(1) The short point involved in this appeal is whether the appellant is entitled to interest on the compensation awarded by the Land Acquisition Officer by his award for the period between the date on which possession of the acquitted property was taken and the date on which the compensation amount was deposited.
(2) The material facts are these :
The appellant is the claimant. His property was acquired and in those acquisition proceedings the award was made on September, 1952 by the Land Acquisition Officer awarding compensation of a sum of Rs. 7,678-1-7. On the application of the claimant for a reference under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act, a reference was made on November 27, 1952. The Court awarded a further sum of Rs. 780-13-11 by way of enhanced compensation. Although the claimant, during the proceeding before the court, made an application that the Land Acquisition Officer should be called upon to deposit the compensation awarded in court, that deposit was not made until November 5, 1956.
(3) Before the court, below the claimant urged that, for the period between September 30, 1952 and November 5, 1956 when the compensation amount was deposited, interest should be awarded at 6% per annum under the provisions of Section 34 of the Land Acquisition Act. The court below refused to accede to that request and hence this appeal.
(4) It is clear from the provisions of Section 34 of the Land Acquisition Act that, if the amount of compensation awarded by the Land Acquisition Officer is not paid or deposited on or before taking possession of the acquired property, the claimant shall be entitled to interest on the amount of compensation.
(5) On behalf of the Land Acquisition Officer it was urged before us that the claimant was not entitled to any interest in this case since there was no evidence that the claimant had not consented to receive the amount from the Land Acquisition Officer. The argument was constructed on the provisions of Section 31(2) of the Land Acquisition Act under the provisions of which, if a person does not consent to receive the compensation or if there is no person competent to alienate the land, or if there be any dispute as to 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.
(6) The argument advanced was that, since the conditions necessary for a deposit under Section 31(2) did not exist, the Land Acquisition Officer was not bound to make the deposit in court and that he could take his own time to make the deposit without incurring the liability to pay interest.
(7) This argument is, in my opinion, quite unhelpful for the Land Acquisition Officer. Section 31(2) envisages only the circumstances in which the deposit is made obligatory. That statutory provision has no relevance in the context of a claim to interest which emanates from the provisions of Section 34 of the Land Acquisition Act which makes it clear that interest becomes payable by the Land Acquisition Officer not only when there is no deposit under Section 31(2) but also in a case where the compensation amount is not paid to the claimant. So, interest where the Land Acquisition Officer does not pay the compensation awarded to the claimant.
(8) It is thus clear that the claimant was clearly entitled to the interest claimed by him.
(9) This appeal is accordingly allowed and there shall be a decree that in addition to the enhanced compensation awarded by the court below the Land Acquisition Officer shall pay interest to the claimant on the sum of Rs. 7,678-1-7 for the period between September 30, 1952 when possession of the land was taken and November 5, 1956 when the deposit was made in the Court.
(10) In this appeal the appellant will be entitled to his costs in this court as well as in the Court below.
(11) Appeal allowed.