High Court wrongly allowed the petition filed by respondent No.1 herein and directed the State Government to issue notification in the official gazette for release of the acquired land from acquisition on the basis of the Revenue Minister’s order dated 10.06.2004 passed under Section 48 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (hereinafter referred to as “the Act”).= the filing of the writ petition by the landowners itself was an abuse of judicial process. It was for the simple reason that the earlier litigation, which travelled up to this Court thrice having ended against the landowners, it was binding on the parties. It prevented the landowners to again raise the same issue. = Indeed, the release of part of the land in landowners’ favour and retention of the remaining land for accomplishing the project vide notification dated 20.08.1994 was in the nature of a bargain. It disentitled the landowners to seek further release of the remaining land. This is apart from the fact that consequent upon obtaining the possession of the land by the State, the release of the remaining land under Section 48 of the Act was otherwise not legally possible.

REPORTABLE

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CIVIL APPEAL NO.7649 OF 2018

[Arising out of SLP (C) No.20188 of 2017]

Pimpri Chinchwad New Township

Development Authority            .. Appellant(s)

Versus

Vishnudev Cooperative Housing

Society & Ors.                         .. Respondent(s)

J U D G M E N T

Abhay Manohar Sapre, J.

1) Leave granted.

2) This appeal is filed against the final judgment

and   order   dated   28.02.2017  passed   by   the   High

Court   of   Judicature   at   Bombay   in   Writ   Petition

1

No.5783 of 2006 whereby the High Court allowed

the   petition  filed  by  respondent   No.1  herein  and

directed the State Government to issue notification

in the official gazette for release of the acquired land

from   acquisition   on   the   basis   of   the   Revenue

Minister’s   order   dated   10.06.2004   passed   under

Section   48   of   the   Land   Acquisition   Act,   1894

(hereinafter referred to as “the Act”).

3) In order to appreciate the issues involved in

the appeal, it is necessary to set out the factual

background   of   the   case   in   detail.   The   facts

mentioned   hereinbelow   are   taken   from   the   SLP

paper books and its List of Dates.

4) Survey No. (Gat. No.210 ­ measuring around

39 H 26 R and Survey No. 211 measuring around 1

H 23 R­Total land 40 H 49 R) situated at Mauje

Wakad, Tehsil Mulshi, District Pune (Maharashtra)

2

was originally owned by the members of one  “Deo”

family.

5) On   12.03.1970,   the   State   Government

acquired this land by issuing a notification under

Section 4 of the Act. It was followed by publication

of   declaration   under   Section   6   of   the   Act.   The

acquisition   was   for   a   public   purpose,   namely,

“planned   development   and   utilization   of   lands   in

Pimpri   Chinchwad   Township   Area   for   industrial,

commercial   and   residential   purposes”.   The

development   project   for   which   the   land   was

acquired   was   to   be   executed   through   Pimpri

Chinchwad New Township Development Authority

(for short, called “PCNTDA “) ­ appellant herein.

6) The Special Land Acquisition Officer (for short,

called “SLAO“) then initiated the proceedings under

Section   11   of   the   Act   for   determination   of   the

3

compensation   payable   to   the   landowners   and

accordingly passed an award dated 23.09.1986. The

SLAO   then   issued   notices   to   the   landowners   as

required under Section 12 (2) of the Act.  Since the

landowners did not accept the compensation, the

entire amount of compensation was deposited by

the SLAO in Revenue Deposit Account of Treasury.

7) The members of “Deo family” (landowners) felt

aggrieved by the award dated 23.09.1986 and filed

writ petition being W.P. No. 3719/1987 in the High

Court at Bombay. This writ petition was dismissed

by the High Court by order dated 18.07.1989. The

writ petitioners felt aggrieved by the dismissal of

their   writ   petition   filed   review   petition   (R.P.   No.

3751/1989) before the High Court, which was also

dismissed as withdrawn on 08.09.1989. Aggrieved

by the dismissal of the writ petition and the review

4

petition,   the   landowners   filed   SLP   (c)

No.12889/1989 in this Court. It was also dismissed

as withdrawn on 27.11.1989.

8) In the meantime, on 19.09.1989, the members

of “Deo Family” filed an application under Section

48(1) of the Act to the Revenue Minister of the State

of Maharashtra and prayed therein for release of

their   acquired   land.   During   pendency   of   this

application,   the   landowners   filed   writ   petition

(No.36/1990) in the High Court and prayed therein

for   a   direction   to   the   State   for   deciding   their

application. By order dated 12.01.1990, the High

Court disposed of the writ petition and directed the

State   to   decide   the   landowners’   application   in

accordance with law.

9) By   order   dated   07.07.1992,   the   State

Government   partly   allowed   the   landowners’

5

application and while releasing the land measuring

29 H 98 R retained the remaining land measuring10

H 51 R for execution of the development project for

which   the   entire   land   had   been   acquired.   The

details   of   the   land   retained   and   released   are

mentioned hereinbelow:

Survey

No.

Area

covered

under

SLAO

H:R

Area deleted

from

acquisition

H:R

Area

remained

under

acquisition

to be given

to PCNTDA

210 39 H 26 R 28 H 93 R 10 H 33 R

211 1 H 23 R 1 H 5 R 0 H 18 R

Total 40 H 49 R 29 H 98 R 10 H 51 R

10) It appears from the record of the proceedings

that after the dismissal of the review petition, the

landowners (members of “Deo family”) transferred

the acquired land in question to the members of one

Co­operative Housing Society called, “Vishnudev Co6

operative Housing Society” (for short called “VCHS”)­

respondent No.1 herein on or about 25.10.1993.

11) Respondent  No.1 (VCHS) claiming to  be the

owner of the land in question felt aggrieved and filed

writ  petition  (1116/1993)  questioning therein  the

legality of the order of the State dated 07.07.1992 to

the extent it declined to release the remaining land

measuring 10 H 51 R.   The High Court, by order

dated 23.03.1993, dismissed the writ petition and

upheld the order of the State.   Respondent No.1

(VCHS) carried the matter in this Court by filing SLP

(C) No.10056/1993.   By order dated 26.11.1993,

this   Court   dismissed   the   SLP.   The   Divisional

Commissioner   then   passed   a   final   order   dated

20.08.1994 under Section 48 (1) of the Act directing

therein for deletion of 29 H 98 R from Survey No.

210 and retaining of 10 H 33 R as acquired land for

7

completion of development project.  This is how, out

of total acquired land, the land measuring 29 H 98

R was released in favour of landowners from the

acquisition proceedings and the land measuring 10

H 33 R was retained to enable the State to execute

the development project on the said land through

the agency of the appellant.

12) Notwithstanding the termination of two rounds

of litigation up to this Court, the landowners­VCHS

again   started   third   round   and   filed   fresh   writ

petition  (3200/1994) in   the  High  Court  and  this

time prayed therein for deletion of 10 H 55 R from

Survey No. 210/1. By order dated 07.09.1994, the

High Court dismissed the writ petition. Again the

said order, the VCHS filed SLP (C) No.22907/1994

in this Court and the same was dismissed by order

dated 10.02.1995.

8

13) On 30.05.2000, the SLAO took possession of

the land bearing Gat. No. 210 (10 H 33 R) and

executed panchanama in support thereof. The name

of the State Government was accordingly entered in

the revenue records at Mutation Entry No. 8212(File

No.  7/12)  on  21.07.2000.  The  State  Government

then   handed   over   the   possession   of   the   land   in

question to PCNTDA on 08.11.2005 to enable them

to start the work on the land. It was followed by

entry of name of PCNTDA in the revenue records on

19.11.2005.

14) Despite losing the battle in the first, second

and   third   round   of   litigation,   as   detailed   above,

VCHS   again   renewed   their   efforts   and   filed   an

application under Section 48 (1) of the Act to the

Revenue Minister of the State of Maharashtra to

start another round of litigation on 20.01.2004. The

9

Revenue Minister on 10.06.2004, however, noted in

the file that the land in question be deleted from the

acquisition proceedings.

15) It is pertinent to mention here that when the

order dated 10.06.2004 was passed, the Code of

Conduct was in force in the State of Maharashtra as

the assembly elections were to be held in September

2004   in   the   State   of   Maharashtra.   It   is   also

pertinent to mention that the order of the Revenue

Minister   ordering   deletion   of   the   land   was   never

communicated to the landowners. On 04.11.2004,

the State Government directed that all the matters

where   the   orders   were  not   communicated   to   the

parties concerned be placed for fresh consideration

for passing appropriate orders. The present being a

case where the order was not communicated to the

landowners, the new Revenue Minister, who took

10

over the charge from the earlier Minister, directed

that the matter relating to the land in question be

considered afresh. The VCHS then wrote a letter to

the   State   Government   on   06.06.2006   insisting

therein   for   issuance   and   implementation   of   the

order dated 10.06.2004 passed by the then Revenue

Minister but since the Government did not yield to

the VCHS insistence, a writ petition (5783/2006)

was filed by VCHS on 21.06.2006  in the High Court

praying   for   issuance   of   mandamus   directing   the

State Government to give effect to the order dated

10.06.2004 passed by the then Revenue Minister

and issue appropriate notification in that behalf by

releasing the remaining land measuring 10 H 55 R.

16) In this writ petition, the VCHS arrayed only

the State Government as party respondent but did

not   implead   PCNTDA   (appellant   herein).   The

11

PCNTDA then filed an application for intervention in

the said writ petition which was allowed by directing

the VCHS to implead PCNTDA as party respondent

in the writ petition.

17) The   State   and   PCNTDA   contested   the   writ

petition inter alia on the ground that firstly, the writ

petition is not maintainable inasmuch as the entire

issue in relation to the land in question has already

attained   finality   thrice   in   favour   of   the   State,

therefore,   nothing   now   remains   for   further

adjudication;     Secondly,   since   possession   of   the

land in question has already been taken over by the

State long back on 30.05.2000, the provisions of

Section 48 of the Act were not applicable to the case

and nor Section 48 could be used for further release

of   the   land   from   acquisition;   and   lastly,   the   socalled

order dated 10.06.2004 passed by the then

12

Revenue Minister was not an order much less a

legal   one   and   more   so   when   it   was   not

communicated to the landowners, it did not create

any kind of right in favour of  the landowners.

18) By impugned order, the High Court allowed

the   landowners’   writ   petition   and   issued   a

mandamus directing the State to give effect to the

order dated 10.06.2004 passed by the then Revenue

Minister. The effect of issuance of mandamus is to

release the remaining land measuring 10 H 33 R

from the acquisition proceedings in favour of the

landowners. It is against this order, PCNTDA filed

this appeal by way of special leave in this Court.

19) The question, which arises for consideration in

this appeal, is whether the High Court was justified

in allowing the writ petition filed by the landowners

(VCHS­respondent   No.1   herein)   and,   in

13

consequence, was justified in issuing directions to

the State in relation to the land in question.

20) Heard     Mr.   Arvind   Datar,   learned   senior

counsel for the appellant,   Ms. Meenakshi Arora,

learned senior counsel for respondent No.1 and Mr.

Nishant   R.   Katneshwarkar,   learned   counsel   for

respondent Nos. 2 & 3.

21) Mr.   Arvind   Datar,   learned   senior   counsel

appearing   for   the   appellant   (PCNTDA)   while

assailing   the   legality   and   correctness   of   the

impugned order has mainly urged six points.

22) In the first place, learned counsel urged that

the reasoning and the conclusion arrived at by the

High Court in allowing the landowners’ writ petition

is, on the face of it, legally unsustainable and being

wholly perverse deserves to be set aside.

14

23) In   the   second   place,   learned   counsel   urged

that an issue as to whether the land in question

was   capable   of   being   released   or   not   from   the

clutches   of   the   acquisition   proceedings   in   the

context of Section 48 (1) of the Act had attained

finality in the earlier rounds of litigation against the

landowners up to this Court, the same could not

have   been   again   agitated   by   filing   another

application by respondent No.1(landowners) under

Section 48 of the Act.

24) According to learned counsel, it was not legally

permissible to empower the then Revenue Minister

to entertain such application.

25) In the third place, learned counsel contended

that   when   the   State   had   admittedly   taken

possession of the land in question long back on

30.05.2000 strictly in accordance with law as laid

15

down by this Court in Balwant Narayan Bhagde vs.

M.D.   Bhagwat   &   Ors.  (1976)   1   SCC   700,   the

provisions   of   Section   48   of   the   Act     had   no

application to the facts of the case at hand and

neither the then Revenue Minister nor the State had

any power to invoke the provisions of Section 48 of

the Act to release any part of the land on or after

30.05.2000.

26) In the fourth place, learned counsel contended

that  the  then  Revenue   Minister,  who   passed  the

order dated 10.06.2004 had no power to entertain

any such application because admittedly during the

relevant time, due to announcement of date of the

State   Assembly   elections   (September   2004),   the

Code of Conduct had come in force which did not

permit any Minister to exercise such power.

16

27) In the fifth place, learned counsel contended

that even otherwise, the so called noting made by

the then Revenue Minister in the file on 10.06.2004

directing release of the land in question from the

acquisition proceedings could never be construed as

an “order” within the meaning of Section 48 of the

Act and nor such noting had any attribute of a legal

order.

28) It was his submission that firstly, such noting

remained   only   a   noting   of   the   then   Revenue

Minister,   which   was   never   communicated   to   the

landowners   as   per   the   procedure   prescribed   and

secondly, before it could take the shape of an order

within   the   meaning   of  Section   48  of  the  Act   for

being giving effect to, the noting was ordered to be

considered afresh by the State Government by order

dated 04.11.2004.

17

29) In this way, according to learned counsel, the

so called noting never saw the light of the day and

died its own death in the files creating no right and

interest of any kind in favour of the landowners.

30) In the fifth place, learned counsel contended

that the then Revenue Minister had passed similar

orders alike the one in question in relation to other

survey   numbers   by   directing   release   of   the   land

from the clutches of the acquisition proceedings but

all such orders were quashed by the High Court in

the writ petition and those orders were also upheld

by this Court.  Learned counsel gave the list of the

cases.

31) In the sixth place, learned counsel contended

that while releasing part of the land vide order dated

20.08.1994 (Annexure­P­24) it was made clear to

the landowners that they would not be entitled to

18

claim any compensation for the said land. It was,

therefore,   urged   that   reading   of   the   order   dated

20.08.1994 would clearly indicate that the releasing

of   the   part   of   the   land   and   retaining   of   the

remaining   land   was   in   the   nature   of   a   bargain

between   the   State   and   the   landowners   and,

therefore, there did not arise any occasion to further

release of the remaining land in question which was

undoubtedly needed for accomplishing the public

purpose for which it was acquired.

32) In   other   words,   the   submission   was   that

release   of   part   of   the   land   vide   order   dated

20.08.1994   disentitled   the   landowners   to   claim

further   release   of   the   remaining   land   from

acquisition proceedings.   It is apart from the fact

that the release of the land due to obtaining its

19

possession under Section 16 was not possible under

Section 48 of the Act.

33) It   is   essentially   these   submissions,   learned

counsel elaborated in his arguments by referring to

the   record of   the  case  and   the  decisions   of  this

Court.

34) In reply, Ms. Meenakshi Arora, learned senior

counsel   supported the impugned order including

its   reasoning.   It   was   her   submission   that   the

impugned order is based on proper reasoning and

hence it does not call for any interference. Learned

counsel elaborated her submission by referring to

the documents to support the reasoning of the High

Court.

35) Having   heard   the   learned   counsel   for   the

parties and on perusal of the record of the case, we

20

find force in the submissions of the learned senior

counsel for the appellant.

36) The   main   questions   which   arise   for

consideration in this appeal are first,  whether the

then Revenue Minister,  who was purporting to act

for and on behalf of the State, had the power, in the

background   facts   of   this   case,   to   invoke   the

provisions of Section 48 of the Act for release of the

acquired   land   in   question   from   the   acquisition

proceedings; Second, whether the State had taken

possession   of   the   acquired   land   in   question   on

30.05.2000 and, if so, its effect;  and lastly,  what is

the true nature of the order dated 10.06.2004.

37) Sections 16 and 48, which are relevant for this

case read as under:

“Section 16

16.  Power   to   take   possession­   When   the

Collector  has  made   an   award  under   section

21

11,   he   may   take   possession   of   the   land,

which shall thereupon vest absolutely in the

Government, free from all encumbrances.

Section 48

48.  Completion   of   acquisition   not

compulsory, but compensation to be awarded

when   not   completed­(1)   Except   in   the   case

provided   for   in   section  36,  the  Government

shall   be   at   liberty   to   withdraw   from   the

acquisition  of   any   land  of  which  possession

has not been taken.

(2)   Whenever   the   Government   withdraws

from any such acquisition, the Collector shall

determine  the  amount  of  compensation  due

for   the   damage   suffered   by   the   owner   in

consequence   of   the   notice   or   of   nay

proceedings   thereunder,   and   shall  pay   such

amount   to   the   person   interested,   together

with all costs reasonably incurred by him in

the prosecution of the proceedings under this

Act relating to the said land.

(3) The provisions of Part III of this Act shall

apply, so far as may be, to the determination

of   the   compensation   payable   under   this

section.”

38) Section 48 of the Act gives liberty to the State

to withdraw from the acquisition of any land “of

22

which  possession  has  not  been  taken” except in

the cases which fall in Section 36. In other words,

once the possession of the acquired land is taken,

the   State   has   no   power   to   withdraw   from   the

acquisition because as a result of taking over of the

possession, the acquired land vests with the State

absolutely free from all encumbrances.

39) A fortiori so long as the possession is not taken

of   the   acquired   land,   the   State   is   at   liberty   to

withdraw from the acquisition either partly or fully

depending upon the facts of each case.

40) Section 16 of the Act empowers the Collector

to take possession of the acquired land on passing

of an award under Section 11 of the Act. Once the

Collector takes possession, the acquired land vests

absolutely   in   the   Government   free   from   all

encumbrances as provided therein.

23

41) The question arose before a Bench  of three

Judges of this Court in  Balwant  Narayan  Bhagde

(supra) as to how and in what manner possession of

the   acquired   land   is   required   to   be   taken   as

provided under Section 16 of the Act. The majority

view speaking through Bhagwati J. (as His Lordship

then was) dealt with this issue succinctly in Para 28

thus:

“28………We think it is enough to state that

when   the   Government   proceeds   to   take

possession  of  the   land  acquired  by   it  under

the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, it must take

actual   possession   of   the   land,   since   all

interests   in   the   land   are   sought   to   be

acquired  by   it.  There  can  be  no  question  of

taking   “symbolical”  possession   in  the   sense

understood   by   judicial   decisions   under   the

Code   of   Civil   Procedure.   Nor   would

possession merely on paper be enough. What

the   Act   contemplates   as   a   necessary

condition   of   vesting   of   the   land   in   the

Government   is   the   taking   of   actual

possession of the land. How such possession

may be taken would depend on the nature of

the   land.  Such  possession  would  have  to  be

taken   as   the  nature   of   the   land   admits   of.

There   can   be   no   hard   and   fast   rule   laying

24

down   what   act   would   be   sufficient   to

constitute   taking   of   possession   of   land.  We

should   not,   therefore,   be   taken   as   laying

down   an   absolute   and   inviolable   rule   that

merely   going   on   the   spot   and   making   a

declaration   by   beat   of   drum   or   otherwise

would   be   sufficient   to   constitute   taking   of

possession of land in every case. But here, in

our  opinion,  since  the   land  was   lying  fallow

and there  was no crop  on  it  at the  material

time, the act of the Tehsildar in going on the

spot and inspecting the land for the purpose

of   determining   what   part   was   waste   and

arable   and   should,   therefore,   be   taken

possession of and determining its extent, was

sufficient to constitute taking of possession.

It appears that the appellant was not present

when this was done by the Tehsildar, but the

presence of the owner or the occupant of the

land is not necessary to effectuate the taking

of possession. It is also not strictly necessary

as a matter of legal requirement that notice

should be given to the owner or the occupant

of the land that possession would be taken at

a particular time, though it may be desirable

where   possible,   to   give   such   notice   before

possession   is   taken   by   the   authorities,   as

that   would   eliminate   the   possibility   of   any

fraudulent or  collusive  transaction  of  taking

of   mere   paper   possession,   without   the

occupant or the owner ever coming to know

of it.”

42) Keeping in view the law laid down in Balwant

Narayan   Bhagde  (supra), we proceed to examine

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the question as to whether the possession of   the

remaining  acquired  land  was  taken   by  the  State

and, if so, whether it was done in accordance with

the test laid down by this Court.

43) Having perused the Panchanama (Annexure­P4)

dated 30.05.2004, Mutation Entry No. 8212 (file

7/12)   (Annexure­P­5),   possession   receipt

(Annexure­P­12) and   Mutation Entry of PCNTDA

(Annexure ­P­28/29) relied upon by the State,  we

have no hesitation in holding that the State did take

possession   of   the   acquired   land   in   question   on

30.05.2000 as per the test laid down by this Court

in  Balwant   Narayan Bhagde (supra). This we say

for  the following reasons.

44) First, the State gave notice to all the co­owners

of   the   land   in   question   and   informed   them   to

remain present at the time of taking possession by

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the SLAO;   Second, out of all the co­owners, two,

namely,   Chandra   Kant   Gajanan   Dev   and

Bhalchandra Chintaman Dev were present at the

time   of   taking   possession.   It   was   sufficient

compliance;   Third,   possession   was   taken   in   the

presence of two witnesses by   the SLAO; Fourth,

panchanama   evidencing   taking   of   the   possession

was duly signed by the witnesses; Fifth, the name of

the   State   Government   was   duly   entered   in   the

revenue records after obtaining possession as an

owner;     Sixth,   the   Government,   in   turn,   handed

over  the  possession  of  the  land  to  the  appellant

(PCNTDA);  and Seventh, the name of PCNTDA was

also entered in the revenue records of the land in

question.

45) Once we hold that the possession of the land

in question was taken by the State in accordance

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with law on 30.05.2004 from the landowners, we

have no hesitation in holding that the provisions of

Section 48 of the Act were not applicable to the case

at hand. In other words, once it is held that the

possession of the acquired land was with the State,

the land stood vested in the State disentitling the

State   to   release   the   land   from   the   acquisition

proceedings by taking recourse to the provisions of

Section 48 of the Act.

46) A fortiori, the then Revenue Minister had no

power   to   deal   with   the   land   in   question   in   any

manner   whatsoever   and   nor   had   any   power   to

invoke the provisions of Section 48 of the Act for

release of the land in question from the clutches of

the acquisition proceedings.

47) This   takes   us   to   examine   another   question

though in the light of our finding on the issue of

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possession, it is not necessary for us to examine

this question in detail.

48) The   question   is   whether   the   order   dated

10.06.2004 passed by the then Revenue Minister

directing release of the acquired land in question

has the attributes of an order within the meaning of

Section 48 of the Act or, in other words, whether the

order in question created any right in favour of the

landowners   so   as   to   enable   them   to   claim

mandamus for enforcement of such order against

the State

49) Our answer to the question is “no”. It is for the

reasons that First, a mere noting in the official files

of the Government while dealing with any matter

pertaining to any person is essentially an internal

matter of the Government and carries with it no

legal sanctity;  Second, once the decision on such

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issue   is   taken   and   approved   by   the   competent

authority   empowered   by   the   Government   in   that

behalf, it is required to be communicated to the

person concerned by the State Government.

50) In other words, so long as the decision based

on such internal deliberation is not approved and

communicated by the competent authority as per

the   procedure   prescribed   in   that   behalf   to   the

person concerned, such noting does not create any

right   in   favour   of   the   person   concerned   nor   it

partake the nature of any legal order so as to enable

the person concerned to claim any benefit of any

such  internal  deliberation.  Such noting(s) or/and

deliberation(s) are always capable of being changed

or/and   amended   or/and   withdrawn   by   the

competent authority.

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51) Third, though Section 48 of the Act, in terms,

does not provide that release of the land from any

acquisition proceedings is required to be done by

issuance of the notification by the State but, in our

view, having regard to the scheme of the Act, which

begins with the process of issuance of notification

under Section 4 of the Act for acquisition of any

land, the release of land from such acquisition is

complete only when a notification is issued by the

State in that behalf.

52) Indeed, the aforementioned issue remains no

more res integra and was decided by this Court in

several   decisions,   such   as  State   of   Punjab   vs.

Sodhi Sukhdev Singh, AIR 1961 SC 493, State of

Bihar   vs.   Kripalu   Shankar,   (1987)   3   SCC   34,

Rajasthan Housing Board vs. Shri Krishan, (1993)

2 SCC 84,  Sethi  Auto  Service  Station  vs.  DDA,

31

(2009) 1 SCC 180 and Shanti Sports Club & Anr.

Vs. Union of India & Ors., (2009) 15 SCC 705.

53) In  Shanti   Sports  (supra)   a   Bench   of   two

Judges of this Court, speaking through Singhvi, J.,

took note of all the previous case law on the subject

noted above and held as under:

“37…………..Although,   the   plain   language   of

Section 48(1) does not give any indication of

the   manner   or   mode   in   which   the

power/discretion   to   withdraw   from   the

acquisition   of   any   land   is   required   to   be

exercised,   having   regard   to   the   scheme   of

Parts   II   and   VII   of   the   1894   Act,   which

postulates   publication   of   notification   under

Section 4(1), declaration under Section 6 and

agreement   under   Section   42   in   the   Official

Gazette as a condition for valid acquisition of

the   land   for   any   public   purpose   or   for   a

company,   it   is   reasonable   to   take   the   view

that  withdrawal  from  the  acquisition,  which

may   adversely  affect   the  public  purpose   for

which,  or  the  company  on  whose  behalf  the

acquisition is proposed, can be done only by

issuing a notification in the Official Gazette.

39. The requirement of issuing a notification

for   exercise  of  power  under Section  48(1) of

the  Act  to  withdraw  from  the  acquisition  of

the   land   can   also   be   inferred   from   the

32

judgments   of   this   Court   in  Municipal

Committee,   Bhatinda   v.   Land   Acquisition

Collector   and   others (1993)  3  SCC  24   , U.P.

State Sugar Corporation Ltd. v. State of U.P.

and  others (1995)  Supp  3  SCC  538, State  of

Maharashtra   and   another   v.   Umashankar

Rajabhau   and   others (1996)   1   SCC   299

and State  of   T.N.  and  others  v.  L.  Krishnan

and others (1996) 7 SCC 450.

43. A noting recorded in the file is merely a

noting   simpliciter   and   nothing   more.   It

merely   represents   expression   of   opinion   by

the   particular   individual.   By   no   stretch   of

imagination, such noting can be treated as a

decision   of   the   Government.   Even   if   the

competent   authority   records   its   opinion   in

the   file   on   the  merits   of   the  matter   under

consideration, the same cannot be termed as

a   decision   of   the   Government   unless   it   is

sanctified and acted upon by issuing an order

in  accordance  with  Articles  77(1)  and   (2)  or

Articles 166(1) and (2). The noting in the file

or   even   a  decision   gets   culminated   into   an

order affecting right of the parties only when

it is expressed in the name of the President

or   the   Governor,   as   the   case  may   be,   and

authenticated   in   the   manner   provided   in

Article   77(2)   or   Article   166(2).   A   noting   or

even   a   decision   recorded   in   the   file   can

always   be   reviewed/reversed/overruled   or

overturned   and   the   court   cannot   take

cognizance  of  the  earlier  noting  or  decision

for exercise of the power of judicial review.”

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54) In the light of the foregoing discussion, we are

of the considered opinion that the then Revenue

Minister, who passed the order dated 10.06.2004

had no power to deal with the matter relating to

release of the land in question. He simply usurped

the power under Section 48 of the Act, which he

never   possessed.   It   was   an   abuse   of   exercise   of

power   by   him   while   dealing   with   the   State’s

largesse.

55) That apart, in our view, the filing of the writ

petition by the landowners itself was an abuse of

judicial process. It was for the simple reason that

the   earlier   litigation,   which   travelled   up   to   this

Court thrice having ended against the landowners,

it   was   binding   on   the   parties.     It   prevented   the

landowners to again raise the same issue. 

34

56) Indeed,   the   release   of   part   of   the   land   in

landowners’ favour and retention of the remaining

land for accomplishing the project vide notification

dated 20.08.1994 was in the nature of a bargain. It

disentitled the landowners to seek further release of

the remaining land. This is apart from the fact that

consequent upon obtaining the possession of the

land by the State, the release of the remaining land

under   Section   48   of   the   Act   was   otherwise   not

legally possible.    

57) In the light of the foregoing discussion, we are

of the considered view that the High Court failed to

examine the issues arising in the case in its correct

perspective. We cannot, therefore, concur with the

reasoning and the conclusion arrived at by the High

Court   which   wrongly   upheld   the   order   dated

35

10.06.2004   passed   by   the   concerned   Revenue

Minister.

58) The appeal thus succeeds and is accordingly

allowed.   Impugned   order   is   set   aside.   As   a

consequence, the writ petition filed by respondent

No.1   stands   dismissed   with   costs   quantified   at

Rs.25,000/­ to be payable by respondent No.1 to

the appellant.

………………………………..J.

(ABHAY MANOHAR SAPRE)

…..………………………………J.

(UDAY UMESH LALIT)

New Delhi,

August 03, 2018

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