UNION OF INDIA Vs. SHAKUNTALA GUPTA
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA (FROM: DELHI)
UNION OF INDIA
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(1.)The respondent claims to be the owner of premises known as Grand Hotel which is situated at 2, Under Hill Road, Delhi. On 3rd April, 1980, a portion of the premises had been requisitioned by the petitioners under the Requisition and Acquisition of Immovable Property Act, 1952. The 1952 Act lapsed on 10th March, 1987. On 6th March, 1987 a notification was issued under S. 4 of the land Acquisition Act, 1894 (hereinafter referred to as the Act') which reads as follows :
"No. F7 (9)/86 - L andB (1) Whereas it appears to the Lt. Governor, Delhi that the lands/properties are likely to be required to be taken by the Government at the public expense for the following public purposes. It is hereby notified that the land in the locality described below is liked to be required for the above purpose.
This notification is made under the provisions of S. 4 of the Land Acquisition Act to all whom it may concern.
In exercise of the powers conferred by the aforesaid section the Lt. Governor is pleased to authorise the officers for the time being engaged in the undertaking with their servants and workmen to enter upon and survey any land in the locality and do all other acts required or permitted by that section.
The Lt. Governor, being of the opinion that the provisions of sub-sec.(1) of S. 17 of the Act are applicable to this land is further pleased under sub-sec. (4) of the said section, to direct that the provisions of S. 5-A shall not apply".
(2.)The notification goes on to list 14 properties under the heading 'Specification' to which the notification would apply. Apart from the description, the purpose of acquisition in respect of each of the properties specified has been set out in a separate column. Against item 7 of the Specification, 11.740 Sq. meters of 2, Under Hill Road, Delhi (referred to hereafter as the 'premises') has been mentioned, and the purpose of acquisition stated is "Housing the Government Office". A notification under S.6 of the Act was issued in respect of all fourteen properties on 10th March, 1987.
(3.)The respondent challenged the notification issued under S. 4 as well as the declaration under S. 6 of the Act under Article 226 of the Constitution before the High Court at Delhi. The owner of one of the premises similarly specified in the impugned notifications, namely Banwari Lal and Sons Pvt. Ltd., (Banwari Lal) also filed a writ application in the High Court impugning the notifications inter alia on the ground that there was no urgency which justified the Governor to dispense with the right of the owner to object under S. 5A of the Act. Banwari Lal's writ application was allowed on 4th February, 1991 and the impugned notifications were quashed. The High Court upheld the several contentions of Banwari Lal including the issue of urgency1. The Division Bench of the High Court set aside the acquisition proceedings on three bases :
(i) ".........There is not a whisper of what was the urgency to take immediate possession and to deny the right of raising objection to the owner under S. 5-A of the Act. The Notification under Ss. 4 and 17(1) in the present case, therefore, stand vitiated for non-compliance of the requirement of mentioning urgency in the Notification itself".
(ii) "What is more objectionable is the fact that the building was already in occupation of the officers of the Delhi Administration and the Administration knew that the Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Properties Act was to lapse on 10-3-1987. Thus they had sufficient time to make alternate arrangement for the residence of the officers and there was no urgency whatsoever for invoking the provisions of the laxity or lethargy of the Administration to take appropriate steps in time for making available alternate accommodation for its officers."
(iii) "The Notification under S. 17(1) is also bad in law for non compliance of the requirement of sub-sec. (3-A) of S. 17 of the Land Acquisition Act. The said sub-section mandates the Collector to tender payment of 80 per cent of the compensation for the land, as estimated by him before taking possession of the land".
1 Banwari Lal and Sons Pvt. Ltd. v. Union of India and Ors. 1991 DLJ (Supp) 317.
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