1. The question we have to decide in these petitions is whether interest is payable on the solatium paid under the Land Acquisition Act? The lands of the petitioners were acquired in 1961 under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (hereinafter called the Act). Possession of the lands was taken on 25th June, 1961. On a reference made to the Civil Court under Section 18 of the Act, compensation was enhanced to Rupees 2.25 paise per square yard. The State filed appeals in this Court. Myself and P.A. Chowdary, J., reduced the compensation to Rs. 1.75 per square yard. We held that the claimants were entitled for interest at the rate of 6 per cent per annum from the date of taking possession of the lands by the Government, that is, 25th June, 1961 till the date of payment. In addition, we also held that the claimants were entitled for solatium at 15 per cent on the compensation amount. While drafting the decree, interest was not calculated on the solatium by the High Court office. Therefore, the claimants have filed these petitions to amend the decree by calculating interest on the solatium. These petitions are resisted by the State on two grounds: First, the decree had been prepared in accordance with the judgment and, these petitions for amendment of decree are not maintainable. Secondly, the claimants are not entitled for interest on solatium.
2. In order to appreciate the main question, it is necessary to refer to therelevant provisions of the Act. Section 23 deals with the matters to be considered in determining compensation. Sub-section (1) of that Section says that in determining the amount of compensation to be awarded for the land acquired under the Act, the Court shall take into consideration the six matters mentioned therein. The first is the market value of the land at the date of the publication of the notification under Sub-section (1) of Section 4. The others relate to damage sustained on account of acquisition. Sub-section (2) of Section 23 provides that in addition, to the market value of the land as above provided, the Court shall in every case award a sum of fifteen per centum on such market value in consideration of the compulsory nature of the acquisition. Thus, the compensation amount comprises, not only the market value of the land, but also the solatium. Section 28 provides, that if the sum which, in the opinion of the Court, the Collector ought to have awarded as compensation, is in excess of the sum which the Collector did award as compensation, the award of the Court may direct that the Collector shall pay inertest on such excess at the rate of six per cent per annum from the date on which he took possession of the land to the date of payment of such excess into Court. Section 34 provides, that when the amount of such compensation is not paid or deposited on or before taking possession of the land, the Collector shall pay the amount awarded with interest thereon at the rate of six per centum per annum from the time of taking possession until it shall have been so paid or deposited. Thus, interest is payable on compensation as determined under Section 23, which includes solatium. If so, interest is payable on solatium also.
3. In Union of India v. Ram Mehar, : 2SCR720 , it has been held by the Supreme Court that compensation and market value are distinct expressions and have been used as such in the Acquisition Act, and compensation consists of the market value of the land and the sum of fifteen per cent on such market value, which is stated to be the consideration for the compulsory nature of the acquisition. It means compensation includes solatium,
4. In Maganbhai v. Collector, District Mehsana, : AIR1968Guj1 , this question directly arose for consideration. After referring to Section 34 of the Act, a Division Bench of Gujarat High Court held (at p. 2).
'The interest has to be awarded on the amount of such compensation and the term 'such compensation' would obviously relate to the words 'amount of compensation' referred to in Section 23 of the Act. Again the words 'the amount awarded with interest thereon' make it abundantly clear that what is required to be paid by way of compensation is not only the market value of the land but also the amount by way of solatium contemplated in Sub-section (2) of Section 23 of the Act. It is the combination of both that makes the compensation to be awarded to the claimants in respect of the lands acquired and therefore, the interest to be paid would be on the entire amount awarded though no doubt from the date when the possession was taken over till the amount is paid or deposited. In a case of Nilkanth Ganesh Naik v. Collector of Thana, (1898) ILR 22 Bom 802 (FB), the expression 'amount awarded' has been referred to as meaning the amount of compensation awarded for the land along with the statutory allowances as provided in Section 23(2) and that it is on the aggregate amount that interest will have to be paid. It is therefore, obvious that the claimants would be entitled to interest on the amount awarded by way of solatium at the rate of 15 per cent over the market value of the property.'
5. In G. Venkatesh v. Spl. L. A. Officer, Bangalore, AIR 1975 Kant 95, it was held by a Division Bench of the Karnataka High Court, that compensation includes market value, and the solatium at 15 per cent, that under Section 34 interest is allowed on the amount of compensation not paid or deposited before taking possession of land, and since solatium is also included in the amount of compensation, the claimant is entitled to get interest on the amount of compensation from the date of taking possession of the land till the payment is made.
6. In K. A. Swamy v. Land Acquisition Officer, : AIR1970AP139 (FB) it has been held by a Full Bench of Andhra Pradesh High Court, that under Land Acquisition Act, while solatiumunder Section 23(2) may form part of the compensation to be awarded by the Collector under Section 11, it does not form part of the award which the Court has to pass under Section 26, though it is required under Section 23(2) to add 15 per cent on the amount of market value awarded by it, which will be in the nature of a direction to the Collector to pay the amount just in the same way as he is directed to pay interest. The award which is the subject matter of the appeal to the High Court under Section 54 is the award under Section 26.
7. In R D. Suryanarayana Rao v. R D. O., Guntur, : AIR1969AP55 (FB), it was held by a Full Bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, that compensation can only be computed in the manner laid down in Section 23(1) which does not include interest either under Section 34 or on the excess amount awarded by the Court over that awarded by the Collector under Section 28. Since interest is not included in compensation no court-fee need be paid on it.
8. Thus, in view of these two decisions, it becomes clear that it is the duty of the Court to grant solatium as well as the interest if other conditions are satisfied. For these reasons, we hold that interest is payable on solatium also.
9. It was submitted by the learned counsel for the respondent that the remedy of the petitioner was only to file a petition for review, but not a petition for amendment of the decree, it is purely a technical objection. Without even the claimant asking for it, the Court should have awarded interest on the statutory solatium. We can give such a direction under Section 151, C. P. C., in order to secure the ends of justice,
10. Accordingly, the petitions are allowed, and the office is directed to calculate interest on solatium also and include it in the decree.