Sri Lanka Law Reports
 3 Sri L.R
JAYARATNECOURT OF APPEAL.
WIJAYARATNE, J. ANDSRIPAVAN, J.
JULY 28, 2004.
Writ of mandamus – Compel acquisition of land – Land Acquisition Act,sections: 2, 4, 5 and 38, – Private arrangement – Possession handed over -Can the• State be compelled to acquire the land and pay compensation -Statutory duty? Decision of Minister to acquire for a public purpose is acondition precedent?
The petitioner seeks a writ of Mandamus, compelling the State to acquire hisland and pay compensation. The position of the petitioner was that, the 1strespondent – Member of Parliament requested him to grant 3 acres of her landto be distributed among the low income groups of the people of the area. Thepetitioner states that, he built houses on the land and possession was handedover to the 1st respondent, but no steps have been taken by the respondentsto acquire same and pay compensation.
It would appear that the condition precedent for the issue of mandamusis the presence of a statutory right for the performance of a statutoryduty. In the absence of statutory provisions entitling the respondents toact under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, mandamus could
. not'be issued.
No material was placed to establish that the land was handed over tothe 1st respondent or a decision taken, by the 2nd respondent -Minister – to acquire same for a public purpose. The decision of the 2ndrespondent is a condition precedent to the invocation of S2,4, 5 and 38of the Land Acquisition Act.
Provisions of the Land Acquisition Act can be invoked only where theMinister of Lands decides that’land in any area is needed for any publicpurpose. The matter in dispute is between the petitioner and the 1st
. respondent and is a private dispute which cannot be regularized byMandamus.
APPLICATION for a writ of mandamus.
Clinton Perera v Jayaratne
Cases referred to:
Ratnayake and others v C. B. Perera and others -1982 2 Sri LR 451 at456.
Weligama MPSC Ltd., v Chandradasa Daluwatte – 1984 1 Sri LR 195.
W. K. C. Perera v Prof Daya Edirisinghe and others -1995 1 Sri LR 148.Mohan Peirls PC with Augusta Perera for petitioner.
1st respondent absent and unrepresented.
A. Gnanathasan, Deputy Solicitor General for 2nd, 3rd and 4th respondents.
Cur. adv. vult.
August 6th, 2004SRIPAVAN, J.
The petitioner, in this application alleges that on or about the 0119th day of September 1995 he purchased 1-1 Acres of land called“Pinwatta” situated at Irrattakulam, Madampe for a consideration ofRs. 200,000/- with an idea of developing the said land and resellingthe same in blocks. The petitioner also alleges that the 1strespondent requested him to grant 3 acres out of the said 11 acresof the petitioner’s land to be distributed among the low incomegroups of people of the area. It was the contention of the petitionerthat he verbally agreed with the request of the 1st respondent andaccordingly 1st respondent promised that the petitioner should be 10adequately compensated for the said 3 acres, after the land wasproperly acquired.
The learned President’s Counsel for the petitioner urged thathouses were built in the 3 acre land but no steps were taken by therespondents to acquire same and to pay compensation to thepetitioner. Counsel urged that the respondents were under astatutory duty to comply with the procedure established in terms ofthe Land Acquisition Act and that the respondents have failed andneglected to take steps in accordance with the law. Thus, thepetitioner sought a Writ of Mandamus directing the 1 st respondent:- 20
to take steps in terms of the Land Acquisition Act to havethe said land acquired; and
to pay compensation thereon.
Learned DSG appearing for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th respondents
Sri Lanka Law Reports
 3 Sri LR
brought to the notice of Court a letter marked 4R1 dated 18th ofAugust 1986, sent by the 1st respondent to the petitioner andsubmitted that the land in question was handed over by thepetitioner to the 1st respondent and as such it was a voluntaryagreement between the petitioner and the 1st respondent. Counselcontended that no statutory provisions exist to compel the 1strespondent to take steps under the Land Acquisition Act, in view ofthe circumstances set out in the petition.
The most important principle to be observed in the exercise ofthe jurisdiction by mandamus and which lies at the very foundationof the entire system of rules and principles regulating the use of thisextraordinary remedy is that its function is: to compel a publicauthority to do its duties. As Sharvananda, J. (as he then was)observed in the case of Ratnayake and others v C. D. Perera andothers (1) “the essence of mandamus is that it is a command issuedby the Superior Court for the performance of public legal duty.Where officers have a public duty to perform and have refused toperform, mandamus will lie to secure the performance of the public'duty, in the performance of which the applicant has sufficient legalinterest. It is only granted to compel the performance of duties ofpublic nature, and not merely of private character-that is to say for. the enforcement of a mere private right, stemming from a contract. of the parties”.
Accordingly, it would appear that the condition precedent for theissue of .mandamus is the presence of a statutory right for theperformance of a statutory duty. In the absence of the statutoryprovision entitling the respondents to act under the provisions ofthe Land Acquisition Act, mandamus could not be issued. InWeli'gama M.P.C.S. Ltd. v Chandradasa Daluwatta the SupremeCourt refused to issue mandamus on the basis that the language ofclause 7(1) of Circular No. 18/75 of 23.7.1975 issued by theSecretary of the Co-operative Employees Commission whichstated that an interdicted employee was entitled to certainpayments pending conclusion of the inquiry, did not permit readinginto it the power to impose an obligation to make those paymentsduring interdiction as such directions cannot be elevated to aregulation having statutory efficacy.
The learned President’s Counsel strenuously contended that the
Clinton Perera v Jayaratne
act or omission on the part of the first respondent could not bedivorced from the statutory duty imposed on the 2nd respondent.Thus, Counsel argued that State has a responsibility to regularisethe process and take appropriate steps in terms of the LandAcquisition Act to have the land acquired and to pay compensationto the petitioner.
In W. K. C. Perera v Prof. Daya Edirisinghe and others3 reliedon by the learned President’s Counsel, the Supreme Court heldthat the petitioner having: satisfied the Rules and Examinationcriteria was entitled to the award of the Degree'of Bachelor of FineArts on the results of the Final Examination held in 1990. However,in the present application no material was placed to establish thatthe land in question was handed over to the first respondent on adecision taken by the second respondent to acquire same for apublic purpose. The decision of the second respondent is acondition precedent to the invocation of sections 2, 4, 5 and 38 ofthe Land Acquisition Act. The dispute if at all in the opinion of courtis between the petitioner and the first respondent and is a privatedispute which cannot be regularised by mandamus.
Counsel for the petitioner was unable to draw the attention ofcourt to any statutory provision enabling the respondents to takesteps Under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, when in factthe land in question was handed over to the 1st respondent by thepetitioner as evidenced by 4R1. The provisions of the LandAcquisition Act can be invoked only where the Minister of Landsdecides that land in any area is needed for any public purpose. Theprovisions of the aforesaid Act cannot be misused to assist anyprivate arrangement merely because the petitioner had enteredinto a verbal agreement with the first respondent who was amember of'Parliament. The writ jurisdiction of this court cannot beinvoked to compel the 2nd respondent to acquire the land inquestion. Accordingly, the relief sought by way of writ of mandamusis refused. There will be no costs.
WIJAYARATNE, J. – I agree.
CLINTON PERERA v. JAYARATNE