K. Veeraswami, C.J.
1. This batch of petitions under Article 226 of the Constitution and the writ appeals are directed against the notifications under Section 4(1) as well as the declarations under Section 6 of the Land Acquisition Act, the first made in 1962 and the second in 1968 and January, 1969. The public purpose mentioned in Section 4 (1) notifications was the development of Tuticorin Port or Tuticorin Harbour, establishment of industries, industrial estates, training centre and construction of residential quarters. But in the declarations under Section 6 the purpose described was industrial development of Tuticorin area connected with Tuticorin Harbour Project. The land sought to be acquired extended to several thousands of acres. The short grounds on which the validity of the notifications as well as the declarations are challenged, are that the public purpose mentioned in the notifications under Section 4 (1) was vague and lacked in particulars so as to enable the owners of lands to effectively file their objections to the purpose of acquisition under Section 5-A, and that there was a change in the purpose of acquisition as mentioned in the declarations under Section 6.
2. Munshi Singh v. Union of India : 1SCR973 , held that the whole object of Section 5-A would be defeated, if the public purpose was stated vaguely and without any indication of the nature of the purpose for which the land was being or was intended to be acquired. In that case, all that was mentioned as public purpose in the notification under Section 4 (1) was ' for planned development of the area'. The Supreme Court by an unanimous verdict held that the notification under Section 4 (1) was vitiated on account of vagueness. The judgment was noticed by a larger Bench in Aflatoon v. Lt. Governor, Delhi : 1SCR802 . The view in the earlier judgment was quoted apparently with approval, but with the observation that the question whether the purpose specified in a notification under Section 4 was sufficient to enable an objection to be filed under Section 5-A, would depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case. Actually, however, the second decision was rested not on the view to Munshi Singh v. Union of India : 1SCR973 but on the ground of delay and laches or want of a plea at the earliest possible time. The Court pointed out that the plea as to the vagueness of public purpose in the notification under Section 4(1) was not raised in the writ petition, and that the writ petitions themselves were filed after a long delay. So, on the basis that the appellants before the Supreme Court were not vigilant and had failed to take the precise plea at the earlier stage, the appeals were dismissed.
3. In our opinion, the basis of Aflatoon v. Lt. Governor, Delhi : 1SCR802 will apply to the present cases. The notification under Section 4 (1) in the matters before us was made in 1962. In answer thereto, objections were relied under Section 5-A : but no plea of vagueness of the public purpose was taken. The declaration under Section 6 followed in 1968 and in January, 1969 : but the challenge to the validity of the notifications and the declarations was made in the objections filed only in 19735 after a long lapse of time. In justification of the delay, we are informed that, unlike in Aflatoon v. Lt. Governor, Delhi : 1SCR802 in the instant cases there was an alteration of the public purpose in the declaration which was different from the one in the notifications under Section 4 (1). This is hardly an explanation, because even after the declaration under Section 6 there was a delay of more than 3 1/2 years. Also, the ground of the State that no plea was taken as to the vagueness of the public purpose in Section 5-A objections stands unchallenged.
4. Applying Aflatoon v. Lt. Governor, Delhi : 1SCR802 , the petitions as well as the appeals are dismissed. No costs. For the purpose of assessing the fee as between counsel and party, we fix fee Rs. 200 in each case.
W.P. No. 2346 of 1973.
5. This too is like the other petitions and appeals which we have dismissed on the ground of delay and laches and for want of taking the precise plea. Nevertheless it is said that the extent of 39 acres 24 cents covered by the notification in this petition could not serve any purpose indicated in the Section 4 (1) notification unless the immediately neighbouring lands of an extent of 440 acres belonging to the Central Government are also acquired. Counsel, for the purpose of meeting the objection on the ground of delay and want of a plea, is willing to accept the validity of the notification under Section 4 (1) and the declaration under Section 6. Even so, he says that, since the purpose mentioned in the notification under Section 4 (1) and in the declaration under Section 6 could not be implemented unless the neighbouring hands are acquired which apparently has not been done so far, there is no longer any need for proceeding with the acquisition. The answer, in our opinion, is that, once the validity of the notification under Section 4 (1) and also the declaration under Section 6 remains unchallenged on any ground whatever, the rest of the matter is procedural under the Land Acquisition Act. If ultimately Government find that the land in question is not required for the public purpose it is always open to them at the appropriate stage to give up the acquisition under Section 48 and, for that purpose, it is also open to the petitioner to apply to Government. But what is urged cannot furnish a ground for our interference, notwithstanding the objection based on the delay and laches on which we have held Aflatoon v. Lt. Governor, Delhi : 1SCR802 was disposed of.
6. The writ petition too is dismissed. No costs. For the purpose of assessing the fee is between Counsel and party, we fix Rs. 200.