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P.Venkatarama Reddy v. The Special Tahsildar - Writ Petition No.1203 of 2001  RD-TN 229 (19 March 2003)
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT MADRAS
THE HONOURABLE MR.JUSTICE D.MURUGESAN
Writ Petition No.1203 of 2001
P.Venkatarama Reddy ..... Petitioner -Vs-
1. The Special Tahsildar
Adi Dravidar Welfare
2. The District Collector
Tiruvallur. ..... Respondents Prayer: Petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, praying to issue a writ of Certiorari, as stated therein. For Petitioner : Mr.M.S.Subramanian
For Respondents : Mr.T.Koikilavani
The petitioner is the owner of the Punja land measuring 3.05.0 Hectare and 0.72.5 Hectare of Nanja lands in No.39, Ayyaneri (East) Village of Pallipattu Taluk.
2. By the impugned 4(1) Notification dated 18.09.2000, published in Thiruvallur District gazette dated 13.11.2000 and the consequential notice by the first respondent issued in Form-III dated 04.01.2001, certain extent of land belonging to the petitioner is sought to be acquired under Act 31 of 1978 for the purpose of construction of house site for Adi Dravidas.
3. In this writ petition, the petitioner has challenged the above 4(1) Notification and the Form-III notice on the ground that the petitioner was not given show cause notice prior to the gazette publication as contemplated under Section 4(2) of the Tamil Nadu Acquisition of Land for Harijan Welfare Scheme Act, 1978 read with Rule 3 of the Tamil Nadu Acquisition of Land for Harijan Welfare Scheme Rules 1979, herein after called "the Act".
4. In support of the said submission, the learned counsel would rely upon the judgments reported in 2000 (3) L.W 517 (T.M.Lakshmiah Vs. The Collector of Dharmapuri District, Dharmapuri and Special Tahsildar, Adi Dravidar Welfare, Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri District) and in 1996 WLR 28 (N.Loganathan Vs. The Special Tahsildar, A.D.W. Tiruvellore).
5. The first respondent, The Special Tahsildar, Adi Dravidar Welfare, Tiruthani filed counter in which it is stated that notice issued to the petitioner in Form-I was refused on 10.03.2000. A further notice was sent on 10.03.2000 by Registered Post which was returned to the first respondent office undelivered. Hence, the grievance of the petitioner that the Form-I notice was not served is not factually correct. Though some other points are also raised by the learned counsel for the petitioner, I do not propose to deal with those points in view of the disposal of the writ petition on the first point itself.
6. "The Act" is expropriatory in nature. After Notification under Section 4(1) of the Act, no opportunity is contemplated for hearing the owner of the land. However, such opportunity is contemplated under Section 4(2) of the Act read with Rule 3(1) of the Rules requiring the Officer authorized by the District Collector to serve a show cause notice in Form-I individually on the owner or on all persons interested in the lands to be acquired. The Act contemplates only a personal notice. The only safeguard to the land owner to put-forth any objection is by way of responding to the show cause notice served on him under Section 4(2) of the Act read with Rule 3(1) of the Rules. In that way, the issue of show cause notice assumes importance. In the absence of such notice, the acquisition proceedings cannot be sustained as has been held by the two Judgments referred supra.
7. Keeping the above in mind, the facts of the case have to be looked into. It is the specific grievance of the petitioner that Form-I notice was not served personally on the petitioner before Notification under Section 4(1) of the Act. Though the said submission is disputed by the respondents on the ground that the petitioner refused such a notice on 10.03.2000, the endorsement to the effect that the petitioner has refused to receive the notice itself is disputed by the petitioner. It is seen that Form - I notice issued under Rule 3(1) of the Rules was signed by the Special Tahsildar on 13.02.2000. There is absolutely no endorsement as to the dates on which attempts were made to serve the notice on the petitioner from 13.02.2000 till 10.03.2000 on which date an endorsement by the Village Administrative Officer is made that the petitioner has refused to receive the notice on the ground he has disposed the land to one Raghavan. Factually it is not correct as the properties sought to be acquired were ever sold by the petitioner to Raghavan. Notice issued to land owners by names Raghavan and Kallan was acknowledged by one D.Raghavan. Except the signature of the Raghavan, I do not find any date of the service of the notice.
8.It is the further case of the respondents that on 10.03.2000 itself, Form-I notice was sent to the petitioner by registered post which was sought to be served on him on 11.03.2000, 14.03.2000, 15.03.2000 and 16.03.2000 and finally it was returned undelivered on 18.03.2000 . The Act does not contemplate service of notice by registered post. However, there is no explanation as to what prompted the respondent to send a copy of the notice by registered post on 10.03.2000, when the endorsement of the Village Administrative Officer dated 10.03.20 00 said to have been made to the effect that the petitioner has refused to receive the notice.
9. With the above background, the endorsement dated 10.03.2000 should be considered. In the teeth of the provision of Section 4(2) of the Act and Rule 3(1) of the Rules, opportunity to file objections cannot be dispensed with in any manner. When once Notification under Section 4(1) is issued, question of further opportunity to the land owner does not arise. In the circumstances, the obligation on the part of the respondent to take every effort to serve the notice cannot be dispensed with lightly by making an attempt once and returning the notice with an endorsement that the land owner has refused. When the notice by registered post sent on 10.03.2000 is sought to be served on the petitioner for almost five days, no explanation is forthcoming as to why the notice signed by the first respondent on 13.02.2000 was not sought to be served by making attempts atleast on one or two occasions before the endorsement dated 10.03.2000 was made. It is the admitted case of the respondent that objections were said to have been made by the petitioner on 12.03.2000. The enquiry was scheduled to be held on 15.03.2000. No enquiry was held even on the said objections dated 12.03.2000.
10. In view of the above, I do not find that the sole endorsement dated 10.03.2000 made to the effect that the petitioner has refused to receive the Form-I notice can be the basis for proceeding further with the Land Acquisition Proceeding as the respondents are duty bound to see that the right of the petitioner to make objections to the Land Acquisition proceedings is not defeated by making atleast one or two attempts to serve the notice. In this context, I am unable to accept the endorsement made on 10.03.2000 to the effect that the petitioner has refused to acknowledge the notice as the endorsement itself is doubtful in view of the fact that the there was no attempt on the part of the respondent to serve the notice on even one occasion from 13.02.2000.
11. Further, the fact remains that though in Form-I notice, the enquiry was sought to be conducted on 15.03.2000, no such enquiry was held, but from a perusal of the file at Page-155, it is seen that a further notice dated 29.03.2000 addressed to the petitioner as to the next date of enquiry on 03.04.2000 is found. There is no corresponding document available evidencing the service of the said notice dated 29.03.2000 on the petitioner. There is not even a material to show that the said notice was ever sent to the petitioner. Only in the absence of communication of the said notice, the enquiry is said to have been conducted on 03.04.2000.
12. The grievance of the petitioner is that the land sought to be acquired is the front portion of the other extent of the land owned by the petitioner and once the land is acquired, the petitioner will have no access to the major portion of the other extent of land. The further grievance exporsed by the petitioner is that earlier other lands belonging to the petitioner were also acquired and there are alternative lands available for acquisition. Though these grounds cannot be considered by this Court for sustaining the plea of the petitioner, nevertheless law requires an opportunity to the petitioner to put forth all these objections for consideration by the respondents. The petitioner has been deprived of such an opportunity.
13. In view of the above, the Land Acquisition Proceedings cannot be sustained. Accordingly, the impugned 4(1) Notification made under R.C./J.1/36295/2000 dated 18.09.2000 published in the Tiruvallur District Gazette on 13.11.2000 and the notice of the first respondent in Form III in Na.Ka.72/2000 are quashed.
14. This Court is informed that pursuant to the acquisition proceedings, so far the possession of the land has not been taken over. In view of the above, while passing the impugned order, it is made clear that the respondents are at liberty to proceed afresh to acquire the land, if they decide so by following Section 4(2) of the Act read with Rule 3(1) of the Rules by serving personal notice in Form I on the petitioner and after affording opportunity to submit any objection.
15. The writ petition is allowed accordingly. No costs. ksr
1. The Special Tahsildar
Adi Dravidar Welfare
2. The District Collector
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