Posted December 17, 2013 by advocateguru in Learning Centre

Purpose of Land Acquisition

The very purpose of land acquisition is “public purpose”, according to Section 3(f) of the Act. The section reads as follows:

The expression public purpose includes-

(i) the provision of village- sites, or the extension, planned development or improvement of existing village- sites;

(ii) the provision of land for town or rural planning;

(iii) the provision of land for planned development of land from public funds in pursuance of any scheme or policy of Government and subsequent disposal thereof in whole or in part by lease, assignment or outright sale with the object of securing further development as planned;

(iv) the provision of land for a corporation owned or controlled by the State;

(v) the provision of land for residential purposes to the poor or landless or to persons residing in areas affected by natural calamities, or to persons displaced or affected by reason of the implementation of any scheme undertaken by Government, any local authority or a corporation owned or controlled by the State;

(vi) the provision of land for carrying out any educational, housing, health or slum clearance scheme sponsored by Government or by any authority established by Government for carrying out any such scheme, or with the prior approval of the appropriate Government, by a local authority, or a society registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 (21 of 1860), or under any corresponding law for the time being in force in a state, or a co- operative society within the meaning of any law relating to co- operative societies for the time being in force in any State;

(vii) the provision of land for any other scheme of development sponsored by Government or with the prior approval of the appropriate Government, by a local authority;

(viii) the provision of any premises or building for locating a public office, but does not include acquisition of land for companies.”

The judiciary has defined public purpose in various landmark cases. The term public purpose has been duly recognised and given weight.

The landmark case of The State of Bihar v Maharajadhiraja Sir Kameshwar1 dealt with the term in detail and concluded:

  1. The sovereign power to acquire property compulsorily is a power to acquire it only for a public purpose. There is no power in the sovereign to acquire private property in order to give it to private persons. Public purpose is a content of the power itself.

  2. The phrase “public purposes” has to be construed according to the spirit of the times in which particular legislation is enacted and so construed, the acquisition the estates has to be held to have been made for a public purpose.

  3. No hard and fast definition can be laid down as to what is a ‘public purpose’ as the concept has been rapidly changing in all countries, but it is clear that it is the presence of the element of general interest of the community in an object or aim that transforms such object or aim into a public purpose, and whatever furthers the general interests of the community as opposed to the particular interest of the individual must be regarded as a public purpose.

  4. legislature is the best judge of what is good for the community, by whose suffrage it comes into existence and it is not possible for this Court to say that there was no purpose behind the acquisition contemplated by the impugned statute.

In another landmark case of R C Cooper v Union Of India2 it was held that:

  1. One cannot be guided either by passion for property on the one hand or prejudice against deprivation on the other. Public purpose steers clear of both passion and prejudice.

  2. The acquisition or requisition for public purpose is a restriction recognised by the Constitution in regard to property rights.

In the case of Arnold Rodricks & Anr v State of Maharashtra & Ors3, the Supreme Court held that “the welfare of a large section of the community is a ‘public purpose’.” The public purpose includes a purpose, that is, an object or aim, in which the general interest of the community, as opposed to the particular interest of individuals, is directly and vitally concerned.4

Nichols in his well known book The Law of Eminent Domain (1950)5 stated: “If the use for which land is taken by eminent domain is public, the taking is not invalid merely because an incidental benefit will ensure to private individuals.”

Hence the term public purpose is the sole purpose but varies from case to case.

1 1952 1 SCR 889


2 1970 AIR 564


3 Decided On: 14.03.1966


4 Hamabai Framjee Petit v. Secretary of State for India in Council AIR 1914 PC 20


5 Nichols, Philip, Sackman, Julius L. Ed.