(1) This is an application for the issue of a Writ of mandamus directing the Special Deputy Collector for Land acquisition. Puttur, to refer the applicant's case to the Court under Section 18(1) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, (Act 1 of 1894).
(2) The facts and circumstances leading to the filing of this application are briefly these: An extent of Ac. 4-70 cents of land in Satrawada village in Puttur Taluk was acquired for a public purpose. The land acquisition officer awarded compensation to the petitioner and another. for the petitioner's share he awarded Rs.13,177-49 Np. A sum of Rupees 1,395-27 Nps. was awarded to the other person who had interest in the land. The award was pass0 after due enquiry. The petitioner received the bill drawn on the treasury for the amount payable to him the same day at 10-30 A.M., without protest. Later at 3-30 P.M. he appeared before the Land Acquisition Officer and filed a petition disputing the amount of compensation awarded to him and requiring the matter to be referred for determination by the Court. In the petition filed by him he represented that he had in fact received the bill for the amount due to him under protest. But that was an incorrect statement. The land acquisition officer rejected the application under the proviso to Section 31(2) for the reason that having received the bill for the amount without protest, he was not entitled to make an application for referring his case to the Court. The petitioner has therefore, applied to this Court. It would appear that he petitioner cashed the bill on 18-7-60.
(3) In support of this petition, it is urged for the petitioner that receiving the bill drawn on the treasury for the amount of compensation awarded is not the same as receiving this amount, and so the petitioner was not disentitled to make an application requiring reference. We may read the relevant provision. Section 31(2), in so far as it is relevant, here.
'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 thereto according to the award, and shall pay it to them unless presented by some one or more of the contingencies mentioned in the next sub-section.
(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 disputes 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.
Provided that any person admitted to be interested may receive such payment under protest as to the sufficiency of the amount. Provided also that I1o has received the amount otherwise than under protest shall be entitled to make any application under Section 18.'
(The rest of the provision is not necessary for purpose of this petition).
(4) Reading these provisions, it is manifest that the Collector, which term, as defined under the Act, includes the Land Acquisition Officer specifically appointed by the Government to perform the functions of the Collector under the Act, shall make an award under Section 11 and tender payment of the compensation unless the person or persons interested shall not consent to receive the payment. The person interested might also receive such payment under protest as to the sufficiency of the amount. If the payment is refused, then the Collector shall deposit the amount in the Court to which a reference will be submitted. It is also provided that where the person interested received payment without protest, he shall not be entitled to make an application requiring a reference. The Land Acquisition Officer in his case rejected the application under the second proviso.
(5) The contention before us in that the proviso is attracted only when the person interested receives the amount and not merely the bill on the treasury for the amount awarded. The learned counsel argues that the first proviso makes mention for receipt of payment under protest, whereas the second proviso contemplates receipt of amount otherwise than under protest. In other words his argument is that the receipt of a bill drawn on the treasury for the amount of compensation is not the same as the receipt of the amount in coin or currency notes. He equated the bill drawn on the treasury to an order to pay, in the nature of a cheque drawn on a bank. He cited Ex Parte The Trustee v. Kensington Borough Council, 1951-1 Ch. 85 as supporting his argument that until the money was drawn in cash, there was no payment. He cited Palaniappa Chetty v. Arunachellam Chetty, (1911) 21 Mad LJ 432 where the learned judges observed that the established rule was that a ange or hundi given for a debt operated only as a conditional discharge of the debt although it might be proved that in any particular case it was taken unconditionally in satisfaction of a debt.
(6) We do not consider that a bill drawn on a treasury is to be construed as a bill of exchange. There are at least two important features militating against applying the same considerations to the bill drawn on the Government treasury, firstly, the bill is not negotiable and secondly, the Government treasury is not a bank. About the first feature, there is no doubt. The second feature has been stated in Rangaswami Pillai v. Sankarlingam Ayyar, ILR 43 Mad 816: (AIR 1920 Mad 1011). The Board's standing orders provide for payment in cash or by an order on the treasury or by money order. They are merely different forms in which payment is made. As such, we are inclined to hold that the receipt of a bill representing the amount payable is tantamount to receiving the amount.
(7) The distinction sought to the made between the terms 'receipt of payment' and 'receipt of amount' is without difference. If this artificial distinction is accepted, no significance can be attached to the receipt of payment under protest. A protest is contemplated at the time of the receipt of payment. It would not fit in with the scheme of the Act to say that a payment could be received today by a bill drawn on the Government treasury and the person could take his own time to draw the money from the treasury and in the process have for himself the intervening period at his disposal to lodge his protest. For one thing it cannot be said that he had received payment by bill under protest. For another it cannot be said that he is to lodge his protest at the treasury when receiving the amount. Be it noted that the section postulates a tender a payment of the compensation awarded by the land acquisition officer. The proviso contemplates the acceptance of the tender by receipt of payment under protest or otherwise. The second proviso postulatt of acceptance of the tender without protest. The intendment and the scope of the provision is perfectly intelligible and poses no ambiguity. The protest must necessarily be made to the land acquisition officer who tenders payment of compensation, and by necessary implication at the time when he so tenders the payment. The interpretation sought to be put by the learned counsel for the petitioner, apart from being artificial, leads to needless complications and impinges on the other provisions of the Act, one of which is the period of limitation prescribed for making an application under Section 18.
(8) Sri Kuppuswamy for the petitioner has urged that the interpretation that he has offered found favour in Krishna Rao v. Land Acquisition Officer, AIR 1960 Mys 264. That was a case of a person interested in the subject matter of acquisition, who could not appear before the land acquisition officer at the time of his matter as he had no notice of the said hearing. The award as passed in such circumstances on 10-7-1956. On 31-7-56 notice of the passing of the award was served on the petitioner under Section 12(2) of the Land Acquisition Act. Along with that notice an intimation was given to the petitioner that Code Form 'C' cheque for the compensation amount due to him would be sent to him and he was asked to receive payment at the treasury within 3 days from the date of receipt of the cheque failing which the compensation amount would be transferred to 'Revenue Deposit' and no interest would accrue thereafter. After that intimation on 2-8-56 a 'C' from cheque was actually sent to the petitioner. The petitioner, however, did not receive payment from the treasury office. On 16-8-56 he made an application under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act to refer the case to Court. That application was refused and all that was stated in the said order of refusal was that the petitioner was not entitled to make an application under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act under the rules. From the said order of dwas not clear as to what the precise reason was for which the application was so refused. It was under those circumstances that the person interested applied to the High Court for a writ of mandamus. The order of rejection was sought to be supported on the ground that the cheque was received without protest, which is tantamount to receiving the amount of compensation. The amount of compensation receivable was lying with the Government. Under those circumstances, it was held that the cheque in question merely amounted to an authority issued upon the treasury officer to pay the amount of compensation to the petitioner and could not amount to payment.
(9) There are obvious points of distinction. It would appear that the application of the petitioner in that case was rejected without specifying any reason. Subsequently the order was sought to be supported on the ground that payment was received without protest. The amount was also not received by the petitioner. There is not much discussion with regard to the scope of the two provisions to Section 31(2), with reference to the scheme of the Act which is a special enactment with special procedure. If the decision meant to hold that the claimant could receive payment by bill on a government treasury without protest and could take his own time to draw cash and could protest meanwhile, we respectfully disagree. As we have endeavored to show, the section postulates a tender of payment and receipt thereof without protest or under protest. Such a protest must necessarily be made at the time when the tender is made and to the officer who tenders such payment. We cannot hold that when the claimant takes his own time to encash the bill, he could have intervening period for making up his mind. It is not as if the relevant provisions of the Act confer on the claimant a right to a period of indecision. Such a view also offends the principle of tender and acceptance, apart from the principle of tender and acceptance, apart from giving an unmerited benefit to a claimaI 1dvantage of his own laches.
(10) We would therefore, unhesitatingly hold that the petitioner received payment by a bill on the government treasury for the amount of compensation without protest and as such he was not entitled to make an application requiring a reference under Sec. 18 within the meaning of the second proviso to Section 31(2) of the Act. The land acquisition officer was right in rejecting the petition requiring a reference.
(11) It is urged that even so the petitioner protested in the course of the day though not at the time he received the bill for the amount. In the view that we have taken, this would make any difference. As we have said, he should protest to the land acquisition officer when he tenders the payment by bill. It must be a conditional acceptance. We do not consider that a Court has a discretion in this behalf to give relief on extravenous consideration. We have to take notice of the fact that the petitioner made an incorrect representation that he had protected. We would not be using harsh language in saving that he tried to misrepresent in that behalf.
(12) There can be no denying the fact that the Land Acquisition Act has created a special jurisdiction and provided a special remedy for persons aggrieved with anything done in the exercise of that jurisdiction. The general rule is that when jurisdiction has been conferred upon a special Court for investigation of particular matters, such jurisdiction is exclusive. If a person had fully opportunity of getting him machinery provided by the Act and if he disables himself from availing of it, it cannot be pretended that he could still agitate the matter otherwise.
(13) What the petitioner seeks in the case is a relief that is barred under the special enactment. We do not therefore, consider that any case has been made out for interference. We accordingly dismiss this petition with costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 100.
(14) Petition dismissed.