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Ramaji Baliramji Sawarkar Vs. Special Land Acquisition Officer, (General), Nagpur and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtMumbai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revn. Application No. 310 of 1968
Judge
Reported inAIR1974Bom249; 1974MhLJ475
ActsLand Acquistion Act, 1894 - Sections 18, 23, 24, 43(8) and 48(2)
AppellantRamaji Baliramji Sawarkar
RespondentSpecial Land Acquisition Officer, (General), Nagpur and ors.
Appellant AdvocateP.G. Palashikar, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateM.B. Mor, Asst. Govt. Pleader and ;M.L. Vaidya, Adv.
Excerpt:
the case debated on the maintainability of the application filed by the land owner to the collector for making a reference to the court for the determination of the amount of compensation to be paid to the person interested under sub-section (2) of section 48 of the land acquisition act, 1894, on the withdrawal from the acquisition of land, of which the possession had not been taken place - it was held on the basis of facts that the application was maintainable - - 3. not satisfied with this order the applicant desires to take up the matter further and presented an application to the land acquisition officer under section 18 of the act requiring the land acquisition officer to refer the matter to the court for determining the compensation. this suit was decreed and an appeal against.....padhye, j.1. this revision application has come to us on a reference made by our learned brother masodkar j. the facts of this case lie in a small compass. they have been fully stated in the referring order, but fully stated in the referring order, but we are giving an outline of the same.2. the applicant's land was sought to be acquired for the nagpur municipal corporation and notification under section 4 of the land acquisition act was duly issued. this was followed by a notification under section 6 of the said act and a notice under section 9 of the act was also issued. it was then decided to drop the acquisition proceedings and after the decision to drop the proceedings was taken, a notice under section 48(2) of the land acquistion act, hereinafter referred to as the act, was issued.....
Judgment:

Padhye, J.

1. This revision application has come to us on a reference made by our learned brother Masodkar J. The facts of this case lie in a small compass. They have been fully stated in the referring order, but fully stated in the referring order, but we are giving an outline of the same.

2. The applicant's land was sought to be acquired for the Nagpur Municipal Corporation and notification under Section 4 of the land Acquisition Act was duly issued. This was followed by a notification under Section 6 of the said Act and a notice under Section 9 of the Act was also issued. It was then decided to drop the acquisition proceedings and after the decision to drop the proceedings was taken, a notice under Section 48(2) of the Land Acquistion act, hereinafter referred to as the Act, was issued to the applicant requiring him to file his statement of claim regarding the amount of compensation. the applicant claimed compensation. The applicant claimed Rs. 5, 987 as compensation. Whereas the Land Acquisition Officer by his order granted only rs. 45 as compensation payable to the applicant.

3. Not satisfied with this order the applicant desires to take up the matter further and presented an application to the Land Acquisition Officer under Section 18 of the Act requiring the Land Acquisition Officer to refer the matter to the Court for determining the compensation. for this purpose, he took resort to the provisions of Section 48(3) of the Act. The Collector held that the application for reference was not tenable and rejected the said apllication. This revision has been directed against the said order.

4. The question, therefore, that falls for consideration is whether the Collector or the Land Acquisition Officer has got the power to make a reference to the Court for determination of the amount of compensation which is to be paid to the person interested under sub-section (2) of Section 48 of the Act on the withdrawal from the acquisition of any land of which possession has not been taken. No direct decision either of the Supreme Court or of this Court or of any other High Court was brought to the notice of the learned Single Judge and none has been brought to our notice either, bearing on the question at issue. Some decisions, however, were cited before the learned Single Judge which had no direct bearing on the point involved in the case, but certain inferences were sought to be drawn from the observations made in those cases. The learned Single Judge was referred to some of those decisions and they are; Municipal Committee, Nagpur v. Ratanlal Ganusao AIR 1938 Nag 169, Express Newspapers Limited v. State of Madras : AIR1961Mad59 , and Dwipak Choudhari v. Province of Bengal, ILR (1969) 2 Cal 176. The learned Single Judge was of the view that the only decision directly deciding the question was the Calcutta decision of the Division Bench and has its own persuasive value and since there the question was likely to occur is several matters, both before the Collector and other courts and was of general importance it was necessary to refer the matter for the decision of a larger Bench. The revision in this way came to be referred to us for decision.

5. Part II of the Land Acquisition act, 1894, consisting of Section 4 to 7 both inclusive, deals with acquisition of land and preliminary investigation in that connection, viz., hearing of objections made by interested parties, declaration of intended acquisition, making of the award by the Collector, determining compensation to be paid to the person or persons interested and apportionment of the compensation amongst the persons interested if more than one person are interested in getting the compensation. It also deals with taking of possession after the award is made.

6. Part III consisting of Sections 18 to 28 deals with the reference to the Court at the instance of a person interested not accepting the award and the procedure thereof. Section 18 of the Act authorises the Collector to make a reference to the Court on being required by a person interested. This part also provides for the methods of determining the compensation enjoining on the Court to take certain matters into consideration while determining the amount of compensation to be awarded and also not to take into consideration some other maters for that purpose, Section 23 deals with the matters to be considered in determining the compensation: whereas Section 24 deals with the matters to be neglected in determining the compensation. We are not very much concerned in this reference with Parts IV to VII, Part VIII which is described a Miscellaneous contains Section 48 with its sub-sections (1), (2), and (3) with which we are concerned in this reference. Section 48(1) of the Act gives the power the Government or this reference. Section 48 of the Act gives the power to the government or the Commissioner to withdraw from the acquisition of any land of which possession has not been taken., Sub-section (2) of Section 48 requires the Collector to determine the amount of compensation due for the damage suffered by the owner in consequence of the notice or of any proceeding for acquisition of the land which is subsequently with drawn by the Government and requires him to pay such amount to the person interested, together with all costs reasonably incurred by him in the prosecution of the proceedings under the Act relating to the said land.

7. Sub-section (3) of Section 48 of the Act is important and reads thus:

'The provisions of Part III of this Act shall apply, so far as may be, to the determination of the compensation payable under this section'.

According to the applicant, this sub-section (3) read with Section 18 contained in Part III gives the right to the person interested to require the Collector to make a reference to the Court for determining the amount of compensation due for the damage suffered for owner in consequents of the withdrawal of the acquisition and the Collector on being acquisition and the Collector on being moved is duty-bond to make the reference to the Court as contemplated by section 18 of the Act. On the other hand. it is contended on behalf of the non-applicants that sub-section (3) of Section 48 would only be to attract the provisions of Section 23 and 24 of Part III of the Act which relate to the matters to be considered and to be not considered while determining the amount of compensation.

8. The Nagpur decision in AIR 1938 Nag 169 was a case where the land was sought to be acquired for the Municipal Committee and an award was passed by the Land Acquisition Officer which was not accepted by the land owner and reference was then made to the Civil Court under Section 18 of the Act. During the pendency of the proceedings before the Court, the land owner instituted a Civil Suit against the Municipal Committee and the Government for a declaration that the land could not be acquired and the proceedings for acquisition were declared invalid. This suit was decreed and an appeal against that decree also failed. There was no further appeal. As a result of this declaration that the acuisition of land acquisition under reference arising therefrom came to an end and the question was whether the provisions of Section 48 of the Act were attracted in view of the fact that the withdrawal of the acquisition proceedings was not voluntary, but becomes of the declaration given by the Civil Court that the acquisition was invalide. It was held in this case that while dealing with a case referred to the Court under Section 18 of the Act which came to an end automatically, the moment it was held by the competent Court that the award out of which the reference was made was invalid, the Civil Court dealing with the reference had no power to determine the compensation payable to a party, much for damage suffered in consequence of the proceedings, as such power was vested in the Collector only in cases of withdrawal by Government from acquisition before possession was taken. If the Collector made an award in such a case and thereafter a reference was made to the Civil Court that reference could be dealt with by the Civil Coult, but otherwise, it had no jurisdiction under the provisions of the Land Acquisition act. Earlier the learned Single Judge of the Nagpur High Court while dealing with the provisions of Section 48 observed as under:

'The language of the section is plain and clearly indicates what is to be done by whom and when. There must be firstly a withdrawal by Government from acquisition, then the Collector should determine the compensation payable consequent on such withdrawal and in cas either award of such compensation is not accepted, the party dissatisfied with the award may apply for reference to the Civil Court and on such a reference the provisions of Part III will, so far as may be apply'.

These observations do support the contention of the applicant that in a case like this the Collector can make reference to the Civil Court if the order of compensation passed by him is not accepted by the owner of the land.

9. It is, however, urged on behalf of the non-applicants that the question involved in that case was whether without there being any reference to the Civil Court by the Collector, the Court before whom the reference was pending for determining compensation and during the pendency of those proceedings the acquisition proceedings came to an end because of the declaration given by a Civil Courts the Court dealing with the reference had the power to determine and award compensation as contemplated by Section 48 (2) of the Land Acquisition Act. These observations to which a reference has been made were not necessary to be made in that case and were thus obiter. It is, further contended that the learned Judge took it for granted that the decision given by the Collector under Section 48(2) of the Act is an award as in the case of an award under Section 11 of the Act, and therefore, a reference under Section 18 in respect of the compensation under Section 48(2) of the Act was competent. It is urged that Section 48(2) does not equate the order made under it to an award as contemplated by Section 11 and since the reference under Section 18 can be made only when the award is passed under Section 11, no reference under that section would be made in respect of an order passed under Section 48(2) of the Act.

10. It is true that the question involved in that case was of determining the compensation for the damage suffered by the owner in consequence of the proceedings for acquisition which subsequently during the pendency of the proceedings before the Court by reference under Section 18 came to an end. In considering the question whether the Civil Court was competent to make an order regarding the compensation for the damage suffered by the owner, it was necessary to consider the effect and impact of the provisions of Section 48, and particularly that of sub-section (3) thereof, in conjunction with Part III of the act consisting of Section 18 to 28. It cannot therefore, be said that the observation made by the learned Single Judge were wholly irrelevant for determining the question before him. After making these observations, the learned Judge opined that there was no withdrawal by Government from acquisition int that case as contemplated by Section 48, and therefore, that section did not come into play. If that was the view that was taken by the learned Judge and those observation referred to above were made for considering the applicability of Section 48, then those observations could not be taken to be a direct decision on the question involved in the present revision application before us.

11. The other case relied upon, namely. : AIR1961Mad59 is not of any assistance since no such question as is involved in this case was raised before that Court, but it was taken for granted that a reference under Section 18 in respect of the compensation determined by the Collector under Section 48 (2) was competent and appeal against the decision of the Civil Court was entertained and decided by the High Court taking the decision of the Civil Court as being within its competence.

12. We shall deal with the third case, namely, of the Calcutta High Court later, but before that we would like to construe the provisions of Section 48 of the Act for the purpose of finding out whether the Collector has the power to make a reference to the Court. It has been pressed upon us that under sub-section (2) of Section 48, the determination by the damage suffered by the owner is not describe as an award, nor does sub-section (3) make any reference to as award and sub-section (3) makers provisions of Part III of the Act applicable only so far as may be to the determination of the compensation payable under Section 48 and not to an award. It is also pressed upon us that wherever the legislature wanted to deal with an award, it has used that word in different provisions of the Act which by necessary implication means that Section 48 excludes an award.

13. Reference was made, in the first instance, to Section 11 of the Act, under which after enquiring into the objections of any person interested, the Collector has to make an award under his hand of :

( i ) the true area of the land,

(ii) the compensation which in his opinion should be allowed for the land, and

(iii) the apportionment of the said compensation among all the persons known or believed to the interested in the land, of whom, or of whose claims, he has information, whether or not they have respectively appeared before him.

This award is then to be filed in the Collector's office and the word 'award' has been used in Section 12 also. Section 12-A refers to the amendment of the award for a clerical or arithmetical mistake or errors arising therein from accidental slips or omissions. Section 15-A and 16 also use the word 'award'. Then Section 18 says that any person interested who has not accepted the award or the amendment thereof, may be written application to the Collector require that the matter be referred by the Collector for the determination of the Court, whether his objection be to the measurement of the land, the amount of the compensation, the person to whom it is payable or the apportionment of the compensation among the persons interested. On the basis of those provisions, it is contended that Section 18 reference can be made only in respect of the award which is made under Section 12-A and in no other case, can a reference under Section 18 be made as Section 18 uses the word 'award' as contemplated by Section 11 of the Act.

14. Reference was then made to sub-section (3) of Section 35 and Section 37 of the Act. Part VI which contains these sections deals with temporary occupation of land. In case of the temporary occupation of the land, compensation is to be paid to the person interested in such land and a question may also arise as to the condition of the land at the expiration of the term. If the Collector and the persons interested differ as to the sufficiency of the compensation or apportionment thereof, then under sub-section (3) of Section 35, the Collector has to refer such difference to the decision of the Court. If the Collector and the persons interested differ as to the condition of the land at the expiration of the term or as to any matter connected with the said agreement, the Collector has to refer such difference to the decision of the Court under Section 37, It is urged that in cases of decisions which cannot be called awards, a separate provision for reference has been made by the Legislature wherever it wanted to provide for a reference thereby confounding the reference under Section 18 only tot he awards as contemplated by Section 11 and 12-A of the Act. It is urged that if the Legislature wanted to give power to the Collector to make a reference in respect of the compensation determined under Section 48(2) of the Act, a similar provision would have been made since the determination of the compensation under Section 48(2) has not been described as an award. Tjhe non-applicants, therefore, contend that under Section 48(3) only those provisions of Part III would apply as relate to the determination of he compensation and they are only Section 23 and 24 from Part III of the Act and other provision would not be applicable in respect of compensation payable under Section 48(2). In our opinion, such a limited construction cannot be put on the provision of sub-section (3) of Section 48, Section 48(3) does not by reference, incorporate only Section 23 and 24 out of Part III of the Act. If that was the intention of the Legislature, then they would have specifically confined the application only to Section 23 and 24 as has been done in Section 15 of the Act. The method and manner of determination of compensation by the Court has been given in Section 23 and 24 of the Act. Some guiding principles are applicable for the determination of the compensation by the Collector. Instead of repeating the whole thing that is contained in Section 23 and 24 in Part II which deals with the proceeding before the Collector, the said provisions have been incorporated in Part II by reference by enacting Section 15, as if the provisions contained in Section 23 and 24 were part and parcel of Part II of the Act. If the Legislature wanted to confine the application of Section 23 and 24 of the Act also the Section 48 in Part VIII, a provision similar to the one in Section 15 would have been made. A difference in the language of Section 15 and of Section 15 and the would of Part III and not only Section 23 and 24 are made applicable to the matters contained in Section 48(2) so far as they are applicable.

15. What is to be determined under Section 48(2) is also compensation payable to the owner of the land, though not for the acquisition of the land but for the damage suffered by the owner because of his being deprived of the enjoyment of his property during the acqusition proceedings till the acquistion was withdrawn. In acquiring the property the Collector acts as an agent of Government who acquires the properpty. When the Collector determines the compensation payable to the owner of the land, he determines the some in quasi-judicial proceeding for enabling him to make an offer of compensation to the owner which the owner may accept or refuse. If the owner accepts the offer made by the Collector, the matter ends there. If the owner accepts the offer made by the Collector, the matter ends there. If, however, he does not accept the same, he may require the Collector to make a reference to the Court for determining the compensation whose order subject to the appeal is final. The Collector who determines the compensation is not entitled to move the Court for determining the compensation below that which has been determined by him, but the owner can claim a higher compensation than that offered by the Collector, compensation is similarly to be determined by the Collector under Section 48(2) for the damage suffered by the owner during the intervening period, namely, the commencement of the acquisition proceedings and the withdrawal thereof. There also the Collector acts as an agent of the Government as it is the Government who is liable to pay the compensation and what that compensation should be is to be determined by the Collector. Here also, the proceedings is a quasi-judicial one and the Collector determines the amount of compensation to enable him to make an offer on behalf of the Government to the owner. The owner of the property my accept or refuse the said compensation. If he is satisfied with the compensation offered, the matter ends there. If however, he does not accept the offer he has got a further remedy of claiming a higher compensation.

16. According to the non-applicants, the owner can claim a higher compensation by filing a civil suit against the acquiring body after giving requested statutory notice but be cannot take recourse to Section 18 of the Act requiring a reference to be made. In our view Section 48(2) has been in acted precisely with the object. When the can have a reference made under section 18 with respect to the compensation payable on the acquisition, there does not seem to be any rhyme or reason why he should be driven to a separate suit for claiming a higher compensation for the damage suffered by him in consequence of the acquisition proceedings which have later been abandoned. The Land Acquisition Act is a Special Act for the special purpose and ordinarily it is expected to deal with all the matters connected with, and incidental to, the compulsory acquisition of land which could also include the withdrawal of the acquisition or the withdrawal proceedings. If we closely examine Sections 23 and 24 contained in Part III of the Act, the principles laid down in those sections may not be squarely applicable to the compensation which is determined under sub-section (2) of Section 48, Sub-section (3), therefore, must necessarily refer to the other provisions of part III and in our view it points out more to section 18, 19 to 22 and 25 to 28, which are consequential to the action taken under Section 18 of the Act and it would be only by considerable stretching that some one or the other provision of Sections 23, and 24 will be made applicable. If Section 48 had stood at sub-sections (1) and (2) only and since sub-sections (2) of section 48 does not make mention of the word 'award' being passed on determining the amount of compensation, there would not perhaps have been any remedy for the affected person to claim more compensation if he was not satisfied with the amount determined by the Collector. It could not have been the intention of the Legislature to leave the affected owner at the mercy of the Collector who at all stages of the acquistion had been acting as an agent of the Government in the matter of determining the compensation.

17. The affected person could not also be expected to go in for protracted proceedings by a regular civil suit on payment of the full court-fee stamps for no fault of his. Previously on a reference being made under section 18, no court-fees were required to be paid on the amount which was claimed by the person interested in excess of the amount awarded by the Collector. Recently, however by an amendment to the court-fees Act. the person interested is required to pay court-fees on half the amount which is claimed by him in excess of the amount awarded by the Collector. Even then the remedy is cheaper than that of a civil suit and remedy by reference is not so elaborate as in the case of a regular civil suit. The legislature could not have intended to put a person in the position of the applicant to a greater disadvantage than a person whose land is finally acquired and taken possession of. Seen in this context, it appears that sub-section (3) of Section 48 has been enacted to given a right to the person whose land is withdrawn from acquisition similar to the right of a person whose land is finally acquired and to whom compensation is to compensation payable' in sub-section (3) of section 48 of the Act cannot be related only to Sections 23 and 24 of part III of the Act. what the collector does under section 11 is determination of the compensation and section 18 of the Act is also a step in the determination of the compensation by the court on a reference being made by the Land Acquisition Officer. Section 18, therefore, can also be said to be a provision in the matter of the determination of the compensation and that provision can be made applicable also in the matter of determination of compensation payable under Section 48 of the Act. It would not, therefore, be correct to say as is urged on behalf of the non-applicants that sub-section (3) of section 48 would make only sections 23 and 24 of part III applicable and no other provisions thereof. Instead if repeating what is contained in part III, under Section 48, the provisions thereof have been incorporated in section 48 by reference by enacting sub-section (3), the effect of which would be as if the provisions contained in Part III to be read in section 48.

18. It was argued that if the legislature wanted to give a right to make reference as in section 18 or as in sub-section (3) of section 35 or section 37, a similar provision could have been conveniently made in section 48. No doubt such a provision could have been made, but in the case of the compensation under section 48, only that much as is contained in sub-section (3) of section 35 and section 37 would not have been sufficient but other provisions contained in part III also would have to be incorporated. Instead of repeating the whole thing again, the effect is sought to be achieved by enacting sub-section (3) in section 48 so as to make almost the whole of Part III applicable to the matters contained in section 48 as far as possible and to the extent they would be applicable. Taking into consideration all these matters, we are inclined to take the view that section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act is applicable in respect of the compensation determined under sub-section (2) of section 48 of the Act.

19. We may now refer to the decision of the Calcutta High Court in ILR (1949) 2 Cal 176, which according to the learned single Judge seems to support the contention raised on behalf of the non-applicants. The learned Single Judge has also observed that there is an apparent conflict between the Calcutta view and the Nagpur view. The question involved in this case was whether the Calcutta Improvement Tribunal was empowered to award interest on compensation allowed to a claimant in a proceeding under Section 48 of the Act. Section 28 of the Act which is contained in Part III empowers the court to direct the collector to pay interest on the excess amount of compensation which awarded by the court on reference to it by the collector. A contention was raised on behalf of the owner that reading section 48(3) with section 28 such interest could be awarded by the Court. This contention, it appears, was negatived on the ground that section 28 empowers the court to pay interest from the date of the Collector's taking possession, that means when possession has already been taken by the collector, but section 28 cannotapply to a case where the possession has not been taken or the acquisition proceedings are withdrawn before the possession is taken, and therefore, by virtue of section 48(3) section 28 would not be attracted to a case falling under section 48(2) of the Act. However, while dealing with the question whether the calcutta improvement Tribunal had power to review its own decision or not, the calcutta Improvement Tribunal had power to review its own decision ot not, the the calcutta High Court considered the scope and ambit of section 48(3) the provisions of section 18 would be attracted in regard to the determination of compensation under section 48(3) section 71 (d) of the Calcutta Improvement Appeals Act made the award of the Tribunal final and the word 'final meant' not open to review, appeal or revision.' This was contended on behalf of the land owner. In that context section 48(3) came to be contrued. While dealing with the question, the learned judge of the calcutta High Court observed:

'This argument is based on a misconception of the effect of an order for compensation under section 48 of the land Acquisition Act. Such an order is not an award. Part II Section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act states what an award contains. In the case of T.B. Ramchandra Rao V.A. N.S. Ramchandra Rao V.A.N.S. Ramchandra Rao AIR 1922 PC 80, Lord Buckmaster opined that- Part II of the Act has not been made expressly applicable to the proceedings under Section 48 of the Act; this implies that the order under that section is not an award. In the above view, a reference to the court under part III, section 18, which is available to a person who has not accepted the award, could have been incompetent in proceedings under section 48 of the land Acquistion Act. To meet this contingency, section 48(3) expressly made part III applicable.

These observations in fact support the contention of the applicant that section 18 is applicable in a case falling under section 48(2) of the Act, This decision, in our view, is not at all in conflict with the view taken or observations made in AIR 1938 Nag 169. Left at sub-sections (1) and (2) only, a reference under section 18 could not have been made with respect to compensation determined under section 48(2), but in our view, to give a similar right to the person whose land has been withdrawn from acuisition, provision of sub-section (3) has been enacted in section 48,. In our view this provision makes section 18 applicable to a case falling under section 48(2) of the Act.

20 We, are therefore, of the opinion that the application for reference to the Collector under Section 18 read with section 48(3) of the Act was maintainable and on being required by the applicant land owner to make a reference to the court, the collector was bound to make a reference to the court for determination of the compensation for the damage suffered by the land owner on account of the acquisition proceedings and their subsequent withdrawal. Since the whole revision application has been referred to us, we hold, differing from the view taken by the collector that the application of the applicant for reference was maintainable and had to be dealt with by the Collector in accordance with law.

21. We, therefore, set aside the impugned order of the Collector and remand the case to the Collector for deciding the application for reference in accordance with law. The revision application thus succeeds and is allowed. In view of the importance of the question and there being no direct authorities so fat on the question involved in this case, we do not make any order as to costs.

22. Revision allowed.


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