Khub Chand & Ors Vs. State of
Rajasthan & Ors  INSC 137 (22 August 1966)
22/08/1966 RAO, K. SUBBA (CJ)
RAO, K. SUBBA (CJ) SHELAT, J.M.
CITATION: 1967 AIR 1074 1967 SCR (1) 120
F 1973 SC 552 (2) R 1976 SC 263 (13) R 1984
SC1721 (1,5) F 1985 SC1622 (13) RF 1991 SC 711 (13)
Rajasthan Land Acquisition Act (24 of 1953),
ss. 4 and 5(2)Giving of public notice of substance of Notification under s. 4
at convenient places in locality-If mandatory.
In 1957, the Government of Rajasthan
published a notification under s. 4 of the Rajasthan Land Acquisition Act;
1953, to the effect that the appellants' land was needed for a public purpose.
The public notice of the substance of the notification to be given by the
Collector at convenient places in the locality, as required by s. 4(1), was
however not given. In January 1958 and February 1959, notifications under as.
5(2) and 6 respectively of the Act, were published in the local Gazette.
Thereafter, the officer originally appointed by the Government to perform the
functions of a Collector under the Act continued the acquisition proceedings in
spite of a Government notification of June 1959, whereby another officer was
appointed to perform those functions. The appellants filed objections
questioning his jurisdiction and stopped taking part in the proceedings. On
11th December, 1959, after making ex parte enquiries, the officer made an
award, and on 27th June 1960, he made :a second award superseding the first.
The appellants came to know of the awards in September 1960. In October 1960,
they filed a petition under Art. 226, challenging the validity of the
proceedings on the ground, inter alia, that the requirement of the giving of
the public notice under s. 4(1) at convenient places of the locality was,
mandatory, and as it was not complied with, the entire acquisition proceedings
The High Court agreed with the contention but
dismissed the petition on the ground that the objection was taken at a belated
HELD: (i) The provision in ss. 4(1),
requiring public notice was mandatory and non-compliance with it was fatal to
the entire acquisition proceedings. [125 H] Section 4(1) says that the
Collector shall cause public notice of the ,,substance of such notification to
be given at convenient places in the said locality. If the word
"shall" is, construed as "may" the object of the
sub-section will be defeated. The object is to give intimation to the person
whose land is sought to be acquired, of the intention of the officer to enter
the land. Under s. 4(2), such a notice is a necessary condition for the
exercise of the power of entry and non-compliance with the condition makes the
entry of the officer or his servants unlawful. [125 F-H] The fact that the
owner may have notice of the particulars of the intended acquisition under s.
5(2) does not serve the purpose of s. 4, for a notice under s. 5(2) is given
after the officer enters the land and submits the particulars mentioned in s.
4. [125 C] Babu Barkya Thakir v. The State of Bombay,  1 S.C.R.
(ii) The High Court was in error in holding,
on the facts, that there was inordinate delay in invoking its jurisdiction.
[127 D] 121
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Civil Appeal
No. 85 of 1964, Appeal from the judgment and order dated April 17, 1963 of the
Rajasthan High Court in D. B. Civil Writ Petition No.
410 of 1960.
Sarjoo Prasad and A. G. Ratnaparkhi, for the
G. C. Kasliwal, Advocate-General for the
State of Rajasthan.
B. P. Maheshwari and R. N. Sachthey, for the
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
Subba Rao, C.J. This appeal by certificate is directed against the judgment of
the High Court of Rajasthan at Jodhpur, dismissing the petition filed by the
appellants under Art. 226 of the Constitution.
The relevant facts may be briefly stated. By
a registered sale deed dated December 10, 1958, the appellants purchased the
land comprised in Khasra Nos. 158 and 182/2 situated in village Sangaria in
Tehsil Hanumangarh in the State of Rajasthan. On February 14, 1957, the
Government of Rajasthan published a notification No. 7 (104) Rev/(A) dated
October 19, 1956, under s. 4 of the Rajasthan Land Acquisition Act, 1953,
hereinafter called the Act, to the effect that the said land, along with
others, was needed or likely to be needed for the public purpose of laying
township and orchards. On January 9, 1958, another notification was published
in the Rajasthan Gazette under s.
5(2) of the Act. On February 3, 1959, a
further notification under S. 6 of the Act was published in the Rajasthan
Gazette in respect of the said land. The Government of Rajasthan, in exercise
of the powers under s.
3(c) of the Act, issued a notification dated
September 10, 1955, appointing the Deputy Director of Colonisation, Suratgarh
Division with headquarters at Hanumangarh, to perform the functions of a
Collector under the Act within the local limits of his jurisdiction. On July
30, 1959, the said Government published a notification dated June 4, 1959, ,in
modification of the previous notification, appointing the Deputy Director of
Colonisation, Rajasthan Canal Project, then having headquarters at Bikaner, to
perform the said functions within the districts of Ganganagar, Bikaner and
Jaisalmer. Notwithstanding the said notification, the Deputy Director of
Colonisation, Suratgarh exercising the functions under the Act, continued the
acquisition proceedings. The appellants filed objections questioning the
jurisdiction of the said Deputy Director to proceed with the enquiry and
thereafter they did not take part in the proceedings. On December II, 1959,
after making ex parte enquiries, the said Deputy Director made an award which
for convenience of reference may be 4 Sup CI/66--9 122 referred to as Award No.
1. In the said award, the appellant's land was valued at Rs. 614 per bigha.
But, on June 27, 1960 the said Deputy Collector made another award, hereinafter
referred to as Award No. 2, setting aside Award No. 1 and giving compensations
to the appellants' land at the rate of Rs. 442 instead of at Rs. 614 per bigha.
The appellants filed the writ petition in the High Court of Rajasthan
challenging the validity of the said proceedings.
The contentions raised by the parties before
the High Court need not be particularised as they are apparent from the
following findings given by it: (1) The provision of s. 4 in the Act, namely,
that a public notice of the substance of the notification should be given at
convenient places in the locality of the land in dispute, is mandatory and the
Land Acquisition Officer did not comply with the same; but as the objection
raised by the appellants in that regard was belated it could not be allowed to
be taken at that stage.
(2) The direction given by the Rajasthan
Government to the Deputy Director of Colonisation, Suratgarh Division, to
exercise the powers of the Land Acquisition Officer under the Act was not
withdrawn, either expressly or by necessary implication, by the notification
dated June 4, 1959, by which the Deputy Director of Colonisation, Rajasthan
Canal Project, was authorised to perform the functions of Collector within the
three districts mentioned therein. (3) Award No. 1 dated December 11, 1959,
which related to Khasra No. 158 had become final and it could not be altered by
Award No. 2 in regard to the said Khasra number. In effect and substance, the
High Court held that both the awards were valid but Award No. 2 should be
confined only to Khasra No.
182/2. In the result, the petition was
dismissed. Hence the appeal.
The learned counsel for the appellants raised
before us the following three points: (1) The entire acquisition proceedings
were void inasmuch as the mandatory provision of s. 4 of the Act was not
complied with. (2) After the Deputy Director of Colonisation, Rajasthan Canal
Project, had been authorised to perform the functions of a Collector, in the
districts of Ganganagar, Bikaner and Jaisalmer, the Deputy Director of
Colonisation, Suratgarh Division, with headquarters at Hanumangarh, who was
appointed earlier to perform the functions of a Collector under the Act within
the local limits of the said jurisdiction, had become functus officio in regard
to the instant acquisition and therefore, the proceedings conducted by him
thereafter were null and void. (3) Under the Land Acquisition Act, the
Collector there under could make only one award in respect of a notification
and, therefore, when he made the first award in respect of the notification he
became functus officio and therefore, the second award made by him in respect
of the same notification was void.
123 The learned Advocate-General of Rajasthan
questioned the correctness of every one of the said contentions. We shall
advert to his contentions in the relevant contexts.
Sections 4, 5, and 5A of the Act read:
"Section 4. Publication of preliminary
notification and powers of officers thereupon.(1) Whenever it appears to the
Government that land in any locality is needed or is likely to be needed for
any public purpose, a notification to that effect shall be published in the
Rajasthan Gazette, and the Collector shall cause public notice of the substance
of such notification to be given at convenient places in the said locality.
(2) Thereupon it shall be lawful for any
officer, generally or specially authorised by the Government in this behalf,
and for his servants and workmen,(a) to enter upon and survey and take levels
of any land in such locality;
(b) to dig or bore into the sub-soil;
(c) to do all other acts necessary to
ascertain whether the land is adapted for such purpose;
(d) to set out the boundaries of the land
proposed to be taken and the intended line of the work (if any) proposed to be
(e) to mark such levels, boundaries and line
by placing marks and cutting trenches; and where otherwise the survey cannot be
completed and the levels taken and the boundaries and line marked, to cut down
and clear away any part of any standing crop, fence or jungle:
Section 5. Report by Collector.-(1) The
Collector or a Revenue Officer specially empowered by the Government in this
behalf shall forward to the Government with his remarks a report on the result
of the survey, if any, and other operations described in and taken under
sub-section (2) of section 4.
(2) After considering the report, if any,
submitted under subsection (1) or, if no such report has been received, at any
time after the issue of the notification under subsection (1) of section 4, the
Government shall publish a further notification in the Rajasthan Gazette,
giving sufficient description of the land already notified under the said
sub-section (1) of section 4 to enable it to be identified and stating the
purpose for which it is or is likely to be needed, 124 its approximate area and
situation and, where a plan has been made of the land, the place where such
plan may be inspected, and the Collector shall cause public notice to be given
of the substance of the said further notification at convenientplaces on or
near the land to be acquired.
Section 5A. Hearing of objections.-(1) Any person
interested in any land which has been notified under section 5 as being needed
or likely to be needed for public purpose or for a company may, within thirty
days after the issue of the notification, object to the acquisition of the land
or of any land in the locality, as the case may be." The learned
Advocate-General argued that a combined reading of ss. 4, 5 and 5A indicates
that the direction in the second part of s. 4 that the Collector shall cause
public notice of the substance of the notification to be given at convenient
places in the said locality was only directory.
He pointed out that s. 4 contemplated only a
notification in general. terms and that under s. 5(2), after the Collector
ascertained the necessary particulars, the Government had to issue a fresh
notification giving sufficient description of the land intended to be acquired
along with a plan, if one had been made, and also to cause a public notice to
be given of the substance of the said notification at convenient places on or
near the land to be acquired. As two notices were contemplated by the Act one
in general terms and another with specifications-and as both the notices should
be published and their substance should be notified at convenient places, the
argument proceeded, that the direction to cause a public notice of the
substance of the notification to be given at convenient places in the said
locality under s. 4 was only directory, for the party would get under the later
notification better particulars and thus he would not in any way be prejudiced.
This argument was not accepted by the High
Court, and, in our view, rightly. The provisions of a statute conferring power
on the Government to compulsorily acquire lands shall be strictly construed.
Section 4 in clear terms says that the Collector shalt cause public notice of
the substance of such notification to be given at convenient places in the said
locality. The provision is mandatory in terms.
Doubtless, under certain circumstances, the
expression "shall" is construed as "may". The term
"shalt" in its ordinary significance is mandatory and the court shall
ordinarily give that interpretation to that term unless such an interpretation
leads to some absurd or inconvenient consequence or be it variance with the intent
of the legislature, to be collected from other parts of the Act.
The construction of the said expression,
depends on the provisions of a particular Act, the setting in 125 which the
expression appears, the object for which the direction is given, the
consequences that would flow from the infringement of the direction and such
other considerations. The object underlying the said direction in s. 4 is
obvious. Under sub-s. (2) of s. 4 of the Act, after such a notice was given,
the officer authorised by the Government in that behalf could enter the land
and interfere with the possession of the owner in the manner prescribed
thereunder. The Legislature thought that it was absolutely necessary that
before such officer can enter the land of another, the owner thereof should
have a clear notice of the intended entry. The fact that the owner may have
notice of the particulars of the intended acquisition under s. 5(2) does not
serve the purpose of s. 4, for such a notice shall be given after the
appropriate officer or officers enter the land and submit the particulars
mentioned in s. 4. The objects of the two sections are different : the object
of one section is to give intimation to the person whose land is sought to be
acquired, of the intention of the officer to enter his land before he does so
and that of the other is to enable him to know the particulars of the land
which is sought to be acquired. In the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (Central Act
1 of 1894) there is no section corresponding to s. 5(2) of the Act. Indeed
sub-s. (2) of s. 5 of -the Act was omitted by Act 15 of 1960 and s. 5A was
suitably amended to bring the said provision in conformity with those of
Central Act 1 of 1894. Whatever may be said on the question of construction
after the said amendment-on which we do not express any opinion-before the
amendment, ss. 4 and 5(2) were intended to serve different purposes.
Indeed, the wording of s. 4 (2) of the Act
leads to the same conclusion. It says, "thereupon it shall be lawful for
any officer, generally or specially authorised by the Government in this
behalf, and for his servants and workmen to enter upon and survey and take
levels of any land in such locality........... The expressions
"thereupon" and "shall be lawful" indicate that unless such
a public notice is given, the officer or his servants cannot ,enter the land.
It is a necessary condition for the exercise
of the power of entry. The non-compliance with the said condition makes the
entry of the officer or his servants unlawful. On the express terms of sub-s.
(2), the officer or his servants can enter the land to be acquired only if that
condition is complied with. If it is not complied with, he or his servants
cannot exercise the power of entry under s. 4 (2), with the result that if the
expression " shall" is construed as "may", the object of
the sub-section itself will be defeated. The statutory intention is, therefore
clear, namely, that the giving of public notice is mandatory. If so, the
notification issued under s. 4 without complying with the said mandatory
direction would be void and the land acquisition proceedings taken pursuant
thereto would be equally void.
126 Reliance is placed by the learned
Advocate-General on the decision of this Court in Babu Barkya Thakur v. The
State of Bombay(1). There, the notification under s. 4 did not say specifically
that the land sought to be acquired was needed for a public purpose, but it
gave the necessary details in regard to the purpose for which the land was
sought to be acquired. It was argued that the non-mention of the expression
"public purpose" invalidated. the notification.
Dealing with the argument, this Court
What was a mere proposal under s. 4 becomes
the subject matter of a definite proceeding for acquisitions under the Act.
Hence, it is not correct to say that any defect in the notification under s. 4
is fatal to the validity of the proceedings, particularly when the acquisition
is for a Company and the purpose has to be investigated under s. 5A or s. 40
necessarily after the notification under s. 4 of the Act." In that case a
formal defect was sought to be relied upon to invalidate the notice and this
Court did not accept the contention, But it cannot be an authority for the
position that, if a public notice of the notification was not given as
prescribed by s. 4, it can be ignored. That would be rewriting the section.
The decision of this Court in Smt. Somavanti
v, The State of Punjab(2) is also beside the point. The argument advanced
therein was that the notification under s. 6 should succeed the notification
under s. 4 and that it could not be legally published in the same issue of the
Gazette. Dealing with that argument, this Court observed:
"In the case before us the preliminary
declaration under s. 4 (1) was made on August 18, 1961, and a declaration as to
the satisfaction of the Government on August 19, 1961, though both of them were
published in the Gazette of August 25, 1961. The preliminary declaration as
well as the subsequent declaration are both required by law to be published in
the official gazette.
But the law does not make the prior
publication of notification under sub-s. (1) of s. 4 a condition precedent to
the publication of a notification under sub-s. (1) of S. 6." On the said
ground the contention was rejected. This decision also has no bearing on the
point raised before us Indeed the following observation made by this Court in
the course (1) (1961] 1 S.C.R. 128, 140.
(2)  2 S.C.R., 774,823, 822.
127 of the judgment, to some extent, goes
against the contention of the respondent:
"A notification under sub-s. (1) of s. 4
is a condition precedent to the making of notification under sub-s. (1) of s.
6." In the present case, the High Court, as we have expressed earlier
rightly held that the provision for public notice was mandatory but disallowed
the objection on the ground that it was rather belated, We find it difficult to
appreciate the said reasoning. This is not a case where a party, who submitted
himself to the jurisdiction of a tribunal, raised the plea of want of
jurisdiction when the decision went 'against him; but this is a case where the
appellants questioned the jurisdiction of the tribunal from the outset and
refused to take part in the proceedings.
Though the notification under s. 4 was
published in the Rajasthan Gazette on February 14, 1957, Award No. I was made
on December 11, 1959 and Award No. 2, on June 27, 1960. The appellants say that
they came to know that the awards were made only on September 15, 1960, and
they filed the petition on October 26, 1960. It 'cannot, therefore, be said
that there was such an inordinate delay as to preclude the appellants from
invoking the jurisdiction of the High Court under Art. 226 of the Constitution.
In this view, it is not necessary to express
our opinion on the other two questions raised by the learned counsel for the
In the result, the appellants will be
entitled to a writ of prohibition restraining the respondents from giving
effect to the said two awards. The order of the High Court is set aside and the
writ petition filed by the appellant is allowed with costs here and in the
V.P.S. Appeal allowed.