DIXIT C.J -
(1.) ON 29th June 1964 the Housing Commissioner and Secretary of the Madhya Pradesh Housing Board, Bhopal, addressed a letter to the Collector, Jabalpur, saying that in order to meet "the Housing requirement at Jabalpur, it is proposed to acquire 111.28 acres of land on Tripuri side of the Bhedaghat road at Jabalpur and the land would be developed into Housing plots and houses for providing the same to the public." The Collector was requested by the Housing Commissioner to take action for the acquisition of the aforesaid land. After receipt of this letter, the Collector made enquiries with regard to the area and location of the land which the Board desired to be acquired and on 16th January 1965 addressed a communication to the Government giving the details of the land proposed to be acquired, and estimated cost of acquisition, and requesting the Government to issue a notification under section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, in respect of acquisition of 111.28 acres of land of village Purwa, Survey No. 162, tahsil and district Jabalpur. Thereafter, a notification under section 4 (1) of the Land Acquisition Act was issued in respect of the land. The notification mentioned the purpose of acquisition as "for Housing Scheme."
(2.) BY this application under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution the petitioners, who claim to have interest in different portions of the land proposed to be acquired, challenge the validity of the acquisition proceedings and pray that Madhya Pradesh Act No. 13 of 1955 amending the Madhya Pradesh Housing Board Act, 1950 (hereinafter referred to as the Act) be struck down as a colourable piece of legislation. They also pray that the respondents be restrained from taking any proceedings for the acquisition of the land in question pursuant to the notification issued in 1965 under section 4 (1) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894.
The Madhya Pradesh Housing Board is a corporate body constituted under the Madhya Pradesh Housing Board Act, 1950. Under section 3 (3) of the Act the Board is deemed to be a local authority for the purposes of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. Section 15 (1) of the Act prescribes that the Board may undertake works in any area for the framing and execution of such housing schemes as it may consider necessary. Section 25 (2) of the Act lays down that the Board may also take steps for the compulsory acquisition of any land or any interest therein required for the execution of a housing scheme in the manner provided in the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, and the acquisition of any land or any interest thereto for the purposes of the Act shall be deemed to be acquisition for a public purpose within the meaning of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. The Act as enacted in 1950 was described as an Act "to provide measures to be taken to deal with and satisfy the need of housing industrial labour". The original preamble to the Act recited:
"Whereas it is expedient to take measures, to make schemes and to carry out works as may be necessary for the purpose of dealing with and satisfying the need of housing accommodation for labour in industrial towns..."
By Madhya Pradesh Act No. 13 of 1955, the words "housing accommodation" were substituted for the words "housing industrial labour" occurring in the description. That Amending Act also deleted the words "for labour in industrial towns" occurring in the preamble. Thus, by these amendments the scope of acquisition for the purpose of the M. P. Housing Board Act, 1950, was widened, and was not confined to acquisition for housing industrial labour or for labour in industrial towns.
Shri Dabir, learned counsel for the applicants, urged that the Amending Act No. 13 of 1955 was a colourable piece of legislation. We are unable to accept this contention. The legislative power relating to acquisition and requisitioning of property is given by Entry No. 42 of List III of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution. That entry, as it stood before 1st November 1956, ran thus:-
"Principles on which compensation for property acquired or requisitioned for the purposes of the Union or of a State or for any other public purpose is to be determined, and the form and the manner in which such compensation is to be given."
It was amended on 1st November 1956 and now reads as follows:- "Acquisition and requisitioning of property." It is clear from the wording of Entry No. 42 as it stood before 1st November 1956 and as it stands now that the State Legislature's power to enact legislation for acquisition and requisitioning of property is not confined to a particular public purpose. The State Legislature has the power to enact legislation with respect to acquisition and requisitioning of property for any public purpose having regard to Article 31 (2) of the Constitution. As it was within the legislative competence of the State Legislature to enact Madhya Pradesh Act No. 13 of 1955, the doctrine of colourable legislation cannot be invoked for impeaching the Amending Act.
(3.) IT was then submitted that the provisions of section 25 (2) of the M. P. Housing Board Act, 1950, giving to the Board power for the acquisition of any land required for the execution of a housing scheme in the manner provided in the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, were unconstitutional and bad as they did not answer the test of reasonableness under Article 19 (1) (f) and Article 19 (5) of the Constitution. In support of his contention learned counsel placed reliance on Kochuni v. State of Madras and Kerala (AIR 1960 SC 1080=(1960) 3 SCR 887). The short answer to this contention is that the law of acquisition and requisitioning of property is governed by Article 31 (2) and once property has been acquired or requisitioned, Article 19 (1) (f) has no application. In Kochuni's case relied on by learned counsel for the applicants, there was no question of an acquisition or requisition of property; the question involved there was merely the deprivation of property under Article 31 (1). Kockuni's case cannot, therefore, be regarded as an authority for the proposition that a law relating to acquisition or requisitioning of property must satisfy the test of Article 19 (1) (f). This has been made very clear by the Supreme Court itself in the case of Sitabati Devi v. State of West Bengal (Civil Appeal No. 322 of 1961 decided on the 1st December 1961.). That was a case in which the question of the validity of the West Bengal Land (Requisition and Acquisition) Act, 1948, was considered. The validity of that Act was challenged on the ground that it violated Article 19 (1) (f). This attack resting on Article 19 (1) (f) was rejected by the Supreme Court. Sarkar J., who delivered the judgment of the Court, said:-
"Kavalappara Kochuni's case held that after the amendment clause (2) of Article 31 alone dealt with acquisition and requisition of property by the State and clause (1) dealt with deprivation of property in other ways. This case did not deal with a law of acquisition or requisition of property by the State but was concerned with a law by which deprivation of property was brought about in other ways, which law, it held, had to satisfy Article 19 and the principle in Bhanji Munji's case (1955 1 SCR 777= AIR 1955 SC 41) which could have saved that law before the amendment could not save it after the amendment The observation in Kavalappara Kochuni's case that Bhanji Munji's case 'no longer holds the field' has, therefore, to be understood as meaning that it no longer governs a case of deprivation of property by means other than "requisition and acquisition by the State. Kavalappara Kochuni's case was not concerned with a law of requisition or acquisition of property governed by Article 31 (2), as it now stands, and did not decide that question."
These observations make it very clear that the statement in Kochuni's case that the decision in Bhanji Munji's case no longer held the field, was confined only to cases falling under Article 31 (1) and the principle laid down in Bhanji Munji's case would still be applicable to cases falling under Article 31 (2) and, therefore, Article 31 (2) must be held to be a self-contained one dealing with cases of acquisition or requisition and not subject to Article 19 (1) (f) or Article 19 (5).
Lastly, it was contended that the acquisition as stated in the notification under section 4 (1) was for the construction of houses and that this was not a public purpose We are unable to accede to this contention. This object is clearly a public purpose. The Supreme Court has repeatedly stated in many cases that the concept of public purpose is not static. It varies from time to time and according to the circumstances of thought prevailing in the country. It is not possible to define what a public purpose is. But there can be no doubt that when there is an acute shortage of houses and accommodation, the provision of house sites for relieving congestion is a public purpose. It may be that the land acquired and houses constructed thereon may benefit a section of the public. Nonetheless, the acquisition would be for a public purpose as by the acquisition of the land and construction of houses, the public generally will be benefited. In Padavachi v. State of Madras (AIR 1952 Mad. 756) Venkatarama Aiyar J. has held, after a full analysis of the legal concept of 'public purpose' and a detailed examination of various authorities, that the acquisition of land for enabling a co-operative housing society to construct houses is an acquisition for a public purpose.;