Jage Ram & Ors Vs. State of
Haryana & Ors  INSC 68 (2 March 1971)
REDDY, P. JAGANMOHAN
CITATION: 1971 AIR 1033 1971 SCR (3) 871 1971
SCC (1) 71
CITATOR INFO :
F 1984 SC1721 (8)
Land Acquisition Act, 1894 ss. 17(2) (c), 38
to 44B-Public purpose Declaration by Government not, open to challenge unless
acquisition is for collateral purpose or is a colourable exercise of
power-Acquisition for Company-State contributing towards cost-Proceedings need
not be taken under ss. 38 to 44B-Section 17(2) (c) cannot be interpreted
ejusdem Generis-Scope of s. 17(2) (c)-Maxims-Ejusdem Generis-Scope of Rule.
In March 1969, the respondent State issued a
notification under section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, as amended by the
Punjab Legislature, for acquisition of the appellants' land. The notification
stated that the land was likely to be required to be taken by Government, at
public expense, for a public purpose, namely,. the setting up of a factory for
the starting of an industry and, further that action under section 17(2)(c)
would be taken on the, ground of urgency and provisions of s. 5A will not apply
in regard to the said acquisition. The appellants filed a writ petition in the
High Court questioning the validity of the acquisition on the ground, inter
alia, that there was-no urgency in the matter, of requiring the land
',-therefore recourse to s. 17 was not justified. The state government pleaded
that since the Government of India had extended the time for completion of the
project till April 30, 1969, it, had become necessary to take immediate steps
to acquire the land. The High Court dismissed the petition. In the appeal to
this Court it was contended that (i) the acquisition in question being one for
the benefit of a Company, proceedings should have been taken under ss. 38 to
44B of the Act,, and that there was no public purpose involved in the case;
(ii) there was no urgency and hence recourse could not be had to section 17 of
the Act; and (iii) S. 17(2) (c) was inapplicable to the facts of the case,
because, though s. 17(2)(c) read by itself covered a very large field, applying
the ejusdem generis Rule that provision had to be given a narrower meaning
because of the provisions of s. 17(2)(a) and (b). Dismissing the appeal,
HELD : (i) On the facts of the case the
purpose for which land was acquired was a public purpose. The question whether
the starting of an industry is in public interest or not is essentially a
question that has to be decided by the Government. So long as it is not
established that the acquisition is sought to be made for some collateral
purpose or that there is a colourable exercise of power the declaration of the
government that it is made for a public purpose isnot open to challenge. [874
E-G] Smt; Somavanti and Ors v. State of Punjab,  2 S.C.R.
774 and Raja Anand Brahma Shah v. State of
U.P.,  1 S.C.R. 373, referred to.
In view of the fact that the State Government
had contributed towards the cost of acquisition it was not necessary to proceed
with the acquisition under Part VII of the Act. [875 A] 8 7 2 (ii) On the facts
of the case there was urgency. The conclusion of the Government in a given case
that there was urgency is entitled to weight, if not conclusive.
(iii) In interpreting cl. (c) of s. 17(2) the
rule of ejusdem generis, ,cannot be applied. If a given provision is plain and
unambiguous and the legislative intent is clear there is no occasion to call
into aid that rule. Under cls. (a), (b) and (c) of sub-s. (2) of s. 17 the
decision to acquire, land has not to be made by the same authority but by
different authorities. Further, the conditions under which the acquisition has
to be made differ from clause to clause. Therefore, there is no basis to say
that the general words in cl. (c) follow the particular and specific words in
cls. (b) and (c). [877 E; 879 H] State of Bomby v. Ali Gulshan,  S.C.R.
867, Lilavati Bai v. Stat of Bombay,  S.C.R. 721, K, K. Kochuni v. State
of Madras, A.I.R. 1960 S.C. 1050, referred to.
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 2034 of 1969.
Appeal from the judgment and order dated May
7, 1969 of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Civil Writ No. 850 of 1969.
K. L. Gosain N. N. Goswamy, S. K. Mehta, K.
L. Mehta and K. R. Nagaraja, for the appellant.
Harbans Singh and R. N. Sachthey, for
respondents Nos. 1 and 2.
S. V. Gupte and S. K. Gambhir, for respondent
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
Hegde, J. This appeal by certificate arises from the decision of a Division
Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in a writ petition wherein the
appellants challenged the validity of proceedings under ss. 4, 6, 9 and 17 (2)
(c) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 as amended by the Punjab Legislature. For
convenience sake we shall refer to that amended Act as 'the Act'. The High
Court dismissed the writ petition.
It appears that several contentions were
sought to be advanced before the High Court but in this Court only three contentions
have been pressed for our consideration i.e. (1) the acquisition in question
being one for a company proceedings should have been taken under ss. 38 to
44(B) of the Act, the same having not been taken, the Proceedings taken are
void; (2) there was no urgency and hence recourse should not have been had to
s. 17 of the Act and (3) Section 17(2) (c) is inapplicable to the facts of the
Now we may state the facts relevant for the
purpose of deciding the questions in dispute.
873 On 14/17 March, 1969, Government of
Haryana issued a notification under s. 4 of the Act notifying for acquisition
the land concerned in this case. The notification further directed that action
under s. 17 (2) (c) of the Act shall be taken on the ground of urgency and the
provisions of s. 5-A shall not apply in regard to the said acquisition. The
preamble to the said notification says that "whereas it appears to the
Governor of Haryana that land is likely to be required to be taken by
Government, at public expenses, for a public purpose, namely for the setting up
a factory for the manufacture of Chine-ware and Porcelain ware including Wall
Glazed Tiles etc. at village Kasser.. Tehsil Jhajjar, District Rohtak, it is
hereby notified that the land in the locality described in the specification
below is likely to be required for the above purpose". On March 18, 1969
the Government issued a notification under s. 6 of the Act acquiring the land
for a public purpose On March 28, 1969 notices under s. 9 of the Act were
served on the appellants.
On April 8, 1969, the appellants filed the
writ petition giving rise to this appeal.
The allegations in the writ petition include
the assertion that there was no urgency in the matter of acquiring the land in
question and therefore there was no justification for having recourse to s. 17
and thus deprive the appellants of the benefit of, s. 5-A of the Act. It was
further alleged therein that the acquisition in question was made for the
benefit of a company and hence proceedings should have been taken under ss. 38
to 44(B) of the Act and that there was no public purpose involved in the case.
It was further pleaded that the land acquired was not waste and parable land
and that s. 2 (c) of the Act did not confer power on the Government to dispense
with the proceedings under s. 5-A. In the counter-affidavit filed by the Deputy
Director of Industries (Administration), Government of Haryana On behalf of the
State of Haryana, the above allegations were all denied. Therein it is stated
that at the instance of the State of Haryana, Government of India had issued a
letter of intent to a company for setting up a factory for the manufacture of
Glazed Tiles etc. in village Kasser. That project was to be started with the
collaboration of a foreign company, known as Pilkington Tiles Ltd. The scheme
for setting up the project had been finalised and approved by the concerned
authorities. on November 26, 1968, the Government wrote to one of the promoters
of the project, Shri H. L. Somany asking him to complete the "arrangements
for the import of capital equipment and acquisition of land in Haryana State-for
setting up of the proposed factory". It was further stated in that
communication the Government was pleased to extend the time for completing the
Project upto April 30, 1969. Under those circumstances it 8 74 had become
necessary for the State of Haryana to take immediate steps to acquire the
required land. It was under those circumstances the Government was constrained
to have recourse to s. 17 of the Act. The Government denied the allegation that
the facts of this case did not come within the scope of s. 17 (2) (c). It was
also denied that the acquisition in question was not made for a public purpose.
We have earlier seen that in the notification
issued under s. 4, it had been stated that the acquisition was made "at
public expenses, for a public purpose" namely for the setting up a factory
for the manufacture of China-ware and Porcelain-ware including Wall Glazed
In the writ petition it was not denied that
the acquisition in question was made at "public expenses". All that
was challenged in the writ petition was that the purpose for which the
acquisition was made not a public purpose.
There is no denying the fact that starting of
a new industry is in public interest. It is stated in the affidavit filed on
behalf of the State Government that the now State of Haryana was lacking in
industries and consequently it was become difficult to tackle the problem of
There is also no denying the fact that the
industrialization of an area is in public interest. That apart, the question
whether the starting of an industry is in public interest or not is essentially
a question that has to be decided by the Government. That is a socioeconomic
question. This Court is not in a position to go into that question. So long as
it is not established that the acquisition is sought to be made for some
collateral purpose, the declaration of the Govern. men+ it is made for a public
purpose is 'not open to challenge, Section 6(3) says that the declaration of the
Government that the acquisition made is for public purpose shall be conclusive
evidence that the land is needed for a public purpose. Unless it is shown that
there was a colorable exercise of power, it is not open to this Court to go
behind that declaration and find out whether in a particular case the purpose
for which the land was needed was a public purpose or not-see Smt. Somavanti
and ors. v.The State of Punjab(1) and Raja Anand Brahma Shah v. State of
U.p.(2). On the facts of this case there can be hardly any doubt that the
purpose for which the land was acquired is a public purpose.
In view of the pleadings referred to earlier
it is not open to the appellant to contend that the State Government had not
contributed any Amount towards the cost of acquisition, We were informed at the
bar that the State Government had contributed (1)  2 S.C.R. 774.
(2)  1 S.C.R. 373.
875 a sum of Rs. 100/towards the cost of the
land which fact is also mentioned in the award of Land Acquisition Officer.
That being so it was not necessary for the
Government to proceed with the acquisition under Part VII of the Act-see
Now coming to the question of urgency, it is
clear from the facts set out earlier that there was urgency, The Government of
India was pleased to extend time for the completion of the of project upto
April 30, 1969. Therefore urgent steps had to be taken for pushing through the
project. The fact that the St-ate Government or the party concerned was
lethargic at an earlier stage is not very relevant for deciding the question
whether on the date on which the notification was issued, there was urgency or
not the conclusion of the Government in a given case that there was urgency
entitled to weight, if not conclusive.
This takes us to the question of
applicability of s. 17 (2) (c) to the facts of the case. The appellant had
denied in the affidavit that the entire land acquired is either waste or arable
Iand That contention of his has not been examined by the High Court. Therefore we
have to proceed on the basis that the case does not come within the scope of s.
17(1). The State has also not purported to act under s. 17 (1). It has
purported to act under s. 17 (2) (c).
Therefore we have to see whether the State
could have proceeded on the facts of this case under s. 17 (1) (c).
Section 17 as amended by the Punjab Act 2 of
1954, Punjab Act 17 of 1956 and Punjab Act 47 of 1956 to the extent necessary
for our present purpose reads thus :
"17 (1) In cases of urgency whenever,
the appropriate Government so directs, the Collector, though no such award has
been made, may, on the expiration of fifteen days from the publication of the
notice mentioned in section 9, sub-section (1) take possession of any waste or
arable land needed for public purposes or for a Company. Such land shall there
upon vest absolutely in the Government free from all encumbrances.
Explanation (2) In the following cases, that
is to say (a) Whenever owing to any sudden change in the channel of any
navigable river or other unforeseen emergency, it becomes necessary for any
Railway Administration to acquire the 'immediate possession of any land for the
maintenance of their traffic or for the purpose of making thereon a river-side
or ghat, station or of (1)  2 S.C.R. 774.
876 providing convenient connection with or
access to any such station;
(b) Whenever in the opinion of the Collector
it becomes necessary to acquire the immediate possession of any land for the
purpose of any library or educational institution or for the construction,
extension or improvement of any building or other structure in any village for
the common use of the inhabitants of such village, or any godown for, any
society registered under the Co-operative Societies Act, 1912 (Act 11 of 1912),
or any dwelling house for the poor, or the construction of labour colonies or
houses for any other class of people under a Government-sponsored 'Housing
Scheme or any irrigation tank, irrigation or drainage channel, or any well, or
any public road;
(c) Whenever land is required for a public
purpose which in the opinion of the appropriate Government is of urgent
importance, the Collector may, immediately after the, publication of the notice
mentioned in sub-section (1) and with the previous sanction of the appropriate
Government enter upon and take possession of such land, which shall thereupon
vest absolutely in the Government free from all encumbrances.
Provided that the Collector shall not take
possession of any building or part of a building under this sub-section without
giving to the occupier thereof at least' forty-eight hour's notice of his
intention so to do . . .
(3) In every case under either of the
preceding subsections the Collector shall at the time of taking possession
offer to the persons interested compensation for the standing crop and three
(if any) on such land and for any other damage sustained by them caused by
sudden dispossession ....
(4) In the case of any land to which in the,
opinion of the appropriate Government, the provisions of subsection (1) or
sub-section (2) are applicable, the appropriate Government may direct that the
provisions of section 5-A shall not apply....
877 Herein we are only concerned with the
scope of s. 17 (2) (c) as the vires of s. 17(2) is not challenged. Section 17(2)(c)
if read by itself is plain. It seems to permit the appropriate Government to
direct that the provisions of Section 5-A shall not apply whenever land is
required for public purpose which in the opinion of the appropriate Government
is of urgent importance. The conditions precedent for the application of s. 17
(2) (c) are ( 1 ) that the land must be required for a public purpose and (2)
the appropriate Government must be of the ,opinion that the purpose in question
is of urgent importance. But it was urged on behalf of the appellants that we
should apply ejusdem generie rule in interpreting s. 17 (2) (c). The contention
on behalf of the appellants was that though s. 17 (2) (c) read by itself covers
a very large field, that provision should be given a narrower meaning because
of the provisions in s. 17(2) (a) and (b). It was urged that as the general
words contained in s. 17 (2) (c) follow the specific words of the same nature,
in S. 17 (2) (a) and (b), those general words must be understood as applying to
cases similar to those mentioned in s. 17 (2) (a) and (b).
The ejusdem generis rule is not a rule of law
but is merely a rule of construction to aid the courts to find out the true
intention of the legislature. If a given I provision is plain and unambiguous
and the legislative intent is clear, there is no occasion to call into aid that
rule ejusdem generis rule is explained in Halsbury's Laws of England (3rd
Edn.). Vol. 36 p. 397 paragraph 599 thus "As a rule, Where in a statute
there are general words following particular and specific words,, the general
words must be confined to things of the same kind as those specified, although
this,' as a rule of construction, must be applied with caution, subject to the
primary rule that statutes are to be construed in accordance with the intention
of Parliament. For the ejusdem rule to apply, the specific words must
constitute a category, class or genus; if they do constitute such a category,
class or genus, then only things which belongs to that category, class or genus
fall within the general words......
It is observed in Craies on Statute Law (6th
Edn.) p. 181 that :
"The ejusdem generis rule is one to be
applied With caution and not pushed too far, as in the case of many decisions,
which treat it as automatically appli878 cable, and not as being, what it is, a
mere presumption in the absence of other indications of the intention of the
legislature. The modem tendency of the law, it was said, is "to attenuate
the application of the rule of ejusdem generis". To invoke the application
of the ejusdem generis rule there must be a distinct genus or category.
The specific words must apply not to
different objects of a widely differing character but to something which can
be, called a class or kind of objects.
According to Sutherland Statutory
Construction (3rd Edn.) Vol. II p. 395, for the application of the doctrine of
ejusdem generis, the following conditions must exist.
(i) The statute contains an enumeration by
(ii) The members of the enumeration constitute
(iii) The class is not exhausted by the
(iv) A general term follows the enumeration
and (v) There is not clearly manifested an intent that the general term be
given a broader meaning than the doctrine requires.
The scope of the ejusdem generis rule has
been considered by this Court in several decisions. In State of Bombay v. Ali
Gulshan(1); it was observed:
"Apart from the fact that the rule must
be confined within narrow limits, and general or comprehensive words should receive
their full and natural meaning unless they are clearly restrictive in their
intendment, it is requisite that there must be a distinct genus, which must
comprise more than one species, before the rule can be applied.".
In Lilavati Bai v. The State of Bombay,(2) it
was observed "The rule of ejusdem generis is intended to be applied where
general words have been used following particular and specific words of the
same nature on the established rule of construction that the legislature
presumed to use the general words in a restricted sense,;
that is to say, as belonging to the same
genus' as the particular and specific words.
Such a restricted mean(1)  2 S.C.R.
(2)  S.C.R. 721.
879 ing has to be given to words of general
import only where the context of the whole scheme of legislation requires it.
But where the content and the object and mischief of the enactment do not
require such restricted meaning to be attached to words of general import, it
becomes the duty of the courts to give those words their plain and ordinary
meaning," The same view was reiterated by this Court in K. K. Kochini v.
State of Madras and Kerala(1).
Bearing in mind the principles set out
earlier, we shall now consider whether the general import of the words, in s.
17 (2) (e) should be cut down in view of s. 17 (2) (a) and (b).
Under cl. (a) of s. 17(2), the acquisition is
to be made by the Railway Administration when owing to any sudden change 'in
the, channel of any navigable river or other unforeseen emergency it becomes
necessary for the administration to acquire the immediate possession of any
land for the maintenance of the traffic or for the purpose of making thereon a
river-side or ghat station or for providing convenient connection with or
access to any such station.
We would like to emphasize that under this
provision, the acquisition can only be made by the Railway Administration and
that when it considers that immediate possession (of any land is necessary for
the purposes mentioned therein, Under el. (b) of sub-s. (2) of s. 17, before an
acquisition can be made, the Collector must form an opinion that it has become
necessary to acquire the immediate possession of the land concerned for the'
purposes mentioned therein. Under cl.(c) of s. 17(2), the acquisition can be
made only when the appropriate Government forms the opinion that because of
urgent importance, the concerned land has to be acquired for the purposes
mentioned in that provision. Under el. (a) the derision to acquire has to be
made by the Railway Administration. Under el. (b), the acquisition can be made
only on the formation of the required opinion by the Collector. Under el. (c)
the acquisition can be made only when the requisite opinion is formed by the
appropriate Government. Further under el. (a) the acquisition has to be made to
meet certain unforeseen emergency as a result of which the immediate possession
of the land is necessary.
Under el. (b) the Collector must form an
opinion that it has become necessary to acquire the immediate possession of
land but under el. (c) the requirement is that the appropriate Government must
form the opinion that the acquisition is of urgent importance. Under cls. (a),
(b) and (c) of sub-s.(2) of s. 17, the decision to acquire land has, not to be
made by the (1) A.I.R. 1960 S.C. 105.0.
(1) A.I.R. 1960 s.c. 1050 880 same authority
but by different authorities. Further the conditions under which the
acquisition has to be, made differ from clause to clause. Therefore there is no
basis to say that the general words in cl. (c) follow the particular and
specific words in cls. (b) and (c). Nor can it be said that the specific words
contained in cls. (a) and (b) constitute a category, 'class or genus. Hence we
are unable to accept the contention that in interpreting cl.
(c) of s. 17(2), we should apply the rule of
As none of the contentions taken by the
appellants are acceptable, this appeal fails and is dismissed. But in the
circumstances of the case we make no order as to costs.
K.B.N. Appeal dismissed.