(1.) THE West Bengal Land Development and Planning Act, 1948 (hereinafter referred to as the Act), which now finds a position of immunity in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution still affords grounds for criticism of procedural provisions for land acquisition under the Act. Section 4 of the Act, providing for declaration of notified area, is couched in the following language:-
Sec. 4 (1) "the State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, declare any area specified in the notification to be a notified area if it is satisfied that any land in such area is needed or is likely to be needed for any public purpose and the Collected shall cause public notice of the substance of such notification to be given at convenient places in the locality in such manner as he may think fit. "
(2.) AT the point of time, when a notification under section 4 is published, the mind of the Government is in an exploratory stage, not being sure whether the notified area will serve the public purpose for which the acquisition is intended. It is only when the Government is satisfied that the land will serve the purpose, after making the enquiries envisaged in section 4 (2) of the Act and after hearing objections from persons interested in any land within the notified area under section A, that it makes a declaration for acquisition. Section 4 (1) of the Act provides for a two-fold manner of publication of the notification, namely, publication in the Official Gazelle and public notice of the substance of such notification at convenient places in the locality in such manner as the Collector may think fit. There is a purpose behind the two-fold manner of publication. The publication in the Official Gazette is certainly a relevant fact, under section 37 of the Evidence Act, when a court is to form an opinion as to the existence of the notification. But such publication may not attract sufficient public attention and all persons interested in any land within the notified area may not become apprised of the notification by mere publication of the notification in the Official Gazette. That is the reason why another method of publication of the substance of the notification is provided for in section 4. This second method of publication is likely to attract larger public attention, so as to enable interested persons to object to the acquisition of lands in which they are interested, if they like. Since an objection under section 4a of the Act is to be made within thirty days from the date of issue of the notification, it is of utmost necessity that person interested in any land within the notified area should be alerted by sufficient publication of the notification That must be the reason why the Act provides for a two-fold manner of publication of the notification. Otherwise, the second publication becomes with cut any object, purpose or utility. That being, in my view, the object of the two-fold publication, it is proper, if possible, to cause public notice of the substance of the notification to be given immediately after the publication of the notification in the Official Gazette or, in any event, sufficiently ahead of the time fixed, under section 4a of the Act, for the filing of objections to the proposed acquisitions.
(3.) IN the instant case, there was a notification under section 4 of the Act, published in the Calcutta Gazette on April 11, 1957 by which certain plots of land belonging to the petitioners were notified for acquisition. The material portion of the notification is set cut below:-
"24-Parganas. No. 5794l. Dev.-28th March, 1957. Whereas it appears to the Governor that land is likely to be needed for a public purpose- viz. , for the settlement of the immigrants-who have migrated into the State of West Bengal on account of circumstances beyond their control in the village of Kalidaha, jurisdiction list No. 23, police station Dum Dum, district 24-Parganas, it is hereby notified that for the above purpose a piece of land comprising cadastral survey plot Nos. 205 to 209, 211, 267, 270 to 296, 561 to 567 and parts of cadastral survey plot Nos. 212 284, 285, 559, 560, 569, 570, 1925 and 2195 and measuring more or less, 15. 7670 acres, is likely to be required within the aforesaid village of Kalidaha. This notification is made, under the provisions of section 4 of the West Bengal Land Development and Planning Act, 1948 (West Bengal Act XXI of 1948), to all whom it may concern. ";