Decided on November 11,1960



- (1.) THE facts in this case are shortly as follows: In this application two declarations under section 6 of the West Bengal Land Development and Planning Act, 1948 are challenged. One is dated the 29th September, 1955 and relates to about 12. 50 acres. The second declaration is dated the 15th May, 1956 and relates to about 10. 50 acres. In respect of these declarations, the usual steps were taken, namely, publication of notifications under section 4 and also the subsequent procedure as laid down in the said Act was followed. The reason for the acquisition of these lands is as follows: The respondent No. 4, the Raymond Engineering Works Ltd. , have got a workshop in which they manufacture railway wagons etc. They had applied to the Central Government for a license, sand if they receive the license and procure Government contracts, they are going to expand their business and consequently require more space for erection of factories etc. The West Bengal Government have got in their hands, a number of refugees from Eastern Pakistan, and it is anxious to rehabilitate them. The word "rehabilitation" is an elastic term and includes not only the task of furnishing the refugees with building space or residential quarters but also with employment. It is quite apparent that Government considered that it would help this company to increase its business provided the company was going to employ a number of these refugees. The company in its turn was willing to employ a number of refugees, provided it was given some space to increase its factory. I must here point out that the exact dealings between the Government and the company have not been disclosed. Much of it has been placed before me by the learned Government Pleader while opening his case, but he admitted that there was no written agreement which can now be produced. I take it therefore that the position is more or less this: namely, that the company is about to increase its dimensions and in consideration of the Government acquiring for it certain lands, it is agreeable to employ a certain number of refugees. The notification that was published under section 4, in respect of the first declaration was in respect of a particular area, namely, 27. 89 acres, which was subsequently reduced to 12. 50 acres. But the avowed object for acquisition was "settlement of immigrants". With regard to the second declaration, the notification under section 4 was issued sometime in January, 1956 and there, the avowed intention is "the settlement of immigrants". There is not a word in either of these notifications that the land was being acquired for a company. Subsequent to the acquisition, the Government has, it appears, received money from the company and has made over possession of a major part of the acquired lands. Now the petitioners have challenged the entire acquisition proceedings as being illegal. An application was previously made, but it was found at the hearing that all proper parties were not before the Court, and so the application was allowed to be withdrawn. Now however the company has also been made a party and the learned Advocate-General is appearing for the company. There can be no doubt that compulsory acquisition of lands can only be made for a "public purpose". It would be unconstitutional to acquire lands compulsorily if there existed no public purpose. In the West Bengal hand Development and Planning Act 1948, the term "public purpose" is defined in sub-section (d) of section 2. Clause (i) of subsection (d) runs as follows: "the settlement of immigrants who have migrated into the State of West Bengal on account of circumstances beyond their control. "
(2.) AS I have pointed out above, both these acquisitions are avowedly for the object of the settlement of immigrants. The learned Government Pleader has argued that this term has not been defined, and that acquisition for the purposes of economic rehabilitation of refugees can be said to be included within the words "settlement of immigrants. " In other words, he argues that just as you can acquire lands for the object of putting refugees on it, so that they may build residential houses, you could acquire land for the purpose of doing something to find employment for refugees. He argues that this is what has happened in this case, and the acquisition of lands for the purpose of enabling a company to open factories where refugees can get employment, is well within the subject matter of "settlement of immigrants. " I see the weight of the argument that the term "settlement of immigrants" ought not to be construed in a narrow or pedantic manner. It is certainly arguable that those who have been cut off from their moorings, not only of their hearth and home but their previous employment or sources of income, must have to be rehabilitated, not only by the offer of living space but also of employment, so that they can earn a decent living. In most cases, the mere supply of living space would be incomplete and insufficient. Therefore, the operation of finding employment or the furnishing of a source of living for immigrants does come within the intoning of the term "settlement of immigrants. " in my opinion, however there are two insuperable obstacles in the way of this acquisition being declared as valid. Firstly, it has been avowedly acquired for a company, but there is no provision in the West Bengal Land Development and Planning Act for acquisition on behalf of a company. It will be remembered that the acquisition on behalf of a company has been introduced in the Land Acquisition Act by a special provision. Part VII in the said Act deals specifically with acquisition of lands for companies. Elaborate provisions have been made for controlling such acquisitions. As I said, whether land is being acquired for a company or for the State, there must be a public purpose. Therefore, detailed provisions have been made to ensure that such a purpose should exist in acquisitions made on behalf of a company. The Company has to satisfy the Government that such a purpose exists, and section 40 of the Land Acquisition Act has laid down that the erection of dwelling houses of workmen employed by the Company would be considered as a public purpose. Where such acquisition is needed for the construction of some work which is likely to prove useful to the public, it is also considered to be an acquisition for a public purpose. Therefore, it is clear that acquisition on behalf of a Company must be made after complying with the various safeguards that have been introduced in Part VII of the Land Acquisition Act. An agreement has to be entered into, and this agreement has to be kept open for public inspection.
(3.) COMING now to the West Bengal Land Development and Planning Act, it is true that after certain essential steps have been taken, further proceedings are governed by the Land Acquisition Act, but the provisions of Part VII have not been inculcated or introduced into the said Act, and in the West Bengal Land Development and Planning Act there is no provision for acquisition on behalf of a Company. In my opinion, therefore, there cannot be such an acquisition under this Act. It is easy to see that if we uphold such an acquisition, we are introducing a special procedure into an Act which does not include it, but shorn of all the safeguards that have been advisedly prowled for, in the Land Acquisition Act. In my opinion, no rule of interpretation of statutes can ever warrant such a thing.;

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