Not Liberal Or Conservative View; The Only View Which Has To Be Taken Is The Legal View, SC Tells Kerala HC [Read Judgment]

Not Liberal Or Conservative View; The Only View Which Has To Be Taken Is The Legal View, SC Tells Kerala HC [Read Judgment]

“It cannot urge that because the acquisition is in public interest a more liberal view is to be taken. There is no question of taking a liberal or conservative view. The only view which has to be taken is the legal view. “

While setting aside a Kerala High Court order which took a ‘liberal view’ in public interest, the Supreme Court observed that only view which has to be taken is the legal view, and not liberal or conservative view.

The issue before the high court was whether Special Tahsildar (LA), K.R.L. who was appointed as Collector only in respect of the acquisition of land relating to Cochin Refineries Limited within Ernakulam district, could have acted as Collector in respect of other acquisitions. The high court took the view that since public interest is concerned, a liberal view has to be taken and when acquisition proceedings are completed or going on for acquiring large portions of lands required for public purpose, such acquisition cannot be stopped on “cryptic hyper-technical ground”.

Disagreeing with the view that this is a “cryptic hyper-technical ground”, a bench comprising Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta in E.A. Aboobacker vs. State of Kerala observed: “If the State wanted him to act as Collector in respect of other acquisitions, nothing prevented the State from issuing a fresh notification in this regard, but relying upon the notification dated 21.08.1989 the Special Tahsildar (LA), K.R.L. cannot act as Collector in respect of other acquisitions. This is not a hyper-technical ground.”

The bench further observed that when the State wants to acquire the property of a citizen which is a constitutional right of any citizen under Article 300(A) of the Constitution of India it must strictly follow the procedure prescribed by law. In this context, it said: “It cannot urge that because the acquisition is in public interest a more liberal view is to be taken. There is no question of taking a liberal or conservative view. The only view which has to be taken is the legal view.”

The bench also rejected the contention that District Collector had distributed the work to the Special Tahsildar (LA), K.R.L. It said the District Collector has no power to do so and it is only the appropriate government which can specifically appoint any other officer as Collector.

Read the Judgment Here