Skip to content


Govindu Venkata Reddy Vs. K. Krishna Rao and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Appeal No. 205 of 1979
Judge
Reported inAIR1982AP86
ActsLand Acquisition Act, 1894 - Sections 18, 30 and 31(2)
AppellantGovindu Venkata Reddy
RespondentK. Krishna Rao and anr.
Appellant AdvocateK. Mahipathy Rao, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateY. Venkata Sastry, Adv. and ;Govt. Pleader for Revenue
Excerpt:
property - acquisition - sections 11, 18, 30 and 31 (2) of land acquisition act, 1894 - dispute regarding ownership of land sought to be acquired - rival claims put forward by appellant and petitioner - acquisition officer decided that continuous possession of appellant for more than 5 years proved his undisputed ownership - petitioner did not choose to apply for making reference to civil court - he asked for issuance of writ directing acquisition officer to make reference to civil court in respect of compensation payable for land - single judge allowed petition holding that dispute relating to title can only be decided by civil court therefore collector ought to refer matter to civil court - appeal against such decision - court held, section 11 empowers collector to enquire into.....jeevan reddy, j. 1. this writ appeal is preferred against the judgment of amareswari, j. allowing to the land acquisition officer to make a reference to civil court in the matter of apportionment of the compensation payable for the land concerned herein. the writ appeal is preferred by the 2nd respondent in the writ petition.2. survey no. 886 of bekkar village was sought to be acquired under the provisions of the land acquisition act, 1894. the notification mentioned only the name of the appellant as the person interested in the land. while the proceedings were pending before the land acquisition officer, the 1st respondent in the writ appeal (who will be referred to hereinafter as the 'writ petitioner') filed an application claiming exclusive title to the land acquired, and denying that.....
Judgment:

Jeevan Reddy, J.

1. This Writ Appeal is preferred against the judgment of Amareswari, J. allowing to the Land Acquisition officer to make a reference to Civil Court in the matter of apportionment of the compensation payable for the land concerned herein. The writ appeal is preferred by the 2nd respondent in the writ petition.

2. Survey No. 886 of Bekkar village was sought to be acquired under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. The notification mentioned only the name of the appellant as the person interested in the land. While the proceedings were pending before the Land Acquisition Officer, the 1st respondent in the writ appeal (who will be referred to hereinafter as the 'writ petitioner') filed an application claiming exclusive title to the land acquired, and denying that the appellant has any right, claim, or interest therein. According to him, the father of the appellant was a tenant, after whose death the appellant initiated proceedings under section 50-B of the Andhra Pradesh (Telangana Area) Tenancy and Agriculture Lands Act, for the issuance of a certificate validating an alleged scale in respect of the said land, but which proceedings were dismissed by the Tahsildar. He submitted further that the appellant was only in permissive possession of the land, and not entitled to any part of the compensation. He further submitted:-

'Under the above circumstances, it is just and essential to refer the matter to the competent Civil Court and this office is not competent to determine the rival claim under the provisions of the L.A. Act. It is therefore prayed that the matter of awarding compensation in respect of the above properties may be referred to the competent Civil Court enabling the parties to establish their claims under Section 31(2) of the Land Acquisition Act.......'

The appellant, however, denied the writ petitioner's claim. According to him, though his family was formerly a protected tenant of this land, they had purchased it later and that, they have been in possession of then land as owners for the last about 30 years.

3. The Land Acquisition Officer Went into the rival claims put forward by the appellant and the writ petitioner and, on a consideration of the material produced by them, upheld the appellant's claim and rejected the contention of the writ petitioner, while passing the award. The Land Acquisition Officer held in his award that the Record of Rights and the continuous possession of the appellant for more than 5 years prove this undisputed ownership. He emphasised the fact that, his name is recorded as Pattadar in then Khasra Pahani (Record of Rights) and the subsequent Pahanies. He also held that the continuous possession of the appellant for of 25 years would extinguish the title of the writ petitioner, even if he had any, sometime ago. Having upheld the appellants' exclusive claim, the Land Acquisition officer further observed:-

'As such, I see no reason to refer the matter to the Civil Court, inasmuch as the objection petitioner (writ petitioner) failed to show the valid grounds to make a reference to the Court. In view of the above facts, the compensation of S. No. 886 is awarded to Sri Govind Venkata Reddy (appellant herein)......'

The relevant portion of the award dealing with the rival claims and contentions was communicated to the writ-petitioner. however, he did not choose to apply under section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act for making a reference to Civil Court. He straightway approached this court by way of W. P. No. 5096/1977. He asked for the issuance of a writ of mandamus directing the Land Acquisition Officer to make a reference to Civil Court in respect of the compensation payable for the said land.

4. The learned single judge observed that the only question for consideration is whether, in the circumstances of the case, the Land Acquisition officer has exercised his discretion properly in declining to refer the matter to Civil Court under Section 30 of the Land Acquisition Act. The learned judge observed that under section 30, the Collector (Land Acquisition officer in the present case) has discretion to refer a dispute to the decision of the court, if there is a dispute as to the person entitled to compensation but that this discretion is coupled with a duty to exercise it when the circumstances warrant. The learned judge observed that, admittedly, the writ petitioner was the owner of the land at one point of time and that, when the proceeding taken by the appellant for validation of the alleged sale in his favour were dismissed it was a proper case where the several disputed questions relating to title could be gone into by the Civil Court alone and therefore, the collector ought to have referred the matter under section 30. Accordingly, the writ petition was allowed.

5. In this writ appeal Sri K. Mahipathy Rao, the learned counsel for the appellant (2nd respondent in the writ petition) submitted that the Land Acquisition officer was entitled to go into the disputed questions of title raised before him, and it cannot be said that he has no jurisdiction to do so or that the question of title can be gone into only by the civil court. Reliance is placed upon the decision of Chinnappa Reddy, J., in Afzal Bee v. Special Deputy Collector, Land Acquisition, Srikaklam, : AIR1978AP463 . It is argued further, on the basis of the decision of the supreme court in Dr. G. H. Grant v. State of Bihar, : [1965]3SCR576 , that the only remedy available to the writ-petitioner, after the passing of the award, was to apply for making a reference under section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act and that, Section 30 was totally unavailable to the writ-petitioner. Section 30, it is argued, is available only to a party, who was not present or represented before the Land Acquisition officer, who had either a pre-existing right, or had acquired a right in the land or in the compensation, since the passing of the award. It is, therefore argued that the learned single judge was not right in holding that the matter could be referred under section 30 of the Act, or in directing the Land Acquisition officer to make a reference under section 30.

6. On the other hand, Sri Y. Venkatasaktry, the learned counsel for the writ petitioner (1st respondent in the writ appeal), submitted that whenever there is a dispute as to tile, the Land Acquisition Officer has no jurisdiction to decide the same and that, he is under an obligation to make a reference to civil court under section 30 of the Act. He submitted that the writ-petitioner had applied to the Land Acquisition Officer, even before the passing of the award, to make a reference to civil court; and since he failed to make a reference as he was bound to, a writ of mandamus was the appropriate remedy. The mere fact that he has passed an award meanwhile, should not stand in the way of the writ-petitioner approaching this court for a mandamus, According to the learned counsel, section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act is confined only to the quantum of compensation, and to apportionment between the persons interested who do not dispute each other's claim.

7. For a proper appreciation of the question at issue, it would be appropriate to read certain provisions of the Act. The expression 'person interested' is defined in clause (b) of section 3, in the following words:-

'(b) the expression 'person interested' includes all persons claiming in interest in compensation to be made on account of the acquisition of land under this Act; and a person shall be deemed to be interested in land if he is interested in an easement affecting the land.'

Sections 11, 18, 30 and sub-sections(1) and (2) of section 31, may now be set- out:-

'11. On the day so fixed, or on any other day to which the enquiry has been adjourned, the Collector shall proceed to enquire into the objection (if any) which any person interested has stated pursuant to a notice given under section 9 to the measurements made under section 8, and into the value of the land at the date of the publication of the notification under section 4, sub-section(1) , and into the respective interests of the persons claiming the compensation, and shall make an award under his hand of.'

(i) the true area of the land;

(ii) the compensation which in his opinion would be allowed for the land;and

(iii) the apportionment of the said compensation among all the persons known or believed to be interested in the land of whom, or of whose claims, he has information, whether or not they have respectively appeared before him.'

'S. 18:- (1) Any person interested who has not accepted the award may, by written application to the collector, require that the matter be referred by the Collector for the determination of the court, whether his objection be to the measurement of the land, the amount of the compensation, the persons to whom it is payable, to the apportionment of the compensation among the persons interested.

(2) The application shall state the grounds on which objection to the award be made:-

Provided that every such application shall be made:-

(a) If the person making it was present or represented before the Collector at the time when he made his award, within six weeks from the date of the collector's award;

(b) in other cases, within sex weeks of the receipt of the notice from the collector under section 12, sub-section(2) or within six months from the date of the collector's award, whichever period shall first expire.'

'Sec. 30.:- When the amount of compensation has been settled under Sec, 11, if any dispute arises as to the apportionment of the same or any part thereof, or as to the persons to whom the same or any part thereof is payable, the collector may refer such dispute to the decision of the court.'

'S. 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 in a lump sum in a case where it does not exceed five hundred rupees and in all other cases in such number of equal annual instalments not exceeding five as may be determined by the collector, unless prevented by some one or more of the contingencies mentioned in the next sub-section:

Provided that where the compensation is sought to be paid in instalments, the collector shall pay instalments of the amount awarded with interest thereon at sex per cent per annum from the time of making possession of the land until the last instalment is paid:

Provided further that where possession of land is taken but the compensation awarded is not paid or deposited before the date of commencement of the Land Acquisition (Andhra Pradesh Amendment) Act, 1976,.. the provisions of this section shall apply in relation to the payment of compensation as if the acquisition proceedings have been started after the date of commencement of the said Act.

(2) If they shall not consent to receive it, or if there be no person competent to alienate the land, or if there by any dispute as 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 no person who has received the amount otherwise than under protest shall be entitled to make any application under section 18:

Provided also that nothing herein contained shall affect the liability of any person, who may receive the whole or any part of any compensation awarded under this Act, to pay the same to the person lawfully entitled thereto....'

8. A reading of the above provision shows that, while passing the award the Collector (Land Acquisition Officer) has to enquire into (I) the objections submitted by the persons interested to the measurements made under section 8: (ii) the value of the land on the date of notification under section 4(1); and (iii) the respective interests of the persons claiming the compensation. After such enquiry, he has to make an award under his hand stating (I) the true area of the land; (ii) the compensation among all the persons known or believed to be interested in the land, of whom, whose claims, he has information, whether or not they have respectively appeared before him, he has information, whether or not they have respectively appeared before him. The power to enquire into and determine the disputed claims and disputed questions of title as well. It cannot be said that the Land Acquisition Officer has non jurisdiction to go into the disputed claims or disputed to go into the disputed claims or disputed questions of title or that, as soon as such a dispute arises, he is under an obligation to make a reference to the Civil Court. It is true that the decision rendered by him, whether on the question of the area of the land, the quantum of compensation, is not final and he is under an obligation to make a reference to civil court with respect to the aforesaid questions if any application in writing in made to him under, and in accordance with section 18. Once an application is made to him, to make a reference to civil court under section 18, he has not discretion in the matter; he is bound to make such a reference. But that does not mean that, whenever disputed questions as to title officer has no choice except to refer the matter t court. At the same time. We must hasten to add, he is also under no obligation to decide or determine such disputed questions. A reading of section 30, together with section 11 and 18, makes it clear that, while it is obligatory upon the collector to determine the true area of the land acquire and the amount of compensation payable for such land, he has a discretion either to go into the disputed questions of title and apportionment, or to refer the same to civil court for decision. if the land Acquisition Officer is of the opinion that the dispute as to title (apportionment) arising before him involves complicated questions of fact and/or law and that , it is desirable that those questions should be enquired into by a civil court, he can refuse to decide that question and refer the same for decision to civil court. In such a case he has to act under section 30. It is obvious that when he refers the dispute as to apportionment to civil court, he will also send the amount of compensation, determined by him, to the civil court.

9. Section 31 deals with the payment of compensation. Sub-section(1) says that as soon as an award is made by the collector, he shall tender payment of compensation awarded by him, to the persons entitled thereto according to the award, and shall pay the same to them. unless he is prevented from doing so by one or the other contingencies mentioned in sub-section(2). Sub-section(1) obviously contemplates a case where, either there is no dispute between the persons interested as to their rights inter se, or where the collector has gone into the dispute and determined their rights. Obviously, sub-section (1) cannot apply when the collector chooses to act under section 30. As we have stated earlier,. if the collector refuses to go into the disputed questions of title, or into the dispute as to apportionment, he will refer the matter to Civil Court suo motu, and will also send the amount determined by him as compensation to the civil court. now, sub-sec (2) of section 3 must be read along with section 18 . sub-sec. (2) contemplates several situations in which the collector is bound to deposit the amount in the court to which a reference u/s 18 would be submitted. We are concerned herein only with one of the situations, viz., where there is a dispute as to title to the land acquired, or with respect to the right to receive the compensation, or as to the apportionment thereof, and where the collector has gone into that dispute and has given his decision, and the party aggrieved asks him to make a reference under, and in accordance with section 18. In such a case, he is bound to make a reference under section 18 and he is also bound to deposit the amount of compensation in the court to which a reference under section 18 would be submitted. However, if no application is made under section 18 to make a reference to civil court, there is no question of his sending or depositing the amount of compensation in the court. There would be no occasion for doing so. Indeed according to sub-section (1), he is bound make the payment in accordance with the award made by him, and to the persons entitled to compensation in accordance with his award. This means that a person, who is aggrieved with the decision of the collector on the question of right to receive the compensation or apportionment, and who wants to stop the payment of compensation in accordance with the award has to apply immediately for making a reference to civil court under section 18. Once such an application is made, the payment in accordance with his award, and it bound not only to make a reference, but also to deposit the money in the court.

10. Section 30 also empowers the collector to make a reference to Civil court, if any dispute is raised before him by a person who was not present or represented before him, when the award was made, with respect to the apportionment of, or the right to receive the compensation. Such person may have had a pre-existing right, or may have acquired the right to compensation or to apportionment since the passing of the award. No period of limitation is prescribed for applying for reference under section 30; but, the collector has discretion to make such a reference, then the only remedy of the person concerned is to institute a suit against the persons who have received the compensation, to establish his claims and rights.

11. Thus, the Land Acquisition 'Act indicates a clear-cut scheme on the question at issue, viz., where conflicting claims to the land acquired, or to the compensation payable, are preferred before the collector (Land Acquisition officer). He may choose either to decide the matter himself, or to refer the same to civil court. If he choose to follow the first alternative, he will determine the area of the land, the amount of compensation, and also the persons who, according to him, are entitled to compensation, and pass an award incorporating his decision on all these three questions. In such a case, the only remedy of the person aggrieved by the award is to ask for a reference under section 18, within the period of limitation prescribed therein. if such an application is made, the collector is bound to make a reference, notwithstanding his decision on the applicant's claims, and he is also bound to deposit the amount in the court. But where the chooses to adopt the second alternative, he will determine the area of the land, the quantum of compensation, and them make an suo motu reference under section 30 of the Act to civil court, to decide the conflicting claims of the claimants before him. In such a case also, he has to send the amount of compensation determined by him, to the court. Besides the above, a person who was not present or represented before the collector during the award enquiry had a right raise a dispute as to apportionment or with respect to the right to receive the compensation, before the collector, after the passing of the award. But, in such a case the collector may, or may not make reference, having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case and if collector refuses to make such a reference, the only remedy of the persons concerned would be to institute a suit to establish his claims and contentions.

12. In Afzal Bee v. Special Deputy Collector. Land Acquisition Srisailam : AIR1978AP463 , Chinnapa Reddy, J., held that the Land Acquisition Officer does have the jurisdiction to decide questions of title if such questions are raised before him. This is what the learned judge said (at p. 463 of AIR):-

'....If section 11, 29, 30 and 18 are read together, it becomes obvious that the land acquisition officer has the jurisdiction to apportion the compensation among the persons interested while making an award. That necessarily means that he has the jurisdiction to decide questions of title if such question are raised before him. But instead of deciding the question of title himself he has the option to refer such question to the court under Section 30 of the Act Naturally, where complicated questions of title arise, the land acquisition officer will be expected to refer the questions for the decision of the court under section 30. But where the questions raised are simple, the land acquisition officer may himself deal with them and incorporate his decision in the award. If he does so and if a party is aggrieved by the apportionment of compensation, such party may seek a reference under section 18 of the Act. In the present case the Land Acquisition Officer on the basis of the revenue records came to the conclusion that the petitioner was not entitled to any share in certain survey numbers. He issued notice but the petitioner did not choose to adduce any evidence in support of her claim in regard to he share in those survey numbers. The entire amount of compensation in regard those survey numbers was awarded to respondents 2,3, and 4. It awarded to respondents 2,3 and 4. it does not appear that the land acquisition officer has exceeded his jurisdiction in making such award.....'

The opinion of Chinnappa Reddy, J., accords with the view expressed by us hereinbefore.

13. In Dr. G. H. Grant v. State of Bihar, : [1965]3SCR576 Shah J., speaking for the majority, held that a party who was present or represented before the land acquisition officer during the award proceedings, cannot apply for making a reference under section 30. The only remedy available to such person is to apply under section 18. The learned judge observed further that, under section 30 a person who was not present or represented before the Land Acquisition Officer during the award proceedings, can apply for making a reference to civil court for determination of his right to compensation, which may have existed before the award, or which may have developed upon him since the award. In that case, the notification under section 4(1) of the Act was made on June 8, 1949, and the collector made the award on Mar. 25, 1952. On May 22, 1952 the land in question, being,. part of an estate, vested in the State of Bihar, by virtue of the Bihar Land Reforms Act. On October 15, 1952 the state filed a petition before the collector claiming that, the compensation money award to the landowner has, under the notification issued under the Bihar Land Reforms Act, become payable to the State Government and that, therefore, the dispute between and state and the landowner may be referred to the court for decision under section 30 of the land Acquisition Act. A reference was, accordingly, made. (Two other references were also made under section 18 read with section 30, with which are not concerned ). The District judge, rejected the State's claim and upheld the right of the landowner and other parties interested therein. Against the order of the District judge, the state preferred an appeal to the High Court. The High Court took the view that the title in the land passes only when its possession is taken, and since the title in the land came to vest in the state before the possession was taken, the state was entitled to the compensation and that, the collector was justified in making a reference under sec. 30 of the Act, at the instance of the state. When the matt came up before the supreme court, the contentions raised were (1) that the collector had no authority to refer the matter under section 30, after he had apportioned the amount of compensation under section 11; and (ii) that, the State Government was not a person interested: within the meaning of the Land Acquisition Act, and could not have applied for a reference under section 30. It is in these circumstances that the supreme court held that section 30 entitled a person who was not present or represented before the collector but who had pre-existing right or has acquired a right since the passing of the award, to the compensation, to apply for making a reference and that, a reference can be made by the collector on such an application. The supreme court emphasised the fact that, for applying under section 30, no period of limitation is prescribed, and also that the collector is not bound to make a reference on such an application but that, he as discretion in the matter. We are unable to read this decision as laying down that, under section 30, the collector cannot make suo motu reference to the court Indeed, while discussing the scheme of the Land Acquisition Act, the curt observed as follows:-

'......Part IV deals with apportionment of compensation. If the persons interested agree in the apportionment of the compensation, the particulars of such apportionment shall be specified in the award (s.29): if there be no such agreement, the collector may, if a dispute arises as to the apportionment of the compensation or any part thereof, or as to the persons to whom the same or any part thereof is payable , refer such dispute under Section 30 for decision by the Court......'

This observation makes it abundantly clear that the Collector is entitled to make a suo motu reference to the Court under Section 30, where he is not inclined to go into disputed questions of title, or conflicting claims to compensation. There supreme Court pointed out the fields of operation of Sections 13 and 30 in the following words:

'There are two provisions, Sections 18(1) and 30, which invest the Collector with power to refer to the Court a dispute as to apportionment of compensation as to the persons to whom it is payable. By sub-section (1) of Section 18 the Collector is enjoined to refer a dispute as to apportionment, or as to title to receive compensation, on the application within the time prescribed by sub-section (2) of that section of person interested who has not accepted the award. Section 30 authorises the Collector to refer to the Court after compensation is settled under Section 11, any dispute arising as to apportionment of the same or any part thereof or as to the persons to whom the same or any part thereof is payable. A person shown in that part of the award which relates to apportionment of the compensation, who is present either personally or through a representative, or on whom notice is served under sub-sec.(2) of Section 12, must, if he does not accept the award, apply to the Collector within the time prescribed under Section 18(2) to refer the matter to the Court. But a person who has not appeared in the acquisition proceeding before the Collector, pay, if he is not served with notice of the thing, raise a dispute as to apportionment or as to the persons to whom it is payable, and apply to the Court for a reference under Section 30 for determination of his right to compensation which pay have existed before the award, or which may have devolved upon him once the award. Whereas under Sec. 18 an application made to the Collector must be made within the period prescribed by sub-section (2), clause (b), there is no such period prescribed under Sec. 30. Again under Section 18, the Collector is found to make a reference on a petition by a person interested. The Collector is under Section 30 not enjoined to make a reference: he may relegate the person raising a dispute as to apportionment, or as to the person to whom compensation is payable, to agitate the disorder in a suit and pay the compensation in the manner declared by his award...................'.

14. The above observations make it clear that the only remedy of person who was present or represented before the Collector during the award proceedings if he is aggrieved with the apportionment and/or by the determination on the disputed right to compensation, is to apply for a reference under Section 18. Such a person cannot ask for making a reference to Court under Section 30.

15. Applying the principles of the above decisions, it must be held that the Collector (Land Acquisition Officer) was not bound to make a reference to the Civil Court under Section 30 of the Act, when so applied for by the writ petitioner. He had the jurisdiction to go into disputed questions of title and, in this case, the Land Acquisition Officer did choose to go into that question, and decide it. No doubt, he could have declined to go into that question; and if so, he would have referred the dispute to Civil Court under Section 30, while determination the area of the land acquired, and the compensation awarded therefor. Since the Collector choose to go into and decide the conflicting claims to land or compensation, as the case may be, the only remedy of the writ petitioner (who was present and represented before the Collector during the award proceedings) was to ask for a reference under, and in accordance with Section 18. He cannot, after the award is made, ask for a reference under Section 30, for the simple reason that he is a person who was present and represented before the Collector during the award proceedings.

16. The learned single Judge has taken the view that when disputed questions of title arose before the Collector, he ought to have referred the matter to Civil Court under Section 30 because, according to the learned Judge, only a Civil Court can go into those questions. In our opinion, the proposition is rather widely stated by the learned Judge. As held by Chinnappa Reddy, J., in Afzal Bee`s case (supra), the Collector does have the jurisdiction to go into disputed questions of title if they arise before him, and it cannot be said that he has no jurisdiction to do so. If he decides those questions, the person aggrieved has always a remedy, viz., to ask for a reference under Section 18. It is true that the Collector would be well advised to refer disputed questions of title, if they involve enquiry into complicated questions of fact and law, to Civil Court; but, that is a matter which must be left to the Collector, for the reason that the statute has clothed him with the power to into such questions, and also a discretion not to go into those questions, and refer the matter to Civil Court. The writ petitioner ought to have applied for making a reference under Section 18, within the time prescribed there under, when his rights and claims to the land were negatived and when his specific request for making a suo motu reference under Section 30 was also negatived. Instead of availing the said remedy, the petitioner rushed to this Court by way of a writ petition for the issuance of a direction to the Land Acquisition Officer to refer the matter to Civil Court. Such a direction cannot be granted by this Court, because (I) the writ petitioner did not apply for reference under Section 30, because he is a person who was present or represented before the Land Acquisition Officer during the award proceedings. In other words, there is no valid application before the Collector to make a reference to Civil Court; and if so, this Court cannot issue a writ to the Collector to make a reference. If there was a proper application made by the writ-petitioner under Section 18 and if the Collector had refused to refer, then this Court could have interfered. Similarly, if in a given case there is a valid application under Section 30 for making a reference, and of the Collector rejects the same without applying his mind to the facts and circumstances of the case, this Court can issue a writ to the Collector to consider whether it is an appropriate case for making a reference under Section 30. But, in this case, neither of the above two situations exists.

17. It is not necessary for us to consider, in the facts of this case, whether a person who has applied to Collector for making a suo motu reference under Section 30 before the award is made, can approach this Court, before the award is made, for issuance of a writ, order or direction, directing the Collector to make a suo motu reference under Section.

18. Before parting with this case, it is necessary to refer to the decision of the Privy Council in T. B. Ramachandra v. A. N. S. Ramachandra (AIR 1922 PC 80) upon which strong reliance was placed by Sri Venkata Sastry in support of his proposition that the Collector has no jurisdiction to go into disputed questions of title, or into conflicting claims to compensation put forward before him. The learned counsel relied upon the following passage in the judgement:-

'.......The award as constituted by statue is nothing but an award which states the area of the land, the compensation to be allowed and the apportionment among the persons interested in the land of whose claims the Collector has information, meaning thereby people whose interests are not in dispute, but from the moment when the sum has been deposited in Court under Section 31(2) the functions of the award have ceased and all that is left is a dispute between interested people as to the extent of their interest. Such dispute forms no part of the award, and it would indeed be strange if a controversy between two people as to the nature of their respective interests in a piece of land should enjoy certain rights of appeal, which would be wholly taken away when the piece of land was represented by a sum of money paid into court.......'

Counsel particularly emphasises the words underlined by us in the above passage. But, we are of the opinion that the above passage cannot be read as supporting the learned counsel`s proposition. To understand the principle of this decision, it is necessary to briefly refer to the facts of the case. One RB died in 1858 leaving a will, whereunder he bequeathed half of his property to his adopted son BP, and the other half of his two widows K and T, in equal shares. In 1894 an extent of Ac. 1-17 cents out of the land given to the widow T was acquired by the Government under the Land Acquisition Act . The adopted son, BP, claimed that the widow T had only a limited interest in the property and that, therefore, the amount of compensation should be deposited in Court, as required by Section 31(2) of the Land Acquisition Act, and invested as contemplated by Section 32. This dispute went up to the Madras High Court, which finally held that the widow had only a limited estate and, therefore, Sections 31 and 32 of the Land Acquisition Act are attracted . The widow T died in 1916 after executing two wills, bequeathing her properties to certain persons. The adopted son BP also died sometime later. The sons of the adopted son then instituted the suit against the persons claiming under the wills executed by the widow T, for recovery of possession of the properties on the ground that the widow T had only a limited estate. The suit was resisted, but the trial Court decreed the suit holding that the widow T had only a limited interest. On appeal, however, the High Court of Madras came to a contrary conclusion, and the matter then went up to the Privy Council. The Privy Council refused to go into the merits of the questions whether the widow T had only a limited interest or otherwise, since it felt that the said question was concluded by the earlier judgement of the Madras High Court which operates as res judicata in the subsequent proceedings arising under the Land Acquisition Act, it cannot operate as res judicata. This contention was negatived holding that the principle of res judicata is not confined to Section 11 of the Civil Procedure Code and that, the said doctrine, on its general principles, applies to, and bars the subsequent suit. While dealing with the contention that the judgement of the Madras High Court in earlier proceedings was not appealable, the Privy Council made the aforesaid observations. The observations must be understood in the context of the question at issue therein. All that the Privy Council observed was that, once an award is made by the Collector with respect to the area of the land and the compensation to be paid, and where because of the dispute as to the person entitled to compensation, he deposits the amount in Court as contemplated by Section 31(2), he has no further + of the matter and that, thereafter, it is open to the disputants to fight out their claims before the Court. The above observations can in no manner be understood as stating that the Land Acquisition Officer has no power to go into conflicting claims to compensation or that, as soon as such a question arises he is obliged to make a reference to Court. Indeed, such a contention was neither raised before, nor considered by the Privy Council. We have already emphasised the fact that the language of Section 11 clearly empowers the Collector to enquire into conflicting claims to the land acquired, or compensation, as the case may be.

19. For the aforesaid reasons, the writ appeal is allowed, and writ petition dismissed. We make it clear that it is open to the writ petitioner to establish his claims and contentions by way of a separate suit, if he so chooses. In the circumstances of the case, there shall be no order as to costs. Advocates 'fee Rs. 150.

20. Appeal allowed.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //