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PRINCIPLES TO BE FOLLOWED WHEN EMERGENT LAND ACQUISITION IS MADE 2011 SC

The Apex Court in the case of Radhy Shyam (dead) Through LRs and others vs. State of Uttar Pradesh and others, (2011) 5 SCC 553, has in fact culled out the principles, which are required to be followed in case of exercise of emergent powers for acquisition of the land of a citizen by the sovereign State, curtailing his right of property as enshrined under Article 300-A of the Constitution of India. The principles, which have been specifically laid-down by the Apex Court, are thus :

"(i) Eminent domain is a right inherent in every sovereign to take and appropriate property belonging to citizens for public use. To put it differently, the sovereign is entitled to reassert its dominion over any portion of the soil of the State including private property without its owner's consent provided that such assertion is on account of public exigency and for public good
(ii) The legislations which provide for compulsory acquisition of private property by the State fall in the category of expropriatory legislation and such legislation must be construed strictly
(iii) Though, in exercise of the power of eminent domain, the Government can acquire the private property for public purpose, it must be remembered that compulsory taking of one's property is a serious matter. If the property belongs to economically disadvantaged segment of the society or people suffering from other handicaps, then the court is not only entitled but is duty-bound to scrutinise the action/decision of the State with greater vigilance, care and circumspection keeping in view the fact that the landowner is likely to become landless and deprived of the only source of his livelihood and/ or shelter.
(iv) The property of a citizen cannot be acquired by the State and/or its agencies/ instrumentalities without complying with the mandate of Sections 4, 5-A and 6 of the Act. A public purpose, however, laudable it may be does not entitle the State to invoke the urgency provisions because the same have the effect of depriving the owner of his right to property without being heard. Only in a case of real urgency, the State can invoke the urgency provisions and dispense with the requirement of hearing the landowner or other interested persons.
(v) Section 17(1) read with Section 17(4) confers extraordinary power upon the State to acquire private property without complying with the mandate of Section 5-A. These provisions can be invoked only when the purpose of acquisition cannot brook the delay of even a few weeks or months. Therefore, before excluding the application of Section 5-A, the authority concerned must be fully satisfied that time of few weeks or authority concerned must be fully satisfied that time of few weeks or months likely to be taken in conducting inquiry under Section 5-A will, in all probability, frustrate the public purpose for which land is proposed to be acquired.
(vi) The satisfaction of the Government on the issue of urgency is subjective but is a condition precedent to the exercise of power under Section 17(1) and the same can be challenged on the ground that the purpose for which the private property is sought to be acquired is not a public purpose at all or that the exercise of power is vitiated due to mala fides or that the authorities concerned did not apply their mind to the relevant factors and the records.
(vii) The exercise of power by the Government under Section 17(1) does not necessarily result in exclusion of Section 5-A of the Act in terms of which any person interested in land can file objection and is entitled to be heard in support of his objection. The use of word "may" in sub- section (4) of Section 17 makes it clear that it merely enables the Government to direct that the provisions of Section 5-A would not apply to the cases covered under sub-section (1) or (2) of Section 17. In other words, invoking of Section 17(4) is not a necessary concomitant of the exercise of power under Section 17(1).
(viii) The acquisition of land for residential, commercial, industrial or institutional purposes can be treated as an acquisition for public purposes within the meaning of Section 4 but that, by itself, does not justify the exercise of power by the Government under Sections 17(1) and/or 17(4). The court can take judicial notice of the fact that planning, execution and implementation of the schemes relating to development of residential, commercial, industrial or institutional areas usually take few years. Therefore, the private property cannot be acquired for such purpose by invoking the urgency provision contained in Section 17(1). In any case, exclusion of the rule of audi alteram partem embodied in Sections 5-A(1) and (2) is not at all warranted in such matters.
(ix) If land is acquired for the benefit of private persons, the court should view the invoking of Sections 17(1) and/or 17(4) with suspicion and carefully scrutinise the relevant record before adjudicating upon the legality of such acquisition."

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