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Special Land Acquisition Officer (1) Bombay and Bombay Suburban District Vs. Natverlal Jamnadas Muni - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily;Property
CourtMumbai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberLand Acquisition Ref. No. 39 of 1961
Judge
Reported inAIR1968Bom31; (1967)69BOMLR168; ILR1967Bom588
ActsLand Acquisition Act, 1894 - Sections 3, 11, 18, 30 and 31(2); Succession Act, 1925 - Sections 212 and 214
AppellantSpecial Land Acquisition Officer (1) Bombay and Bombay Suburban District
RespondentNatverlal Jamnadas Muni
Appellant AdvocateJ.M. Gandhi, Adv., ;i/b., Alreja and Co.
Respondent AdvocateAdv. General, ;i/b., Little and Co., Attorneys
Excerpt:
land acquisition act (i of 1894), sections 30, 31 - only one person making clam before collector -- collector in doubt whether claimant entitled thereto -- applicability of sections 30 and 31(2) -- indian succession act (xxxix of 1925), sections 212, 214.;the word 'dispute' as used in section 30 and in sub-section (2) of section 31 of the land acquisition act, covers the case where the collector is unable or unwiling or has omitted to decide whether the sole claimant appearing before him is or is not entitled to the property acquired and the compensation thereof. - - on the evidence before me i am satisfied, firstly, that he left no will and, secondly, that he died a widower, leaving only one child, being a son, natverlal, who has given evidence before me. (7) i have already stated..........the property or nobody comes forward too claim the property or there be a dispute as to who is the person entitled to hand over possession of the property, the collector is entitled to take possession of the property. sub-section (1) of section 18 provides that any person interested who has not accepted the award may apply that a reference be made to the court as provided for in that sub-section. the phraseology used in that sub-section (1) id 'any person interested'. section 8(b) defines that the expression 'person interested' includes all persons claiming an interested in the compensation to be made on account of the acquisition of land under the act. a reading of this sub-section makes it clear that every person who makes even a claim to an interest in the compensation is to be deemed.....
Judgment:

(1) This is a Reference under the Land Acquisition Act under Sections 18 and 31(2). It concerns an immoveable property situated at Khetwadi, 12th Lane, Bombay. One Jamnadas Vanmalidas Muni was the owner of that property during his life time. The Notifications under Sections 4 and 6 of the Act were issued on 20th April 1957 and 23rd June 1958 respectively. On the 29th of September 1958 Notices under Sections 9 and 10th of the Act were served on Jamnadas. On the 21st of October 1959 Jamnadas died. On the evidence before me I am satisfied, firstly, that he left no will and, secondly, that he died a widower, leaving only one child, being a son, Natverlal, who has given evidence before me. About a month and a half later, on the 10th of December 1959, the S. L. A. O. made his award. Under the award, he has declared that the amount of compensation awarded by him should be paid to Jamnadas. It is an obvious conclusion that when the S. L. A. O. made that award Jamnadas' death had not been brought to his notice. On the 16th of December 1959 Notice of the Award was issued, but even that Notice was issued in the name of Jamnadas. The Notice was, however, served on Natverlal. Immediately thereafter Natverlal carried on correspondence through his Attorneys with the S. L. R. O. about the death of Jamnadas and that he was his only heir and therefore entitled to the immoveable property and therefore to the compensation in respect of the same. On the 11th of January 1960 Natverlal asked for a Reference under Section 18. By his order dated 8th June 1961 the S. L. A. O. ordered that as Natverlal was unable to produce the requisite heirship certificate as required under the Government orders, the amount compensation payable to Jamnadas should deposited in the Court under Section 31(2) of the Act. Thereafter on 8th July 1961 the S. L. A. O. made this Reference both under Section 31(2) and has deposited in this Court the amount of compensation to the credit of this Reference.

(2) A question having arisen whether Natverlal, the son, is entitled to claim and to be paid the compensation as also the enhanced compensation, if any, that question must be decided on the relevant provisions contained in the Land Acquisition Act and the Indian Succession Act.

(3) The general scheme under the Land acquisition Act, in so far is relevant for the determination of the present question, may be considered. First, the Notifications under Section 4 and 6 of the Act have to be issued. Thereafter the Collector has to give Notice to persons interested as provided for under Section 9. There after the Collector has to be issued. Thereafter the Collector has to give Notice to persons interested as provided for under Section 9. Thereafter the Collector has to make an inquiry and thereafter an Award as provided for under Section 11. The provision of item No. (3) of Section 11 shows that it involves a determination by the Collector, to the extent he can, of the persons are entitled to the compensation and if there be more persons then one entitled thereto, the different amounts to which those persons are entitled. Section 16 provides that when the Collector has made an Award under section 11, he may take possession of the land, which shall thereupon vest absolutely in the Government, free from all encumbrances. It is important to note that the work used in section 16 is 'take'. It indicates that when the Collector has made the Award, he is entitled to take possession of the property, whether he has by his award decided or not who the person or persons were who were entitled to the property or to its possession and who were entitled to deliver possession. Even in cases where there is a dispute as to the title to the property or nobody comes forward too claim the property or there be a dispute as to who is the person entitled to hand over possession of the property, the Collector is entitled to take possession of the property. Sub-section (1) of section 18 provides that any person interested who has not accepted the Award may apply that a Reference be made to the Court as provided for in that sub-section. The phraseology used in that sub-section (1) id 'any person interested'. Section 8(b) defines that the expression 'person interested' includes all persons claiming an interested in the compensation to be made on account of the acquisition of land under the Act. A reading of this sub-section makes it clear that every person who makes even a claim to an interest in the compensation is to be deemed as a person interested. By reason of that provision a person, no sooner he makes a claim, must be deemed to be a 'person interested', even before he established his title to the claim made by him. Section 30 provides that when the amount of compensation has been settled under section 11, if any dispute arises as to the apportionment of the same or any part thereof, or as to the persons to whom the same or any part thereof is payable, the Collector nay refer such dispute to the decision of the Court. Section 30 would come into play when a dispute arises. The dispute can be of two categories: The first category would be where the dispute is concerning the apportionment of the amount of compensation or any part thereof. Under the second category would fall disputes as to the persons to whom the same or any part thereof is payable. On the plain phraseology of section 30 into play, there must exist a dispute and because of the very nature of the word used being 'dispute' whether there must be more than one party to that dispute. The second question is as regards the second category of dispute and the question is whether the word 'persons' would include the singular. I will advert to these questions a little later.

(4) Sub section (1) of section 31 reads as under:-

'31. (1) On making an award under section 11, the Collector shall tender payment of the compensation awarded by him to the persons interested entitled thereof according to the award and shall pay it to them unless prevented by some one or more of the contingencies mentioned in the next sub-section'. Sub-section (2) of section 31, omitting the three provisos thereof, reads as under: -

'31. (2) If they shall not consent to receive it, or if there be no person competent to alienate the land, or if there be any dispute as to the title to receive the compensation or as to the apportionment of it, the Collector shall deposit the amount of the compensation in the Court to which a reference under section 18 would be submitted:'

The first part of sub-section (1) of section 31 contains a provision requiring the Collector to tender and then to pay the compensation awarded by him to the persons interested entitled thereto according to the Award. Thereafter that sub-section contains an exception which is contained in the words 'unless prevented by some one or more of the contingencies mentioned in the in the next sub-section': That phraseology of sub-section (1) of section 31 itself makes it abundantly clear that the obligation on the part of the Collector to tender and pay the amount of compensation arises only when the Award has determined the person or persons interested entitled to the compensation. Where the award does not finally and specifically determine the person or persons as interested in the compensation, sub-section (1) of section 31 cannot come into play at all. Now, the exceptions contemplated by sub-section (1) are stated in sub-section (2). Sub-section (2) will come into play when the amount of compensation is required to be deposited in the Court in the contingencies mentioned in that sub-section, which divide themselves into four broad categories. The four categories are: The first is if the persons interested entitled thereto according to the Award do not consent to receive it. The second is if there be no person competent to alienate the land. The third is if there be any dispute as to the title to receive the compensation. And the fourth is if there be any dispute as to apportionment of the compensation.

(5) It is at this stage convenient to consider the provisions of section 30 along with the provisions of sub-section (2) of section 31 and too advert to the two questions as mentioned earlier arising under section 30. If the word 'dispute' used in section 30 is to be read as indicating that there must be two parties between whom the dispute arises, then when there is only one person making a claim before the Collector but the Collector is in doubt as to whether the claimant is entitled thereto, it would have to be held that there is no 'dispute' within the meaning of section 30. In such an hypothetical case the second question would also arise under section 30, namely, whether as the dispute is not between more than one person but the words used in the section are 'as to the persons', the use of the plural would exclude the singular. The two questions are really facts of but one question because if the word 'dispute' by itself presupposes two persons, it covers the second question, and if the word 'persons' is construed as including a singular, it would tend to show that the word 'dispute' by itself was not intended to apply only in cases where there was a dispute between more than one party. On a reading of sub-section (2) of section 31, it is clear that the hypothetical case contemplated above of only one person making a claim, but the Collector being unable or unwilling to decide it would not fall under any of the four categories of contingencies under sub-section (2) of section 31. The first category arises 'if they shall not consent to receive it' The would 'they' has reference to the following provision in sub-section (1), viz., 'the persons interested entitled thereto according to the award'. In the said hypothetical case there would be no 'persons interested entitled thereto according to the award' and such a hypothetical case, therefore, cannot fall under the first contingency. The second category of contingency under sub-section (2) of section 31 would arise when there is no person competent to alienate the land. It presupposes a determination that there is no person competent to alienate the land and for that reason the hypothetical case where only one person makes a claim, but the Collector is unable or unwilling or has omitted to decide it would not fall under the second category. The words defining the third and the fourth categories are 'if there be any dispute as to the title to receive the compensation or as to the apportionment of it'. The word common to both these categories is 'dispute'. It is clear that the word 'dispute' must be given the same meaning both under section 30 and under sub-section (2) of section 31. If the word 'dispute' is to be construed as being applicable only when there are more then one party to a dispute but not otherwise, the two sections will not provide as to what should happen when the Collector is unable or unwilling or has omitted to decide the question whether the sole claimant appearing before him or is not entitled to the compensation. There is no other provision in the Act providing for such a contingency. The Act does not also otherwise provide for the machinery for the decision of that question and for the disposal of the amount of compensation by depositing the same in Court or otherwise. On such a construction, however, sections 30 and 31(2) would be construed as providing as to what is to happen when there is a dispute between more than one person and also the machinery in such cases as to what is to happen to the amount of compensation by provide for the hypothetical contingency mentioned above. In my opinion, therefore, the word 'dispute' as used in section 30 and in sub-section (2) of section 31 must be construed as covering the case where the Collector is unable or unwilling or has omitted to decide whether the sole claimant appearing before him is or is not entitled to the property acquired and the compensation thereof. That conclusion must be reached in spite of the fact that the natural meaning of the word 'dispute' presupposes two persons and the word 'persons' in plural has been used in section 30.

(6) In this case as Natverlal was claiming, as the sole heir of his father, an interest in the compensation he was a 'person interested' and was, therefore, entitled to ask for a Reference under section 18 and the Reference under section 18 has therefore validly been made. Construing the word 'dispute' as aforesaid, as the Award does not contain any decision as to the claim made by Natverlal, it must also be held that it falls within section 30 and therefore sub-section (2) of section 31 would apply and that therefore the amount of compensation has been validly deposited in this Court to the credit of this Reference.

(7) I have already stated that on the evidence led before me I am satisfied that Jamnadas died on 21st October 1959 that he died intestate and that Natverlal is the sole heir of Jamnadas. The question, however, us whether in these proceedings I can recognise the title of Natverlal. The answer to that question depends on the answer to another question, namely, what is it that Natverlal is claiming? Is he claiming the property which was acquired? Or, is he claiming title to the amount of compensation awarded and award-able in respect of the acquisition?

(8) Section 212 of the Indian Succession Act provides that no right to any part of the property of a person who has died intestate can be established in any Court of Justice, unless letters of administration have first been granted by a Court of competent jurisdiction. As mentioned in sub-section (2) of section 212, that provision, however, does not apply in the case of Hindus. As Jamnadas was a Hindu it is not necessary that Natverlal should obtain representation to the estate of Jamnadas. Section 214 of the Indian Succession Act, however, provides that no Court shall pass a decree against a debtor of a deceased person for payment of his debt to a person claiming on succession to be entitled to the effects of the deceased person or to any part thereof. If Natverlal's claim in this case can be held to be a claim to the compensation awarded and awardable in respect of the acquisition and if the amount of compensation be held to be a debt, then the case would fall under section 214 and it would be necessary for Natverlal to obtain representation to the estate of Jamnadas. Now, on the facts of this case, Jamnadas died before the award was made. That That is, to my mind, a vital factor to be borne in mind when deciding the point. He was a Hindu. Succession does not remain in abeyance. No sooner Jamnadas died, his heirs, or rather his sole heir, became at once entitled to his property. The title devolved on the heir no sooner Jamnadas died. It may be that in some cases in order to establish the title an heir may have to produce representation to the estate of the deceased. But as Jamnadas was a Hindu, no such representation is necessary in view of the provisions of section 212. Natverlal, therefore, obtained such title on 21st October 1959, that is, prior to the Award. The compensation is awarded only under the Award. Therefore, Natverlal became entitled not only to the compensation, but even to the immoveable property itself before the Award was made. If, for example, before the Award, for any reason the property was denotified from acquisition, it is the property itself which Natverlal would have got and not merely the amount of compensation in respect of the same. It is Natverlal who is the successor in title to Jamnadas became therefore entitled to appear before the S. L. A. O. to raise his contentions about the quantum of compensation and thereafter to receive the amount of compensation. It may be mentioned in passing that the award is not the result of any judicial or quasi-judicial adjudication. The award is merely an offer. The determination of the quantum of compensation is a purely administrative act. Undoubtedly, even in such an administrative determination certain provisions of the Land Acquisition Act enjoin upon the Collector to give certain notices and to go through a certain procedure which ensure for the benefit of the owner of the property sought to be acquired and give him a chance to appear before the Collector and make his submissions as regards the quantum of compensation. But as the award is the result of an administrative act, the fact that the award named Jamnadas as the person entitled to the compensation does not in any way detract from the right of Natverlal to the immovable property as the heir of his father. As, in my opinion, Natverlal, because of the death of Jamnadas having occurred before the date of the award, became entitled to the immoveable property itself, the relevant the relevant provision of the Indian Succession Act is that contained under section 212 and not the one under section 214. By reason of his title to the immoveable property which he acquired before the Award, Natverlal is, as a matter of a necessary consequence following from it, entitled to the amount of compensation. What he has to establish on the facts of this case is not merely that he is entitled to the amount of compensation by also that he was entitled to the immoveable property itself before the date of the award. That is what he has established and it is therefore not necessary for me to consider whether the amount of compensation is or is not a debt within the meaning of section 214 of the Indian Succession Act. I therefore hold that Natverlal is entitled to receive the amount of compensation in respect of the acquisition in this Reference.

(9) At this stage the parties inform me that they are agreed that the S. L. A. O. should pay the sum of Rs. 7,384 as and by way of additional compensation, inclusive of the 15 percent solatium with interest thereon at the rate of 4 per cent per annum from 12th January 1960; the S. L. A. O. to make such payment on or before 1st March 1966.

(10) By and with such consent, I there fore order that the S. L. A. O. do pay to Natverlal, the claimant herein, on before the 1st of March 1966, the said sum of Rs. 7,384 with interest thereon at the rate of 4 per cent per annum from 12th January 1960 till the date of payment. There shall be no order as to costs. Natverlal shall be at liberty to withdraw the amount deposited in this Court by the S. L. A. O. to the credit of this Reference.

(11) Reference answered accordingly


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