Decided on October 28,1992



- (1.)This is a typical case of bureaucracy shifting their responsibility from one end to other, resulting in depriving the reasonable compensation that would accrue to the petitioners for the lands, which were taken over by the Government somewhere in the year 1971-72. The fathers of Freedom Movement, who fought against the tyranny and atrocious acts of Paradeshi rule (foreign rule), must have dreamt, in free India, the welfare of the citizens of the country could be well looked after by the officials drawn from the kith and kin of the citizens of the country. Alas, nearly after more than 45 years of independent republic India, the Fathers of the great Freedom Movement must be finding hard to trace words of appreciation to justify the unconcerned attitude meted out to the citizens of the country by the officials appointed in Swaraj. The preamble set out in our Constitution reiterates:
"We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic and to secure to all its citizens: Justice, social, economic and political; Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; Equality of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all Praternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation."
Thus, the Constitution provides social, economic and political justice to all its citizens. Certain rights are guaranteed to the citizens, including right to property. When a citizen's property is taken over by the Government, it is obligatory on the part of the Government to pay reasonable compensation within reasonable time.
(2.)The landmark of grievances made out by the petitioners is as follows:- Petitioners are absolute owners of an extent of Ac.7-70 cents of land in S.No.270- 1 situated in Anantapur village, Anantapur district. In 1971-72, a road was formed from Anantapur town to Prasannayapalli village cutting across the said land over a width of 80 feet covering a distance of 210 metres in length. Petitioners roughly estimated the area covered by road about one acre. It is stated by the petitioners that in 1971-72, the road was formed by the then Kudair Panchayat Samithi, Anantapur district and was subsequently taken over by the Anantapur Municipality consequent upon the area forming part of extended municipal area of Anantapur municipality. The 1st petitioner in those days requested the Block Development Officer, Kudair Panchayat Samithi, payment of compensation for the land taken over by one wing of the Government for laying the road, but there was no response. Subsequent efforts by the petitioners were also failed to yield any favourable decision. Therefore, a detailed representation dated 20-11-1976 was submitted by the petitioners to the Commissioner, Anantapur municipality, as by that time the road was taken over by the Anantapur municipality. The municipality, in its letter dt.8-6-1979, rejected the claim stating that the road was formed by Kudair panchayat samithi and not by the municipality. Subsequently, representations were made to the District Collector, Anantapur; Government Grievances Cell, Secretariat, Hyderabad and to the Chief Minister. It is further stated that the 2nd petitioner also met Smt. R. Chatterji, the then District Collector, Anantapur on 13-6-1983 and Sri Asoke Kumar Tigidi, the then District Collector, Anantapur on 13-2-1985 and presented petitions in person for the grant of compensation to the land. The Collector's office in its endorsement dated 8-6-1985 seems to have stated that S.No.270-1 of Anantapur, occupied by the road leading to Prasannayapalli village, has been sub-divided as 270-1B; that on a survey conducted, it was found that the area occupied by the road was only 0-72 cents; that draft notification (for short D.N.) and draft declaration (for short D.D.) proposals to acquire the land covered by the road were sent to the Government for necessary approval and that after the approval was obtained, action would be taken to pay the compensation to the pattadars. The District Collector, Anantapur accordingly submitted D.N. and D.D. proposals in his letter R. Dis.C-10,722/82 dated 12-6-1985 to the Government, and the Government was pleased to issue G.O.Rt. No.1461, Panchayat Raj. (PTS.III) Department, dated 20-8-1985 ordering the District Collector, Anantapur for publication in the District Gazette. The notification under Section4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act (for short "the Act") was published in the Anantapur District Gazette, Part-I Extra-ordinary, dated 15-9-1985. Though the gazette notification was made on 15-9-1985, no action was taken to hold the enquiry as contemplated under Section 9 of the Act. At that stage, the 2nd petitioner sent a petition to the then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and the District Collector, Anantapur regarding non-payment of compensation and sought their indulgence. It seems the District Collector, responding to the request of the petitioners, reminded the Revenue Divisional Officer, Anantapur, vide his letter Re. No.l0895-A/85-C10 dated 21-9-1986, to submit the P.V. Statement. To yet another representation to the District Collector on 20-1-1987, the 2nd petitioner received reply in D.O.R.C. (C-10)/10895-A/85 dated 30-1-1987 from the District Collector, through which the petitioners were informed that the Collector's office has received papers fixing the market value and that the Joint Collector, Anantapur has marked for personal inspection in the last week of February, 1987. By virtue of this letter, the petitioners were given a hope (promise) that the matter would be settled soon. But despite this intimation, no action was taken and, therefore, the 2nd petitioner was compelled to meet the then Joint Collector, Anantapur in person in May, 1987. During his meeting, it is stated in the affidavit, the Joint Collector informed that the compensation could not be paid since the road was formed in public interest and that if compensation is paid to the petitioners, it would be like opening a Pandora's box and that he would refer the matter to the Government. Under these circumstances, the 2nd petitioner was again forced to file a petition before the Secretary to Government, Panchayat Raj Department, Government of Andhra Pradesh, marking a copy to the District Collector, Anantapur, on 11-12-1987 representing that no award was passed so far and no compensation was paid to the petitioners. In reply to that representation, the District Collector in his letter D.Dis.10895-A/85 dated 23-12-1987 intimated that the award was not passed before 14-9-1987, as funds were not provided by the Zilla Parishad and Anantapur municipality and that Section 4(1) notification has lapsed on account of the award not being passed within the stipulated period in terms of the amended Act. It was also intimated that a detailed report on this aspect was sent by the District Collector to the Government. Under this background, the 2nd petitioner made yet another representation to the Secretary to Government, Panchayat Raj Department as well as the District Collector, Anantapur to pay the compensation for the land, which was taken over in 1972 for laying the road. Finally, the District Collector, in his letter Dis.ClO/2984/ 89 dated 14-3-1989 read with his further letter L.Dis.C10/3757/89 dt.28-4-1989, informed the petitioners that the Government have decided not to pay the compensation for the reason that the award has not been passed within two years from the date of declaration, as the requisition department has not provided funds and as such, the land acquisition proceedings have lapsed.
(3.)This is the pathetic story of the petitioners, who have lost the land to the extent of 0-72 cents (as estimated by one wing of the Government, after conducting necessary survey). Petitioners, though lost the land in 1971-72, are yet to receive the compensation even after 20 years. On behalf of the respondents, a detailed counter has been filed by the Revenue Divisional Officer, Anantapur, the 3rd respondent herein. A reading of the counter would disclose that there is no dispute as to the laying of road in the petitioners' land and the area covered by the road, which is 0-72 cents. There is also no dispute as to the correspondence by the petitioners to the various wings of the Govenrment. The stand taken by the respondents is that D.N. under Section 4(1) and D.D. under Section 6 of the Act were published in Anantapur District Gazette, Part-I Extraordinary, dated 15-9-1985 and according to Section 11-A of Act 68 of 1984, the award has to be passed within two years from the last date of the publication of the declaration. According to the respondents, since the award could not be passed within two years, the land acquisition proceedings abated and this fact was also informed to the petitioners.

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