Collector, Ongole & Anr Vs. Narra Venkateswarlu & Ors  INSC 746 (28 November 1995)
K. Ramaswamy, K.Majmudar S.B. (J)
1996 SCC (7) 150 JT 1995 (9) 63 1995 SCALE (7)246
O R D
appeals by special leave arise from the judgment and order of the Division
Bench of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh, dated August 8, 1985, made in Writ Appeal Nos.302- 03 of 1985. A notification
under s.4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act was initially published on April 15, 1983.
same was subsequently withdrawn and fresh notification was published on June 9, 1983. The respondents challenged the
validity of the notification in two writ petitions. The learned single Judge by
his order dated February
1, 1985 quashed the
notification on the ground of colourableexercise of power by the authorities.
On appeal before the Division Bench, one of the learned Judges upheld the order
of the learned single Judge on the ground of non-application of mind by the
Collector himself, since the acquisition was made by the Collector on the
recommendation made by the Government. The second ground was that the
administrative instructions for obtaining Prior permission from the Government
for making the award when the value exceeds Rs.20,000/- per acre were not
obtained. Another learned Judge has affirmed the order on the ground that the
Prior permission of the Government was not obtained for making the award. Thus
these appeals by special leave.
G. Prabhakar, learned counsel for the appellant contended that the notification
validly issued by the Collector who is the competent authority to issue
notification under s.4(1) of the Act, cannot be whittled down by the
non-consideration of the administrative instructions issued by the Government
nor absence of Prior approval is a ground to declare the valid notification as
invalid one. Shri R.N. Keshwani, learned counsel for the respondents
strenuously contended that attempts were made by the Sarpanch to get the
Property in Survey No.25/10 by successive litigations. There was no Proposal
for acquiring the land for the weaker sections. The Collector in a cryptic
order has mentioned that the land could be acquired for weaker sections without
any Proposal for acquiring the land for weaker sections. Exercise of the Power
under s.4(1) is a colorable exercise of Power vested in the Collector. The
learned single Judge, therefore, rightly has gone into that question.
Accordingly, he made his valient efforts to convince us to agree with the
learned single Judge on the colorable exercise of the Power and to uphold the
order quashing the notification under s.4(1) of the Act.
given careful consideration, we are of the opinion that the argument of Shri Prabhakar,
learned counsel for the appellant is acceptable. It is seen that admittedly the
notification under s.4(1) was Published by the Collector for acquiring the land
for the weaker sections, The Collector had been empowered to acquire the land
for the weaker sections, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. It is true that
initially there was an attempt by the Sarpanch to have the land acquired for
Housing Cooperative Society.
the members of the Cooperative Society belonged to the forward sections of the
society, the land could not be acquired. The Collector also did not accede to
suggested to acquire some another land but that was not accepted by the Joint
Collector. The file had gone to the Collector and ultimately the Government had
accepted the Proposal to acquire the land in question for the weaker sections.
It may be true that some of the persons to whom the allotment was to be made
belonged to the forward sections of the society but that does not take away the
initial exercise of the Power by the Collector. As stated earlier, the
Collector is the competent authority to exercise the Power under s.4(1) of the
Act. The notification does indicate that the land was acquired for Public
purpose, namely, providing houses to the weaker sections of the society. Even
the recommendations made by the Government after the protracted litigation were
for acquiring the land for weaker sections. Thus the acquisition being only for
the weaker sections of the society, it constitutes a "Public purpose"
as defined under the Act by virtue of the local amendment made to s.17(1) of
next question is whether the learned Judges of the Division Bench were
justified in upholding the quashing of the notification on different grounds.
It is seen that the Collector had formed the opinion that the land was required
for public purpose, namely, providing houses to the weaker sections of the
society. The question of non-application of mind does not arise. It is obvious
that after consideration of the material before the Collector, the Collector
formed the opinion that the land was required for public purpose.
direction of the Government was after protracted litigation and to avoid
further litigation, Government had directed to acquire the land. It would not
mean that the Collector had abdicated his Power under s.4(1). It is true that
the Government had issued instructions for obtaining Prior permission of the
Government, if the value of the land was more that Rs.20,000/- per acre, the
Prior permission of the Government in that behalf is necessary. The
administrative instructions, no doubt, bind the subordinates but the violation
thereof does not constitute an infirmity in the acquisition of the land itself.
It is true that the Government could take appropriate disciplinary action
against the officials but it does not constitute infirmity in the valid
exercise of the Power under s.4(1) and declaration under s.6 of the Act.
not disputed that the one of the learned Judges has recorded the findings that
no colorable exercise of the Power by the Collector was established from
record. Though the learned single Judge has held that the acquisition amounts
to colorable exercise of the Power since one of the learned Judges has held
that there was no colorable exercise of Power and there is no disagreement by
the another Judge, it must be inferred that the Division Bench has not accepted
the finding of the learned single Judge that the acquisition was vitiated by a
colorable exercise of Power. Even otherwise when we have seen that the
Government had directed the Collector to consider the acquisition for weaker
sections and the Collector had validly exercised the Power under s.4(1) of the
Act by no stretch of imagination, it could be said that it is a colorable
exercise of the Power.
appeals are allowed. The orders of the High Court are set aside and the writ
Petition stands dismissed but in the circumstances, without costs.
made clear that if any allotment is made to any person other than those
belonging to the weaker sections, the Collector should take immediate action
against these persons and cancel the allotments. In other words, allotments
should be made only to the persons belonging to the weaker sections in terms of
the notification and Government instructions in that behalf.
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