Decided on December 18,1963

Mrs. Ambujam N. Menon And Others Appellant
State Of Karala And Others Respondents


Madhavan Nair, J. - (1.)THE Premier Tyres Limited' is a public limited Company incorporated in India, having its registered office in Bombay and the factory for the manufacture of tyres and other rubber goods at Kalamassery on land acquired by the State of Kerala and given to it in 1960. It has commenced production of tyres on May 27, 1962. For expansion of the factory, the Company needs more land to put up additional buildings and structures and the only land found suitable is the petitioners' land adjoining its premises. Attempts to purchase the same by direct negotitations with the 1st petitioner, who is the mother of the other petitioners having failed, it moved the State Government for compulsory acquisition thereof under the Travancore Land Acquisition Act that was in force in the area concerned. Notification under Section 4(1) of the Act has been published in the Gazette dated October 17, 1961 and declaration under Section 6(1) in the Gazette dated April 3, 1962. The latter, after declaring that the land specified therein, 4.78 acres in extent, is "needed for a public purpose, to wit, for the use of Messrs. Premier Tyres Limited" and empowering the 3rd respondent, Deputy Collector (Land Acquisition), Ernakulam, to perform the functions of a Collector under the Act, directed, possession of the land to be taken on the expiry of 15 days from the date of publication of the notice under Section 9(1) of the Act as the need was urgent. A copy of that declaration is Ext. P. 5 here. On May 30, 1962 notices under Section 9(1) of the Act were issued to the petitioners being persons interested in the land calling them to state their claims to compensation for the land on or before June 20, 1962. Those notices are Exts. P. 1 to P. 4 here. It is now admitted that the petitioners have filed their statements of claim on June 19, 1962. Before that, on June 18, 1962, they have filed this O. P. to quash Exts. P. 1 to P. 5 by a writ of certiorari and to restrain the respondents by a writ of mandamus from proceeding with the acquisition of the land. Respondents 1 to 3 are the State of Kerala, the Secretary to the Government of Kerala, Industries Department, and the Deputy Collector (L. A), Ernakulam. The 4th respondent is the Premier Tyres Limitted. After hearing counsel for the petitioners, a Rule nisi has been issued by Vaidialingam J. on June 25, 1962. According to the petitioners the price offered by the 4th respondent for the land was too low, the move for the acquisition of the land is a colourable exercise of the power of the State for a private purpose, the allegation of urgency lacks all good faith, and the Travancore Land Acquisition Act is discriminatory and violative of the fundamental rights guaranteed to citizens under Articles 19(1)(f) and 31(2) of the Constitution.
The 3rd respondent and subsequently the 2nd respondent also have filed counter affidavits on behalf of the 1st respondent, stating that "acquisition for a public company is only one aspect of an acquisition for a public purpose", that the declaration made by the Government under section 6 of the Act is not justiciable in view of the provision in sub -section (3) thereof, that the Travancore Land Acquisition Act, 1089 (1914), is not affected by any constitutional infirmity mentioned by the petitioners, that the Government is the sole judge of urgency of a need for acquisition which may not therefore be justiciable, and that the acquisition has been made after due enquiry of the need and the purpose for which it is stated to be.

The 4th respondent -Company, in its counter affidavit, has submitted that the establishments of a Tyre Factory is an essential public utility, that its products meet the necessities of essential services of the country, inclusive of the requirements of the defence forces, and that the land sought to be acquired is urgently needed for putting up buildings and structures for expansion of the Factory project.

In a reply affidavit filed by the petitioners on October 7, 1963, it was pointed out that on the other side of the Factory the Company has 10 acres of vacant land and therefore the move to acquire the petitioners' 4 odd acres of land is not actuated by bona fides.

The 4th respondent then filed a rejoinder affidavit stating that the vacant land is much less than 10 acres in extent and is reserved for putting up quarters for its technical and administrative staff.

(2.)THE Travancore Land Acquisition Act, XI of 1089 (1914), under which the impugned notices are issued, does not contain any provision for acquisition of land for Companies. It authorises acquisition for public purposes only. But a public purpose need not be a State purpose. As has been held by Venkatarama Aiyar J., with the concurrence of Rajamannar C. J., in A. Natesa Asari v. State of Madras (A. I. R. 1954 Madras 481),
...where there is a public purpose, the powers of the Government to acquire land are not excluded because the acquisition is for the benefit of a company.... whenever there is a public purpose an acquisition can be made by the Government whether it is for a company or not.

It then follows that an acquisition on behalf of a Company is justified if it is to serve a public purpose.

The expression 'public purpose' is of wide import. It must be wider than 'public use'. Commenting on the latter expression, Professor Willis, in his book on the Constitutional Law of the United States, observes:

According to the older view point, 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." (See pages 817 and 818 of the book).

This change of view is justified by Cooley as necessitated "by complex conditions due to recent developments of civilization and the increasing density of population.

Corpus Juris Secundum, Vol. XXIX, page 824, refers to 'public use' as being treated by certain American courts as synonymous with "public benefit", "public utility" or "public advantage" so as to "authorise the exercise of the power of eminent domain to promote such public benefit, etc. especially where the interests involved are of considerable magnitude and it is sought to use the power in order that the natural resources and advantages of a locality may receive the fullest development in view of the general welfare

(3.)IN Hamabai Framjee v. Secretary of State (XLII Ind. App. 44) the Judicial Committee has observed,
the phrase (public purpose), whatever else it may mean, must include a purpose, that is, an object or aim, in which the general interest of the community, as opposed to the particular interest of individuals, is directly and vitally concerned.

Adverting to the above observation, S. R. Das J. (as he then was) observed in The State of Bihar v. Sir Kameshwar Singh ( : A. I. R. 1952 S. C. 252):

And it is well that no hard and fast definition was laid down, for the concept of 'public purpose' has been rapidly changing in all countries of the world. The reference in the above quotation to the general interest of the community, however, clearly indicates that it is the presence of this element in an object or aim which transforms such object or aim into a public purpose.

From what I have stated so far, it follows that whatever furthers the general interests of the community as opposed to the particular interest of the individual must be regarded as a public purpose. With the onward march of civilization our notions as to the scope of the general interest of the community are fast changing and widening with the result that our old and narrower notions as to the sanctity of the private interest of the individual can no longer stem the forward flowing tide of time and must necessarily give way to the broader notions of the general interest of the community.

In State of Bombay v. R. S. Nanji ( : A. I. R. 1956 S. C. 294) the requisition was on behalf of the State Road Transport Corporation to house one of its officers. In holding the same to be for a public purpose it is observed:

It may be assumed, therefore, that the Corporation appoints only such officers as are needed for the efficient discharge of its functions and that the State Government was requested to requisition some premises as living accommodation for one of thorn whose posting at Bombay was necessary....... It would not be sufficient to merely establish the Corporation.

It has to have an adequate and efficient staff, living accommodation for whom would be an absolute need of the Corporation. Its Officers have to be efficient in the discharge of their duties, for upon them depends the successful working of the road transport system upon which the public must rely and thus it would be directly and vitally concerned with the efficiency of the employees of the Corporation.


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