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Renu Gupta Vs. Union of India and Ors. - (High Court of Delhi) (02 Apr 2019)

Where a statute requires a particular act to be done in a particular manner, act has to be done in that manner alone

MANU/DE/1147/2019

Land Acquisition

The challenge in present petition is to a Notification dated 15th May, 2017 issued by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, under Section 3-A (1) of the National Highways Act, 1956 (NH Act) declaring the intention of the Central Government to acquire the land of the Petitioner for the public purpose of "building (widening/four laning etc.), maintenance, management and operation of Dwarka Expressway. Further, challenge is to subsequent declaration dated 20th November, 2017 under Section 3-D of the NH Act. The order passed by the Competent Authority Land Acquisition (CALA) under Section 3-C of the NH Act on 31st August, 2017/6th September, 2017, disallowing the objections filed by the Petitioner, has also been questioned.

The Notification under Section 3-A of the NH Act dated 15th May, 2017 refers to the public purpose as 'the building' of the Dwarka Expressway. While it is true that at this point in time, there was no express declaration of the 'Dwarka Expressway' as a national highway, the Notification was issued within a month thereafter on 23rd June, 2017. A perusal of the said Notification dated 23rd June, 2017 reveals the complete description of the entire highway, which in effect is the 'Dwarka Expressway'.

Section 3-A of the NH Act does not restrict the issuance of a Notification only to an existing national highway. It can apply to a proposed national highway also. While the wording of the Notification could have been clearer, the Court is not persuaded that merely because the Dwarka Expressway had not already been notified as a national highway by that date, a Notification under Section 3-A of the NA Act would be bad in law for that purpose. The declaration of the Dwarka Expressway as a national highway number 248-BB took place within a month on 23rd June, 2017 under Section 2 (2) of the NH Act and the Notification itself says that, the said highway "shall be deemed to be inserted in the Schedule to that Act with the new serial numbers". The Court finds no illegality, therefore, attached to the Notification issued under Section 3-A of the NH Act.

The legal position explained by the Supreme Court in Competent Authority v. Barangore Jute Factory to the effect that "where a statute requires a particular act to be done in a particular manner, the act has to be done in that manner alone". In this context, it requires to be noticed that while the actual use of the land of the Petitioner for the public purpose of 'toll plaza' was not mentioned specifically, the toll plaza certainly is a part of the Dwarka Expressway.

The order dated 31st August, 2017/6th September, 2017 passed by the CALA notes that, the Petitioner raised an objection "on the location of the toll plaza within Delhi". It also sets out the clarification of the NHAI that, the location of the toll plaza was away from the urban area and it was best suited to capture the maximum toll-able traffic between Delhi and Gurgaon. The location was also "reasonably away from major intersections and urbanized locations". The Court is satisfied that, there is no illegality in not specifically mentioning the purpose in the notification under Section 3-A of the NH Act or the declaration under Section 3-D of the NH Act that the acquisition was for the toll plaza as long as the main public purpose of the Dwarka Expressway was mentioned.

It is not practical or possible for the Court to put the clock back as far as the construction of the highway itself is concerned. As observed in Competent Authority v. Barangore Jute Factory, it is not possible for the Court to reverse the process of the construction of the highway. Consequently, the Court is not inclined to interfere with the impugned notifications issued under Section 3-A and 3-D of the NH Act. The petition is accordingly dismissed.

Relevant : Competent Authority v. Barangore Jute Factory MANU/SC/1209/2014

Tags : ACQUISITION   NOTIFICATION   VALIDITY  

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