MOHAN KALI BISWAS Vs. GOVERNMENT OF WEST BENGAL
HIGH COURT OF CALCUTTA
Mohan Kali Biswas
GOVERNMENT OF WEST BENGAL
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(1.) The facts in this case are shortly as follows: There exists a highway known as the Calcutta-Siliguri National Highway No. 34 and it runs along the northern side of a field known as "Bhatjanga Math" in mouza Krishnagar. At the time that is relevant for this application, there was a proposal for the diversion of this highway across the field, and this will affect lands belonging to the Petitioners. In order to effect this diversion, it was proposed to requisition the lands, including the lands belonging to the Petitioners. The proposal for acquisition was received by the Additional Land Acquisition Collector, Nadia, from the Superintending Engineer, Road Planning Circle. Upon this becoming known, a mass petition was put in by the local inhabitants including the Petitioners opposing the acquisition scheme. Thereupon, the Assistant Land Acquisition Collector himself investigated the objections and on May 13, 1958, made his report. According to him, the alignment of the roads should not be made across the field. He has attempted to show how if the alignment is slightly diverted, the lands of the Petitioners and others would be saved and that it would be altogether a much better scheme. According to him, the proposed diversion was "unfortunate". The Engineering Department however seems to have taken a very hostile attitude. The report shows that although the Land Acquisition Collector requested the Assistant Engineer to be present at the enquiry, the suggestion was curtly rejected on the ground that the Assistant Engineer had other pre-occupations. The Additional Land Acquisition Collector sent the matter to the Superintending Engineer for reconsideration but the Superintending Engineer refused to reconsider it and therefore the Petitioners' lands were included in the diversion scheme. On August 23, 1958, the Additional Land Acquisition Collector issued an order purporting to be under Sub-section (1) of Section 3 of the West Bengal Land (Requisition and Acquisition) Act, 1948. In the order, a copy whereof is set out in annexure "B" to the petition, it has been stated that in the opinion of the "person authorized under Section 3(1)" meaning the said Additional Land Acquisition Collector, it was necessary for the purpose of maintaining supplies and services essential to the life of the community and for providing proper facilities for transport and communication to requisition the land including the lands of the Petitioners. It is against this order of requisition that this application has been made.
(2.) Two points have been taken challenging, the order of requisition. The first point is that that Sri. Harisadhan Mukherji, the Additional Land Acquisition Collector, who passed this order of requisition under Section 3(1) of the said Act was not a person properly authorized to make the order. The second point is that assuming that this official had authority under Section 3(1) of the Act to make the requisition, the requisition order is bad because the conditions laid down in Section 3(1) had not been fulfilled.
(3.) I shall now deal with the first point. In the Act, "Collector" has been defined to mean the Collector of a district and includes an officer specially appointed by the State Government to perform the functions of a Collector under the Act, the relevant part of Sub-section (1) of Section 3 runs as follows:
If in the opinion of the State Government or any person authorized in this behalf by the State Government it is necessary so to do for maintaining supplies and services essential to the life of the community or for providing proper facilities for transport, communication, irrigation or drainage, the State Government or the person so authorized, as the case may be, may, by order in writing, requisition any land and may make such further orders as appear to it or to him to be necessary or expedient in connection with the requisitioning.;
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