JUDGMENT Vikramajit Sen, J.
1. This batch of writ petitions challenges the legality of the acquisition of land contiguous to the existing colony called Rohini, the largest residential colony in Delhi, if not India and Asia. Phases I to IV- of Rohini have already been completed. The assailed acquisition was initiated by the publication of a Notification under Section 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (hereinafter referred to as the Act) bearing No.F.11(19)/2001/LandB/LA/20112 dated 21.3.2003. A scanned copy of the Delhi Gazette: Extraordinary reads thus:
2. We have scanned the Gazette for the reason that learned Counsel for the Petitioners have vehemently contended that the rectangle by means of which the land which is the subject matter of the acquisition has been depicted is misleading. It will be relevant to record that if the actual map is perused, the rectangle would be longer from North to South than West to East. One of the questions that arises is whether this erroneous depiction is sufficient cause for invalidating the acquisition. The Objections received in response to the Notification have been rejected. Thereafter, the Declaration under Section 6 of the Act bearing F.11(11)/2004/L and B/LA/28281, was gazetted, on 19.3.2004 In contrast to the subject Notification, this Declaration mentions the villages, together with Khasra Nos. The villages involved in the acquisition includes Barwala, Rani Khera, Muhamadpur Majri, Karala, Begumpur, Pehladpur Bangar, Pansali, Mundka and Kirari Suleman Nagar (Patti Nithiari). It has strongly been argued that the subject Notification is so vague that it vitiates the acquisition, and that details similar to those contained in the Declaration could easily have been furnished. Notices under Sections 9 and 10 came to be issued on 4.6.2005 and Award No. 6/2005-2006 has been published on 12.7.2005.
3. The Objections under Section 5A are in great detail having been prepared by the Petitioners' Advocates. Some of the Petitioners have filed the Report prepared by the Land Acquisition Collector pursuant to Section 5A of the Act which would be beneficial to extract. It is significant that the Report is not dated:
S. Village No. of Kh.No./Area Comments Remarks No. bjec- involved tors 1 Rani 01 Land measuring The land is As per survey Khera 271-17. Details totally built there exists of the land is up in the form unauthorised annexed in re- of residential colonies in spect of vill- houses, Shops, the land me- age Rani Khera School, Boundary asuring 271-17 wall, roads etc. (details enc- Hence, the same losed) and ba- be left from lance land is acquisition. vacant. Deci- sion as regards non-acquisition of built up are- a/unauthorized colony may be taken up as per the Government policy in res- pect of unaut- horized colonies. 2 Madanp- 72- Details of As per sur- There is no ur Da- 01. the land is vey report mention of bas annexed in there exi- the same in respect of sts a kab- the record. village Ma- ristan in In the bal- danpur Dabas Kh. No. ance land Almost all 25/21 min there exist objectors measuring 1- unauthorized have stated 00. colony cons- to spare th- isting of r- eir land fr- esidential om acquisi- houses, shops, tion as hou- school, roads ses have been etc. Details constructed of which is on it along- enclosed. with other Decision as amenities. regards non -acquisition of built up area/unauth- orized colony may be taken up as per the Government po- licy in resp- ect of unau- thorized co- lonies. 3 Mubar- 39 Details of There exi- The det- akpur 716- the land sts Govt. ail of Dabas 14. is annexed School and which is in respect some priv- annexed of village ate schoo- in the Mubarakpur ls apart built up Dabas Alm- from reli- list. ost all gious str- Decision objectors uctures, as reg- have stated residential ards non to spare th- houses, sh- -acqui- eir land f- ops, roads, sition rom acquis- Kabristan of built ition as ho- etc. up area/ uses have b- unautho- een constr- rized co- ucted on it lony may Along with be taken other ame- up as per nities. the Gove- rnment po- licy in respect of una- uthorized colonies. 4 Muham- 207 Details of Almost all which is ad pur 375 the land is objectors included Majri- -07. annexed in have sta- in the l- Dabas respect of ted to spa- 1st of 10- village Mu- re their la- 71 unaut- hamadpur Ma- nd from acq- horised c- jri Dabas. uisition as olonies, houses have Details of been constr- the built ucted on it up area is Along with ot- enclosed. her amenities -do- plus the- re exists gas godowns. Colo- nies like Rama Vihar etc. 5 Karala 162 Details of Unauthorised The colonies 998 the land is colonies like are fully oc- -13. annexed in Utsav Vihar, cupied and co- respect of Jain Nagar, nsisting of h- village K- Tirath Nagar ouses, shops, arala Almost etc. which religious st- all obje- are included ructures, sc- ctors have in list of hools, kabr- stated to 1071 unaut- istan etc. spare their horised col- Metal roads land from onies exist are in exi- acquisition in the land. stence. De- as houses tails of wh- have been ich is enc- constructed losed. Dec- on it alon- ision as re- gwith other gards non- amenities. acquisition of built up area/unaut- horized col- ony may be taken up as per the Gov- ernment pol- icy in res- pect of una- uthorized colonies. 6 Begum- 852 Details of Unauthorised Details of pur -06. the land is colonies like which is e- annexed in Utsav Vihar, nclosed. De- respect of Begumpur Extn. cision as re- village Be- Naveen Vihar gards non- gumpur Alm- etc. The colo- acquisition ost all obj- nies are fully of built up ectors have occupied and area/unautho- stated to consisting of rized colony spare their houses, shops, may be taken land from religious up as per the acquisition structures, sc- Government po- as houses hools, kabr- licy in respect have been istan etc. of unauthorized constructed MCD has cons- colonies. Cons- on it alon- tructed roads olidation took gwith other on the said la- place in early amenities. nd. fifties. Since Some have then the Lal sanctioned dora has not farm house. been extended. 7 Kirari 947 Details of Almost all Details of Suleman 5414 the land is objectors built up a- Nagar -09. annexed in have stated read is enc- respect of to spare th- losed. Deci- village Ki- eir land from sion as reg- rari Sule- acquisition ards non- man Nagar. as houses acquisition have been co- of built up nstructed on area/unaut- it Along with horized col- other amenit- ony may be ies. Unautho- taken up as rised colonies per the Gov- like Prem Na- ernment policy gar-I, II and in respect of III etc. are unauthorized in existence colonies. Note: which have be- vacant land de- en included in tails is encl- the list of osed. Balance 1071 colonies. land is built 13-14 Govt. Sc- up. hool Along with many a private schools are al- so in existence. The land is th- ickly populated. 8 Kirari 10 Details of Almost all Details of Sule- 889 the land objectors which is e- man Na- -14. is annexed have stat- nclosed. De- gar (Pa- in respect ed to spare cision as r- tti Nit- of village their land egards non- hari) Kirari Su- from acqui- acquisition leman Nagar sition as of built up (Patti Ni- houses ha- area/unaut- thari) ve been co- horized col- nstructed ony may be on it alon- taken up as gwith other per the Gov- amenities. ernment pol- Unauthorised icy in res- colonies like pect of unau- Prem Nagar- thorized col- III and other onies. colonies are in existence which have b- een included in the list of 1071 colo- nies. All ba- sic facilities exists in the colonies. Th- ere exists Govt. Schools and private School in the land in que- stion. 9 Pehl- 113 Details of Almost all Hence, the sa- adpur 496- the land is objectors me be excluded Bangar 02. annexed in have stat- from the acqu- respect of ed to spare isition and village Peh- their land falling wi- ladpur Bangar from acqu- thin the li- isition as mit of 50 me- houses have ters from been const- the village ructed on Abadi. The it along- list of Kh. No. with ot- adjoining the her amen- lal dora area ities. 39//7, 8, 9,10, Kh.No. 45/ 13, 14/1, 14/2 2, 9, 12, , 17, 16, 25, 19, 22, 40//20/, 21/1, 52/1, 2, 22/2, 38/19, 9, 10, 22/1, 23/1, 46 11, 12, //26, 9, 19, 22, 19, 20, 23, 51//3, 4, 7, 21 and 22 8, 13, 14, 6, which was 15, 51//11, 20, notified 12, 19, 17, 18, U/s 4 of 16, 25, 23/1, 23 the L.A. /2, 22/1, 22/2, Act dated 211, 21/2, 24. 27.10.99 Apart from above was later there exists Go- excluded vt. School, Govt. from the Hospital and ND- acquisi- PL office in the tion U/s following Kh.No. 6 issued 38//2, 3, 4, 5, on dated 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 3.4.2000 13, 14, 15, 24, on the gr- 26, 27, 28, 29, ound that 30, 37//14/2, 17, the lands 18, 23, 24/1, is built 24/2, 46//26 min, up and wi- 27, 10, 11, 12, thin 50 me- 19. There exist ters range community centre of Lal Do- in Kh. No. 46//2, ra/village 3. The aforesaid Abadi. The Kh. No. be left aforesaid from acquisition. land is As regards other falling in built up struc- the present tures there exist notificati- Jain Colony which on and as has been included such the in the 1071 colo- same is bei- ny decision may ng excluded be taken up as from the dr- per the Govern- aft notific- ment policy in ation. Fur- respect of unau- ther, it is thorized colon- also stated ies. that the co- nsolidation took place in the year 1954 and si- nce then the population of the vill- age has incr- eased by man- ifolds but the lal dora remained the same. As such, the villagers have constr- ucted their house adjoi- ning the lal dora. 10 Pansali 375 Details of Almost all Details of 134- the land objectors built up 16. is annexed have stat- area is en- in respect ed to spare closed. De- of village their land cision to Pansali. from acqui- spare the sition as said land houses have from acqu- been const- isition m- ructed on ay be taken it alongw- up as per ith other the Govern- amenities. ment policy There exists in respect unauthorized of unauth- colonies. T- orized col- he houses h- onies. ave been bu- ilt in 25-30 Sq.yds land. Also there exists reli- gious struc- tures. 11 Barwala 311 Details of Almost all Details of 362- the land objectors such land 69. is annexed have stat- is enclo- in respect ed to spare sed in the of village their land built up li- Barwala from acqui- st of the v- sition as illage. The houses have consolidation been const- of the village ructed on it took place in Along with o- early 50 alth- ther ameni- ough the popu- ties. There lation has inc- exists a te- reased by many mple about folds the vill- 60-70 years age Abadi has old out of remained the Kh. No. 10/ same as such /26. Sent- villagers have ments of constructed th- people are a- eir houses adj- ttached with oining the vil- it. Hence, t- lage Abadi. he temple be left from ac- quisition. Th- ere exists Ka- bristan in Kh. No. 86. But as per survey re- port factory is running on the aforesaid land. As per record the l- and belongs to Wakf Board. Also as per survey report there exists plots issued under 20 po- int programme (there is no mention of it in the record). Other land of the Wakf Board are 28//27 (m- asjid), 20 (va- cant land). Ap- art from it th- ere exists govt. school out of Kh. No. 82. Sham- shan Ghaat exi- sts in Kh. No. 33 //13 min. Other Govt. Building exists in Kh. No. 28//12, 13, 19. The said land be left from acq- uisition. More- over the land is within the 50 me- ter range of the village Abadi. Also there exists farmhouse adjoin- ing the village. 12 Pooth 53 Details of There exists Details of Khurd 13- the land is houses and built up 10. annexed in shops in the area is en- respect of said land. closed. Deci- village Po- Moreover the sion to deno- oth Khurd said land is tify the same Almost all adjoining the may be taken objectors Lal Dora of in consulta- have sta- village Bar- tion with the ted to sp- wala and 50 requisitioning are their meter range deptt. land from of village acquisition Barwala. as houses have been constructed on it along- with other amenities. 13 Khera 14 Details of Almost all There exist Khurd 42- the land is objectors Farm House 15. annexed in have stated and other respect of to spare th- structure/ village Kh- eir land from boundarywall eda Khurd acquisition and Samadhi. as houses No case be have been deleted from constructed acquisition. on it alon- gwith other amenities.
4. It is in this factual matrix that the acquisition has been assailed on several grounds by Mr. Ravindra Sethi and Mr.P.N. Lekhi, learned Senior Advocates among other learned Counsel for the Petitioners. We shall now endeavor to deal with each one of these Objections.
A. CHANGE OF PUBLIC PURPOSE
5. The Notification recites that it appears to the Lt. Governor, Delhi that land is likely to be required to be taken by Government at public expense for a public purpose namely for Rohini Residential Scheme. The recital in the Declaration is to the effect that "the Lt. Governor, Delhi is satisfied that land is required to be taken by Government at the public expense for a public purpose namely for ROHINI RESIDENTIAL SCHEME under Planned Development of Delhi". It has been contended on behalf of the Petitioners that the Rohini Residential Scheme has not been made public, and that it has not been conceived of under the Delhi Development Act. The public purpose should, it is argued, have been mentioned in the proper detail, and since it is vague, the entire proceedings are illegal and should be struck down by us. Reliance has been placed on Hajari v. The State of M.P. Bhopal . Speaking for the Full Bench Justice J.S. Verma, as the learned Chief Justice of India then was, opined that if the name of the village has been specified this would ordinarily be sufficient compliance of Section 4(1) of the Act as it indicated the 'locality' that was affected by the proposed acquisition. This decision is not an authority for the proposition that the village(s) must invariably be named. In fact, the Full Bench observed that if blocks within the village were left out, confusion may be created in the minds of the villagers. The essence of the Judgment is that the locality can be detailed by mentioning the village concerned, but this is only one of the methods that can be adopted. This decision also does not advance the argument that a diagram mentioning the boundaries of the land that is proposed to be acquired is legally improper.
6. A similar opinion can also be found in the decision of the Full Bench in Bahori Lal v. Land Acquisition Officer . The question that had arisen was whether the description of the land sought to be acquired without giving the number of plots but by referring to a map which could be inspected in Office of the Collector fulfillled the expectations of the law. In that case a mention had been made that the land proposed to be acquired was to the extent of 2.15 acres in Mauza Mathura, Pargana Mathura and District Mathura and that a Site Plan was available for perusal in the Office of the Collector. Obviously, this description was too wide to indicate the particular land which was to be acquired. Mr. Sethi has also relied on Narendra Jit Singh v. The State of U.P. 1970(1) SCC 125. It was observed in paragraph 8 as follows - "Section 4 does not require that the identity of the lands which may ultimately be acquired should be specified but it enjoins upon the Government the duty to specify the locality in which the land is needed. In the instant cases the notifications suffer from a very serious defect in that the locality where the lands were needed was not satisfied. The notification merely showed that lands mentioned in the schedule were needed. The schedule in its turn though it contained the headings District, Pargana, Mauza and approximate area, gave no particulars of the same and all that was mentioned by way of a note was that the plan of the land might be inspected in the office of the Collector of Rampur. As no details were given, the only indication about the locality of the lands was possibly the District of Rampur inasmuch as the plan of the land was to be found in the office of the collector of the same district. Certainly the Act did not intend that all the persons owning land in a district should rush to the Collector's office to find out whether his lands were covered by the notification". The underlined sentence runs counter to the arguments put forward before us. In Narindrajit Singh and Ranjit Singh v. The State of U.P. no compliance of Section 4(1) of the Act was made on the specious understanding that this was not required because Section 17(4) of the Act had been invoked. State of Mysore v. Abdul Razak Sahib is distinguishable for the reason that whilst the Notification under Section 4 was issued in the Official Gazette on August 17, 1961, notices, as required by that Section, were not published in the locality till November, 1961. The action was struck down on this short ground. These decisions are therefore irrelevant.
7. Learned Counsel for the Petitioners have also relied on Madhya Pradesh Housing Board v. Mohd. Shafi because of two findings made therein. Their Lordships noted that a perusal of the schedule appended to the Section 4(1) Notification showed that the only description given about the particulars of 2.29 hectares of land proposed to be acquired was that it was situated in District Mandsaur, Tehsil Mandsaur, Village Mandsaur. Secondly, the 'public purpose' for which the land was required was stated to be 'residential'. This decision is of no relevance since the boundaries stated in the subject Notification leave no doubt of the lands which fall within the contemplation of the Notification. Learned Counsel for the Petitioners have failed to sufficiently substantiate how the mention of the high tension line at the Western extremity of the land is at all nebulous. Similar is the position as far as the North is concerned since the Yamuna Canal has been adverted to which cannot create confusion. The position is similar so far as the South is concerned since the Rohtak Railway Line has been depicted. The Eastern boundary refers to Phase -IV and V of the land already acquired which obviously has reference to Rohini. Persons whose land had not been acquired, at the Eastern extremity of the Notification corresponding to the Western side of Rohini Phase IV and V have been clearly put to notice of the intentions of the Government, and that such persons could avail of the opportunity of filing Objections under Section 5A of the Act. In the present case we are dealing with 3000 hectares of land and it is certainly arguable that if minute and specific details had been given in the subject Notification, it may be undecipherable and incomprehensible to the concerned person. The Court must be satisfied that the description was not such as would confuse the public with regard to which land is sought to be acquired leading to a failure to exercise the invaluable rights to object to the acquisition in terms of Section 5A of the Act. Looking at the subject Notification we are of the view that it conveys to the public in a most satisfactorily definite manner of the lands which are proposed to be acquired. We have already noted that the development of several phases of Rohini has reached an advance stage. All citizens of Delhi, and definitely owners and occupiers of land adjoining or surrounding the existing Rohini complex, cannot but be aware of what is commonly known as the Rohini Residential Scheme as also that this Scheme is an important part of the Planned Development of Delhi.
8. No useful purpose can be served by referring to Munshi Singh v. Union of India since this decision has been considered by the Constitution Bench in Aflatoon v. Lt. Governor of Delhi , in which the Apex Court had granted its imprimatur to the phrase 'Planned Development of Delhi'. It appears plain to us that the mention of Rohini Residential Scheme provides added detail, and therefore cannot be faulted. So far as the shape of the rectangular is concerned, since boundaries have already been disclosed, likelihood of confusion is minimal. Secondly, the fact that the rectangle should be vertical and not horizontal is not a factor which would weigh in the minds of the owners/occupiers of the land. This discrepancy would be noted only by an astute advocate, who in any case would harbour no doubt as to the extent of the acquisition on a perusal of the boundaries mentioned in the subject Notification. Topically, the Apex Court was satisfied that the public purpose for acquisition of land measuring 3000 acre 'for the execution of the Interim General Plan for the greater Delhi' satisfied the requirements of the Act in Lila Ram, Birla Cotton Spg. and Wvg. Mills v. The Union of India . In S. Gurdial Singh v. Ludhiana Improvement Trust their Lordships were satisfied that since the map and the scheme was available for inspection, and was also annexed to the Declaration, failure to disclose the public purpose would not invalidate the acquisition.
9. In this context Mr. Lekhi has drawn our attention to Articles 239AA, 243E and 243F as also Section 50 of The Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957. It was on this basis that he has submitted that rather than draw up a plan in the Notification, a reference should have been made to Wards, Khasra Nos. etc. The fallacy in the argument is that this may be one of the methods whereby land can be described for any purpose, but not the only one. So far as Section 4 of the Act is concerned the Notification must indicate the lands which may fall under the acquisition hammer in order to put the owners/occupiers to caution that firstly Government officials can enter upon the land to inspect it with a view to assess its suitability for achieving the public purpose mentioned in the Notification, and secondly to enable the parties affected by Notification to remonstrate against and resist the proposal by filing Objections under Section 5A. In our opinion the Declaration under Section 6 must perforce be in greater detail so far specifications of the land are concerned since it has the effect of expropriating the land and not merely to put the public to notice of the intention to do so. We find no error in the manner of description of the land in the subject Notification delineated for acquisition.
B. ACQUISITION OF LANDS SLATED FOR REGULARISATION
10. The Deputy Director (LA), Land and Building Department, Government of NCT in terms of his Affidavit dated 25.4.2007 has duly disclosed that there are 1432 applications from Resident Welfare Association for regularisation of unauthorised colonies in NCT of Delhi. Of the 1072 such clusters 46 unauthorised colonies are stated by him to be in existence in the Rohini Residential Scheme (Zone M+H). A map has also been filed with the Affidavit. There is some controversy as to whether the land in question falls within these unauthorised colonies slated for regularisation but we shall proceed on the basis that the Petitioners' lands/properties fall within the category of colonies likely to be regularised. The submission of the Respondents, however, is that regularisation has no bearing on acquisition, which has to be completed in consonance with the provisions of the Act. On the other hand learned Counsel for the Petitioners contend that no purpose would be served in acquisition of the land if it is to be subsequently regularised. These arguments have already been considered by the Full Bench of this Court in Roshnara Begum v. Union of India AIR 1996 Delhi 206, which stands affirmed by the Supreme Court in Murari v. Union of India . Their Lordships have observed that where large expanses of land were to be acquired for the `Planned Development of Delhi", it would not be proper to leave out portions there from only because construction had been carried out. The Full Bench had noted that in the event that any of the Petitioners were covered by some policy of regularising the unauthorised colonies the proper course to be adopted was to approach the Government and not to question the acquisition. The Full Bench had also affirmed the approach of an earlier Division Bench in Shri Bhagwan v. Union of India 1991(2) Delhi Lawyer 59 (DB). B.N. Kirpal, J., as learned Chief Justice of India then was, speaking for the Division Bench in Shri Bhagwan had observed that administrative instructions where the Lt. Governor exercises the statutory power that cannot be curtailed by Administrative authorities can always change or modify their earlier decisions, except where principles of promissory estoppel have come into operation, i.e. where the petitioners had acted to their detriment as a result of that administrative policy. The Bench also rejected the argument that where large-scale habitation on lands has already come into existence, its acquisition ought not to be carried out. The Bench pithily observed that they were not dealing with the acquisition of land for allotment to a society, but rather for the `Planned Development of Delhi". The Bench also repulsed the postulation that agricultural land could not be earmarked for industrial or residential requirements, applying Bharat Singh v. State of Haryana . The opening arguments that the "petitioners will be rendered homeless and thousands, if not lacs, of families will be uprooted if the acquisition is not quashed" did not impress the Division Bench. This approach has also been favored by another Division Bench of this Court presided over Y.K. Sabharwal, J., as the learned Chief Justice of India then was, titled Prem Chand Ramesh Chand v. Delhi Development Authority 66(1997) DLT 482(DB), noting the argument "that there is any public policy to regularise unauthorised colonies or there is a policy decision not to acquire built up area, are concluded against the petitioner by a Division Bench decision of this Court in the case of Attar Singh v. DDA CW 3110 of 1991 decided on 10th August, 1992". In Attar Singh the Division Bench recorded that it had been "contended that unauthorised colonies on Government land are sought to be regularised. It is possible that a political decision to this effect may be taken with regard to some of the colonies but as far as this land is concerned, there have been valid proceedings for acquisition under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act. If there was any built-up area as on the date when Section 4 Notification was issued, the claimants would be entitled to receive compensation in accordance with law". Ironically, it is Mr. Ravinder Sethi who had ably argued Prem Chand Ramesh Chand, but for the Respondent/DDA. Alas, he did not bring Prem Chand Ramesh Chand to our notice. In this analysis this is now the well-entrenched view, taken by the three Division Benches of this Court, as also the Full Bench in Roshnara Begum, affirmed by the Supreme Court in Murari. Unfortunately, the same points are agitated time and again before each and every Bench to which the Land Acquisition Roster is assigned.
C. SHOULD PUBLIC POLICY PREVAIL OVER STATUtorY LAW
11. It was in these circumstances that Mr. Lekhi has contended that statute law is always subservient to public policy. According to him, Public Policy dictates that no injury or deviation can be tolerated to the welfare of citizenry, and by the same token tendencies harmful to the public. Public Policy as defined in the Black's Law Dictionary is - "The general principles by which a government is guided in its management of public affairs, or the legislature in its measures". We have read the decision of the House of Lords in Fender v. Mildmay 1937 (Vol.3) All ELR 403 (at page 414). However, in our opinion, the observations are of no assistance to the Petitioners. In his speech Lord Thankerton has said that "there can be little question as to the proper function of the courts in questions of public policy. Their duty is to expound, and not to expand, such policy. That does not mean that they are precluded from applying an existing principle of public policy to a new set of circumstances, where such circumstances are clearly within the scope of the policy. Such a case might well arise in the case of safety of the state, for instance. No such case is suggested here". No such case is made out even before us. Public Policy cannot override statutory law except in very rare circumstances. It cannot be gainsaid that Public Policy, in fact, finds expression in enactments of Parliament. It is inconceivable that Public Policy can run counter to the will of Parliament. Mr. Lekhi's reliance on the following passage from De Smith Woolf and Jowell Judicial Review of Administrative Action is not logical. On the contrary the observations militate against the Petitioners since they have indubitably acted against the law and their endeavor is to profit from their own misdeeds: Associated with the presumption of implied human rights is the presumption that Parliament intends the powers it confers to be exercised in accordance with "public policy". Public Policy is an "unruly horse" which must be ridden with care, but it is the public law equivalent of private law equitable principles, such as that which states that no person may benefit from his own wrong. Thus the courts will presume that Parliament did not intend to imperil the welfare of the state or its inhabitants. In a recent case public policy has even been held to override the clear terms of a statute, when to conform with the letter of the statute might have endangered a life.
12. As has been correctly emphasised by learned Counsel for the Respondents the land in question is agricultural in nature and contrary to this embargo, the Petitioners have on their own showing constructed residential, commercial or factory structures. We are also unable to accept Mr. Lekhi's argument, which is in derogation of his argument of the preeminence of Public Policy, that the Cabinet has approved the scheme to regularise unauthorised colonies. The impugned acquisition proceeds on the strength of the Act and till such time amendments are carried out to this statute, a Cabinet decision would have no legal efficacy. Our attention has also been drawn to the opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court in Ellis Gregory, Jr. and Anthony P. Nugent, Jr. Judges, v. John D. Ashcroft, Governor of Missouri 115 L. Ed. 2d 410. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, speaking for the majority, had observed as follows:
"Policy" is defined as "a definite course or method of action selected (as by a government, institution, group, or individual) from among alternatives and in the light of given conditions to guide and usu[ally] determine present and future decision". Webster's Third New International Dictionary 1754 (1976). Applying that definition, it is clear that the decision making engaged in by common-law judges, such as petitioners, places them "on the policymaking level".
In resolving disputes, although judges do not operate with unconstrained discretion, they do choose "from among alternatives" and elaborate their choices in order "to guide and... determine present and future decisions". The quotation from Justice Holmes in the majority's opinion, is an eloquent description of the policymaking nature of the judicial function. Justice Cardozo also stated it well:
Each [common-law judge] indeed is legislating within the limits of his competence. No doubt the limits for the judge are narrower. He legislates only between gaps. He fills the open spaces in the law.... [W]ithin the confines of these open spaces and those of precedent and tradition, choice moves with a freedom which stamps its action as creative. The law which is the resulting product is not found, but made". B. Cardozo, The Nature of the Judicial Process 113-115 (1921).
Moreover, it should be remembered that the statutory exception refers to appointees "on the policymaking level," not "policymaking employees". Thus, whether or not judges actually make policy, they certainly are on the same level as policymaking officials in other branches of government and therefore are covered by the exception. The degree of responsibility vested in judges, for example, is comparable to that of other officials that have been found by the lower courts to be on the policymaking level. See, e.g., EEOC v. Reno 758 F2d 581 (CA11 1985) (assistant state attorney); EEOC v. Board of Trustees of Wayne Cty. Comm. Coll. 723 F2d 509 (CA6 1983) (president of community college).
13. We have given due deference to these weighty words but once again fail to appreciate their applicability. If the Cabinet has decided to regularise illegal colonies, it must further ensure that its decision is translated into law. Until this happens, there are no 'gaps' or 'open spaces' for us to fill-up. We cannot see how we will not be transgressing the very boundaries set-out in Ellis Gregory if we apply what at best is inchoate or is law in preference to statutory provisions that have held sway for over a century.
D. CHALLENGE TO SECTION 4 NOTIFICATION
14. So far as the public character of the assailed acquisition is concerned it is no longer possible to argue that the Planned Development of Delhi is not a public purpose as envisaged under the Act. There is no precedential or statutory warrant for the submission on behalf of the Petitioners that the Notification must mention Khasra Nos. as well as the name of the village or revenue estate etc. The locality which is within the purview of the proposed acquisition must be indicated in any manner which has the effect of notifying and cautioning persons possessing an interest in such lands that it would be advisable for them to take recourse to Section 5A if they intend to oppose the proposed expropriation of these lands. The fact that the rectangle does not exactly and correctly correspond to the actual map of the area in the Notification is irrelevant in view of the precise boundaries shown in the Notification. While it may be advisable to mention the locality in the minute manner employed in the Notification dated November, 1959, outlining its boundaries is also an acceptable method. This view has been adopted in Baldev Singh Dhillon v. Union of India , in which Mr.Lekhi appeared for the Petitioners. The Notification need not be physically signed by the Lt. Governor, so long as it is a direct product of his decision. The impugned Notification may have been signed by the Dy. Secretary (LA) but this officer has done so on the orders of and in the name of the Lt. Governor of Delhi and hence the objection is without merit. We are also not impressed by the contention that the Lt. Governor blindly acceded to the Minister"s desire to carry out further acquisitions on one of his visits to the locality. After detailed and protracted parleys in the Department, the following Note had been prepared by the Deputy Secretary (LA) and approved by the higher echelons:
A proposal for acquisition of land measuring approximately 3000 hectare adjacent to the land already acquired for Rohini Residential Scheme was received from Director (LM) HQ, DDA vide letter dt. 31.10.2000 (1/c) Copy of the plan has also been received in this office from Joint Director (NL), DDA vide his letter dt. 29.8.2001 (p 16/c). A reminder in this regard was also received from Joint Director (NL), DDA vide his letter dt.25/26.7.2001.
The proposal so received was forwarded to ADM/LAC (North-west) vide this office letter dt.12.7.2001 and its reminders dt.14.8.2001 (p 14/c), 03.10.2001 (p 18/c), 24.12.2001 (p 20/c) and d.o. Letters from Secretary (LandB) to Divisional Commissioner, dt.9.4.2002 (p24/c) and 17.6.2002 (p 27/c). Vide which he was requested to send the draft notification Under Section 4 of LA Act, joint survey report and other relevant record.
ADM/LAC (North-west) vide his letter dt.25.6.2002 (p 29/c) had forwarded the draft notification Under Section 4 in respect of land measuring approximately 3000 hectare adjacent to the land already acquired for Rohini Residential Scheme (p 28/c). The same was got scrutinized by the revenue officials of this department and found to be in order (22/N). Accordingly and as per the suggestion of Secretary (LandB) at page 24/N and 25/N, draft notification Under Section 4 under normal clause in respect of the said land was attempted and got compared by the revenue officials of this department ( 26/N).
Similarly vide letter No. F.9(55) /2000/CRC/North/520 dated 29.8.2001, Director (LM) HQ, had requested that approx. 14 hectare of land is to be acquired for the proposed 100 meter road connecting GT Karnal Road to Rohtak Road and is part of Rohini Residential Scheme Phase IV and V. Vide this Office letter dt.3.10.2001 ADM/LAC (Northwest) was requested to forward draft notification in respect of this land.
Vide letter dt. 25.11.02 ADM/LAC(Northwest) forwarded the draft notification in respect of 14 hectare land placed at 46 and 47/C. Based on this draft notification Under Section 4 has been prepared and placed at page 49/C. In view of the above, if approved, we may request Hon'ble LG to kindly accord his approval for issuance of notification Under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 under normal clause in respect of land measuring approx. 3000 Hectare adjacent to the land already acquired for Rohini Residential Scheme and approx. 14 hectares of land for 100 meter road. Accordingly two draft notification are added for kind approval which are placed at pages 48/c and 49/c respectively.
(H.D.MAHI) DEPUTY SECRETARY (LA) 10.1.03 JOINT SECRETARY( LandB) The Note was received in the Office of the Lt. Governor on 15-1-2003 and his consent was given a fortnight later. There is adequate material to assume that the Lt. Governor had considered the proposal in all its complexities. It is not essential, nor in fact pragmatically possible, for a detailed scheme to be in place at the time of either the subject Notification, or for that matter on the publication of the Declaration under Section 6. While exercising judicial review we are not expected to substitute our satisfaction in place of the satisfaction of the Government of NCT of Delhi. There is enough material on the record to substantiate that the Notification follows a due exercise of mind by the Lt. Governor. We are also unable to accede to the arguments of learned Counsel for the Petitioners that the detailed Plan mentioned in the Notification was not available for inspection in the Office of the Collector.
E. VALIDITY OF SECTION 5A PROCEEDINGS
15. Although it has been argued that proper publication of the subject Notification had not been carried out in the locality, nevertheless a substantial number of Objections under Section 5A had been filed before the Land Acquisition Collector by persons interested in the land under acquisition. These Objections have been drafted and even signed by Advocates. It would therefore be fair to assume that all aspects of law have been properly covered in the Objections and the interests of all inhabitants/occupants have been covered. The Petitioners have asserted therein, as well as in the writ petitions, that the Plans had not been made available to them. We find no foundation for this incredible accusation except for the Petitioners" ipse dixit. But even otherwise nothing substantial turns on it as we are satisfied that the Notification adequately indicates the boundaries of land which had come within its sweep. Whatever doubt that may have remained would have been understood by the Advocates of the Petitioners who prepared and filed the Objections. Approximately 2500 Objections are stated to have been filed. It is sanguine to suspect that the interests of the Petitioners had not been safeguarded to the hilt. Yet another assertion had been levelled against the Respondents, namely, that a proper hearing had not been granted to the Petitioners. We find no basis for this submission. As mentioned above, the Petitioners were represented by common Advocates. The Report (supra) prepared in respect of Section 5A is indicative of the fact that a proper hearing had been given to the Petitioners and their Advocates. Learned Senior Counsel for the Petitioners have sought to contend that all the Objections should have been considered separately which we summarily reject in the facts of the present batch of petitions. The Collector is not expected to draft his Report as if he were writing a judgment. Portions of this Report, it should not be forgotten, were not in favor of the proposed acquisition. We find no merit in the argument that the Report is "non-speaking" and it is vitiated for non-application of mind.
F. COMPLIANCE WITH SECTION 6
16. It has been enunciated several times by the Supreme Court that Sections 4, 5A and 6 have to be read and interpreted conjointly. This is so because their fields of operation are interwoven and are integrated cogs in the acquisition wheel. The most important of the three provisions is Section 6 which actually alters, with finality, the rights of the owners, occupiers or persons interested in the land. When a decision is taken under Section 6, the Lt. Governor would carefully consider the Report of the Collector under Section 5A. While doing so he would invariably become broadly acquainted with the Objections preferred by the owners/occupiers/persons interested in the land since they would have been addressed and answered in the Report. Section 6(1) only contemplates that the appropriate Government should consider the Collector's Report, and therefore it is futile to contend that all the Objections (in the present case as many as 2500) should be actually and/or separately perused. Anyone who carefully reads the Report (supra) would become alive inter alia to the factors that (a) there were several cases where large scale construction had been carried out, (b) that regularisation of these illegal colonies was under the active consideration of the Government, (c) that the Petitioners had challenged that the acquisition was not for public purposes, (d) that hundreds of persons had remonstrated against the proposal which would have the effect of displacing and uprooting lakhs of citizens from their homesteads etc. The Petitioners have themselves asseverated in the writ petitions that the Collector "has neither accepted nor rejected the written objections. He has given no reasons in support of either, whichever manner his disposal of the written objections is read". The Correspondence and nothings also deal with the many complexities that have become manifest in these litigations. The pros and cons of the acquisition were at large before the Lt. Governor. Assuming that the Report suffers from equivocation, ambivalence and indefiniteness, the Lt. Governor had no alternative but to exercise his mind and take his own decision in the matter, even if he did so in the course of one day, as has been asserted by the Petitioners, and remarkably not traversed by the Respondents. We must agree with Mr. Lekhi that the legal quality and procedural propriety of the pleadings or counter-affidavits is very shoddy. However, we cannot travel with Mr. Lekhi the whole distance, viz. that every statement in the response of the Respondents should be ignored inter alia because the verifications are improper or because the defense has been prepared by the authority not directly concerned with the issue. It is our hope that the Government henceforward conforms to the detailed parawise reply to writ petitions, as has been the well established practice. Otherwise the High Court may become intolerant of every failure to comply with legal rigours of pleadings and cases would be lost by the Government, regardless of their merits.
17. The Petitioners have incorrectly pleaded that the Lt. Governor passed an Order of one line on 17.3.2004 to the effect that - "I agree to the proposal at 'A' prepage for the issue of notification under Section 6". The Respondents have not specifically traversed the statements in paragraph 64 of WP(C) No. 15946/2004 wherein it has been stated that after the Land Acquisition Collector had sent said Report to the Secretary (LandB) Department, the latter sent only the Report to the Lt. Governor/Administrator vide his note dated 16.3.2004 without noting the detailed 2500 odd objections filed; and that the Lt. Governor passed an Order for the issuance of the Declaration on 17.3.2004 The contention of the Petitioner is that since these decisions were taken on successive dates, the Lt. Governor/Administrator could not possibly have exercised his mind with the diligence that the subject matter requires. We have already observed that the Act does not contemplate that the Lt. Governor must peruse each and every Objections. If this were so it would become well-nigh impossible to take a decision within the period prescribed by the statute. It, however, remains uncontested that the Lt. Governor had before him not only the Report under Section 5A but also a detailed note authored by the Secretary (LandD). As in the Report the recommendations of the Secretary (LandD) did not unequivocally and without qualification recommend the complete acquisition by the promulgation of the Declaration under Section 6. The Petitioners have tried to mislead us by stating that a one line Order had been passed by the Lt. Governor and for this reason we are reproducing below the said Order in its entirety. It will be evident from the reading of the Order that it was well-informed, duly considered and taken without undue haste. It makes it abundantly clear that a decision to publish the Declaration had been taken after the Lt. Governor/Administrator was subjectively satisfied of the expediency of this measure.
I agree to the proposal at 'A' prepage for the issue of notification under Section 6.
For exclusion of the heavily built up areas, which the government has agreed to regularise, we should make use of the aerial photographs of March 2002. I am informed by Principal Secretary(UD) that prints of those photographs have not yet become available and that we are expecting them by end-March. As soon as we get them, we should transpose the photographs on the sizra and an exercise should be undertaken to delineate the outer boundary of the built up parts and exclude the khasra numbers falling within that outer boundary from further proceedings under the Land Acquisition Act. That boundary should also be taken as the limit of regularisation and if authenticated copies should be sent to the agencies concerned with regularisation and provision of infrastructure. Secretary(Land) may work on this approach further and refine it in its implementational details.
Vijai Kapoor Lieutenant Governor 17.03.2004
18. Learned Senior Counsel for the Petitioners have belaboured the fact that the succeeding Lt. Governor was of the opinion that the method of superimposition of aerial maps on sizra has its own problems. Our attention has also been drawn to subsequent nothings dealing with acquiring the entire tract of land in the face of the likelihood of regularisation of unauthorised colonies. No useful purpose will be served in doing so since the subsequent nothings and comments do not impinge upon the propriety of the Declaration dated March 19, 2004 pursuant to the decision of the Lt. Governor dated March 17, 2004 At best these subsequent events, discussions and observations would be relevant for a decision to allow or disallow the Denotification of the acquired land in terms of Section 48 of the Act, in which neither the Writ Court nor the Civil Courts have any role to play. We are satisfied that the Declaration dated 19.3.2004 has been issued in consonance with the procedure.
G. OTHER GROUNDS BUT WHICH HAVE ALREADY BEEN REJECTED
19. A number of other grounds have been raised by learned Senior Counsel for the Petitioners. It is argued that the Rohini Residential Scheme is not a statutory Scheme. It appears that this question had also been raised and rejected by this Court in Baldev Singh Dhillon, to which our attention was not drawn during the opening arguments. Learned Counsel for the Respondents had in their Arguments in Reply made reference to the said decision. We must immediately state that learned Senior Counsel for the Petitioners ought to have first brought Baldev Singh Dhillon to our notice straightaway and thereafter had endeavored to convince us that that decision should not be affirmed or approved. It is specious to contend that the factual matrix in Baldev Singh Dhillon is different to that obtaining in these Petitions and hence it was not necessary for learned Counsel to preface their arguments with a reference to the said case. Mr. Lekhi had fruitlessly relied on paragraph 312 of Bombay Dyeing and Mfg. Co. Ltd.(3) v. Bombay Environmental Action Group . It is of no assistance whatsoever to the Petitioners as it does not excuse them for failing to draw our attention to dialectic of Baldev Singh Dhillon. It is too simplistic to contend that Baldev Singh Dhillon deals with the channelisation of River Yamuna with which we are not presently concerned. There is no manner of doubt that our attention should have been drawn to Baldev Singh case prior to raising contentions that had already been answered in that case. Paragraph 312 of the Bombay Dyeing reads thus:
312. So far as the order of this Court dated 11-5-2005 is concerned, again the validity or otherwise of the BIFR Scheme and/or implementation thereof was not in question. An order of this Court, it is well known, must be construed having regard to the text and context in which the same was passed. For the said purpose, the orders of this Court were required to be read in their entirety. A judgment, it is well settled, cannot be read as a statute. (See Sarat Chandra Mishra v. State of Orissa and State of Karnataka v. C. Lalitha). Construction of a judgment, it is well settled, should be made in the light of the factual matrix involved therein. What is more important is to see the issues involved therein and the context wherein the observations were made. Any observation made in a judgment, it is trite, should not be read in isolation and out of context.
20. In this context Mr. Lekhi has also sought support from the frequently quoted opinion of the House of Lords in Quinn v. Leathem 1901 AC 495 : (1900-3) All ER Rep 1, namely, that "every judgment must be read as applicable to the particular facts proved or assumed to be proved.... The other is that a case is only an authority for what is actually decides". These quotations have been reiterated in Goodyear India Ltd. v. State of Haryana and State of Orissa v. Sudhansu Sekhar Misra AIR 1968 SC 647. In the latter case, the Court explicitly opined that "a decision on a question which has not been argued cannot be treated as a precedent". Their Lordships, in turn, referred back to the previous opinion in Rajput Ruda Meha v. State of Gujarat 1980 SC 1707 in which it had similarly been stated that where a question has neither been raised nor argued any decision by the Court, even after 'pondering over the issue in depth', would not be a binding precedent. Similar observations have been made by the Constitution Bench in Padma Sundara Rao v. State of T.N. , as is evident from the following extract:
9. Courts should not place reliance on decisions without discussing as to how the factual situation fits in with the fact situation of the decision on which reliance is placed. There is always peril in treating the words of a speech or judgment as though they are words in a legislative enactment, and it is to be remembered that judicial utterances are made in the setting of the facts of a particular case, said Lord Morris in Herrington v. British Railways Board (1972) 2 WLR 537. Circumstantial flexibility, one additional or different fact may make a world of difference between conclusions in two cases. None of these decision exonerate the learned Counsel from not bringing Baldev Singh Dhillon to our notice at the very threshold of arguments.
21. Our learned Brother, A.K. Sikri, J., had paraphrased the argument of Mr. Lekhi in Baldev Singh Dhillon in the following words and thereafter had considered and rejected them in detail.:
(2) Alternatively, even otherwise without a scheme there could not have been a notification under Section 4 of the Act for acquisition of land. His submission was that 'public purpose' was vague once the land was acquired for 'Channelisation of Yamuna River' there had to be a proper scheme in the place before land was acquired for the specified purpose. For this proposition he relied upon the following judgments:
(3) He also attacked the notifications issued without application of mind by the Competent Authority. Referring to noting dated 11th October, 1989 at page 11/N of the respondent's records, he submitted that proposal for acquisition of land proceeded on the basis that there was some scheme of channelisation cleared by the Pune Institute. He pointed out that Survey Report of 13th February, 1989 would indicate that entire exercise was done within a period of two days which would clearly indicate that it was mere formality as such colossal exercise was not possible within this short span.
22. Reverting back to the Objections that Rohini Residential Scheme is not a statutory Scheme and therefore cannot form the basis of acquisition it suffices to refer to the Constitution Bench decision in Aflatoon. Their Lordships had observed that "the fact that actual development is permissible in an area other than a planned area with the approval or sanction of the local authority did not preclude the Central Government from acquiring the land for planned development under the Act. Section 12 is concerned only with the planned development. It has nothing to do with the acquisition of property; acquisition generally precedes development. For planned development in an area other than a development area, it is only necessary to obtain the sanction or approval of the local authority as provided under Section 12(3). The Central Government could acquire any property under the Act and develop it after obtaining the approval of the local authority". In Ajay Krishan Singhal v. Union of India in which Mr. Lekhi had represented the Petitioners while Mr. Sethi had appeared for the Respondent, the Court held that it was no longer res integra that in the case of an acquisition of large tracts of land belonging to different persons, the specification of the purpose can only be with reference to the acquisition of the whole area. In State of Tamil Nadu v. L. Krishnan it was held that acquisition of land could be carried out even though a final and effective scheme had not been framed. Eventually, this very question has been discussed in detail by Sikri, J. in Baldev Singh and the argument was repulsed. We respectfully concur with this majority opinion.
23. It has also been argued on behalf of the Petitioners that the acquisition of the subject land runs counter to the Master Plan and hence requires to be quashed. No amendment to the Master Plan of Delhi has been mooted and the Central Government has not accorded its approval. In this regard we may merely refer to Bhagat Singh v. State of U.P. wherein in paragraph 22 their Lordships have recorded the following opinion: 22. As pointed out in the above judgments, there is no need that the land proposed to be acquired by the Government for a particular public purpose should be for the same purpose or use mentioned in the Master Plan or Zonal Plan for the said area. Nor will the acquisition be invalid merely because the land proposed to be acquired is for a purpose other than the one permitted by the Master Plan or Zonal Plan applicable to that locality. Acquisition will be valid if it is for a public purpose even if it is not for the type of user permitted by the Master Plan or Zonal Plan in force at the time the acquisition is made.
It will be for the beneficiary of the acquisition to move the competent authority under the Development Act and obtain the sanction of the said authority for suitable modification of the Master Plan so as to permit the use of the land for the public purpose for which the land is acquired. In fact, it may be difficult for the beneficiary of the acquisition to move the competent authority under the Development Act seeking permission to change of land use even before the land is acquired or before possession is given to the beneficiary. On the principle stated in Aflatoon case it is clear that acquisition for a public purpose and obtaining permission from the competent authority under the Development Act concerned for change of land use are different from one another and the former is not dependent upon the latter. This precise question has previously been raised by Mr. Lekhi and rejected by the Full Bench in Roshnara Begum. Since Roshnara Begum has been affirmed by the Supreme Court in Murari, we fail to appreciate why the same question has been raised once again before us. In paragraph 15, the Court observed that even after the enforcement of the Delhi Development Act, 1957 Section 15(1) thereof prescribes that land for the purposes of development may be acquired under the provisions of the Act. We accordingly conclude that an acquisition of land, contrary to the Master Plan, is not per se illegal.
24. The next argument raised on behalf of the Petitioners to the effect that the Lt. Governor is not the appropriate Authority envisaged under the Act stands rejected by the Supreme Court in Om Prakash v. Union of India .
25. Learned Counsel for the Petitioners have drawn our attention to Delhi Science Forum v. Delhi Development Authority but we fail to appreciate its relevance. The DDA had drawn ground water by digging in violation to the ban imposed by the Central Ground Water Authority and this action was castigated.
26. Finally, we shall consider the argument put forward on behalf of some of the Petitioners that it was the consistent policy that the land within 50 metres of the Lal Dora of village Abadi would not be acquired. It has been submitted that in some instances Denotification of farmhouses had been ordered. We find no merit in these arguments. We have already mentioned that there is no legal embargo against acquiring of lands and buildings that may be in the state of legal existence. Quite often this is exactly what happens where land is acquired for widening of roads. Normally, expropriation of such lands/buildings is eschewed for the very simple reason that the compensation payable is extremely high but this is a pragmatic practice only. Where a large parcel of land is acquired for the development of satellite colonies, it would not be advisable from the standpoint of aesthetic, town planning etc. to have pockets of property and land within the parcel of land existing in isolation. Uniformity in the Planned Development receives a severe setback in such cases. Moreover, learned Counsel for the Respondents have correctly submitted that it is only the Petitioners ipse dixit that construction of farmhouses have been duly sanctioned since Title Deeds as well as Sanctioned Plans have not been filed. Be that as it may we find no substance in this argument even on merits.
27. In conclusion it is our considered opinion that these writ petitions deserve to be dismissed on the short ground that the Petitioners have not approached the Court with clean hands and equities are not in their favor. As has been repeatedly underscored by learned Counsel for the Petitioners themselves the user of the lands in question is agricultural. However, the Petitioners have carried out constructions contrary to the prescribed user fully knowing that their actions are not in consonance with the law. Article 226 of the Constitution of India is a discretionary and equitable relief and it would be inappropriate, if not improper, for the Writ Court to extend its succor to parties who have themselves knowingly and willfully transgressed the law. It was observed in Bal Kishan Chhabra v. Union of India that it will be of relevance to underscore straightway that while exercising extraordinary jurisdiction the Court would not come to the aid of a party which is guilty of malfeasance and failure to adhere to the spirit of law and rules and regulations in the public domain. Courts of law have to decide disputes which come before them strictly in accordance with and not in flagrant violation of the statutory law. Political considerations have no role to play in judicial judgments. The Government may, therefore, find it advantageous to ignore the well-settled principles of law, or annihilate and nullify its own decisions taken and executed in accordance with law, by denotifying land legally acquired by it. The Government may drag its feet even on taking-over possession of illegal colonies and defer demolition of illegal and unauthorised structures. But Courts must uphold and preserve the rule of law. Since we find no legal infirmity with the actions of the Government taken under Sections 4 and 6 of the Act, we would dismiss these writ petitions even on the solitary ground of the Petitioners having approached the Court with unclean hands. All interim Orders are recalled.
28. These writ petitions are dismissed with costs of Rs. 5,000/- payable by each of the Petitioner to the Respondents. A copy of this Judgment be placed by the Registry in all the connected matters.