1. We propose to dispose of the appeals by a common judgment as they arise out of a common award made by the Arbitrator under the Requisitioning & Acquisition of Immovable Property Act, 1952 (for short 'the Act') and involve common questions of fact and law. The Arbitrator awarded compensation for acquisition of land @ Rs. 10,000/- per bigha fixed the annual recurring compensation for the requisitioned period at Rs. 200/- per bigha and also awarded interest @ 6% per annum from the date of taking over possession of the land till the final payment.
2. By Notification dated 22-7-67 lands belonging to the Respondents were requisitioned and possession was taken over on 4-5-1968. Thereafter the competent authority acquired the lands on 24-6-1971 under the provisions of 'the Act'. The Deputy Commissioner awarded recurring annual compensation for the land at rates ranging from Rs. 45/-to Rs. 60/- per bigha, according to the classifications of the lands and awarded acquisition compensation @ Rs. 4,000/- per bigha for paddy land, @ Rs. 5,300/-per bigha for 'Bustee land on the basis of the award of the Arbitrator in another land acquisition case No. 228 of 1962, without making any endeavour to make any agreement, as required under 'the Act.' The claimants being dissatisfied made representations and the Arbitrator was appointed to determine compensation. On the basis of the claims and counter-claims of the parties, the Arbitrator framed the following issues :--
(1) Whether compensation assessed by the Deputy Commissioner for acquisition of lands of the claimants was reasonable, fair and adequate if not what should be the fair and adequate compensation to be awarded for acquisition of lands of the claimants?
(2) Whether the compensation granted for trees, jirats and crass by the Deputy Commissioner was fair and adequate? If not what should be adequate for jirats, trees and crops?
(3) Whether the claimants are entitled to get 15% additional compensation as a solatium for compulsory acquisition for their lands over the total compensation?
(4) Whether the compensation granted by the Deputy Commissioner payable annually during the period of requisition of the land is fair and adequate? If not whether the claimants are entitled to get annual compensation at Rupees 300/- per bigha per annum as claimed for or any other reasonable and four compensation?
(5) To what other relief if any the claimants are entitled and to what extent?
3. It is the common case of the parties that the land is in one block and areas measuring IB-0K-0L, IB-0K-12L, 1B-1K-4L, 2B-1K-4L, 4B-1K-2L, 2B-0K-19L, 2B-0K-8L, 1B-1K-4L, 1B-0K-12L, 1B-3K-8L, 8B-2K-16L, 1B-1K-10L, 9B-4K-10L, 3B-1K-12L, 2B-2K-15L, 3B-1K-16L. 5B-0K-14L, 7B-2K-6L, were acquired from the respective Respondents and/or their predecessors-in interest The learned Arbitrator held that the competent authority assessed the compensation without making any endeavour to arrive at any agreement with the parties as envisaged under Section 8 of 'the Act.' The Arbitrator also held that the competent authority never made any endeavour to examine any sale deed nor examined any person who could have given a reasonable guidance as to the valuation of the land prevailing in the locality at all relevant time. It appears that 'the Competent Authority' merely relied on the justification report of the Land Acquisition Officer marked Ext. 'B' and fixed the rate of compensation for acquisition. The competent authority, it appears, relied on an award in Acquisition Case No. 228 of 1962-63. The Arbitrator held that the competent authority had no basis to determine the compensation. In short, the learned Arbitrator held that the determination was arbitrary. The Arbitrator also considered the evidence of the witnesses, relied on the sale deeds marked Exts. 10, 12 and 13, and held that in the year 1963 the sale price of similar land was Rs. 2,000/- for 1K-17LS and in 1970 the average price of similar land was far more than Rs. 10,000/- per bigha, in the locality. It held that there were various public and private institutions like Kahikuchi District Model Farm, Borihar Airport, Assam Ayurvedic College, Assam Engineering College, Assam Candle Factory, Assam Forest School, Gauhati University were existing within the vicinity of the acquired land at all relevant time. In fact the lands were within the Greater Gauhati Master plan. In view of the establishment of numerous private and public institutions the market price of the lands considerably increased since before the date of acquisition. All these were proved by the claimants by adducing evidence. Learned Arbitrator held that the acquired area was in a developing area where various factors, including establishments of various important development projects, public as well as private institution contributed to augment the monetary value or the market price of the lands in the area. The learned Arbitrator also held that the acquired laud had special boons benefits and conveniences like good communication with the City of Gauhati and other parts of Assam. There are various bazars, namely, Kahikuchi Bazar, Jogipara Bazar, Dhuptola Bazar, Azara Bazar, Mirza Bazar close to the acquired land. The claimant also proved that in Arbitration Case No. 193 of 1970, the Arbitrator awarded compensation @ Rs. 3,000/- per bigha, in another compensation case i. e. Misc. Case No 35 of 1972 the Arbitrator had awarded compensation @ Rs. 12,000/- per bigha, annual recurring compensation @ Rs. 300/- per bigha vide Ext. 5. It is apposite to state at this stage that the Collector preferred an appeal against the said award and in F. A. No. 132 of 1973. Dy. Commr, Kamrup v. Naren Chandra Kalita decided on 14-12-82 we upheld the award of acquisition compensation @ Rs. 12,000/- per bigha and also upheld the quantum of annual recurring compensation fixed @ Rs. 300/- per bigha but modified the award of interest and directed that the Respondents would be entitled to interest @ 6% per annum from the date of the award of the Arbitrator till the final payment of compensation. This apart various awards were produced by the claimants to show that the awards were made by the Arbitrators, in respect of similar land fixing acquisition compensation from Rs. 3,500/- to Rs. 9,500/- although those lands had been acquired years before the date of acquisition of the present lands. All those lands are within the vicinity of 'the acquired land.' Even the very same Collector had awarded compensation @ Rs. 9,000/-per bigha in respect of the lands in village Kahikuchi and Jogipara, All those lands were admittedly in the vicinity or adjoining the acquired land. Considering those documents the Arbitrator held that a fair and modest compensation for acquisition would be Rs. 10,000/- per bigha. We would like to refer that in, the Dy. Commr. Kamrup v. Naren Chandra Kalita (supra), the lands were requisitioned in 1968 and acquired on 24-6-71. In the instant cases the lands were requisitioned in 1968 possession taken on 4-5-68 and acquired on 24-6-1971. The Arbitrator awarded acquisition compensation @ Rs. 10,000/- per bigha. While assessing the annual recurring compensation, learned Arbitrator held :--
'Considering all these it does not appear that their claim @ Rs. 300/- per bigha as annual recurring compensation is not very much inflated. In other cases as mentioned above the Arbitrator paid compensation @ Rs. 200/- per bigha as annual recurring compensation. Considering the factors as stated above, I also assess a very moderate rate of compensation @ Rs. 200/- per bigha as annual recurring compensation for the requisitioned period commencing from 4-5-1968 to 24-8-71.'
4. However, in reaching the conclusions the learned Arbitrator made various mistakes. In Naren Kalita's case (supra) he awarded annual recurring compensation @ Rs. 300/- per bigha and not at the rate of Rs. 200/-. Further in that case he awarded acquisition compensation @ Rs. 12,000/- per bigha. As such, we find that in view of errors of records the learned Arbitrator did not award just compensation for the acquisition and requisition of the land. However, there is no cross appeal by the claimants. It hag been submitted by Mr. R. C. Choudhury, learned counsel for the Claimants Respondents that they had no fund to fight litigations. On perusal of the records we find that the present lands are in the vicinage of Naren Kalita's land. Mr. D. W Choudhury, learned Senior Government Advocate found difficulties in wriggling out the binding decision of this Court in Naren Kalita's case (supra) and the admitted position set out above.
5. On perusal of the evidence of these cases we find that there is enough evidence regarding the upswing, development and progress of the areas by leaps and bounds preceding the date of acquisition of the present lands. There is no manner of doubt that the area becomes very very important by and before the date of the present acquisition. Naturally, there was a strong demand for land in the area. There is direct transport and communication with the city of Gauhati. The area falls within the Greater Gauhati Master plan. It is not within the city but is better situated, enjoys all the advantage of the city life but does not suffer from pollution and congestion. The potential value of the lands naturally lumped up. In our opinion, in the backdrop of the developments in nearby area the claimants made a most modest claim to fix the market value at Rupees 15,000/- per bigha. So solatium i.e. 15% of additional compensation was awarded and that too very rightly. If the learned Arbitrator would have carefully gone through his Award in Naren Kailta's case he would have surely awarded acquisition compensation @ Rs. 12,000/-per bigha and not @ Rs. 10,000/-per bigha as awarded. Learned Arbitrator also made a mistake in holding that he had awarded annual recurring compensation @ Rs. 200/- per bigha per annum for the requisitioned period in Naren Kalita's case. In fact, he awarded Rs. 300/- per bigha per annum and his Award was upheld by us in F. A. 132 of 1973 decided on 14-12-82. The learned Arbitrator rightly reached the conclusion that the annual recurring compensation could not have been less than Rs. 300/- yet he committed a serious snag in reducing it to Rs. 200/- per bigha. There is no cross objection, and. as such we cannot increase the compensations and leave the matter where it stands.
6. In the instant case also learned Senior Government Advocate submitted that the lands were of different nature. We have also found that most of the lands were 'Aba.' some were fit for homestead, some 'Ababan' i. e. bustee lands and others cultivable lands, we do not find any justification in making any distinction between homestead, high land and agricultural lands. However, there is no evidence or any material to show that the relative market value of 'Aba.' 'Ala' or 'Ababan' varied insofar as their valuation was concerned. We have perused the evidence of the witnesses and find that the witnesses have stated that the lands were of the same or similar nature and quality. We also do not find any justifiable reason for holding that a class of land acquired in these cases was so inferior that there should be any distinction in payment of compensation. Mr. D. N. Choudhury, learned Senior Government Advocate has further contended that the acquisition compensation should have been the price which the requisitioned property had fetched in open market on the date of requisition and not on the date of acquisition. We merely point out to Section 8(3) of 'the Act' and the view expressed by us in Naren Kalitas case (supra). We have conclusively held that the compensation payable for acquisition of land under Section 7 of 'the Act' should be the price which the requisitioned property would have fetched in open market, if it had remained in the condition as it was at the time of requisitioning, and been sold on the date of acquisition. We have held in Naren Kalita's case (supra) that the price to be fetched in such open market must be between a free buyer and a free seller and the awardee is entitled to the price of the land on the date of acquisition. For the reasons set-forth in Naren Kalita's case (supra) we hold that the award of acquisition compensation was much less than the open market price of the land which should have been Rs. 12,000/- per bigha on the basis of the principles of Naren Kalita's case (supra).
7. Mr. D. N. Choudhury, learned Senior Govt. Advocate, has submitted that the possession of the land was taken on 4-5-1969 and the learned Arbitrator awarded recurring compensation from 4-5-1968 which was not the date of taking possession. The possession was taken on 4-5-1969. Accordingly, learned Senior Govt. Advocate has submitted that the period for recurring compensation should be altered to 4-5-1969. We have perused the record carefully and find that in fact possession was taken on 4-5-1968 and not on 4-5-1969 as claimed by learned Senior Government Advocate. In the order sheet at page 15 of file No. AC 67/69 we find that the Deputy Commissioner himself stated in his order dated 26-6-1971 that the possession of the land was delivered on 4-5-1968. We have also perused the award of the Collector dated 8-4-1972 at page 23 wherein we also find that the possession was taken on 4-5-1968. Learned Senior Govt. Advocate could not point out any record to show that the possession was not taken over on 4-5-1968 as held by the Collector, but on 4-5-1969. Situated thus we find no merit in the contention.
8. The next contention is that the compensation for the requisitioned period is on the high side. The annual recurring compensation has been awarded @ Rs. 200/- per bigha as a result of mis-reading of the own award of the Arbitrator. In fact he should have awarded Rs. 300/- per bigha. In Naren Kalita's case we hold that award of compensation (8) Rs. 300/- was very modest estimation and the Arbitrator should have fixed the annual recurring compensation @ Rs. 450/- per bigha per annum. The compensation awarded does not appear to be unjust, unfair or high, taking into consideration the productive value of the land and that the respondents were using the land. Not only the properties were acquired but all on a sudden the respondents were thrown out of their avocation. Under these circumstances we do not find any reason to interfere with the finding as to the annual recurring compensation for the requsitioned period.
9. In respect of interest we have held in Naren Kalita's case that 'the Act' does not provide for awarding any interest. Rule 10 (4) of the Rules framed under 'the Act' empowers the authority to award costs. However, the competent authority can direct the payment to be made within a specified period and in a certain manner. We have held that the Arbitrator has power to award costs and the payment of interest can be made as one of the elements of the costs. The authority can undoubtedly make award that if the compensation is not paid within a certain period, the 'competent authority'' shall be liable to pay interest. In Naren Kalita we considered various decisions, namely, Bishan Devi, AIR 1979 SC 1862; Ingle Wood Pulp & Paper Co. Ltd. AIR 1928 PC 287: Mahant Narayan Dasjee Varu AIR 1965 SC 1231; Hukum Chand Gulab Chand Jain, AIR 1965 SC 1692: Satinder Singh, AIR 1961 SC 908: Birch v. Joy: (1852) 3 HLC 565: Swift & Co., 1925 AC 520: International Railway Company, AIR 1941 PC 114 Madanlal Roshanlal, AIR 1967 SC 1030; M/s. T.N.K. Gonindraju Chetty, AIR 1968 SC 129: Laxmichand, AIR 1975 SC 1303 and reached the conclusion that the Arbitrator may award interest on compensation, not from the date of taking over possession of the land but from the date of making of the award till the date of payment or can substitute the interest wish cost. We award interest accordingly, provided the compensation money payable to the respondents have not been paid as yet. However, if the compensation amounts have been paid to the respondents, we feel that no recovery should be made from the amounts paid already, as it would cause injustice to the parties. To recover such small amounts, the Collector shall have to make more expenses than the amounts to be recovered.
10. In the result we uphold the award of compensation for requisition of the land @ Rs. 10,000/- per bigha as determined by the Arbitrator. Similarly we uphold the award of annual recurring compensation for the requisitioning of the land @ Rs. 200/- per bigha per annum. However, we modify the award of interest and direct that if the compensation amounts have not been paid to the respondents they shall be entitled to interest @ 6% per annum from the date of the award made by the Arbitrator till the final payment of the compensation. However, if the payments have already been made to the respondents, no recovery of the interest should be made. We direct that the claimants shall be entitled to receive the amounts from the Arbitrator, if they have not been paid already in the meantime.
11. In the result the appeals are dismissed with costs of Rs. 100/- per appeal against the appellant, with minor modification as set-forth above.
T.C. Das, J.