1. All these appeals arise out of O. P. Nos. 29 to 32 of 1956 on the file of the Subordinate Judge of Anantapur. An extent of 206 acres and 41 cents belonging to 41 persons was acquired by the State of Madras (now Andhra Pradesh) for constructing the Engineering College at Anantapur. The claimants in O. P. Nos. 29 to 32 of 1956 not being satisfied with the award ma3e by the Special Deputy Collector, Land Acquisition, Anantapur applied for a reference under Section 18 Land Acquisition Act claiming enhanced compensation. The Special Deputy Collector awarded compensation at the rate of Rs. 300,'- per acre. The Subordinate Judge in-creased the compensation at Rs. 900/- per acre. Appeals Nos. 344 to 347 of 1957 were filed by the Land Acquisition Officer on the ground that the compensation ought not to have been 'enhanced. The claimants in O. P. Nos. 29. 30 and 32 of-1956 have preferred memoranda of cross-objections claiming compensation at the rate of Rs. 2,000/-pcr acre. So far as the claimant in O. P. No. 31 of 1956 is concerned,' he has filed Appeal No. 291 of 1957 claiming compensation at the rate of Rs. 2,000/- per acre.
2. The questions that fall to be decided in the appeals are: (1) What is the market value of the acquired lands as on the date of the notification under Section 4(1), Land Acquisition Act, i.e. 5-9-1950? (2) What is the actual extent of the land belonging to the claimant in O. P. No. 29 of 1956? and (3) Whether the claimants are not entitled to interest under Section 28, Land Acquisition Act on the enhanced compensation?
3. O. P. No. 29 of 1956 relates to a portion of the land in survey No. 418. According to the claimant, an extent of 6 acres and 47 cents belonging to him was acquired by the Government. The Land Acquisition Officer awarded compensation to him at the rate of Rs. 300/- per acre for 4.44 acres. O. P. No. 30 of 1956 relates to survey 'No. 414/1 of an extent of 2.23 acres; O. P. No. 31 of 1956 relates to survey No. 417 of an extent of 2.21 acres; and O. P. No. 32 of 1956 relates to survey No. 414/1 of an extent of 2.23 acres. In their applications for reference under Section 18. Land Acquisition Act, the claimants in O. P. Nos. 29 to 32 of 1956 claimed at the rates of Rs. 3.000/-, Rs. 3,500/-, Rs. 5,000/- and Rs. 3,500/- respectively. The Land Acquisition Officer awarded compensation at the rate of Rs. 300/- per acre on the strength of a sale deed dated 20-9-1946 in favour of B. Ranga-nadham, M. Malli Reddi and M. Narayana Rao. That sale deed related to survey No. 414/1. An extent of 6.68 acres was purchased for Rs. 2.000/-. The Land Acquisition Officer has not given any cogent reasons for relying upon the sale deed of September, 1946 for the purpose of fixing the market value as on 5-9-1950. He proceeded under the impression that as it was generally known for a few years before the actual acquisition for the Engineering College that it was going to be acquired, the land values in the vicinity had gone up.
The Subordinate Judge awarded compensation on the strength of Ex. B-6 dated 4-11-1947 executed by Chinnaiah Naidu in favour of S. Srinivasulu in respect of survey No. 417 of an extent of 2.21 acres for Rs. 2,000/-. Though several other sale 'deeds ranging from 1947 to 1950 were filed, the learned Subordinate Judge gave no reasons whatsoever for not acting upon those sale deeds. Sri R. Ramalinga Reddy and Sri T. Ball Reddi relied upon the oral evidence of R. W. 1 supported by the sale deeds Exs. B-2 to B-5. Exhibits B-2 and B-5 are two sale deeds in respect of portions of survey No. 412. Under Ex. B-2 dated 11-6-1948, Gandlapenta Yerikalappa and others sold to Vennapoosa Balappa, who was examined as R. W. 1, 50 cents of land in survey No. 412/2 for a sum of Rs. 1,000/. The value of an acre, according to that document, comes to Rs. 2.000/-. Exhibit B-5 is dated 4-2-1950. It was executed by Gandlapenta Yerikalappa in favour of K. Ramappa. The extent sold is 20 cents and the consideration paid is 'Rs. 900/-. The rate works out at Rs. 4.500/-. Survey No. 412 is separated from survey No. 414 only by survey No. 411.
They are in close proximity to survey Nos. 417 and 418 which have been acquired and which form the subject-matter of all the appeals. Exhibit B-4 is dated 5-5-1949 and the land covered by the sale deed was sold by Kamalakar to Khajabi. The extent sold is 10 cents and the consideration paid is Rs. 300/-. Survey No. 419 is adjacent to survey No. 418 which is next to survey No. 417. Exhibit B-3 dated 21-5-1947 was a sale by H. Ramachandra Rao in favour of P. Aswarthu. The land sold is of an extent of 20 cents in survey No. 308. The sale consideration was Rs. 600/-. The rate works-out at Rs. 3,000/-. Survey No. 308 is on the other side of the road, a few survey numbers away from survey No. 418. R. W. I proved the several sale deeds referred to supra. Nothing was elicited in his cross-examination to show that the sales were bogus sales or that the consideration referred to therein was not paid. Sri Venkataramana, the learned advocate for the State Government con-tended that no reliance ought to be placed upon Exs. B-3 to B-5 on the ground that neither the Vendors nor the vendees had been examined. We are not inclined to accept this contention. The Land Acquisition Officer proceeded on the footing that all the lands acquired are dry lands and that there is no distinction in quality between those lands and the other lands covered by the sale deeds.
4. The learned advocates on behalf of the claimants relied upon the oral evidence of R. Ws. 1 to 4 to show that the net income realised on these lands is not less than Rs. 250/- per acre. The learned Subordinate Judge thought that inasmuch as sale deeds have been filed to determine the market value of the land, it was unnecessary to proceed to ascertain the value on the basis of net income. One of the claimants who is a lawyer, stated in his evidence that the net income realised in regard to the land purchased by him under Ex. B-6 was not less than Rs. 100/- per year. We are inclined to rely upon Exs. B-2 to B-5 which 'show that the lands were sold for not less than Rs. 2,000/- per acre. As the lands covered by those documents are small extents, we are not inclined to award a sum of Rs. 2.000/- per acre as contended by the learned advocates for the claimants. We are inclined to think that the market value might be fixed at Rs. 1,500/- per acre. Even on the basis of income, the rate fixed by us appears to be quite reasonable. The Subordinate Judge as i well as the Land Acquisition Officer were not justi- fied in fixing the market value as in 1946 or 1947 and relying upon the sale deeds dated 4-11-1947 and 20-9-1946.
5. Our attention was also drawn to the fact that certain lands were acquired in Ramanagaram and that compensation was paid at the rate of Rs. 20/- to Rs. 30/- per cent. As we are not clear from the evidence as to how far Ramanagaram locality is from the lands acquired, we are not inclined to base our decision on the acquisition of lands in Ramanagaram.
6. Sri Venkataramana, the learned advocate for the State Government, strongly relied upon the conduct of other persons whose lands were acquired under the same award and who have not claimed enhanced compensation. Section 21, Land Acquisition Act is quite clear that the scope of the inquiry. should be restricted to a consideration of the interests of the persons affected by the objection. An objection similar to the one raised by Sri Venkataramana was negatived by Lord' Blaneshburgin delivering the judgment of the Privy Council in Atmaram Bhagwan v. Collector of Nagpur, 57 Mad LJ 81: (AIR 1929 PC 92). At p. 87 (of Mad LJ): (at p. 95 of AIR) are the relevant observations:
'It is in short hardly too much to say that the Appellate Court, in its exclusive reliance upon the attitude of the owners other than the appellant, were within an ace of ignoring the prohibition imposed upon them by Section 21 of the Act and of extending the range of the inquiry beyond the statutory limit thereby set.'
Having given our best consideration, we are inclined to think that the market value of the acquired lands as on 5-9-1950, the date of the notification under Section 4(1), Land Acquisition Act, might be fixed at Rs. 1,500/- per acre.
7. The next question that arises for consideration is whether the claimant in O. P. No. 29 of 1956 is entitled to compensation for an extent of 6 acres and 47 cents as contended by him. R. W. 1 stated in the course of his evidence that he was entitled to only 6 acres. There is no evidence contra. We therefore hold that the claimant in O. P. No. 29 of 1956 i.e., the cross-objector in Appeal No. 344 of 1957 is entitled to enhanced compensation on 6 acres. Though in the order of reference under Section 18, Land Acquisition Act, the claimant contended that he was entitled to 6 acres and the Special Deputy Collector stated that he was entitled to only 4.4 acres the position is clarified in the reply statement filed by the Land Acquisition Officer on 3-11-1951. Survey No. 418 belonged to four individuals. Katamayya, son of Pullanna, Chinna Venkata Reddi, Vennapusala Ramaswamy gari Balappa, claimant in O. P. No. 29 of 1956 and his brother were entitled to 26 acres and 80 cents.
The Land Acquisition Officer deposited the entire compensation at the rate of Rs. 300/- in respect of 26 acres and 80 cents. According to para. 4 of the reply statement dated 3-II-1951 filed on behalf of the Land Acquisition Officer, he paid an excess of Rs. 13-12-10 to Katamayya and are, excess sum of Rs. 524-6-5 to Vennapusa Chinna Venkata Reddi.' So far as the excess paid to those individuals is concerned, it is open to the claimant to file a separate suit arid recover the excess amounts received by those individuals. We do not think it necessary to send back the case to the Court below and direct a fresh apportionment.
8. The last question that falls to be decided is whether the claimants are not entitled to interest under Section 28, Land Acquisition Act. The section runs as follows:
'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 interest on such excess at the rate of six per centum per annum from the date on which he took possession of the land to the date of payment of such excess into Court.'
Under the Land Acquisition (Madras Amendment) Act (21 of 1953), Section 28 has been amended. For the words 'six per centum' the words 'four per centum'were substituted. The following proviso was also added at the end and it is as follows:
'Provided that where such possession is taker, before the commencement of the Land Acquisition; (Madras Amendment) Act, 1953, the foregoing pro-Vision shall have effect as if for the rate of four per centum per annum specified therein the rate of six per centum per annum had been substituted.' It is admitted that the acquired lands were taken-possession of on 19-1-1951. So, according to the proviso, the claimants are entitled to 6% interest per annum on the enhanced compensation from the date the acquired lands were taken possession of.
9. Sri A. Venkataramana, the learned advocate for the State Government, contended that inasmuch as the word 'may is used in Section 28 as contrasted with the word 'shall' in Section 34 of the Act, no interest should be awarded. We are unable to accept this argument. The lands of the claimants were acquired under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act. Under Section 23, Land Acquisition Act, the market value as on the date of the notification under Section 4(1) of the Act is determined by the Court on a reference under Section 18 or by the Appellate-Court under Section 54. The claimants, who are deprived of possession of the lands, are entitled to be-paid interest on the compensation amount as from the date of taking possession under Section 34 of the, Act. We are not inclined to take the view that by the use of the word 'may in Section 28 that the Court, has any arbitrary discretion and may disallow interest for no valid or proper reasons. We therefore award interest to the claimants on the enhanced compensation from 19-1-1951. The claimants are also entitled to solatium at the rate of 15% as provided in Section 23(2) of the Land Acquisition Act. The parties will pay and receive the proportionate' costs in this Court. The order as to costs in the Court below will stand.
10. Appeals Nos. 344, 345, 346 and 347 of 1957 are dismissed. The Memoranda of Cross-objections in Appeals Nos. 344, 345 and 347 are allowed in part. Appeal No. 291 of 1957 is also allowed in part in the manner indicated above.