Union of India & Ors Vs. Shakuntala
Gupta (Dead) by Lrs  Insc 363 (27 August 2002)
Pal & Arijit Pasayat Ruma Pal, J
respondent claims to be the owner of premises known as Grand Hotel which is
situated at 2, Under Hill Road, Delhi. On 3rd April,
1980, a portion of the
premises had been requisitioned by the petitioners under the Requisition &
Acquisition of Immovable Property Act, 1952. The 1952 Act lapsed on 10th March, 1987. On 6th March, 1987 a notification was issued under Section 4 of the Land
Acquisi1tion Act, 1894 (hereinafter referred to as the Act'.) which reads as
No.F.7 (9)/86- L&B (1) Whereas it appears to the Lt. Governor Delhi that
the lands/properties are likely to be required to be taken by the Government at
the public expense for the following public purposes. It is hereby notified
that the land in the locality described below is liked to be required for the
notification is made under the provisions of Section 4 of the Land Acquisition
Act to all whom it may concern.
exercise of the powers conferred by the aforesaid section the Lt. Governor is
pleased to authorise the officers for the time being engaged in the undertaking
with their servants and workmen to enter upon and survey any land in the locality
and do all other acts required or permitted by that section.
Lt. Governor, being of the opinion that the provisions of sub-section (1) of
section 17 of the Act are applicable to this land is further pleased under
sub-section 4 of the said section, to direct that the provisions of Section 5-A
shall not apply".
notification goes on to list 14 properties under the heading 'Specification' to
which the notification would apply.
from the description, the purpose of acquisition in respect of each of the
properties specified has been set out in a separate column. Against item 7 of
the Specification, 11.740 sq. meters of 2, Under Hill Road Delhi (referred to
hereafter as the 'premises') has been mentioned, and the purpose of acquisition
stated is "Housing the Government Office". A notification under
Section 6 of the Act was issued in respect of all fourteen properties on 10th March, 1987.
respondent challenged the notification issued under Section 4 as well as the
declaration under Section 6 of the Act under Article 226 of the Constitution
before the High Court at Delhi. The owner of one of the premises
similarly specified in the impugned notifications, namely Banwari Lal and Sons
Pvt. Ltd., (Banwari Lal ) also filed a writ application in the High Court
impugning the notifications inter alia on the ground that there was no urgency
which justified the Governor to dispense with the right of the owner to object
under Section 5A of the Act.
Lal's writ application was allowed on 4th February, 1991 and the impugned notifications were
quashed. The High Court upheld the several contentions of Banwari Lal including
the issue of urgency . The Division Bench of the High Court set aside the
acquisition proceedings on three bases:
".. There is not a whisper of what was the urgency to take immediate
possession and to deny the right of raising objection to the owner under
Section 5-A of the Act.
Notification under Sections 4 and 17(1) in the present case, therefore, stand
vitiated for non-compliance of the requirement of mentioning urgency in the
"What is more objectionable is the fact that the building was already in
occupation of the officers of the Delhi Administration and the Administration
knew that the Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Properties Act was to
lapse on 10.3.1987. Thus they had sufficient time to make alternate arrangement
for the residence of the officers and there was no urgency whatsoever for
invoking the provisions of the laxity or lethargy of the Administration to take
appropriate steps in time for making available alternate accommodation for its
"The Notification under Section 17(1) is also bad in law for non
compliance of the requirement of Sub-section 3-A of Section 17 of the Land
Acquisition Act. The said Sub-Section mandates the Collector to tender payment
of 80 per cent of the compensation for the land, as estimated by him before
taking possession of the land." The High Court also appointed an Ex-Chief
Justice of the Delhi High Court as an Arbitrator to determine the damages
payable by the Delhi Administration to Banwari Lal.
decision in Banwari Lal's case was impugned before this Court by the
petitioners by way of an application for special leave to appeal. The application
was dismissed by this Court on 21st March, 1991 by the following order:
the facts and circumstances of the case we do not find any good ground to
interfere with the impugned order of the High Court.
Special Leave Petition is accordingly dismissed.
we have dismissed the petition but having regard to the facts that public
servants are residing in the premises in dispute and their immediate
dispossession may cause injury to public interest, we allow the petitioners to
continue in possession till 31.3.93 provided the petitioners file an
undertaking in this Court within three weeks with usual conditions to hand over
vacant possession on or before 31.3.93. We further make it clear the Arbitrator
appointed by the High Court may give award and the same may be filed before the
High Court for appropriate orders".
not in dispute that the petitioners have since vacated Banwari Lal's premises
pursuant to the order of this Court.
respondent's writ application the decision in Banwari Lal's case was followed
by the High Court. While disposing of the respondent's writ application, the
Division Bench also appointed a retired Judge of the Delhi High Court to
determine the damages, if any, payable to respondent by the petitioners.
petitioners impugned the decision of the High Court before this Court. On 19th January 1998, leave was granted.
was issued on the application of the petitioners on stay and the operation of
the impugned order was stayed in the meanwhile. On 8th May 2000, the appeal was directed to be expedited. It appears from
the records that the appeal was duly listed for hearing at least on 9th August, 2000. However, from time to time the
matter was adjourned. Ultimately on 14th November 2000, the appeal was disposed of by a
reasoned order, the relevant extract of which is quoted:
High Court quashed the impugned notification by following its earlier decision
in Banwari Lal & Sons V. Union of India decided on 4th
February, 1991 in
which this very notification was quashed. It is not in dispute that subject
matter including the notification under Land Acquisition were the same except
that in Banwari Lal it was the Government housing for the officers while in the
present case it is housing for the offices.
said decision of the High Court stood confirmed when this Court dismissed the
SLP filed by the Union of India. We do not find any sustainable ground raised
in the present appeal to make any distinct(ion) or difference from the one in
the case of Banwari Lal & Sons. Accordingly, there is no error committed by
the High Court in making the decision and dismissing the same.
the present appeal has no merits and it is dismissed." The petitioners
then made an application for recalling the order dismissing the appeal on the
ground that they were not heard before the appeal was disposed of. On 10th January 2001, the petitioners' prayer that the
application for recalling the order dated 14th November 2000 may be treated as a review petition
was allowed and notice was issued on the review application on 17th January 2001.
this Review application which is now being disposed of. It was submitted by the
Learned Solicitor General appearing o+n behalf of the petitioners that the
principles of law enunciated in Banwari Lal's case no longer hold the field.
Reliance was placed on the decisions of this Court in Aflatoon vs. Lt. Governor
of Delhi (1975 (4) SCC 285) ; Deepak Pahwa
Etc. vs. Lt. Governor of Delhi and Ors. (1985 (1) SCR 588) ; Satendra Prasad
Jain and Others vs. State of U.P. and
Others (1993 (4) SCC 369); Chameli Singh and Others vs. State of U.P. and Anr. (1996 (2) SCC 449) to contend that the
decision in Banwari Lal's case was wrong. It was therefore submitted that the
decision of the High Court to quash the impugned notifications by following Banwari
Lal's decision was erroneous.
Jaitley, learned senior counsel appearing for the respondent, has on the other
hand submitted that the review petition itself was not maintainable at all as
there was no error apparent on the face of the record. It was further submitted
that the same notification stood quashed in Banwari Lal's case and that since
the impugned notification had been quashed on a general ground which did not
specifically relate to a particular petitioner, the quashing of the
notification must enure to the benefit of all persons affected by that
notification. Reliance has been placed on Abhey Ram vs. Union of India (1997(5)
SCC 421) and Delhi Administration vs. Gurdip Singh Uban and Others (2000(7) SCC
296) in this connection. Several other decisions were also cited to contend
that the provisions of Section 17(4) of the Act had been improperly invoked in
the circumstances of this case. It was also submitted that since 1996 the
petitioners had made no payment whatsoever in respect of the premises and in
fact were not utilising the premises which were in a state of utter disrepair
and occupied by encroachers.
matter has been argued extensively. We therefore do not propose to reject the
application on the ground that the review application should not at all be
entertained. It is also not necessary to consider whether the decision in Banwari
Lal correctly enunciates the principles of law as to acquisitions under Section
17 of the Act as we are of the view that the order of this Court dated 14th
November, 2000 was, in the circumstances of the case, correct.
appears that the petitioners have proceeded on the basis that the acquisition
sought to be affected by the impugned notification under Section 4 had been
invalidated in respect of other specified properties by the decision of this
Court in Banwari Lal's case. The statement in the respondent's affidavit that
several of the properties covered by the same notification have since been
returned by the petitioners to the original owners has not been disputed by the
petitioners. Furthermore, the High Court in the decision impugned before us has
is also not disputed that under the impugned notifications neither an award has
been made nor any compensation is determined and paid. The reason being that
the impugned notifications were quashed and set aside in Banwari Lal's case
(supra)." Indeed no compensation as envisaged under Section 17 (3A) of the
Act has been offered to the respondent by the petitioners till now.
event the order dated 14th
November, 2000 was not
legally erroneous. The notification under Section 4 was a composite one. The
"opinion" of the Lt. Governor that the provisions of Section 17(1) of
the Act were applicable, as expressed in the last paragraph of the impugned
notification, was relatable in general to the 14 properties specified in the
notification. The impugned notification was quashed in Banwari Lal's case inter
alia on the ground that the "opinion" of the Lt. Governor as
expressed in the notification was insufficient for the purpose of invoking the
provisions of Section 17(1) of the Act.
ground was not peculiar to the premises in Banwarilal's case, but common to all
fourteen properties. The urgency sought to be expressed in the impugned
notification cannot be held to be sufficient for the purposes of section 17 (1)
in this case when it has already been held to be bad in Banwari Lal's case .
The expression of urgency being one cannot be partly good and partly bad like
the curate's egg. It must follow that the acquisition in respect of the
respondent's premises as mentioned in the notification which were sought to be
acquired on the basis of such invalid expression of "urgency" cannot
therefore dismiss the review application without any order as to costs.