The Hindu, 15 March 2015, Madurai: The Madras High Court has upheld the Constitutional validity of Section 48B, introduced by the State government through an amendment in 1996, of the Land Acquisition Act 1894which allows the State to give back acquired lands to their owners if the properties were not required for the purpose for which they were acquired .
The First Bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M. Sathyanarayanan passed the ruling while dismissing a writ petition filed by Anti Corruption Movement, a private organisation based in Chennai, which apprehended misuse of the provision by government officials.
Holding that mere possibility of abuse of a provision of law would not per se invalidate a legislation, the Chief Justicesaid: “The judicial function of the court requires the interpretation of the law and not to legislate, and if there are possibilities of misuse, it is for the legislature to amend, modify or repeal it, if deemed necessary.”
The judges agreed with senior counsel P.S. Raman, appearing for a group of private individuals in the case, that the Constitutional validity of a legislation could be determined only on the dual test of legislative competence and violation of fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution and not on grounds of being arbitrary or unreasonable.
Citing a series of Supreme Court judgements on the issue, the First Bench said that an enactment could not be struck down just because the court thinks it to be unjustified. “The legislative wisdom cannot be gone into or sat in judgement over and thus, even what is perceived to be an erroneous legislation cannot be quashed unless it fails to satisfy the dual test.”
In so far as the question whether Section 48B could be applied even to lands that were acquired before its introduction in 1996 and the issue related to the amount of money the government should collect before reconveying the lands were concerned, the judges said that it was up to the legislature to consider those aspects.