Employees Union Vs. State of Maharashtra & Ors
 INSC 697 (9 May 1996)
Faizan Uddin, G.B. Pattanaik
O R D
have heard Ms. India Jaisingh, learned senior counsel for the petitioner.
Notification under Section 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1984 (1 of 1984)
(for short, the `Act') was published on May 17, 1988 acquiring land over which the
workshop was situated for public purpose, namely, for the expansion of dockyard
for defence purpose. The petitioner had challenged the validity of the said
notification and the declaration published under Section 6 on May 25, 1989 on diverse grounds. Subsequently,
the award came to be passed on January 15, 1991
and the same also came to be challenged by the petitioner-Union. The main
controversy raised by the petitioner is that they are the 'persons interested'
within the meaning of Section 3(d) of the Act and in conducting enquiry under
Section 5(A), the Land Acquisition Officer had not given any notice under sub-
section (2) of Section 5A. Issuance of notice and hearing of it is mandatory
and the failure to comply with the mandatory requirement vitiates the
declaration published under Section 6 of the Act. We find no force in the
only scope of the enquiry under Section 5A is whether the land sought to be
acquired is needed for a public purpose or is an arable land. Besides these
questions, the inter se claim of the employer and the workmen of payment of
wages and extent thereof are alien to the enquiry. sub-section (3) of Section
5A makes the scope beyond pale of doubt. If the interested person is entitled
to compensation or by implication bound by award of compensation or excess
compensation is an interested person.
the petitioners cannot claim to be persons interested for the purpose of an
enquiry under Section 5A.
therefore, the petitioners have contended that the acquisition is not for a
public purpose; it is a mala fide acquisition and a vague public purpose of defence
and so acquisition is not valid in law. Precedents have been copiously cited in
the High Court in that behalf. The learned single Judge and the Division Bench
elaborately considered them and held that acquisition for defence purpose is a
public purpose. Rodrigue case to Tamil Nadu Housing Board case settled the
controversy holding that acquisition for housing development is not a vague
of dockyard for defence purpose is a public purpose. Publication of declaration
under Section 6 accords conclusiveness to public purpose. It is for the
appropriate Government to take a decision whether a particular land is needed
for a public purpose or not and the Court cannot substitute its opinion on the
public purpose to that of the appropriate Government. We wholly agree with the
view taken by the High Court in that behalf. As regards person interested this
Court dealt with the controversy from Himalayan Tiles to Neively Lignites
Corporation case and the Constitution Bench decision, per majority. The
petitioner, therefore, is not a person interested. Notice and hearing of it
under Section 5A(2) is not mandatory.
next contended that since the management has gone before the appropriate
Government under the Industrial Dispute Act for closure of the workshop and the
Government had refused to give such permission, in the absence of such a
permission, the acquisition cannot be proceeded with.
the Industrial Disputes Act permits the workshop to be continued in operation,
the Act deprives the workmen of that right and, therefore, the petitioner is
entitled to be heard in that behalf. We find that the contention is wholly
misconceived and the petitioner has chartered out a mistaken course of action.
It is true that as a consequence of the acquisition of land, the workshop was
likely to be closed.
material circumstance to be considered is whether the State is entitled to
acquire the land over which the workshop stands. They very object of compulsory
acquisition is in exercise of the power of the eminent domain by the State
against the wishes of willingness of the owner or person interested in the
land. Therefore, so long as the public purpose subsists the exercise of the
power of eminent domain cannot be questioned. Publication of declaration under
Section 6 is conclusive evidence of public purpose. In view of the finding that
it is a question of expansion of dockyard for defence purpose, it is a public
purpose. The Government have exercised the power of eminent domain and had got
published notification under Section 4(1). After conducting the enquiry Section
5A, declaration under Section 6 was published which is conclusive evidence of
public purpose. The question of their disabilities due to acquisition is
collateral to the enquiry under Section 5A.
there was no need to give notice under Section 5A(2) nor to hear the
next contended that the petitioners are entitled to the salary and arrears are
getting mounted up. If the proper compensation is not determined and the
payment be made, they would stand to lose. We find no force in the contention.
The compensation is required to be determined as provided under Section 23(1)
of the Act. It is the function of the Land Acquisition Officer to determine the
compensation. If the person is aggrieved of the compensation so determined,
procedure of reference under Section 18 and a further appeal under Section 54
of the Act have been provided for and the aggrieved persons is only to pursue
the remedies provided under the Act.
then contended that since the petitioner/employees already had the order for
recovery of the arrears from the owner of the property, they are interested
persons and that, therefore, they should be heard. It is seen that an ward has
already been made by the Land Acquisition Officer under Section 11. If the
owner or the person interested refused to receive the compensation, the
procedure as contemplated under Section 31 of the Act required to be followed.
We are informed that the petitioners have approached the Land Acquisition Officer
for being impleaded as a party interested for compensation in the award enquiry
under Section 11 which request was rejected. If that be so, appropriate remedy
is elsewhere or to have the compensation attached and to recover as arrears of
revenues. But in an enquiry under Section 5A such a question does not arise.
then contended that on account of the acquisition, the petitioners have lost
their jobs and since the Government of India is acquiring the property for
public purpose, the Government have to a corresponding public duty to
rehabilitate the workmen in any appropriate industry particularly in Mazgaon
Docks Ltd. which also is a public undertaking. They require to be rehabilitated
therein. That question is not germane for the disposal of this case. It may be
open to the petitioners to pursue the appropriate remedy, if available.
special leave petition is dismissed accordingly.