Sinha, C. J. -
(1.)This appeal, by special leave granted on May 29, 1959, is directed against the decision of the Letters Patent Bench (G. D. Khosla, C. J., and Dulat, J.) dated January 28, 1959*, affirming that of the learned single Judge (Bhishan Narain J.) dated February 17, 1958, whereby he dismissed the appellants Writ Petition under Art. 226 of the Constitution.
(2.)It appears that the appellants are the owners of, what is said to be, agricultural land, measuring about 86 bighas odd, in village Munda Majra, Tehsil Jagadhari, in the district of Ambala. On October 27, 1954, the Additional District Magistrate of Ambala ordered the land aforesaid to be requisitioned under the Punjab Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immoveable Property Act (XI of 1953) for the construction of houses by members of the Thapar Industries Co-operative Housing Society Ltd., Yamuna Nagar. Possession of the land was taken on November 5, 1954. The appellants at once, instituted a suit on November 14, 1954, in the Court of the Subordinate Judge, Jagadhari, challenging the requisition proceedings. The suit was ultimately decreed by the Court on June 21, 1955, and possession of the property in question was restored to the petitioners. On May 27, 1955, the first respondent, i.e.,the State of Punjab, through the Secretary, Labour Department, issued a notification under S. 4 of the Land Acquisition Act (1 of 1894) (which hereinafter will be referred to as the Act). The notification, under S. 4 is in these terms-
"No. 4850-S-LP-55/14144. Whereas it appears to the Governor of Punjab that land in the locality hereunder specified is likely to be needed by the Government for a public purpose, namely, for the construction of a Labour Colony under the Government sponsored Housing Scheme for the Industrial Workers of the Thapar Industrial Workers Co-operative Housing Society Limited, Jamna Nagar (District Ambala), it is hereby notified that the land described in the specifications below is likely to be required for the above purpose.
This notification is made under the provisions of Section 4 read with section 17 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, as amended by the Land Acquisition (Punjab Amendment) Act, 1953, to all to whom it may concern and the Collector shall cause public notice of the substance of this notification to be given at convenient places in the said locality;
In exercise of the powers conferred by the aforesaid sections, the Governor of the Punjab is pleased to authorise the President of the above said Society with the members and servants to enter upon and survey any land in the locality and do all other acts required or permitted by that section.
Further in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (4) of Section 17 of the said Act the Governor of Punjab is pleased to direct that, on the grounds of urgency, the provisions of Section 5 (a) of the said Act, shall not apply in regard to this Acquisition".
(3.)Later, the same day, another notification, under S. 6 of the Act, was issued. This notification, under S. 6, states that it appeared to the Governor of Punjab that the land is required to be taken by Government for a public purpose, namely, for the construction of a Labour Colony under the Government sponsored Housing Scheme for the Industrial Workers of the Thapar Industrial Workers Co-operative Housing Society Limited (which is the second respondent in this case). It also says that under the provisions of S. 7 of the Act, the Collector, Ambala, is directed to take order for the acquisition of the land. The Patwari effected delivery of possession of the lands in question to the second respondent on August 21, 1955. Even before the delivery of possession had been effected, the appellants promptly instituted their suit on August 20, 1955, in the Court of the Subordinate Judge Class I, Jagadhari, for a perpetual injunction restraining the second respondent from entering upon or taking possession of the land in question, or making any construction thereon. The trial Court dismissed the suit on June 25, 1956, on the preliminary ground that the suit was not competent in the absence of a previous notice under S. 59 of the Punjab Co-operative Societies Act, 1955 (XIV of 1955). The appellants appealed to the Senior Sub-Judge, Ambala, who dismissed their appeal, upholding the decision of the trial Court that the notice was a condition precedent to the institution of the suit. Their second appeal was dismissed by the Punjab High Court on February 6, 1957. During the pendency of the civil litigation aforesaid, in spite of the fact that the second respondent had obtained delivery of possession through Government agency, by an Order of Injunction issued by the Court, construction had been stayed. As soon as the High Court decided the suit in favour of the respondents, the second respondent "started making huge construction on the land in dispute in a very speedy manner", as alleged by the appellants in their petition under Art. 226 of the Constitution, which they filed on February 13, 1957. From the High Court also, they obtained similar Stay Orders whereby building operations were stopped. In their Writ Petition, the appellants, as petitioners in the High Court, challenged the acquisition proceedings on a number of grounds, of which it is only necessary to notice the one which has formed the subject matter of decision in the High Court, namely, that the proceedings were void for want of compliance with the procedure laid down in Chapter VII (mistake for Part VII) of the Act. It is not necessary to refer to the other contentions raised in the Writ Petition, because it is commotn ground before us that the whole controversy must be determined by the answer to the question, 'whether or not the proceedings were vitiated by reason of the admitted fact that no proceedings under Part VII of the Act had been taken in making the acquisition.'