Shree Sitaramji Alias Shree Sitaram Bhandar Vs. Land Acquisition Collector
& Ors  Insc 442 (24 August 2005)
N. Variava & Tarun Chatterjee
out of S.L.P. (C) No.2356 of 2004] S. N. VARIAVA, J.
has been filed against the Judgment dated 21/22 August, 2003 passed by the High
Court of Delhi.
stated the facts as follows:
On 13th November, 1959 a Notification under Section 4 of
the Land Acquisition Act was issued for acquisition of app. 35,000 acres of
said acquisition was for "planned development of Delhi". Amongst the lands, sought to
be acquired, were Appellants' land of app. 68 acres. Clause 2(d) of the said
Notification exempted lands of "Religious Institutions".
was challenged by a number of parties including the Appellants. The Writ
Petition filed by the Appellants was allowed by a Single Judge of the Delhi
High Court on the ground that the Appellants were not heard in respect of their
objections filed under Section 5A of the Land Acquisition Act. A Division Bench
of the Delhi High Court allowed the Appeal and dismissed the Writ Petition. The
Appeal filed by the Appellants in this Court was allowed by the Judgment
reported in Shri Mandir Sita Ramji vs. Lt. Governor of Delhi & Ors. (1975)
1 SCR 597. This Court held that there had been no enquiry as to whether or not
the Appellants' land belonged to a religious institution. Therefore, this Court
quashed the Section 6 Notification and remitted the matter back to the Land
Acquisition Collector to enquire into the objection of the Appellants.
appears that the Government then decided not to pursue the earlier Section 4
Notification in respect of the Appellants' land.
Notification dated 13th
March, 1975 under
Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, proposing to acquire app. 300 bighas for
"planned development of Delhi"
was issued. The Appellants again challenged the proposed acquisition by filing
a Writ Petition. The Writ Petition was dismissed by the impugned order.
behalf of the Respondents, it has been submitted that the Appellants are not
entitled to maintain this Appeal as they have already sold off the land to a
third party. It is submitted that the Appellants no longer have any right,
title or interest in the said land.
has been denied by the Appellants who claim that they have only entered into a
development agreement. In our view, it is not necessary for us to go into this
controversy. It is preferable to decide the challenge to the acquisition
proceedings on their own merits. We have, therefore, left this question open
and heard the parties on the challenge to the acquisition.
behalf of the Appellants, it was submitted that the acquisition is not for
"planned development of Delhi".
It was submitted that on 9th
May, 1972 an Agreement
has been entered into between the President of India on one hand and the
Ministry of Commerce and Industry Cooperative Housing Building Societies on the
other. It is submitted that the Agreement is to allot to this Cooperative
Society app. 217 bighas and 8 biswas of land. It is submitted that this is the
land of the Appellants. It is submitted that in pursuance of this Agreement a
sum of Rs. 26,37,245 has been received from the society. It is submitted that
the acquisition is actually for the society yet it purports to show as if it is
for "Planned development of Delhi".
submitted that as the acquisition is for a cooperative society, the provisions
of Part VII of the Land Acquisition Act and particularly Sections 39, 40 and 41
should have been complied with. It is submitted that those provisions have not
been complied with and therefore the acquisition is bad and should be set
other, on behalf of the Respondents it is submitted that the acquisition was
effectively of 35000 acres of land in pursuance of Notification under Section 4
issued in 1959. It was submitted that because of the orders of this Court, the
Appellants' land got excluded from the earlier Notification. It was submitted
that land all around Appellants' land was acquired in pursuance of the earlier
submitted that in order to avoid any further complication and delay the second
Notification under Section 4 was issued on 13th March, 1975. It was submitted that the
acquisition of Appellants' land was for purposes of "planned development
of Delhi" and not for any Co-operative
Society. It is submitted that acquisition for "planned development of
Delhi" has been upheld by a Constitution Bench of this Court in the case
of Aflatoon vs Lt. Governor of Delhi [(1975) 4 SCC 285]. It is pointed out that
the Constitution Bench has in this Judgment upheld acquisition inter alia on
the ground that when there is acquisition of such a large area of land, it is
not possible to specify in detail what the exact purpose of acquisition is. It
was pointed out that an argument identical to the one now made has been negatived
in that Judgment. Reliance was placed on para 24 of the Judgment which reads as
It was contended by Dr. Singhvi that the acquisition was really for the
co-operative housing societies which are companies within the definition of the
word 'company' in Section 3(e) of the Act, and, therefore, the provisions of
Part VII of the Act should have been complied with. Both the learned Single
Judge and the Division Bench of the High Court were of the view that the
acquisition was not for company. We see no reason to differ from their view.
The mere fact that after the acquisition the Government proposed to hand over,
or, in fact, handed over, a portion of the property acquired for development to
the co- operative housing societies would not make the acquisition one for
'company'. Nor are we satisfied that there is any merit in the contention that
compensation to be paid for the acquisition came from the consideration paid by
the co-operative societies. In the light of the averments in the counter
affidavit filed in the writ petitions here, it is difficult to hold that it was
co-operatives which provided the fund for the acquisition. Merely because the
Government allotted a part of the property to co-operative societies for
development, it would not follow that the acquisition was for co-operative
societies and, therefore, Part VII of the Act was attracted." It is
submitted that the Delhi Development Authority, for whom the land has been
acquired, cannot develop 35000 acres on its own. It was submitted that it,
therefore, becomes necessary to give various portions of land to various
societies for the purposes of development.
submitted that merely because land is given to societies does not mean that the
acquisition is for the purposes of those societies. It was submitted that the
Agreement dated 9th
May, 1972 does not
specify that the land to be allotted to that society is the Appellants' land.
It was submitted that the Agreement is merely to allot some land out of the
35,000 acres being acquired. It is submitted that the Constitution Bench of
this Court has approved such a course of action.
support of this submission, it was also pointed out that the planned
development can only be in accordance with the Delhi Development Act and that
this permitted the authority to allot land to various co-operative societies
for the purposes of development.
have considered the submissions of both the sides. In our view, there is no
merit in the challenge to the proposed acquisition on the ground that the
acquisition was for the purposes of the society covered by Agreement dated 9th May, 1972. The subsequent Notification is
merely a follow up of the earlier Notification. The entire acquisition is for
"planned development of Delhi".
To be remembered that Appellants' land is in the midst of the 35000 acres which
have been acquired pursuant to the Notification under Section 4 issued in 1959.
The Agreement dated 19th
May, 1972 does not
specify that it is the Appellants' land which is to be allotted to that
Society. The Society is to be allotted some land and even if Appellants' land
is allotted to this Society, after acquisition, it will not mean that the
acquisition was for this Society. Therefore, the provisions of Part VII of the
Land Acquisition Act need not have been complied with.
next submitted, on behalf of the Appellants, that the Government has formulated
a scheme by which parties are permitted to develop their own land. It was
submitted that the acquisition of land of such parties was to be withdrawn as
per the policy. In this behalf, reliance was placed upon a letter dated 3rd March, 1987 from the office of the Prime
Minister, wherein it is stated that the Appellants may be permitted to develop
the land in accordance with the norms given by Delhi Development Authority.
Reliance was also placed upon a letter dated 4th April, 1991 from the Director,
Delhi Development Authority, to one Shri Acharya Arun Dev (whom the Appellants
claim to be their power of attorney holder) wherein also the Appellants'
proposal to allot the land to them for development was stated to be approved.
Reliance was also placed upon a letter dated 17th September, 1991 from the
Additional Secretary to the Minister of Urban Development as well as minutes of
a meeting held on 23rd September, 1991 in the chambers of the Lt. Governor to
consider the Appellants proposal to develop the lands themselves. Relying on
these documents, it was submitted that the Governments had decided to withdraw
from the acquisition. It was submitted that the Government should be held bound
by its commitment to so withdraw. It was submitted that for this reason also
the acquisition should be quashed.
against this, on behalf of the Respondents, it is pointed out that this very
ground had been considered by the Delhi High Court on an earlier occasion. It
was pointed out that after looking into the relevant records the Delhi High
Court had recorded in paras 18 and 19 of its Judgments as follows:
It also appears that there was a decision relating to denotification of land in
favour of one Sita Ram Bhandar Trust. File thereof had been called for by the
Prime Minister who ordered that no land was to be denotified without the
previous approval of the Cabinet/Prime minister. When this file was sent to the
Ministry, based on the decision contained in respect of Sita Ram Bahadur Trust,
following noting was recorded in respect of the land in question on 17th June, 1999.
from page 38/N onwards may kindly be seen: The case of Denotification of
village Kotla Mahigiran, Tehsil Mehrauli, New Delhi was examined without
calling a fresh report upto date position of the case from DDA. The then
Minister (UD) has ordered (P-41/N) for the denotification of the land.
Subsequently, DDA has informed that out of 615 Bigha acquired by the Govt.
physical possession of land measuring 600 Bigha has already been taken over by
the mean time the file relating to denotification of land in favour of Sita Ram
Bhandar Trust has been called for by the Prime Minister and the PM has ordered
that no land is to be denotified without the previous approval of the
Cabinet/PM. In view of this no further action is required in this case. Submitted
This file was placed before the Minister.
be mentioned that in the meantime new incumbent had taken charge. This new
Minister took the following decision on the basis of aforesaid noting dated 17th June, 1999.
file of Sita Ram Bhandar Trust has since been received back from the PMO and
PM's instructions not to denotify the land have been noted.
the Trust's file, I have recorded my observations. These observations apply in
this case as well. There is no justification for denotifying land, particularly
when 600 bighas have already been acquired and taken over." This could not
be denied by the Appellants. It is thus clear that letters and minutes relied
upon are mere recommendations. No decision to release from acquisition had been
taken. In any event the Prime Minister had turned out this proposal.
otherwise, we have seen the scheme sought to be relied upon. We find from the
scheme that it only applies in respect of persons/agencies who own and possess
the land. In this case possession of the land had already been taken. The
scheme also categorically states that the scheme would not take away the rights
of the Delhi Development Authority to acquire for development of Delhi.
the scheme was not applicable to lands of the Appellants. Even under Section 48
of the Land Acquisition Act once possession is taken the Government cannot
withdraw from the acquisition. We thus see no substance in this contention also.
view of the above, we see no merit in this Appeal. The Appeal stands dismissed
with no orders as to costs.