19 July 1996
Supreme Court


Case number: C.A. No.-009888-009888 / 1996
Diary number: 76222 / 1994






DATE OF JUDGMENT:       19/07/1996


CITATION:  1996 SCALE  (5)653



JUDGMENT:                          O R D E R      Leave  granted.   Though  notice   was  served  on  the respondents -  the first  and the fourth respondents,the 1st respondent is  not appearing  either in  person  or  through counsel; equally,  4th respondent  through counsel.  We have heard the  counsel for  the appellant  as well  as  for  the State.      The undisputed  facts are  that the  appellant -Society consists of  labourers and Scheduled Caste persons belonging to the  village Khardosan  in Deesa  Taluka  of  Banaskantha District  of   Gujarat  State.   The  appellant-society  had requested the  Gram Panchayat  to recommend  to the District Collector for assignment of 300 acres of gaucher land (waste land) vested  in the  Gram  Panchayat  for  the  purpose  of cultivation and  augmentation or economic empowerment of the members of  the appellant-Society.  The Gram  Panchayat  had unanimously resolved  and requested  the Collector to resume the land  and assign  it to  the appellant.  The    District Collector in  response thereto  had  resumed  the  land  and assigned the same to the appellant. Calling the order of the District Collector  in question  a Review Petition was filed before  the   Government  by   the  first   respondent.  The Government by  order dated  August 20,  1986 set  aside  the order on  the ground  that District  Collector did not issue any notice  to the villagers before its resumption. When the writ petition  came to  be filed,  while upholding  that the waste land  as required  to be  resumed by the Collector for public  purpose   of  assignment   to  the  rural  labourers belonging to  backward classes and Scheduled Castes the High Court directed the Collector to give notice to the villagers and to  consider their  objections and  to pass order afresh thereafter. On  appeals by  the impugned order dated January 24, 1994  in Appeal  No.33/94, the  Division Bench confirmed the same. Thus this appeal by special leave.      The question  that arises for consideration is: whether notice to  the villagers is mandatory under Section 96(4) of



the Gram Panchayat Act, 1961 (for short, the ’Act’)? Section 96 reads as under:      "96. Government  may  vest  certain      lands,in Panchayats-  (1)  For  the      purpose  of     this   Act.     The      Government  may   subject  to  such      conditions and  restrictions as  it      may think  fit to impose, vest in a      panchayat open  sites waste, vacant      or  grazing   land  is  or  public.      roads, streets,  bridges,  ditches,      dikes and  fences wells, river-beds      tanks,  streams,   lakes,   nallas,      canals, water courses, trees or any      other  property   in  the  gram  or      nagar, as  the case  may be vesting      in the Government.      (2) Subject  to any  conditions and      restrictions imposed  by the  State      Government  under  sub-section  (1)      and with  the previous  sanction of      the  Collector,   a  panchayat  may      discontinue or  stop  up  any  such      public road or street vested  in it      by the  State Government, but which      is no  longer   required as  public      road or  street and   may  lease or      sell any  such land  therefor  used      for the  purposes  of  such  public      road or street.           Provided   that   one   months      before it is decided to stop  up or      discontinue  such  public  road  or      street, the  Sarpanch   or Chairman      as  the  case  may  be,  shall,  by      notice signed  by   him and affixed      in the  part of  the public road or      street     which  is   proposed  to      discontinue  or   stop     up   and      published in  such other manner  as      is prescribed, inform the residents      of the  gram or  nagar as  the case      may be,    of the said proposal and      consider any  objections in writing      made   thereto;  the  notice  shall      indicate the  alternative route, if      any,  which   it  is   proposed  to      provide or which may already be  in      existence.      (3) Whenever  any  public  road  or      street or any part thereof has been      so  discontinued   or  stopped  up,      reasonable  compensation  shall  be      paid  to   every  person   who  was      entitled to use such road or street      or part  thereof, otherwise then as      a mere  member of  the public, as a      means of  access  to  or  from  his      property and  has  suffered  damage      from   such    discontinuance    or      stopping up,  and the provisions in      the  Bombay   Highways  Act,  1955.      (Bom. LV  of 1955)  in relation  to      the assessment,  apportionment, and      payment  of   compensation   shall,



    mutatis mutandis  apply thereto  as      they  apply   in  relation  to  the      closure of  a highway under section      52 of that Act.      (4) Where  any open  site or waste,      vacant or  grazing land  vesting in      Government  has   been  vested   by      Government in  a panchayat  whether      before or after the commencement of      this Act,  then it  shall be lawful      for the  State Government to resume      at any  time such  site or land, if      it is required by it for any public      purpose.           Provided that  in case  of any      improvement of  such site   or land      made by  the panchayat or any other      person, the panchayat or person, as      the case  may be, shall be entitled      to compensation  equal to the value      of such  improvement and such value      shall be  determined in  accordance      with the  provisions  of  the  Land      Acquisition Act, 1894."      The land  belonging to the Government was vested in the Gram Panchayat for one of the purposes enumerated in Section 96, which  envisages resumption  of   land  for  any  public purpose. Where  the land  was no  longer needed for a public road or  a street,  the Sarpanch or the Chairman as the case may be was enjoined under proviso sub-section (2) to cause a notice signed  by him affixed in any part of the public road or a street which was proposed to be discontinued or stopped and to  give and  notice to  the villagers in the prescribed manner or  indicating an  alternative route, if available or if it  has become  disuse. After considering the objections, if any,  the Gram Panchayat is required to pass a resolution in writing  for the  discontinuation or disuse of the public road or a street.      Relying thereon,  it is  contended for  the State  that notice under  sub-section (4)  is also implicit when an open site  or   waste,  vacant  or  grazing  land  vests  in  the Government but  in the management of the panchayat is sought to be  resumed; notice  to the  villagers  or  the  affected persons is  necessary before  resumption by  the  Collector. Since such  notice was  not given  the resumption of land by the Collector  is bad  in law.  We  find  no  force  in  the contention.      It is  fairly conceded by the learned counsel the State that by  operation of  Article 46 read with Article 39(b) of the Constitution  the material  resource of the State should be so distributed as to subserve the common good. Article 46 enjoins that  the State  shall promote with special care the economic interests  of the weaker sections of the people, in particular, the  Scheduled Castes  and Scheduled  Tribes and shall protect  them from  social injustice  and all forms of exploitation. Consequently,  Preamble  of  the  Constitution assures socio  economic justice  to every citizen to provide dignity of person.      In Madhu  Kishwar &  Ors. v.  State of Bihar & Ors. [3] 1996 (4)  SC 379]  it was held that agricultural land is the foundation of  a sense  of security  and freedom  from fear. Assured  possession   is  lasting   road  for   development, intellectual, cultural  and moral  and also  for  peace  and harmony. Agriculture  is the  only source  of livelihood for the tribes and rural poor to provide them social justice and



status.      In   Cement (Bharat Ltd. & Anr. v Union of India & Ors. etc. [JT  1996 (4)  SC 555] a bench of three Judges to which we were  members  had  held  that  "Social  justice  is  the comprehensive  form  to  remove  social  imbalances  by  law harmonising the  rival claims  or the interests of different groups  and/or   sections  in   the  social   structure   or individuals by  means or which alone it would be possible to build up a welfare State. The ideal of economic Justice into make equality of status meaningful and the life worth living at its best removing inequality of opportunity and of status social, economic  and political.  Right  to  cultivation  of agricultural land was held to be a socio-economic justice to an agriculturist as fundamental right.      A bench  of three  Judges of  this  Court  in  Consumer Education &  Research Centre  & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors [(1995) 3  SCC 42]  held social  justice is  the each of the Constitution to ensure life to everyone to be meaningful and livable with human dignity.      Jurisprudence is  the eye of law giving an insight into the environment  of which  it is  the expression. It relates the law  to the  spirit of the time and makes it richer. Law is the  ultimate aim  of every  civilised society  as a  key system in  a given era, to meet the needs and demands of its time. Justice  according to laws comprehends social urge and commitment. Justice,  liberty equality  and  fraternity  are supreme constitutional  values to  establish the egalitarian social economic  and political  democracy.  Social  justice, equality and  dignity of  person are cornerstones, of social democracy. Social  justice consists  of  diverse  principles essential  for   the  orderly   growth  and  development  of personality of  every citizen,  Justice is  the generic term and social  justice  is  its  facet,  a  dynamic  device  to mitigate the suffering of the disadvantaged and to eliminate handicaps so  as to elevate them to the level of equality to level life  with dignity  of person. Social justice is not a simple or  single idea of a society but is an essential part of complex  social change  to relieve  the  poor  etc.  from handicaps, penury,  to ward  them off  from distress  and to make their  lives livable for greater good of the society at large. Social justice therefore, gives substantial degree of social,  economic  and  political  equality,  which  is  the constitutional right  of every  citizen In  para 19,  it was further  elaborated  that  social  justice  is  one  of  the disciplines of justice which relates to the society. What is due cannot  be ascertained  by an  absolute  standard  which keeps  changing   depending  upon   the  time,   place   and circumstances. The constitutional concern of social justice, as an  elastic continuous  process, is  to    transform  and accord justice  to all  sections of the society by providing facilities  and   opportunities  to   remove  handicaps  and disabilities with  which the  poor etc.  are languishing. It aims to  secure dignity  of their  person. It is the duty of the State  to accord  justice to all members of  the society in all  facets of  human activity.  The  concept  of  social justice embeds  equality to  flavor and  enlivens  practical content  of   life.  Social   justice   and   equality   are complementary to  each other  so that  both should  maintain their  vitality.   Rule  of  law,  therefore,  is  a  potent instrument of  social justice  to bring  about  equality  in result. Article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights envision, that  all human  beings are born free and equal in dignity and  rights and  each should act towards one another in a  spirit of  brotherhood. In that case the question was; whether right  to social  security is a fundamental right of



workman? To  make the  life of the workman worth living with health, right  to health  was held to be a fundamental right and it  is the duty of the State and the employer to provide facilities and  opportunities for  ensuring  sustained  good health and  leisure to  the workman  as a  facet of right to life under Article 21.      Social democracy  means a  way of life which recognises liberty, equality  and, fraternity  as principles  of  life. They are the trinity. One cannot diverse one from the other. Without equality, liberty would produce supremacy of the few over the  many. Equality  without liberty  would denude  the individual  of his initiative to improve excellence. Without fraternity, liberty  and equality would not nurture as their natural  habitat.   Social  and   economic  justice   is   a constitutional right  enshrined for  the protection  of  the society. The right to socio-economic justice in the trinity, the preamble,  Fundamental Rights  and Directives is to make the quality  of life  of the Article 14, therefore, requires affirmative action.  by  the  State  to  those  unequals  by providing facilities and opportunities.      Gandhiji the  Father of  the. Nation,  on  the  eye  of independence had stated that "independence did not mean mere freedom from British Rule by breaking the breaking the bonds of the slavery but it meant more than that. It meant justice to all  citizens of  India, irrespective of religion, caste, creed or language, each getting his legitimate due".      It was  held in  Dalmia’s case  (supra) that social and economic justice  to the  agriculturists is  the fundamental right. It  was further  held that  social justice  forms the basis of  stability in  society. Economic  justice means the abolition of  those  economic  conditions  which  ultimately result in  the inequality  of economic  values among men. It means to  establish a  democratic way  of  life  built  upon socio-economic structure  of the society to make the rule of law dynamic.      In Murlidhar Dayandeo Kesekar v. Vishwanath Pandu Barde & Anr  [jT 1995  (3) SC  563] it  was held  that welfare  is actually a form of liberty inasmuch as it liberates men from social conditions  which narrow  their choices  and brighten their self-development.  In paragraph  17, it  was held that "providing adequate means of livelihood for all the citizens and distribution  of the material resources of the community for common  welfare, enable the poor, the Dalits and tribes, to fulfil  the basic  needs to  bring  about  a  fundamental change in  the structure of the Indian structure. Therefore, with a  view to  make political  democracy stable, the State should see  the socio-economic  democracy takes strong roots and should  become a  way of  life. The State, therefore, is enjoined to  provide adequate  means of  livelihood  to  the poor, weaker  sections of  the society the Dalits and tribes and to  distribute material  resources of  the community  to them for  common welfare etc. the socio-economic justice was held  to   be  fundamental   right  of  the  poor.  Economic empowerment was,  therefore held to be basic human right and the fundamental  right as  a part  of  right  to  live  with equality of status  and of dignity .      Economic empowerment  of the  poor, in  particular  the Schedule Castes  and Scheduled  Tribes as  is enjoined under Article 46,  is a constitutional of objective as basic human and fundamental  right to  enable  the  labourer,  Scheduled Castes and  Tribes to raise their economic empowerment. When the appellant  Society had  requested for  assignment of the waste land  vested in the Gram Panchayat, the Gram Panchayat undoubtedly passed  a unanimous  resolution  requesting  the Collector  to   resume  the   land  for  assignment  to  the



appellant-society.  Since,   the   Gram   Panchayat   as   a representative body  passed  the  resolution,  it  would  be obvious that  the elected  members represent the interest of the Gram  Panchayat for  effecting the  constitutional goal. When the  Gram Panchayat  in turn  passed the resolution for the said,  purpose, there  was no obligation to issue notice to the  villagers. That  apart, the  scheme of Section 36 is clear. The legislature is of the fact that when public. road or street  is sought to be discontinued or closed, public is likely to be effected, Sarpanch or Chairman acting on behalf of Gram  Panchayat etc.  is enjoined  by the proviso to sub- section (2)  of Section  96 to  issue  notice  to  them.  It specifically enjoins  the Sarpanch  or the  Chairman, as the case may  be,  to  cause  a  notice  to  be  issued  in  the prescribed manner,  before passing  a resolution so that the affected users  would have  an opportunity  to put  in their objections for   consideration  by the  Gram Panchayat.  but when the  waste land  or open site or vacant land or grazing land vested  in the  state was sought to be resumed from the Gram Panchayat  by the Collector for another laudable public purpose, then the silence of issuance of notice is eloquent. Requirement of  hearing the  villagers is  not insisted. The legislature did  not intend issuance of notice to villagers. It is  contended for the State that in a case where the Gram Panchayat  sought   to  pass  a  resolution  requesting  the Collector to resume the land in the possession and enjoyment of a  person and  when the resumption affects such a person, the issuance  or prior notice to such affected person should be implicit,  We need  not go  into that question since that question  does   not  arise   in  this   case.  Under  these circumstances, the  view of  the Government  learned  single Judge and  the Division Bench of the High Court for issuance of a notice to the villagers is clearly not warranted by the scheme of Section 96(4) of the Act.       The  appeal is accordingly allowed. The  orders of the High Court  and the  Government stand  set aside and that of the District Collector stands restored. No costs.