K.L. Manjunath, J.
1. I have heard the counsel for the Review Petitioner and Govt. Advocate for respondent-1 and counsel for respondents-2 to 4.
2. The petitioner herein had filed Writ Petition in No. 41864/2002 challenging the endorsement refusing to pay the compensation to the petitioner in respect of acquisition of 4 acres of land situated in Sy. No. 28 of Doddasanne village of Devanahali taluk. The endorsement further reads that compensation would be paid to the petitioner provided he gets a declaratory relief from the competent Civil Court. Challenging the said endorsement, the petitioner had filed a Writ Petition before this Court contending that one Rudramuni was the owner of 4 acres of land in Sy. No. 28 of Doddasanne village of Devanahalli taluk and he had purchased the same under a sale deed dated 15.9.84. Since the date of purchase, he was in lawful possession of the same. According to him. his vendor Rudramuni had been granted this land under a grant certificate. It was the case of the petitioner that all the revenue records were standing in the name of the vendor prior to purchase of the property and subsequently mutation entries and other revenue entries were transferred to the petitioner. He has also produced the saguvali chit issued in favour of his vendor by the revenue authorities as per Annexure-E to the Writ Petition. A notification under Section 28(1) of the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Act, 1966 was issued on 8.6.96 proposing to acquire the land along with the adjacent lands for the establishment of the International Airport. The name of the petitioner is also found in the said notification. A final notification was also issued on 8.8.96 under Section 28(4) of the Act. Even in the final notification, the name of the petitioner finds a place. Thereafter a claim petition was filed by the petitioner and an award was passed by the Land Acquisition Officer as per Annexure-R. The Land Acquisition Officer while passing the award the failed to determine the compensation payable to the petitioner; on the ground that in respect of Block No. 44, as against the total area of 41 acres, claim was made by different persons to an extent of 80 acres. Relying on a report of the Deputy Commissioner, the Land Acquisition Officer held that the saguvali chit of the petitioner's vendor and other claimants were fake, and they are not entitle to claim compensation. Accordingly no compensation was awarded to the petitioner and other rival claimants. Thereafter, the petitioner requested the State Government to pay the compensation payable to the claimants and the same was refused as per Annexure-S to the Writ Petition. Challenging the same, the Writ Petition was filed contending that the Land Acquisition Officer has committed an error in issuing a endorsement as per Annexure-S dated 11.7.2002.
3. A learned Judge of this Court after hearing the parties on 4.2.2004 dismissed the writ petition directing the petitioner herein to file a civil suit for declaration of title and further directed the respondents in the writ petition to pay compensation with all statutory benefits and interest, if such decree is obtained by the petitioner. Being aggrieved by the order of dismissal of the writ petition contending that the order of the learned Judge is an error apparent on the face of the record, present review petition is filed by the petitioner stating that the learned single Judge has committed an error in directing the petitioner to file a civil suit contrary to the provisions of Sections 30 and 31 of the L.A. Act and further contending that there is an error on the face of the record requesting this Court to set aside the order passed by the learned Judge on 4.2.2004 and to quash Annexure-S to the writ petition.
4. Heard the learned Counsel for the parties.
5. Sri T.R. Subbanna, learned senior counsel appearing for the review petitioner contends that the learned Judge has committed an error in directing the petitioner to approach the Civil Court even though in para-4 of the order has referred to the provisions of Sections 30 and 31 of the L.A Act. According to him, learned Judge was well as the LAO have committed an error in directing the petitioner to approach the Civil Court. According to him, when an award is passed by the LAO determining the market value, it is for the LOA to refer the matter to a Civil Court under Sections 30 and 31 of the LA Act even if more claimants are there. To support his arguments, he has relied upon the judgment of the Supreme Court reported in Dr. G.H. Grant v. State of Bihar, : 3SCR576 .
6. Per contra, learned Counsel appearing for the respondents contend that the LAO has got a right to decide the title of the claimants and therefore LAO having decided the title has refused to refer the matter under Sections 30 and 31 of the LA Act.
7. After hearing the learned Counsel for the parties, what is required to be considered by this Court in this review petition is whether there is a mistake apparent on the face of the order passed by the learned Judge of this Court and whether the order of the learned Judge has to be set aside and the review petition is required to be allowed.
8. Facts of this case are not in dispute. Even according to the LAO, as against the total area of 41 acres in Block No. 44, different persons have claimed ownership and compensation to an extent of 80 acres. In other words, different persons are claiming right over 80 acres of land as against the actual acquisition of 41 acres and all of them are relying upon certain revenue records. Learned Judge in para-4 of his order has held as hereunder:
'Wherever there is a dispute regarding title to the property, it is open for the LAO to refer the same to the Civil Court under Sections 30 and 31 of the L.A. Act, since the market value has already been determined. In the said proceedings, whoever establishes title to the property will be ordered to be paid compensation.'
In para of his order, learned Judge has also held as hereunder:
'In this regard, there are several persons claiming compensation in respect of Block No. 44. From Annexure-R the extent of land in Block No. 44 is 41 acres 13 guntas, whereas the claim is in respect of 83 acres. When such being the case, it is not possible for the civil Court to decide in a reference under Section 31 without impleading all of them as parties to the proceedings. Therefore, I am of the view that the petitioner is to be directed to file a civil suit for declaration of title. In the event if he obtains a decree declaring him as an owner, it is just and necessary to direct payment of compensation already determined along with all statutory benefits and interest.'
From the above points, it is clear that even according to the learned Judge who disposed of the writ petition is of the opinion that whenever there is a dispute, matter is required to be referred to a Civil Court under reference under Section 30 and 31 of the LA Act. According to him, since large number of claimants are there, it would not be possible for a reference Court under Section 31 to decide the case without impleading all of them. But the learned Judge has failed to note that a reference under Sections 30 and 31 of the LA Act has to be tried as a regular Civil Suit and an order passed under Sections 30 and 31 of the Act amounts to a decree which can be challenged only by way of appeal. Even if there are large number of claimants, reference under Sections 30 and 31 of the Act has to be made, making all the rival claimants as parties to the suit. If a suit has to be independently filed, each party has to pay separate Court fee. But if reference is sent under Sections 30 and 31 of the Act, claimants need not pay separate Court fee and that they are required to establish their title by producing cogent evidence. But the learned Judge without considering the scope of Sections 30 and 31 of the Act has directed each of the claimants to approach the Civil Court. As a matter of fact, LAO has no power to adjudicate the title of the claimants. If in respect of one piece of land, both the Government as well as the third parties are claiming right over the property, such dispute cannot be adjudicated by the LAO. The same has to be referred to under Section 30 of the LA Act. Since LAO has failed to follow the provisions of Section 30, this Court is of the opinion that the learned Judge has committed an error in confirming the endorsement as per Annexure-S and directing the claimant to file a civil suit separately. Therefore, this Court is of the opinion that the order of the learned Judge is contrary to the provisions of Sections 30 and 31 of the Act and judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Dr. G.H. Grant v. State of Bihar (Supra) which held as under:
'19. It was strongly pressed that under Section 31 of the Land Acquisition Act the Collector is bound to tender payment of compensation awarded by him to the persons entitled thereto according to the award and that implied that a right in the amount of compensation arises to the person to whom compensation is directed to be paid under the award, and, therefore, the only persons who can raise a dispute under Section 30 are those whose names are set out in the award. This contention stands refuted by the plain terms of Section 30. The collector is not authorised to decide finally the conflicting rights of the persons interested in the amount of compensation; he is primarily concerned with the acquisition of land. In determining the amount of compensation, which may be offered, he has, it is true, to apportion the amount of compensation between the persons known are believed to be interested in the land, of whom, or of whose claims, he has information, whether or not they have appeared before him. But the scheme of apportionment by the Collector does not finally determine the rights of the persons interested in the amount of compensation: the award is only conclusive between the Collector and the persons interested and not among the persons interested. The Collector has no power to finally adjudicate upon the title to compensation: that dispute has to be decided either in a reference under Section 18 or under Section 30 or in separate suit Payment of compensation, therefore, under Section 31 to the persons declared by the award to be entitled thereto discharges the State or its liability to pay compensation (Subject to any modification by the Court), leaving it open to the claimant to compensation to agitate his right in a reference under Section 30 or by a separate suit'
Since it is an error apparent on the face of the record and contrary to the law declared by the Supreme Court, order of the learned Judge has to be set aside.
9. In the result, this review petition is allowed and the order in W.P. 41864/2002 dated 4.2.2004 is modified as hereunder:
W.P. No. 41864/2002 is allowed. Direction is issued to the Land Acquisition Officer to refer the matter under Sections 30 and 31 and Section 18 of the LA Act to a reference Court to adjudicate the claim of all the rival claimants. Reference shall be sent by the Special Land Acquisition Officer within three months from the date of receipt of this order. Since Respondent-Deputy Commissioner is contending that the grant certificate produced by all the claimants are false and frivolous, it is open for the respondents to contest the case. This order shall not come in the way of the authorities to initiate action for cancellation of the fake grant certificate if any, in accordance with law.