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Ranchhodlalji Goswami Vs. Acquisition Officer - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtMumbai
Decided On
Case NumberFirst Appeal No. 387 of 1941
Judge
Reported in(1944)46BOMLR696
AppellantRanchhodlalji Goswami
RespondentAcquisition Officer
Excerpt:
land acquisition act (i of 1894), sections 9, 45, 25-compulsory acquisition of land-notice to claimant-service of notice by registered post-claimant not appearing before court -'sufficient reason ' for non-appearance.;a notice issued under section 9 of the land acquisition act, 1894, can be served on the person interested by registered post, at the direction of the collector or the judge under section 45 of the act.;where a claimant was the religious preceptor who did not attend to mundane affairs but had appointed a manager to look after his estate, and where a notice under section 9 of the act on the claimant was received by the manager who negligently failed to appear before the court for which he was dismissed from service :-;that there was ' sufficient reason ' within the meaning of..........590 square yards of it for road widening. accordingly the requisite notice under section 4 of the land acquisition act, 1894, was duly issued on july 7, 1936, by publication in the ' bombay government gazette,' the next step was this : on or about may 31, 1938, a notice under section 9 of the act was sent by registered post to the claimant so that he could make his claim for compensation. the claimant is a religious head and guru and he does not deal himself with business affairs : but has a manager for that purpose. the notice, sent to the claimant by registered post was addressed to him at his residence ; where the receipt for it was signed by his clerk, who passed on the notice to the claimant's manager. in the circumstances to which i shall presently refer; no step was taken upon.....
Judgment:

Leonard Stone, Kt., C.J.

1. This is an appeal from the decision of the Joint Judge of Ahmeda-bad. The claimant Goswami Ranchhodlalji was the owner of a piece of land let out to charcoal dealers and the Municipality required upwards of 590 square yards of it for road widening. Accordingly the requisite notice under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, was duly issued on July 7, 1936, by publication in the ' Bombay Government Gazette,' The next step was this : on or about May 31, 1938, a notice under Section 9 of the Act was sent by registered post to the claimant so that he could make his claim for compensation. The claimant is a religious head and guru and he does not deal himself with business affairs : but has a manager for that purpose. The notice, sent to the claimant by registered post was addressed to him at his residence ; where the receipt for it was signed by his clerk, who passed on the notice to the claimant's manager. In the circumstances to which I shall presently refer; no step was taken upon that notice, and in effect the time ran out and the claimant-appellant's claim, for compensation went by default.

2. Mr. R. M. Shah for the claimant-appellant has raised two points : first it is said that the notice under Section 9 was not properly served, and secondly, if we should determine that#its service was validly effected ; then that under Section 25 sufficient reason is shown in the circumstances of the case why the claimant-appellant omitted to make his claim, and that accordingly he is entitled to the larger sum of compensation found by the learned Judge in the Court below. This larger sum he would not be entitled to under Section 25 unless he can show ' sufficient reason ' for his omission.

3. With regard to the first question, it is Section 45 of the Act which provides for service. In substance that, section provides for personal service whenever it may be practicable, or under Sub-section.(5) where a person cannot be found, the service may be effected either by making it upon an adult member of his family residing with him, or by fixing a copy on the outer door of the house in which the person therein named ordinarily dwells or carries on business, or by fixing a copy thereof in some conspicuous place in the office of the officer aforesaid or of the Collector or in the Courthouse, and also in some conspicuous part of the land to be acquired. Then follows a proviso which is as follows :--

Provided that, if the Collector or Judge shall so direct, a notice may he sent by post,, in a letter addressed to the person named therein at his last known residence, address or place of business and registered under Part III of the Indian Post Office Act, 1866, and service of it may be proved by the production of the addressee's receipt.

4. Mr. Shah does not contend that this proviso only operates upon Sub-section (3), that is to say, where a person cannot be found, and we do not decide this point. What is said is that service by post must also be personal, that is to say, the registered letter must be delivered into the hands of the addressee. Mr. Shah does not rely upon any provision in the Post Office Act of 1866, now repealed and consolidated by the Act of 1898, nor upon any of the regulations of the Post Office made thereunder. It is simply said that the registered letter must be personally delivered, because Sub-sections (1) and (2) of Section 45 contemplate personal service wheneverit is practicable, and at the end of the proviso, which I have mentioned above, there are the words : ' and service of it may be proved by the production of the addressee's receipt.' But, this proviso is not mandatory : it is only a method by which service may be proved, and in my judgment, the learned Judge in the Court below was right on this point, that is to say, that service of the notice was validly effected.

5. That raises the second question. The claimant-appellant has filed an affidavit, and there has been no attempt to apply to cross-examine him upon it. That evidence stands uncontroverted and is as follows :-

The appellant is the head of a religious order and the deity is worshipped and offerings are made to it, which occupy the whole of the day, beginning from early morning right up to the evening. During this period the claimant-appellant has to remain in the service of the deity and cannot even touch things that are not washed, nor touch persons who have not taken a bath and put on washed clothes. Further on in his affidavit he says this :-

The claimant does not mind the management of the estate nor other things connected with the management of the temple. These things are being managed and looked after by his staff. The claimant is not aware of any notice under Section of the Land Acquisition Act beinc served upon him.

Then having stated that he had a manager called Ambalal, he continues as follows :-

The said manager never brought to my notice the matter about acquisition, and never consulted me about the proceedings before the Land Acquisition Officer. No other person than the mftnager is authorised to receive any notice on my behalf.... It was because my then manager never brought to my notice any service of the notice under Section 9 and as the then manager Ambalal looked after Court work, that I could not be present.

6. There is also the oral testimony of the clerk. He says that the former manager was Ambalal, that he was dismissed for mismanagement and he does not know where Ambalal now is, and he further says :-

I have signed it (the postal acknowledgment) for the Goswami. I passed on the notice that came along with it to the manager.

7. The claimant-appellant is in effect a person under a disability so far as secular and business affairs are concerned, and it is not suggested that by any default or neglect on his part that the arrangement he made for the management of his affairs broke down. In my judgment the reasons for the appellant's omission to make a claim for compensation point to inadvertence beyond his control, and in my opinion he has shown sufficient reason within the meaning of Section 25. In my judgment, the learned Judge in the Court below took a too narrow view of this part of the case. He seems to have questioned the veracity of the affidavit and the evidence of the claimant-appellant's clerk, for after examining the evidence he says this :,-

We do not know under what circumstances the kurbhari did not take further action by way of making a claim before the Land Acquisition Officer. It was suggested that one Ambalal was the then karbhari of the Goswami and that he was relieved of his duties because of his mismanagement. The clerk alleges that he does not know where Ambalal now is. It is not known whether the above; allegations are true. Even conceding for a moment that they are true we cannot be justified in saying that there was sufficient reason for the claimant's omission to make a claim before the Land Acquisition Officer. Even if we concede for a moment that this was due to the negligence of the claimant's kmbkari, the claimant cannot take advantage of the same and say that the omission was justified on that account.

8. But it is to be observed that the clerk was not even cross-examined upon this part of his evidence, that is to say, with regard to the dismissal of the manager for mismanagement, or upon the fact that the clerk did not know where the late manager now is, and no attempt was made to cross-examine the claimant-appellant upon his affidavit which stands wholly uncontroverted.

9. The appeal will accordingly be allowed and an order will be made that the claimant-appellant is entitled to recover the sum of Rs, 6,216-14-0.

10. With regard to costs, the claimant-appellant is claiming an indulgence which we have granted in the special circumstances on the ground of inadvertence, arising from his secular disability, and the proper order as to costs will be that there will be no order as to costs either of this appeal or in the Court below.

Divatia, J.

11. I agree. With regard to the first point urged by Mr. Shah, I think that there is no substance in it, and I agree with the reasons given by my Lord the Chief Justice.

12. On the second point it appears to me that the learned Judge below has not taken a correct view in applying, the words ' sufficient reason ' to the facts of the present case. There cannot be any hard and fast definition of ' sufficient reason.' It is to be gathered from the facts ofi each case. In the present case the statement of the clerk that Ambalal was relieved because of his mismanagement and also the statement of the claimant himself in his affidavit that Ambalal never brought to his notice the matter about acquisition remain uncontradicted. It is true that in law the notice which came into the hands of Ambalal may be regarded as having been served upon the claimant himself because Ambalal appears to be the constituted attorney of the claimant, and if Ambalal had all along remained in service till these proceedings, it would have been correct to say that the claimant himself was bound by the receipt of the notice by Ambalal. But the fact that Ambalal was dismissed on account of mismanagement having not been disproved, it is not improbable that the claimant was not aware of the receipt of this notice by Ambalal and that the proceedings before the Collector took place without the knowledge of the claimant. That would, in my opinion, be sufficient reason if there was good faith and absence of negligence on the part of the claimant. These two-good faith and absence of negligence-are the two important ingredients in ' sufficient reason.' There is no doubt, in my opinion, that there was good faith onthe part of the claimant. He had already appeared through a pleader in the initial proceedings of the present acquisition when the first notice was issued under the Land Acquisition Act, and there was no reason at all why in his own interest he would not have appeared before the Collector if he was aware of the notice given to him under Section 9. So also there is no evidence whatever to show that there was negligence. That would have been so, if it had been shown that there were circumstances from which it could V inferred that he was aware of the receipt of the notice by Ambalal, but no such circumstances can be disclosed from the evidence on the record. I think, therefore, that there is nothing to show that the claimant was negligent. That being so, in my opinion, the claimant had sufficient jeason for not appearing before the Collector within the meaning of that expression in Section 25 of the Land Acquisition Act, and I think the learned Judge below was not correct in saying that in the circumstances appearing on the evidence the receipt of notice by Ambalal must be regarded as equivalent to its receipt by the claimant.

13. I hold, therefore, that the claimant would be entitled to receive the amount which in the opinion of the learned Joint Judge he would but for his case falling under Section 25 of the Act. I, therefore, agree with the final order proposed by my Lord the Chief Justice.


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