w w w . L a w y e r S e r v i c e s . i n



Dasari Kesavulu V/S The Union of India, Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, New Delhi & Another


Company & Directors' Information:- INDIA NATURAL GAS COMPANY PRIVATE LIMITED. [Dissolved] CIN = U23200MH1999PTC120457

Company & Directors' Information:- A R C INDIA PETROLEUM PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U11202TG2009PTC063249

Company & Directors' Information:- GAS CORPORATION INDIA LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U40200BR1993PLC005536

Company & Directors' Information:- NATURAL GAS COMPANY PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U23200MH1937PTC002629

Company & Directors' Information:- S R PETROLEUM PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U23200MH1999PTC122909

Company & Directors' Information:- N. P. PETROLEUM LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U23201UP1995PLC018153

Company & Directors' Information:- R H PETROLEUM PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U23209MH1996PTC101701

Company & Directors' Information:- DELHI GAS LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U40200DL1995PLC068380

Company & Directors' Information:- K S M PETROLEUM PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U01120TZ1978PTC000800

Company & Directors' Information:- A. M. PETROLEUM PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U51524MH2014PTC255581

Company & Directors' Information:- S V S PETROLEUM PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U51909DL2002PTC116940

Company & Directors' Information:- NEW INDIA PETROLEUM COMPANY LIMITED [Dissolved] CIN = U99999MH1919PTC000534

Company & Directors' Information:- INDIA PETROLEUM COMPANY LIMITED [Dissolved] CIN = U99999MH1936PTC002453

Company & Directors' Information:- DELHI GAS CO. PVT. LTD. [Strike Off] CIN = U99999DL2000PTC003642

    Writ Petition No. 17092 of 2019

    Decided On, 04 March 2020

    At, High Court of Andhra Pradesh

    By, THE HONORABLE JUSTICE: KONGARA VIJAYA LAKSHMI

    For the Petitioner: C.R. Kalyan, Advocate And For the Respondents: R1, B. Krishna Mohan, Asst. Solicitor General of India, R2, Dominic Fernandes, Advocate



Judgment Text


This Writ Petition is filed challenging the notification issued under Section 3(1) and declaration under Section 6 of the Petroleum and Minerals Pipelines (Acquisition of Right of User in Land) Act, 1962 (for brevity ‘the Act’).

The case of the petitioner is that he is the absolute owner of the land admeasuring an extent of Ac.9-20 cents in Survey Nos.59/1B and 60/2 of Sunnampadu village, G. Konduru Mandal, Krishna district; the second respondent issued notification under Section 6(1) of the Act on 18.09.2019 declaring that the petitioner’s land is required for laying a pipeline; at that juncture, the petitioner approached the concerned authorities and came to know that Section 3(1) notification was issued under the Act on 06.09.2017 and that objections under Section 5(1) of the Act were called for and that the declaration under Section 6 of the Act has been issued; no notice under Section 3 of the Act was issued to the petitioner and hence he could not file his objections; the declaration under Section 6 of the Act is not communicated to him; the second respondent was appointed as competent authority under the Act and as he was drawing salary and other emoluments, as an employee of the Corporation he will have bias in favour of the Corporation, hence the petitioner filed the present Writ Petition praying to drop all further proceedings.

Counter affidavit is filed on behalf of the second respondent stating, inter alia, that the Government of India undertook transportation of petroleum products from Paradip in the State of Odisha via State of Andhra Pradesh to Hyderabad through pipeline project 'Paradip –Hyderabad Pipeline Project'; the Indian oil Corporation, a Government of India undertaking, has embarked upon laying prestigious 1212 KMs long pipeline; Section 3(1) notification was published on 11.04.2018 and Section 6 declaration was published on 18.09.2019; individual notice was issued to the petitioner under Section 3(1) of the Act on 17.11.2017 giving 21 days’ time for raising objections under Section 5(1) of the Act, but no objections whatsoever were filed by the petitioner; hence, declaration under Section 6 of the Act was issued; panchanama was also conducted in the presence of Village Revenue Officer and the petitioner refused to sign the panchanama; the substance notices under Sections 3(1) and 6(1) were also published at all the public places as per the Act; the second respondent entered into the Government service as a Probationary Revenue Inspector in the Revenue Department for the State of Andhra Pradesh in the year 1995; he worked as Tahsildar and Mandal Executive Magistrate for more than 4 years from 2010 to 2016 and exercised quasi judicial powers; he completed his B.L Degree and enrolled as an Advocate in 1991; he also practiced at various Courts up to 1995; he also passed Departmental tests in Civil and Criminal, Revenue and Survey tests; for the notices issued under Sections 3(1) and 6(1) of the Act, acknowledgments were also obtained from the petitioner.

Reply affidavit to the counter of the second respondent is filed by the petitioner stating, inter alia, that no notice whatsoever was issued to him under Section 3 (1) of the Act and that the notice which was alleged to have been served on him on 17.11.2017 does not refer under which section the notice was issued; he also filed a table showing the discrepancies in the extents in various proceedings and the same is extracted thus:

Sl.No.

Nature of Proceedings

Survey Number

Extent of land

Total extent of land

1.

Sec.3(1) Notification

59/1 60

Ac.0.32 cts Ac.0.73 cts

Ac.1.05 cts

2.

Sec.6(1) Notification

59/1 60

Ac.0.32 cts Ac.0.73 cts

Ac.1.05 cts

3.

Sec.6(1) Notice

59/1B 60-2

NA

NA

Ac.0.81 cts

4.

Alleged Sec.3(1) Notice

59/1B 60-2

Ac.0.81 cts Ac.0.45 Cts

Ac.1.26 cts


It is also stated that the interim order that was granted on 31.10.2019 staying all further proceedings including laying of pipeline was being extended from time to time and when the matter came up for hearing on 28.01.2020, learned counsel appearing for the respondent Corporation sought time, hence the matter was directed to be listed at his request on 30.01.2020 by extending the interim orders till then; as the matter was not listed on 30.01.2020, taking advantage of the expiry of interim order, the respondent along with his officials came to the subject land with men and machinery and cleared the entire standing cotton crop which is in an extent of Ac.9.20 cents.

Rejoinder is filed by the second respondent stating, inter alia, that Section 3(1) notice along with all details annexed to the receipt was served on the petitioner with proper acknowledgment; the same procedure is being followed in all the three districts; competent authority is not an employee of the Indian Oil Corporation Limited and the Corporation does not have any administrative control over him; he has acted as competent authority for the project on behalf of the Government of India; the petitioner has changed the measurements from ‘Are and Sqm’ to ‘Ac and Cents’, hence, he is liable for prosecution and that there is no discrepancy in the extent of petitioner’s land and the following table is annexed along with the said affidavit showing the details of extent of land in all the notifications and notices;

Sl.No.

Nature of Proceedings

Survey Number

Extent of land

Total extent of land

1.

Sec.3(1) Notification

59/1 60

32 Are 73 Sqm Which equals to 0.81 cents 18 Are which equals to 0.45 cents

Ac.1.26 cts

2.

Sec.3(1) individual notice

59/1B

60-2

Ac.0.81 cts Ac.0.45 Cts

Ac.1.26 cts

3.

Sec.6(1) Notification

59/1 60

32 Are 73 Sqm Which equals to 0.81 cents

18 Are which equals to 0.45 cents

Ac.1.26 cts

4.

Sec.6(1) individual Notice

59/1B

60-2

Ac.0.81 cts Ac.0.45 Cts

Ac.1.26 cts


On 28.01.2020 when the matter came up for hearing, the petitioner’s counsel sought time which was opposed by the counsel for the Corporation as the vacate stay petition was pending by then; the allegation that the Corporation authorities have entered into the petitioner’s land and damaged the standing cotton crop is completely false and the photographs enclosed to the reply affidavit are not of the petitioner’s land; based on the panchanama report, award for land and crop/tree compensation has been passed and it is proposed to acquire Ac.13.52 cents in Sunnampadu village of G. Konduru Mandal as per Section 6(1) notification; out of 51 farmers, 40 farmers have given their consent with regard to an extent of Ac.10.69 cents and they have also taken compensation and that only an extent of Ac.2.83 cents affecting 11 farmers is pending;

Heard Sri Kalyan C.R, learned counsel for the petitioner, and Sri Dominic Fernandes, learned Standing Counsel appearing for the second respondent and with their consent, the Writ Petition is being disposed of at the admission stage.

According to Rule 3 of the Petroleum and Minerals Pipelines (Acquisition of Right of User in Land) Rules, 1963, a copy of such notification issued under Section 3(1) shall be served in the manner laid down in Rule 8 on every person who has been shown in the relevant revenue records as the owner of the land on the date of publication of the notification under sub-rule (1) or who, in the opinion of the Competent Authority is the owner of or interested in, such land. In the counter affidavit filed on behalf of the second respondent, it is specifically stated that notification published under Section 3 of the Act was served on the petitioner and a copy of receipt dated 17.11.2017 is also filed along with the counter affidavit by the Corporation which is signed by the petitioner according to the Corporation. Learned counsel for the petitioner, however, disputes the signature of the petitioner on the said receipt, which is a disputed question of fact, which cannot be decided in the present Writ Petition. Admittedly, no objections have been filed by the petitioner in accordance with Section 5 of the Act. The case of the petitioner is that he was not aware of Section 3(1) notification. According to sub-section (3) of Section 3 the competent authority shall cause the substance of the notification to be published at such places and in such manner as may be prescribed. According to sub-rule (2) of Rule 3 of the said Rules, the substance of the notification referred to in sub-rule (1) shall be published (a) by beat of drum in the neighbourhood of the land the right of user in which is to be acquired; and (b) by affixing a copy thereof in a conspicuous place in the locality in which such land is situated. In the counter affidavit, it is specifically stated that the substance of notification under Sections 3(1) and 6(1) was also affixed in a conspicuous place in the locality in which the land is situated. This fact is not denied by the petitioner. Along with the counter affidavit, the letter dated 14.10.2017 addressed by the second respondent to the District Collector, Krishna district, the Superintendent of Police, Krishna district, the Chief Executive Officer, ZPP, Krishna district and the Sub-Collector, Vijayawada, is also annexed, requesting them to affix the same on the notice board at their respective offices for the knowledge of the general public and a request was also made to give certificate to that effect. A copy of letter was also sent to the Tahsildars of G. Konduru, Jaggaiahpet and A. Konduru Mandals with a request to affix the same in the VRO office and to submit certificate to that effect. A copy of said letter was also sent to the MPDOs of G. Konduru, Jaggaiahpet and A. Konduru Mandals with a request to affix the same in the respective Gram Panchayat offices and by beat of tom-tom and submit a certificate of publication. A copy of the said letter was also sent to the Station House Officers of G. Konduru, Jaggaiahpet and A. Konduru Police Stations with a request to affix the same on the notice board. A letter was also addressed to the Revenue Divisional Officer, Vijayawada on 22.11.2017 with the same request. It is also stated that the panchanama was also conducted in the presence of the Village Revenue officer and the petitioner refused to sign the panchanama and award was also passed with regard to the land and crop compensation. When the Writ Petition came up for admission, an interim order was passed on 31.10.2019 staying all further proceedings including laying of pipeline. In view of the fact that the copy of receipt, showing proof of service of Section 3(1) notification, signed by the petitioner according to the Corporation and denied by the petitioner, is filed along with the counter affidavit, it has to be presumed that the same has been served on the petitioner as the contrary is not proved.

Learned counsel for the petitioner contended that there is discrepancy in the extents of land shown in Section 3(1) and 6(1) notifications and in Section 3(1) and 6(1) notices stated to have been served by the Corporation. According to him, in Section 3(1) notification, the extent is shown as Ac.1.05 cents in Survey Nos.59/1 and 60 and in Section 6(1) notice it is shown as Ac.0.81 cents and in 3(1) notice it is shown as Ac.1.26 cents. However, it is categorically stated by the Corporation that in the said table filed by the petitioner along with reply to the counter affidavit, he has changed the measurements from ‘Are and Sqm’ to ‘Ac and Cents’ and that there is no discrepancy in the extent of the petitioner’s land as alleged by him and it is categorically stated that in Section 3(1) notification the extent is shown as Ac.1.26 cents and even in Section 3(1) notice it is Ac.1.26 cents and similarly in Section 6(1) notification and 6(1) notice it is Ac.1.26 cents. The following table is shown in the additional affidavit of the second respondent.

Sl.No.

Nature of Proceedings

Survey Number

Extent of land

Total extent of land

1.

Sec.3(1) Notification

59/1 60

32 Are 73 Sqm Which equals to 0.81 cents 18 Are which equals to 0.45 cents

Ac.1.26 cts

2.

Sec.3(1) individual notice

59/1B

60-2

Ac.0.81 cts Ac.0.45 Cts

Ac.1.26 cts

3.

Sec.6(1) Notification

59/1 60

32 Are 73 Sqm Which equals to 0.81 cents 18 Are which equals to 0.45 cents

Ac.1.26 cts

4.

Sec.6(1) individual Notice

59/1B 60-2

Ac.0.81 cts Ac.0.45 Cts

Ac.1.26 cts


A perusal of Section 3(1) notification and 3(1) notice and 6(1) notification and 6(1) notice do not show any discrepancy whatsoever.

The next contention raised by the learned counsel for the petitioner is that the second respondent was appointed as a competent authority under section 2(a) of the Act and he will have bias in favour of the Corporation, as he was drawing salary and other emoluments as an employee of the Corporation and in support of the said contention he relies upon the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court reported in Laljibhai Kadvabhai Savaliya v. State of Gujarat (2016) 9 SCC 791).

In Laljibhai Kadvabhai Savaliya’s case (supra), one Deputy Collector was appointed as a competent authority and in the facts of that case it was held that 'the competent authority under the provisions of the PMP Act must also be someone who is holding or has held a judicial office not lower in rank than that of a Subordinate Judge or is a trained legal mind. If such requirement is not read into and not taken as an integral and essential qualification before appointment of any person as competent authority, the provisions in that behalf will not be consistent with the doctrine of fairness under Article 14 of the Constitution of India. At the same time, we hasten to add that actions taken by the competent authority till now, will not in any way stand impaired or be invalidated purely on this count.' And observing thus, the Civil appeals were disposed of.

In the present case, as seen from the profile of the second respondent he is a trained legal person and apart from that his actions cannot be invalidated on that ground.

In Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited v. Yashwant Gajanan Joshi (1991 Supp (2) SCC 592), the Full Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that according to Section 2(a) of the Act competent authority means any person or authority authorized by the Central Government by notification in the official gazette to perform the functions of the competent authority under the Act and accordingly took the view that it was not proper to appoint Mrs. Gadre as competent authority as she was an employee of one of the contesting parties and allowed the Writ Petition. The Hon’ble Supreme Court further held that as seen from the definition of the competent authority there is no restriction on the power of the Central Government to appoint any employee of the Corporation as the competent authority and there is no provision in the Act prohibiting the Central Government to make an appointment of an employee of the Corporation as a competent authority. It was further held as follows.

'13. It may also be pertinent to note that the Legislature has used the words "the amount of which shall be determined by the competent authority in the first instance" (emphasis supplied) in Sub-section (1) of Section 10 of the Act. This clearly shows that in the first instance it has to be decided by the competent authority and such determination shall not attain any finality. Then under Subsection (2) of Section 10 itself it has been provided that if the compensation is not acceptable to either of the parties then an application can be filed before the District Judge. No doubt there is a marked difference in this regard between the provisions of this Act and the provisions contained in the Land Acquisition Act 1894 but in our view Under Section 10(1) the compensation is to be determined by the Competent authority only in the first instance. A party is entitled to raise the ground of bias against an appointment of an individual officer as competent authority on sufficient material placed on record in this regard, but not merely because such competent authority is an employee of the corporation. It cannot be a ground for any disability or disqualification in appointing such person as competent authority. If we take the matter to its logical conclusion the result would be that no employee of the State Government or the Central Government as the case may be will be appointed as competent authority where petroleum and minerals pipelines are to be laid for a project initiated by the State Government or the Central Government respectively. It would be too broad a proposition to extend the theory of bias to exclude persons only because such person draws the salary from the bodies like public corporation, State Government or Central Government. It would altogether be a different case if it was a case of a private employer and his employee. We cannot equate the case of person in private employment with that of a person in public employment. The authorities mentioned above and relied upon by Mr. Dholakia are clearly distinguishable.

14. Now we shall consider the question of the appointment of Mrs. A.R. Gadre as competent authority in the present case. There is a clear averment in the affidavit in reply filed by the respondent No. 1 in this regard that after the retirement of the competent authority Mr. G.S. Parte, Mrs. A.R. Gadre who was special land officer in the office of competent authority was appointed as competent authority vide Notification dated 6.6.1988. Compensation case was decided by the Additional District Judge in favour of the respondent. Mrs. A.R. Gadre in her own name filed a writ petition No. 3606 of 1989 challenging the legality of the award passed by the Additional District Judge. In the said petition she had also prayed for the stay of the further acquisition proceedings. The grievance of the present respondent was that some interim orders of stay were also obtained in the aforesaid writ petition behind the back of the respondent. Even contempt proceedings have also been initiated by the respondent against Mrs. A.R. Gadre and which are still pending before the Bombay High Court. The High Court by the impugned order had removed Mrs. Gadre to function as competent authority and thereafter the Union of India accepted the above position and sought further time to comply with the directions of the High Court. We have already dismissed the Special Leave Petition filed by the Union of India. Thus taking in view the entire facts and circumstances of the case we are inclined to take the view that the respondent was right in contending that Mrs. A.R. Gadre may have bias while determining the amount of compensation as she herself is a litigating party in this very matter in the High Court against the respondent. An apprehension thus in the mind of the respondent is well founded and on this ground we do not find any justification to interfere with the order of the Bombay High Court holding that the appointment of Mrs. Gadre was not valid. We however wish to make it clear that we do not agree with the general proposition of the High Court that an officer of the corporation cannot be appointed as a 'competent authority' because he may be biased in favour of the corporation by reason of his employment. In the result we find no force in this appeal and it is accordingly dismissed with no order as to costs.'

As seen from the above judgment, it is clear that the said judgment was passed in view of the facts and circumstances of that case and the Full Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court also observed that they do not agree with the general proposition of the High Court that an officer of the Corporation cannot be appointed as a competent authority because he may be biased by reason of his employment. Hence, the said judgment does not apply to the facts of the present case.

In Writ Petition No.508 of 2018, decided by the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad, on 20.03.2018, a similar question arose with regard to appointment of competent authority. In the said case, petitioners therein contended that the 6th respondent, though a Government employee, is being paid by respondents 3 and 4 Corporation and hence, there is every possibility to presume that he will have bias in favour of the Corporation. The facts in the said case are similar to the case on hand. The High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad, after taking into consideration all the three judgments referred to above, came to a conclusion that there is no justification to accept the contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner therein that the 6th respondent therein who is a competent authority will act in a biased manner. As the competent authority is also an officer of the State in that case, it was held that as he is an officer of the State

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with vast experience and qualifications, there can be no doubt, as to the technical and legal competency of the said person in determining the compensation and accordingly dismissed the Writ Petition. Apart from that, the authority under the Act will determine the compensation at the first instance and according to Section 10(2) of the Act, if the amount of compensation determined by the competent authority under sub-section (1) is not acceptable to either of the parties, the amount of compensation shall, on application by either of the parties to the District Judge within the limits of whose jurisdiction the land or any part thereof is situated, be determined by that District Judge and according to sub-section (3) of Section 10 the competent authority or the District Judge while determining the compensation under sub-section (1) or sub-section (2), as the case may be, shall have due regard to the damage or loss sustained by any person interested in the land by reason of (i) the removal of trees of standing crops, (ii) the temporary severance of the land under which the pipeline has been laid from other lands belonging to, or in the occupation of, such person; or (iii) any injury to any other property, whether movable or immovable, or the earnings of such persons caused in any other manner and according to sub-section (4) of Section 10 in addition to the compensation, if any, payable under sub-section (1), be liable to pay to the owner and to any other person whose right of enjoyment in that land has been affected in any manner whatsoever by reason of such venting, compensation calculated at 10% of the market value of that land on the date of the notification under subsection (1) of section 3. And according to sub-section (5) of Section 10 if the market value of the land on the said date shall be determined by the competent authority and if the value so determined by that authority is not acceptable to either of the parties, it shall, on application by either of the parties to the District Judge referred to in sub-section (2) be determined by that District Judge. Keeping in view the facts and circumstances of the case and also considering the public interest involved in laying the pipeline, I see no merit in the Writ Petition, hence the same is liable to be dismissed. The Writ Petition is, accordingly, dismissed. There shall be no order as to costs. As a sequel thereto, the miscellaneous petitions, if any, pending in this Writ Petition shall stand closed.
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