Prakash, Vs. Union of India  INSC 311 (3 November 1987)
S. RANGNATHAN, S.
1988 AIR 350 1988 SCR (1) 761 1988 SCC (1) 356 JT 1987 (4) 330 1987 SCALE
Acquisition Act, 1894-Whether the Lt. Governor of Delhi is competent to issue
notification under section 4(1) thereof for the acquisition of lands for
planned development of Delhi-Effect of the enactment of the Delhi Development
Act 1957 on the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act.
petitioners challenged before the High Court the validity of a notification
issued by the Lt. Governor of Delhi for the acquisition of lands in Delhi for
"planned development of Delhi". The High Court decided against the
petitioners. The petitioners moved this court by special leave. Notice was
issued by the Court to the respondents on a limited point-whether the Lt.
Governor is competent to issue a notification under section 4(1) of the Land
Acquisition Act, 1894 for the acquisition of the lands for the "planned
development of Delhi." Dismissing the petitions for special leave, the
Considering the notifications dated 19.8.1954, 1.11.56 and 7-9-66 issued by the
Ministry of Home Affairs of the Government of India under Article 239 (1) of
the Constitution of India, the Lt. Governor of Delhi is entitled to exercise
the powers of the Central Government in Delhi under the provisions of the Land
Acquisition Act and he was competent to issue the notification impugned. The
argument that after the enactment of the Delhi Development Act, 1957, the
provisions of the Land Acquisition Act are no longer relevant in the present
context and the Lt. Governor has no jurisdiction or competence to issue the
notification in question, is not right. It is no doubt true that the Delhi
Development Act makes a separate mention of the Central Government and the
Administrator of the Union Territory and demarcates some functions between the
Central Government and the Administrator, but there can be no doubt that in the
context of section 15 of the Delhi Development Act, it would not be correct to
understand these two expressions in different senses. The Delhi Development Act
does not 762 destroy but only supplements the Land Acquisition Act.
767G] Express Newspapers Pvt. Ltd & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors.
 Supp. 3 SCR 382, referred to.
Appellate Jurisdiction: Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 363 l of 1987.
the Judgment and order dated 11.12.1986 of the Delhi High Court in C.W. No.
1943 of 1986.
Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 4321 of 1987.
the Judgment and order dated 5.3.1987 of the Delhi High Court in R.A. No. 8 of
1987 in W.P. No. 2013 of 1986 B.R.L. Iyenger, Mrs. Lalitha Kaushik and Naresh
Kaushik for the Petitioner.
Saharya for the Respondents.
Judgment of the Court was delivered by RANGANATHAN, J. In both these matters,
notice was given to the respondent on a limited point: whether the Lt.
of Delhi to competent is issue a notification under section 4(1) of the Land
Acquisition Act. 1894 ('the 1894 Act'), to acquire hand "for the planned
development of Delhi". That is the ground on which, inter alia, the
petitioners unsuccessfully challenged before the High Court the validity of a
notification dated 27.1.1984 issued by the Lt. Governor of Delhi (as the Head
of the Delhi Administration) for the acquisition of about 3550 hectares of land
situated in Delhi. We have, therefore, heard counsel on this limited question.
4(1) of the 1894 Act, insofar as it is relevant, reads as follows:
it appears to the appropriate 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 official Gazette 763 Section 3(ee) of the same Act
defines "appropriate Government" A as follows:
this Act, unless there is something repugnant in the subject or context- (ee)
the expression "appropriate Government" means, in relation to
acquisition of land for the purposes of the Union, the Central Government, and,
in relation to acquisition of land for any other purposes, the State
reference should also be made, in this context, to notifications issued under
Article 23(1) of the Constitution of India by the Ministry of Home Affairs of
the Government of India on 19.8.1954, 1.11.1956 and 7.9.1966. The cumulative
effect of these notifications is that the Lt.
of the Union Territory of Delhi is entitled to exercise the powers and
discharge the functions of the Central Government under the provisions of the
1894 Act within the Union Territory of Delhi. There is no doubt, considering
the provisions of the 1894 Act and the above notifications, that the Lt.
Governor of Delhi was fully competent to issue the notification dated
argument addressed on behalf of the petitioners, however, is that, after the
enactment of the Delhi Development Act, 1957 (the 1957 Act'), the provisions of
the 1894 Act are no longer relevant in the present context. It is submitted
that the expression "planned development of Delhi" can and does
envisage the development of Delhi only in accordance with the provisions of the
Master Plan and the Zonal Plans drawn up under the 1957 Act. Under the said
Act, the full responsibility of drawing up plans for the development of Delhi
as well as executing the same in several phases is vested in the Central
Government. Sec. 15 of the Act, makes it clear that this takes in also the
acquisition of Lands for such planned development. It reads:
15 Compulsory acquisition of land- (1) If in the opinion of the Central
Government, any land is required for the purpose of development, or for any
other purpose, under this Act, the Central Government may acquire such land 764
under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. (1 of 1894).
Where any land has been acquired by the Central Government, that Government
may, after it has taken possession of the land, transfer the land to the
Authority or any local authority for the purpose for which the land has been
acquired on payment by the Authority or the local authority of the compensation
awarded under that Act and of the charges incurred by the Government in
connection with the acquisition." It is argued that while the
notifications under Article 239 of the Constitution may have delegated the
power of acquisition under the second part of s. 15(1) to the Lt.
they do not affect the Central Government's jurisdiction under the first part
to take a decision that certain lands are needed for the purposes of the Act.
The argument that land acquisition in Delhi for planned development is the
'business' of the Central Government is sought to be reinforced by reference to
the Allocation of Business Rules, 1961, made by the President under Article
77(3) of the Constitution of India. These rules enumerate the following items
as falling within the purview of the Ministry of Works & Housing in the
Schemes of large scale acquisition, development and disposal of land in Delhi.
Delhi Development Authority.
Master Plan of Delhi, Co-ordination of work in respect of the Master Plan and
slum clearance in the Union Territory of Delhi.
Administration of the Delhi Development Act, 1957.
this shows, according to the learned counsel, that the Lt. Governor has no
jurisdiction or competence to issue the impugned notification.
is ex facie, a very plausible reply to the petitioner's arguments based on s.
15 of the 1957 Act. It is this: that the expression "Central
Government" in s. 15 of the 1957 Act has to be understood in 765 the light
of the definition contained in s. 3(8) of the General Clauses Act, 1897. That
In this Act, and in all Central Acts and Regulations made after the
commencement of this Act, unless there is anything repugnant in the subject or
context, XX XX XX (8) 'Central Government' shall- (a) ...............
in relation to anything done or to be done after the commencement of the
Constitution, mean the President; and shall include- (i) in relation to
functions entrusted under clause (1) of Article 258 of the Constitution to the
Government of a State, the State Government acting within the scope of the
authority given to it under that clause;
relation to the administration of a Union Territory, the administration thereof
acting within the scope of the authority given to him under Article 239 of the
Constitution." It, therefore, follows, it can be said that, even under
this provision, the jurisdiction to acquire lands rests only in the Lt.
Governor of Delhi. Anticipating this reply counsel for petitioners urges that
the definition in the General Clauses Act is inapplicable in the context of
the Delhi Development Act. It is said that throughout this Act there runs a
clear demarcation between the Central Government on the one hand and the
Administrator of the Union Territory on the other. Reference is made to s. 30,
41 and 52 of the 1957 Act and it is urged, in the light of these provisions,
that the reference to the Central Government in s. 15 should be construed as a
reference only to the Central Government and not to the Administrator (i.e.
Governor) of the Union Territory.
A counter affidavit had been filed on behalf of the Delhi Development Authority
(DDA) which contained an annexure which would have provided a direct answer to
the contentions urged on behalf of the petitioners. This answer is a
notification dated 14.2.69, issued by the Central Government under s. 52(2) of
the 1957 Act. By this notification, the Central Government directs that the
powers of that Government under the provisions of the 1957 Act mentioned in the
Schedule thereto annexed would, subject to the control of the Central
Government and until further orders, also be exercised by the Administrator of
the Union Territory of Delhi. 11 items are mentioned in the Schedule.
these, the powers in regard to item 2 of the Schedule alone have to be
exercised by the Administrator with the prior approval of the Central
Government. The others, which include powers in regard to s. 15(item 6) can be
exercised by the Administrator even without such prior approval. This
notification places it beyond doubt that the powers of the Central Government
under section 15 can be exercised by the Lt. Governor of Delhi. Both the power
to form an opinion under the first part of s. 15(1) and the power of
acquisition under the second part are comprehended by this notification. This notification,
therefore, would have furnished a complete answer to the contentions urged on
behalf of the petitioners. Unfortunately, it appears, the notification was only
at the draft stage and was never gazetted. We have, therefore, to leave this
notification out of account.
even otherwise, we are of the opinion that Lt.
was quite competent to issue the notification in question. It is no doubt true
that the 1957 Act makes separate mention of the Central Government and the
Administrator and demarcates some functions between the Central Government on
the one hand and the State Government or the Administrator on the other. But,
whatever may be the position in regard to other provisions, there can be no
doubt that, in the con text of section 15, it would not be correct to
understand these two expressions in different senses. We say this because on
reading of s. 15(1) it is the obvious intention of the Legislature that the
same authority should exercise its functions under both the parts of the sub-section.
If the sub-section is read in the manner in which the petitioners seek to read
it, the working of the section would become impracticable and cumbersome.
According to them, the Central Government will first to have form an opinion
that certain lands are required for the purposes of planned development of
Delhi under the Act; thereafter this opinion has to be communicated to the Lt.
Governor who, in view of the delegation of powers under Article 239 of the
Constitution which we have referred to earlier, will have to apply his 767 mind
once again to the same question before he can issue a notification under
section 4 of the 1894 Act. This is a duplication of functions which could not
have been within the contemplation of the Legislature. The provision requires
the satisfaction of only one authority and since the powers of the Central
Government under the 1894 Act have been delegated to the Lt. Governor, the
expression 'Central Government' will have to be understood in the same sense
for the first part of the sub-section as well. The Allocation of Business Rules
relied on by counsel, have no relevance in this context. They only provide
that, when any of the items mentioned (such as DDA, master plan, the 1957 Act,
or acquisition etc. Of properties in Delhi) comes up for the consideration of
the Central Government, it will have to be dealt within the Ministry of Works
& Housing. They are quite consistent with the position that even the powers
delegated to the Lt. Governor are exercisable by him only subject to the
control and further orders of the President. They cannot be understood as
negative the competence of the Lt.
to deal with the subject-matter in question.
assuming that the petitioners are right in their interpretation of s. 15(1), the
competence of the Lt. Governor to issue the impugned notification can be upheld
on another ground. The provisions of the 1894 Act clearly empower the Lt.
Governor to acquire the lands for the planned development of Delhi, which, it
is now settled law, is clearly a public purpose. That competence cannot be
denied without some express provision in some statute. Both the 1894 Act and
1957 Act are Central enactments. Granting that the 1957 Act desired to empower
the Central Government to acquire lands in Delhi for the purposes of the said
Act and even granting that such power has to be exercised through the Lt.
Governor because of the notification under Article 239(1), such power can also
stand size by side with the wider power of the Lt. Governor to acquire lands
for a public purpose. There is nothing in the 1957 Act which prohibits the Lt.
Governor taking such steps as he desires, under the powers available to him, to
carry out the planned development of Delhi in consonance with the plans
approved or finalised under the 1957 Act. Viewed in this light, the powers of
the Lt. Governor under section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act can be read as
additional to the powers of the Central Government under the Delhi Development
Act. The 1957 Act does not destroy but only supplements the 1894 Act.
is the view taken by the High Court and we agree with it.
counsel referred to certain decisions. We do not think it is necessary to refer
to them in detail except to say that the decision in H 768 the Express Newspapers
Pvt. Ltd. & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors.,  Supplement 3 SCR 382
relied upon for the petitioner is clearly distinguishable and it related to a
case regarding the powers of the Delhi Administration in regard to lands
belonging to the Union.
the reasons discussed above, we reject the contention urged on behalf of the
petitioners. The Special Leave Petitions fail and are dismissed. We, however,
make no order as to costs.