Madhava Rao, J.
1. This is a petition filed for the issuance of Writ, order or direction more particularly one in the nature of a writ of mandamus directing the respondents to refer all the cases of the petitioners to the Civil Courts in accordance with the applications filed by them under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act I of 1894 (the Act).
2. The facts are that the award was passed on January 27, 1976. The petitioners mere served with the notice of Board under Section 12(2) of the Act On February 9, 1976 The petitioners died their applications to refer the matter to the Civil Court under Section 18 of the Act on February 27, 1976. While issuing the notice under Section 12(2) of the Act, the Land Acquisition Officer has also forwarded what are called land compensation bills (L C. Bills) claiming the money from Pay and Accounts Officer. Thereafter. for period of nearly two years, even though the petitioners are persuading the first respondent to refer the cases to the Civil Court, it is alleged the second respondent has instructed him to reject the applications for reference on the ground that the petitioner signed the L C. Bills accampanying the notice under Section 12(2) of the Act before filing the applications for reference to the Civil Court under Section 12(2) of the Act. The action of the first respondent as well as the second respondent is illegal and without jurisdiction It is also stated that the petitioners received cheques actually between March 23, I976 and the end of April 1976, that is to say, more than month later to the applications died by them to refer the matter to the Civil Court. The contention of the respondents is that signing on Form C tantamounts to receiving money.
3. The Government Pleader on behalf of the Land Acquisition Officer, contends as follows: In paragraph No. 4 of the counter, it is stated that the petitioners were served with the notices under Section 12(2) of the Act on February 9, 1976 after the award was passed on January 27, 1976 It is also admitted that the petitioners filed applications under Section is of the Act before the Land Acquisition Officer On February 27, 1976. It is also admitted that the cheques for the compensation were issued. from March 12, 1976 onwards to the petitioners in accordance with the award passed, end the money was received only after cheques were issued.
4. The learned counsel for the petitioners pointed out that the rejection is mainly on the ground that signing the L C. Bills by the petitioner we, not under any protest and a Straight acceptance. It can be noted that the L C. Bills were given to them to obtain signatures. It is submitted by the learned counsel for the petitioners that they were taken back by the Land Acquisition Officer himself to send them to the pay and Accounts Officer's Section, to collect cheques so that the cheques could be distributed to the parties. After the cheques are obtained from the Pay and Accounts Office, they will be given to the persons and their signatures are obtained in the acquittance register. it is not the contention that at the time of signing the cheques finally they were received without any protest. The learned counsel for the petitioners submitted that there is no necessity of signing the L C. Bills under protest at all, because that does not amount to receiving the amount by the claimants. We think there Is sufficient force in the argument advanced by the learned counsel for the petitioners. Proviso 2 of Section 31(2) of the Act reads as under, which is rendered to in this connection.
5. 'Provided also that no person who has received the amount otherwise than under protest Shall be entitled to make any application under Section 18.
6. The emphasis laid is on receiving of the amount. Mere signing on the L. C, Bills does not amount to receiving of the amount by the claimants. Therefore, is not at all necessary that the L. C. Bills should be Signed under protest.
7. In this case, the facts, a, already stated Show that the petitioners under S. 18 of the Act requested reference of the matters to the Civil Court on February 27, 1976 The award was passed on Jan 27, 1976 i.e. within a month the applications to refer the matter to the Civil Court were filed. Even ii the L C. Bills were signed before filing the applications, in our review, it is of no consequence since signing the L. C. Bills cannot be construed as receiving the money as contemplated under Proviso a of S. 31(2) of the Act.
8. In this view of the matter, we hold that the Land Acquisition Officer was not justified , rejecting the application. The orders of the Land Acquisition Officer are quashed The writ petition allowed. The Land Acquisition Officer is directed to refer the cases to the Civil Court as prayed for by the petitioners. With the above directing the writ Petition is allowed with costs. Advocates fee Rs. 150.
9. Petition allowed.