(Prayer: This MFA is filed under Section 54(1) of L.A. Act against the Judgment and award dated 29.08.2012 passed in LAC No.57/2011 on the file of the Addl. Senior Civil Judge and J.M.F.C-I at Raichur, wherein rejected the reference petition filed U/S.18(1) of Land Acquisition Act.)
1. All these appeals arise out of the common judgment dated 29.08.2012 rendered by the Reference Court the Additional Senior Civil Judge and JMFC-I, Raichur.
2. Separate awards have been passed in LAC No.70/2011 and connected cases. Reference Court has dismissed the reference petitions filed by claimant/land owners holding that market value fixed for the acquired land by the Special Land Acquisition Officer at Rs.1,50,000/- per acre did not call for interference.
3. Facts leading to these appeals briefly stated are that, lands belonging to appellants described with material particulars at paragraph No.4 of the impugned judgment were proposed to be acquired by issuing a notification dated 01.01.2002 under Section 28(1) of the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Act, 1966, (hereinafter referred to as the Act for short) for the purpose of industrial area. Total extent of land sought to be acquired is 59 acres 28 guntas.
4. All these lands are situated with the municipal limits of Manvi Town in Raichur District. Notification under Section 28(4) of the Act was issued on 18.04.2002. The Land Acquisition Officer passed an award on 23.12.2002, determining the market value of acquired land at Rs.1,50,000/- per acre.
5. Claimants landowners filed petitions under Section 18(1) of the Land Acquisition Act, seeking reference of their cases to the Civil Court for adjudication of correct market value contending interalia that their lands had non-agricultural potentiality and were more valuable having been located within the municipal limits of Manvi Town.
6. Upon reference, claimant in LAC No.70/2011, P. Siraj Pasha, was examined as PW.1, one Bubba Venkataeshwarrao, who was purchaser of land situated in Manvi town under Ex.P4 was examined as PW.2. Exs.P1 to P3 were produced and marked. For the respondents, RW.1-Ravi Kiran Vanti, the Special Land Acquisition Officer was examined.
7. The reference court having found that petitions had been filed in time answered the issue regarding limitation in the affirmative. But, insofar as the entitlement for payment of enhanced compensation, the court below rejected the contention of the claimants and held that market value determined by the Special Land Acquisition Officer was just and reasonable and the matter did not merit interference by him for awarding enhanced compensation. The Court below has come to the conclusion that the exemplar sale deeds produced by the claimants vide Exs.P4 to P11 could not be relied upon.
8. Insofar as Ex.P4 was concerned, the Court below has come to the conclusion that 10 guntas of agricultural land in Sy.No.277/3 of Manvi had been sold for a consideration of Rs.1,21,500/- vide sale deed dated 31.03.2001. However, it has held that reliance could not be placed on the said document because the sale deed was executed by claimants in LAC No.67/2011 in favour of claimants in LAC No.65/2011. In the opinion of the Court below, vendors and purchasers under Ex.P4 were interested parties. It has further held that the sale deed executed on 31.03.2001 but got registered on 23.07.2001 could not be safely believed for fixing the market value of the acquired land.
9. Insofar as the other exemplar sale deeds viz., Exs.P5 to P11 were concerned, the court below having considered the certified copy of the Master Plan of Manvi Local Planning Area produced and marked at Ex.P3, has come to the conclusion that the location of the lands in the said exemplar sale deeds were quite a distance away from the acquired lands and therefore they could not be safely relied upon to determine the market value of the lands.
10. We have heard learned counsel for both parties. Learned counsel for appellants Mrs. Ratna Shivayogimath very strongly contends that acquired lands are situated within the municipal limits of Manvi Town; the exemplar sale deeds produced at Exs.P4 to 11 were also located within the municipal limits of Manvi Town and therefore the Reference Court ought to have taken at-least the average value contained in these sale deeds for determining the market value of the acquired lands, if not the highest.
11. Learned counsel appearing for respondents urges that location of the lands, as can be seen from Ex.P3, certified copy of Master Plan, disclosed that they were situated beyond the bypass road and therefore, value obtained under sale deeds Exs.P5 to P11 could not be made basis for determining market value of acquired lands.
12. Having heard learned counsel for both parties and on careful perusal of the evidence on record both oral and documentary, the points that arise for our consideration are:
(a) Whether the reference court was right and justified in dismissing the reference petitions holding that claimants were not entitled for any enhancement of compensation?
(b) What order?
13. Ex.P3 is the certified copy of Master Plan pertaining to Manvi Town issued by the Planning Authority, Manvi. The location of the acquired lands, as can be seen from the said plan is to the extreme edge of the limits of municipal area. The said area where the acquired lands are situated is located beyond the bypass road. These lands are, no doubt, located along the State Highway No.23. Therefore, as rightly contended by the learned counsel for respondents, exemplar sale deeds except the one pertaining to Ex.P4 cannot be relied upon because those sale deeds marked as Exs.P5 to P11 relate to lands situated within the limits of Manvi Town. The lands, which are located on the edge of the municipal limits cannot be made basis by referring to the sale of plot of lands or pieces of lands or bits of it located in the heart of the town. At the same time, insofar as Ex.P4 is concerned, which is one of the exemplar sale deeds and which pertains to Sy.No.377/3 and which indeed has been also acquired under the present notification it can certainly be treated as an exemplar sale deed for the purpose of determination of market value. The reason being, that this land is situated abutting other acquired lands and the sale transaction reflected in Ex.P4, sale deed is dated 31.03.2001. Though the document has been registered on 23.07.2001, notification under Section 28(1) of the Act, was issued on 01.01.2002, almost five months after the registration of sale deed.
14. The Reference Court has refused to place reliance on this sale deed on the ground that transaction had been entered into between two persons whose lands were acquired under the same notification and who were therefore, interested persons. This reasoning given by Reference Court cannot be accepted for the reason that notification under Section 3(1), Section 28(1) and Section 28(4) of the Act, have been issued simultaneously on 01.01.2002 after the lapse of more than five months after the sale deed was executed. Merely, because the transaction related to one of the acquired lands and was entered into between two persons whose lands were subsequently acquired under the same notification, it cannot be stated that the said sale transaction was not a bonafide transaction. Nothing is elicited from PW.1 in this regard. Sale deed produced and marked at Ex.P4 does not show any doubt with regard to the genuineness of the said transaction. It was not even suggested to PW.1 that vendor and purchaser of 10 guntas of land comprised in Sy.No.337/3 had knowledge of the prospective acquisition and proposal for making use of the land for industrial purpose by Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board. Therefore, there was no justification for the Reference Court to reject Ex.P4-sale deed and come to a conclusion that no case had been made out for grant of enhanced compensation based on the exemplar sale deed Ex.P4.
15. In addition, it has to be stated that lands are situated within the limits of Municipal Town. The purpose of acquisition is for establishing an industrial area in Manvi Town. The award passed by the Special Land Acquisition Officer adopting sales statistics method, which in the present case does not disclose the realistic market value of the acquired lands cannot be sustained. Therefore, the Reference Court could not have rejected the reference petitions by discarding Ex.P4.
16. In our view, the transaction reflecting in Ex.P4, which pertains 10 guntas of land sold for a sum of Rs.1,21,500/- discloses a bonafide transaction. The market value shown in the said transaction can be safely made basis for determining compensation for the acquired lands. If market value is calculated per acre based on the value obtained for 10 guntas of land @ Rs.1,21,500/- the same would come to Rs.4,86,000/- per acre. There is a time gap of about nine months from the date of execution of sale deed Ex.P4 dated 31.03.2001 till the date of notification under Section 28(1) of the Act issued on 01.01.2002. Hence, having regard to the location of the land in Manvi Town and the prospects of escalation, we are inclined to add 10% towards escalation in the market value i.e. Rs.48,600/- to Rs.4,86,000/-. Thus, the amount of market value per acre would work out to Rs.5,34,600/- which can be rounded off to Rs.5,35,000/-. Hence, we answer point No.1 in the negative and in favour of the claimants. Accordingly, we pass the following:
These appeals are allowed in part. The judgment and award passed by the Reference Court is set aside.
The reference petitions are partly allowed. The market value of acquired lands is enhanced and fixed at Rs.5,35,000/- per acre.
Appellants are held entitled for all statutory amount payable including interest as provided under the provisions of Land Acquisition Act, 1894, as amended by Act 1968 of 1984.
Appellants are entitled for the costs of these appeals.
The advocate fees are fixed @ Rs.5,000/- in each of these cases.
Having regard to the fact that appellants have been fighting this litigation seeking compensation for their acquired lands from 2011, we direct the respondent-SLAO to deposit the amount within three months from the date of receipt of a copy of this judgment and decree without driving the claimants to initiate execution proceedings.