotham', 130 A.L.R. 1053 at pp. 1067-1068 (Nichols Vol. II, p. 521). Those authorities show that, in general, building schemes are to be considered as advantageous to the public whether it is to clear slum area or to provide dwelling houses for the poor or to relieve congestion.

13. We shall now examine the authorities cited by the learned advocate for the petitioner. In 'Hemabai v. Secy. of State', 39 Bom, 279 the facts were that the East India Company had assigned certain lands under a sanad of the year 1839 and it had also leased certain other lands under a grant of the year 1354 subject to a condition that they could be resumed for a "public purpose," The Government required those lands for providing accommodation for its officers and gave notice of resumption. The holders of the lands contested the validity of the resumption on the ground that building dwelling houses for officers was not a public purpose as it would benefit only individuals. This contention was negatived in both the courts in India and this decision was affirmed by the Judicial Committee. The judgment of Lord Dunedin lays down the following propositions: (1) To constitute a public purpose it is not necessary that the land when taken should "in some way or other be made available to the public at large" and (2) It is sufficient if the purpose is one "in which the general interest of the community is concerned." The contrast between the general interest of the community and the particular interests of individuals made by Bachelor J. in his judgment and approved by the Privy Council only means that the purpose for which the acquisition is made should be of advantage to the community and not merely to particular individuals. The principles laid down in this decision are in accord with the modern view held in American courts and they do not help the petitioners.

14. In 'Veeraraghavachartar v. Secy. of State', 49 Mad. 237 certain vacant sites were acquired for enabling Panchamas to build houses. It was argued that this was not a public purpose as the benefits of the acquisition would go only to individuals. In rejecting this contention Devadoss J. observed:

"It is not possible to define what a public purpose is. There can be no doubt that provision of house sites for poor people is a public purpose for it benefits a large class of people and not one or two individuals."

'Secy. of State v. Gopala Iyer', 59 Mad. L. J. 274 is another case of acquisition of sites for building houses for Panchamas and other servants. In upholding the acquisition Venkata-subba Rao J. observed as follows:

"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 'Hemabai v. Secy. of State', 39 Bom. 279...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."

'Ramaswami Iyer v. Secy. of State', AIR 1931 Mad. 361, again raised the same question about the validity of the acquisition of sites for building houses for Panchamas. Sun-daram Chetty J. in following the above authorities observed "That even if only a section of the public is benefited by this acquisition the purpose would still be a public purpose as held by Venkatasubba Rao J. in 'Secy. of State v. Gopala Iyer', 59 Mad. L. J. 274." These decisions recognise the principle that even though the direct and immediate beneficiaries under the scheme may be individuals it is a public purpose if it benefits the public generally.

15. Two decisions of the Patna High Court were cited on behalf of the petitioners. In 'Kameshwar v. State of Bihar', 29 Pat 790 (S.B.), the question was about the validity of the Bihar State Management of Estates and Tenures Act, 1949, the decision of the court being that it was invalid. There was a discussion in the judgment on the meaning of the words "public purpose" occurring in Article 31(2) --vide pages 849, 850 and 894 to 396--but there is nothing in those observations which throws any light on the question now before us. Nor is the decision in 'Kameshwar Singh v. State of Bihar', AIR 1951 Pat 91 (SB), in point the question there being whether the Bihar Land Reforms Act, 30 of 1950 was valid. It was held to be void under Article 14 of the Constitution. In the course of the judgment, two of the learned Judges discussed the meaning of the words "public purpose" in Article 31(2) and came to the conclusion that they should be liberally interpreted. The following observations of Reuben J. (para. 38, page 107) are relevant for the present discussion:

"The expression 'public use' in the 5th Amendment to the American Constitution has given rise to divergent views in that country. According to the earlier view there must be use by the public. The later and more liberal view takes it as sufficient if there is general benefit to the public. The adoption by our Constituent Assembly of the expression "public purpose" points to preference for the latter view. The word "purpose" is wider in its connotation than the word "use". Vide also the observations of Das J. in paragraph 39 at page 121."

16. In 'Md. Safi v. State of West Bengal', , it was held that the acquisition of land for settlement of refugees was for a public purpose. The result of the authorities may be thus summed up: Acquisition of proprty for public purpose under Article 31(2) includes whatever results in advantage to the public. It is not necessary that it should be available to the public as such. It might be in favour of individuals provided they are benefited not as individuals but in furtherance of a scheme of public utility. Schemes for construction of houses for clearing slum areas, relieving congestion and housing poor people are for a public purpose as they tend to promote social welfare and prosperity.

17. Now what are the facts of this case? During the time of World War No. 2 owing to transport difficulties there was considerable shortage of timber, iron, cement and other building materials and building operations had consequently come to a standstill. On the other hand, the strength of the population in cities and towns went on mounting by leaps and bounds owing to large and continuous influx of persons from rural areas. There was an acute shortage of accommodation resulting in overcrowding, rackrenting and growth of slum areas and the evils became so serious that the Government appointed a Provincial Housing Committee for reporting on the ways and means of solving the problems by G. O. Ms. No. 1397 Public (P and D) dated 10th May 1947. G. O. Ms. No. 2469 Development dated 24th June 1947, and G. O. Ms. No. 2788 Development dated 27th June 1947. The Committee submitted its report on 20-12-1947 and one of the suggestions made therein was the organization of co-operative housing societies in town areas. Vide Chapter 11, paragraphs 182, 200 and 201. Pursuant to this, the State has been sponsoring the formation of house building societies and acquiring lands for them to construct buildings and a Special Land Acquisition Officer, Co-operative Housing Schemes, has been entrusted with the due execution of this policy. The magnitude of the work will be 'evident from the fact that acquisitions have been made on behalf of at least a dozen of such societies functioning in all parts of the presidency, as is evident from these applications. The problems arising out of overcrowding have necessitated legislation for protection of tenants against arbitrary eviction and unreasonable enhancement of rent. The public utility involved in these acquisitions must be judged in the light of these facts. Mr. K. Rajah Iyer conceded and rightly that under the circumstances the acquisition would not have been open to question if the Government itself acquired lands and allotted them to individuals for constructing houses. We are unable to see how if that is a public purpose it ceases to be one when it is carried through the machinery of a co-operative society. We, therefore, hold that public purpose has been amply established in these acquisitions.

18. We have reached this conclusion even without the aid of the presumption which the law raises in favour of the existence of public purpose in such acquisitions. Though the question is a justiciable one and the ultimate decision must rest with the courts, the action of the Legislature in deciding upon the acquisition is itself considered good proof that the purpose is a public one. It was observed in 'United States v. Welch', (1946) 327 U.S. 546: 90 Law Ed. 843 at p. 848, that "When Congress has spoken on the subject its decision is entitled to deference until it is shown to involve an impossibility." The same considerations must apply, to notifications issued by the Government under the powers vested in them under the Land Acquisition Act for acquisition of lands.

19. In 'Hemabai v. Secy. of State', 39 Bom. 279, this is what the Privy Council observed on this aspect of the case:

"Prima facie the Government are good Judges of that. They are not absolute judges. They cannot say 'sic volo sic jubeo'. But at least the court would not easily hold them to be wrong."

The acquisition must, therefore, be held to be valid.

20. In the view we have taken it is unnecessary, to deal at any length with the contention advanced by the learned Advocate General that the petitioners are not entitled to raise any objection based on Article 31(2) as it applies only to future legislation and not to any existing legislation which does not fall under Article 31(6). Reference was made to the decision in 'Heman Santlal v. State of Bombay', in support of this contention. That was a case of

requisition under the Bombay Land Requisition Act, 33 of 1948. The order passed under that Act on 29-5-1950 was attacked as unconstitutional. The contention was that under the provisions of that Act properties could be requisitioned even when there is no public purpose and that they were consequently opposed to Article 31(2) and became void; and the order which was passed under those provisions must be declared illegal. The learned Judges held that the provisions in Act 33 of 1948 were opposed to Article 31(2) but that Article 31(5) saved "the provisions in an existing law" not falling within Article 31(6) and that consequently Act 33 of 1948 was excepted from the operation of Article 31(2) and that the validity of the order could not be challenged. But the reasoning in this decision will not apply to the present case because under "the existing law" that is the law in force before the commencement of the Constitution (vide definition Article 366(10)) a distinction was made between acquisition and requisition of property.

21. In 'Tan Bug Taim v. Collector of Bombay', A.I.R. 1946 Bom. 216 the Bombay High Court held that requisition was not covered by Section 299(2) of the Government of India Act which was limited to acquisition of property. In this view, the two conditions of a valid acquisition laid down in Section 299(2) and re-enacted in Article 31(2) that it should be for a public purpose and compensation should be made would apply only to acquisitions of property and not to requisition. Therefore, even on the reasoning in the decision in 'Heman Santlal v. State of Bombay', the present case would be hit by the provisions of Section 299(2) of the Government of India Act.

22. Moreover these conditions are prescribed also by the Land Acquisition Act and it has not been contended before us that the question whether the purpose of the acquisition Is a public one or not is not open to consideration by courts by virtue of Section 6(3) of that Act. These are questions which do not call for any decision in this case and we express no opinion on them.

23. Rajamannar, C. J.: We have already held that the purpose of the concerned acquisition is a public purpose within the meaning of Article 31 of the Constitution.

24. The only other point pressed by the petitioner is that on the site belonging to him which is proposed to be acquired he has put up certain buildings and therefore it should be exempted from the scheme of the acquisition. On behalf of the State, the Superintendent, Development Department, has sworn to an affidavit in which it is alleged that the field of the petitioner forms the frontage of the block acquired and that the petitioner having got scent of the proposed acquisition constructed houses and laid foundations on it in hot haste to avoid, if possible, the acquisition. He also stated that the petitioner and others have got houses in the town and their action in hastily putting up the house and the foundations on the land sought to be acquired was with a view to defeat the object of the Co-operative Building Society. As the field is adjoining the road, its exclusion would mar the beauty of the colony and affect the lay-out. The petitioner filed a reply affidavit which did not specifically deny the allegations made in the counter affidavit filed on behalf of the State. Besides a vague statement that the houses were put up before the notification as to dates when they were put up were not mentioned. The impression left upon us is that the houses were built by the petitioner in view of the proposed acquisition and with a view if possible to prevent the acquisition. The petitioner therefore cannot be entitled to any relief on this ground. The petition is dismissed with costs--Rs. 50.

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