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Kooverbai Sorabji Manekji Vs. the Assistant Collector - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtMumbai
Decided On
Case Number First Appeal No. 274 of 1917
Judge
Reported in(1920)22BOMLR1136
AppellantKooverbai Sorabji Manekji
RespondentThe Assistant Collector
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Excerpt:
land acquisition act (i of l894), sections 11 and 12 - collector's award-when final and conclusive.;an award made by a land acquisition officer as to the amount of compensation for land compulsorily acquired, which is not filed in' the collector's office, as required by section 12 of the land acquisition act 1894, is, though it is signed and dated, not conclusive and binding as an award on government.;dossabhai v. special officer, salsette building sites (1912) i.l.r. 26 bom. 599 : 14 bom. l.r. 592, not followed. - - it seems to me to be perfectly clear that we have no award from the first acquiring officer. i find nothing in my judgment in that case which i would like to vary now, and i feel no doubt that the appeal in this case ought to be dismissed with costs......government in june 1912 on behalf of the b. b. & c. i. ry. go. the award under section 11 of the land acquisition act by the officer appointed by government amounted to rs. 70 per guntha, the area to be, acquired being one acre and one guntha. the learned district judge came to the conclusion that the market value of the ground was rs. 60 per guntha. ho allowed rs. 369 damages for severance. the total being under the collector's award, the collector's award stood.2. the first point taken before us was that the first acquisition officer, mr. sedgwick, made an award, which was binding on the government, amounting to rs. 132 per guntha. that award was never communicated to the parties. the claimant never knew that mr. sedgwick had formed an opinion that the land was worth rs. 132 a.....
Judgment:

Norman Macleod, Kt., C.J.

1. This is an appeal from a judgment of the District Judge of Surat in Reference No. 5 of 1914. The land acquired was notified by Government in June 1912 on behalf of the B. B. & C. I. Ry. Go. The award under Section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act by the officer appointed by Government amounted to Rs. 70 per guntha, the area to be, acquired being one acre and one guntha. The learned District Judge came to the conclusion that the market value of the ground was Rs. 60 per guntha. Ho allowed Rs. 369 damages for severance. The total being under the Collector's award, the Collector's award stood.

2. The first point taken before us was that the first Acquisition Officer, Mr. Sedgwick, made an award, which was binding on the Government, amounting to Rs. 132 per guntha. That award was never communicated to the parties. The claimant never knew that Mr. Sedgwick had formed an opinion that the land was worth Rs. 132 a guntha, until Mr. Sedgwick was called in the case as a witness and cross-examined.

3. The appellants now rely upon the decision in Dossabhai Bejanji v. The Special Officer, Salsette Building Sites I.L.R. (1912) Bom. 599 : 14 Bom. L.R. 592. What happened in that case was that the Collector made an award in the following form:-'Government in their Memorandum No. 10578, R. D. of 17th October 1908, have directed me to award compensation at the rate of Rs. 4 per acre for Khajan land and Rs. 120 per acre for Kharif land, and I therefore make my award accordingly.' The Court held it was not competent to Government to direct the Collector to substitute a smaller amount than that which, as the result of his inquiry, he had determined to offer.

4. I gather from the judgment of Mr. Justice Heaton that he concurred with the judgment of Mr. Justice Batchelor to this extent that the award stated the sum which, according to the opinion of another authority altogether, was the compensation which should be awarded, and so far as could be judged from the terms of Mr. Waterfield's order, it was a sum which he would never himself have offered as compensation, and which in his judgment was strikingly inadequate. Therefore, Mr. Justice Heaton thought it was quite impossible to hold that an award in that form was an award made by a Special Acquisition Officer.

5. As appears from his judgment Mr. Justice Batchelor went somewhat further than that, because at p. 604 the learned Judge says:-'Then it was suggested that the order of Mr. Waterfield's proposing to award Rs. 50 per acre was not an award but was a mere proposal for an award. It seems to me that this argument comes with a certain want of grace from the representative of Government, since if the order fell short of being an award, it fell short only by reason of those very executive orders of the Government whose validity is now in dispute. And if I am right in thinking that those orders are of no effect, then it follows that the award is that which Mr. Waterfield would have made had he not been restrained by these orders.' So that the learned Judge seemed to be of the opinion that when an Acquisition Officer had come to the conclusion as to what should be awarded for a particular piece of land to be acquired, and had recorded his reasons in writing for the conclusions he had come to as to the value of the land, though under special orders of Government he had referred the matter of compensation to his superior Officers, the Special Acquisition Officer had already made an award which was binding on Government, and if its contents could be proved, the claimant would be entitled to get that amount and nothing loss in the first instance, while he could get more by an application to the Court.

6. If that had been the opinion of both the learned Judges in that case, then it would be binding on me. But my learned brother tells no that he did not agree with that opinion which was expressed by Mr. Justice Batchelor, but merely agreed with the conclusion arrived at that the award in that case, in the form in which it had been promulgated, was not an award by the Collector as was intended by Section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act He did not agree with the opinion expressed by Mr. Justice Batehelor that as soon as the Collector had reduced his reasons to writing and signed them, there was an award which could not be altered, and that certainly is not my opinion either.

7. Section 12 of the Act appears to me to make it clear when an award becomes an award which is conclusive and binding on Government. First the Collector makes under Section 11 an award under his hand. It cannot be, in my opinion, the case that as soon as he has signed the document that then it becomes conclusive. He can tear it up and substitute another if he pleases. But under Section 12 the award shall be filed in the Collector's office, and shall, except as thereinafter provided, be final and conclusive evidence, as between the Collector and the persons interested, whether they have respectively appeared before the Collector or not, of the true area and value of the land, and the apportionment of the compensation among the persons interested. Then under Sub-section (2) 'The Collector shall give immediate notice of his award to such of the persona interested as are not present personally or by their representatives when the award is made.' Therefore it is the filing of the award in the Collector's office which makes it final and conclusive as against the parties interested. It is not suggested in this case that the award of Mr. Sedgwick had been filed in the Collector's office. The claimant has had to rely merely on the fact that he did sign what purported to be an award, and then asked for instructions from his superiors as to what should be done. Therefore I think the learned Judge in this case was correct in declining to be bound by the opinion expressed by Mr. Sedgwick with regard to the amount of compensation to be awarded.

8. The only question remaining is whether the District Judge's decision declining to interfere with the amount awarded by Mr. Parekhji who made a final award on behalf of Government should be disturbed. Mr. Parekhji allowed Rs. 70 a guntha, Mr. Murphy, Rs. 60 plus compensation for severance. The latter depends for his valuation on the amount realized by the owner under the leases which were signed by his tenant Ardeshir. It seems that the rent was increased by 50 per cent. about April 1912 very shortly before the land was notified for acquisition; and that the parties were aware that the Railway Company were about to apply to Government that acquisition proceedings should be taken, is clear from the terms of the document itself.

9. If I thought that the learned Judge had based his valuation, on any wrong method, or that in any respect his figures were erroneous, then it might possibly be held that he has undervalued the property. But as far as I can see, there is no clear error in the judgment. Then an appellate Court, in my opinion, should not be prone to upset the judgment in the matter of a valuation by the lower Court which has heard the evidence, unless the Judge has fallen into an obvious error in coming to his conclusions. It is quite possible that one Judge might allow a few rupees more here or there than another Judge. But it is not the function of an appellate Court to interfere in such a case, The claimant has been awarded Rs. 2,400 an acre for his land. Considering all the circumstances of the case, I should say that is a fair value. In my opinion, therefore, the appeal fails and should be dismissed with costs.

Heaton, J.

10. On the merits of the case, that is to say, the market value of the land, I have nothing to add. But I confess I was rather surprised to find it was argued that the decision in the case of Dossabhai Bejanji v. The Special Officer, Salsette Building Sites I.L.R. (1912) Bom. 599 : 14 Bom. L.R. 592 supplied us with a solution of the problem in this particular case. Here there was merely a writing signed by a person who at the time was the Acquiring Officer. But that writing was never given effect to. It was never promulgated. It was never apparently filed in the Collector's office even. It was submitted to Government, and before any promulgation came to be made it was withdrawn. A different Acquiring Officer had taken up the affair, and it was his award based on the results of his inquiry which was promulgated, and was filed in the Collector's office and so forth. It seems to me to be perfectly clear that we have no award from the first Acquiring Officer. We have nothing more than what might have become an award, if certain other proceedings had been taken, which in fact never were taken. This, to my mind, is quite clear when we take the facts and look at them in the light of the provisions of Sections 11 and 12 of the Land Acquisition Act.

11. What we have to deal with in this case is the award which really was made, and it was made, not by Mr. Sedgwick, the first Acquiring Officer, but by Mr. Parekhji who came later. Consequently what is said in Dossabhai Bejanji v. The Special Officer, Salsette Building Sites does not seem to me to help at all. In that case we were dealing with what undoubtedly was an award in that it fulfilled all the formalities; it had been filed, had been promulgated and so forth, and we were dealing with . matters which were stated in that award, and which appeared from that award. If in that case Mr. Justice Batchelor really went the length of saying, or implying, that a statement of opinion which had not been filed, and which had not been promulgated, was an award, then I certainly did not agree with that opinion, nor in my judgment did I state anything which would justify the supposition that I did agree. I find nothing in my judgment in that case which I would like to vary now, and I feel no doubt that the appeal in this case ought to be dismissed with costs.


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