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Aijaz UddIn Vs. Taxing Officer, High Court and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Misc. Writ No. 1491 of 1964
Judge
Reported inAIR1966All227
ActsConstitution of India - Article 226; Court-fees Act, 1870 - Sections 4, 5 and 8 - Schedule - Articles 1 and 11; Uttar Pradesh Nagar Mahapalika Act, 1959 - Sections 381, 381(1) and 577; Town Improvement Trust Act; Land Acquisition Act, 1894
AppellantAijaz Uddin
RespondentTaxing Officer, High Court and ors.
Appellant AdvocateB.L. Chaturvedi, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateStanding Counsel
DispositionPetition dismissed
Excerpt:
.....liable to be dismissed. (ii) reference - sections 5 and 8 of court-fees act, 1870 - decision of taxing officer - held, cannot be referred to taxing judge. - - the compensation for the land was determined by an award on october 24, 1.953. the petitioner was not satisfied with the compensation awarded to him. 992.70. he directed the petitioner to make good the deficiency by april 10, 1963. he has also directed that the first appeal from order should be re-registered as a first appeal. the deficiency was not made good within the time granted by the taxing officer. the application was rejected by the taxing officer on october 8, 1963. on november 1, 1963, the office reported that the deficiency in the court-fee has not been made good by the petitioner. on december 3, 1963, the joint..........are these: under the provisions of the town improvement trust act read with the provisions of the land acquisition act, the town improvement trust agra acquired some land of the petitioner in connection with its raja ki mandi street scheme. the compensation for the land was determined by an award on october 24, 1.953. the petitioner was not satisfied with the compensation awarded to him. it appears that the question of compensation was referred to the district judge under section 18 of the land acquisition act. while the proceedings were pending before the district judge, the town improvement trust act was repealed, and its place was taken up by the nagar mahapalika act. the question of compensation was then referred to the tribunal constituted under the nagar mahapalika act for.....
Judgment:
ORDER

S.N. Dwivedi, J.

1. The petitioner challenges the order of the Taxing Officer of the Court dated March 5, 1963.

2. The facts giving rise to this petition are these: under the provisions of the Town Improvement Trust Act read with the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, the Town Improvement Trust Agra acquired some land of the petitioner in connection with its Raja Ki Mandi street scheme. The compensation for the land was determined by an award on October 24, 1.953. The petitioner was not satisfied with the compensation awarded to him. It appears that the question of compensation was referred to the District Judge under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act. While the proceedings were pending before the District Judge, the Town Improvement Trust Act was repealed, and its place was taken up by the Nagar Mahapalika Act. The question of compensation was then referred to the Tribunal constituted under the Nagar Mahapalika Act for determination. The new Tribunal gave its decision on June 2, 1962. The decision did not come up to the expectation of the petitioner. Accordingly he filed a first appeal from the decision under Section 381 of the Nagar Mahapalika Act (hereinafter called the Act). In the appeal he claimed a higher compensation than the one awarded to him by the Tribunal. In the memorandum of appeal the valuation of the appeal is shown as Rs. 8,325. On the memorandum he affixed a court-fee of Rs. 5 only. The Stamp Reporter reported on October 15, 1962 that the court-fee paid on the memorandum of appeal was deficient by Rs. 992.70. On October 18 counsel for the appellant objected to the report of the Stamp Reporter. He maintained that the court-feealready paid was sufficient. The matter was then referred to the Taxing Officer for decision,

3. By his order, dated March 5, 1963 the Taxing Officer held that the court-fee paid was deficient by Rs. 992.70. He directed the petitioner to make good the deficiency by April 10, 1963. He has also directed that the first appeal from order should be re-registered as a first appeal. The deficiency was not made good within the time granted by the Taxing Officer. But on August 16, 1963, counsel for the petitioner made an application to the Taxing Officer for referring the question of court-fee to the Taxing Judge. The application was rejected by the Taxing Officer on October 8, 1963. On November 1, 1963, the office reported that the deficiency in the court-fee has not been made good by the petitioner. On December 3, 1963, the Joint Registrar allowed two weeks for making good the deficiency in the court-fee. The petitioner still did not pay the deficient court-fee, and consequently on January 8, 1964. the Court rejected the memorandum of appeal as deficiently stamped. Two and half months thereafter the present petition was filed on March 23, 1964. Counsel for the petitioner strenuously argued before me that the memorandum of appeal was sufficiently stamped and that the decision of the Taxing Officer is manifestly erroneous.

Before I enter into the merits of the case it is necessary to deal with two preliminary matters. Firstly, the petitioner has suppressed a material fact from the Court; secondly, the petition is inordinately belated. As already stated the memorandum of appeal was rejected as deficiently stamped on January 8, 1964. Although the petition was filed two and half months thereafter on March 23, 1964. the petition is absolutely silent about it. It is nowhere mentioned in the petition that the memorandum of appeal has already been rejected as deficiently stamped. It appears to me that the suppression of this fact is material, and the petition is liable to be dismissed in limine for that reason.

4. The impugned order of the Taxing Officer was made on March 5, 1963. The petition was moved in Court on March 23, 1964, that is more than a year after the impugned order. The petition is, therefore, undoubtedly inordinately belated. The petitioner has tried to explain the delay in moving the petition. It has been alleged that the impugned order was passed behind the back of the petitioner and his counsel and that neither of them was informed of it by the office. Likewise it is alleged that the petitioner and his counsel were not informed by the office of the Taxing Officer's order of October 8, 1963, dismissing the petitioner's application for referring the question of court-fees to the Taxing Judge. It is said that the petitioner came to know of that order only in February 1964. The reference to the order in paragraph 6 of the petition in that connection appears to be wrong. Counsel for the petitioner has submitted that in those circumstances the delay in filing the petition was sufficiently explained and that it should accordingly be condoned. I do not agree.

5. The impugned order is dated March 5, 1963. In paragraph 5 of the petition it is admitted that the petitioner came to know of the impugned order in the middle of May 1963. Nevertheless no early steps were taken by him to seek proper remedy against the order. Three months thereafter on August 16, 1963 for the first time he made an application to the Taxing Officer to refer the question of the court-fees to the Taxing Judge. The request was obviously belated and futile. After the Taxing Officer had decided the issue of court-fee, he could not refer the matter to the Taxing Judge. It is also not correct to say that the petitioner came to know of the Taxing Officer's order, dated October 8, 1963, in February 1964. The petition and the affidavit, if carefully read, would clearly show that the petitioner had come to know of that order in any case in December 1963. The affidavit of the petitioner accompanying the petition is dated December 4, 1963. The petition also bears the same date. Thus the petitioner knew of the second order in the first week of December 1963.

6. There is yet another circumstance which cannot be ignored. As already stated the petition and the affidavit were ready on December 4, 1963. But no further steps were taken by the petitioner for moving the petition in Court in the same month. The notice of the writ petition was given to the Standing Counsel for the first time on March 4, 1964. The petition and the affidavit do not explain why the petition was not moved in Court for about three months. After giving notice to the Standing Counsel the petition could have been moved earliest on March 18, 1964. The petition was, however, moved on March 23, 1964.

7. Having regard to all the circumstances stated above I am of opinion that the petitioner is clearly guilty of making undue delay. The delay remains unexplained. Accordingly I cannot condone it. I would decline to exercise discretion for interference with the Taxing Officer's order on account of unexplained inordinate delay. On the merits also I am not satisfied that the Taxing Officer's order is vitiated by a manifest mistake of law. Before the Taxing Officer the petitioner's contention was that the court-fee payable on his memorandum of appeal was to be determined in accordance with Schedule II, Article 11 of the Court-fees Act. If it were so determined, the court-fee of Rs. 5 already paid was sufficient. The office report was that the court-fee was leviable in accordance with the provisions of Section 8 of the Court-fees Act as amended by the U. P. Legislature. If Section 8 were applicable, the court-fee should be payable on the valuation of the appeal which was Rs. 8,325. The Taxing Officer agreed with the office report. He held mat the court-fee was to be determined in accordance with the provisions of Section 8 and that Schedule II, Article 11 did not apply to the case.

8. The short question before me accordingly is whether Section 8 or Schedule II, Article 11 applies to the case.

Schedule II, Aft. 11 materially reads:

Number

Proper Fee

'11. Memorandum ofappeal when the appeal is not from a decree or an order having the force of adecree and is pre Sented.

(a)........

(b) ........

(c) to a High Court.(Five rupees).'

Section 8, as amended by the U. P, Legislature, provides:

'The amount of fee payable under this Act on a memorandum of appeal against an order relating to compensation under any Act for the time being in force for the acquisition of land for public purposes or against an award made by a tribunal constituted under the United Provinces Town Improvement Act or any other similar statute shall be computed according to the difference between the amount awarded and the amount claimed by the appellant.'

It may be observed that Section 8 is not a charging but a computing section. It assumes that the court-fee is to be levied in accordance with Section 4 and Art. 1 of the first schedule. This is clear from the expression 'according to the difference between the amount awarded and the amount claimed by the appellant' occurring at the end of the section. If Section 8 applies to the case, Article 11 of the second schedule would be excluded from the field. The first question for consideration accordingly is whether Section 8 applies to the present case. That will depend on whether the decision of the Tribunal under the Nagar Mahapalika Act is an 'order' or an 'award' within the meaning of Section 8. Counsel for the petitioner has contended that the decision of the Tribunal is neither an 'order' nor an 'award'.

9. In order to decide whether the decision of the Tribunal is an 'order' or an award' within the meaning of Section 8, it will be necessary to refer to certain material provisions of the Act. Those provisions are generally to be found in Chap. XIV. Sub-section (2) of Section 365 of the Act provides that the Mahapalika may for the purposes of an improvement scheme sanctioned by Government acquire land or interest in land under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, as modified by the provisions of this Chapter. Sub-section (4) thereof provides that all acquisition of land and interest in land for an improvement of the scheme shall be completed up to the stage of making of 'award' within a period of five years from the date of the notification of the scheme under Section 363. The Tribunal has been constituted under Sub-section (1) of Section 371. The Tribunal is constituted by the State Government with the powers and duties specified in the Chapter. Sub-section (2) provides that the Tribunal constituted under the Town Improvement Act shall be dissolved.

Sub-section (3) provides that all 'suits' and 'proceedings' pending before the Tribunal constituted under the Town Improvement Act shall be tried and proceeded with by the Tribunal constituted under Sub-section (1) as if they had been filed before such Tribunal and the provisions of the Act and any rules made thereunder shall apply to all such suits' and 'proceedings' Section 372 provides that the Tribunal shall perform the functions' or the Court with reference to all acquisition of land for the Mahapalika for the purposes of this Act under the Land Acquisition Act. According to Sub-section (1) of Section 378 the Tribunal shall consist of a Chairman and two assessors. Sub-section (2) provides that the Chairman shall be a Civil Judicial Officer not below the rank of a District judge. Section 376 is the next important provision. Section 376, in so far as it is pertinent to this case, reads:--'For the purpose of the acquisition of land for the Mahapalika under the Land Acquisition Act,...... whether under this Chapter or anyother Chapter of this Act-

(a) the said Act shall be subject to the modifications specified in the Schedule to this act;

(b) the award of the Tribunal shall be deemed to be the award of the Court under the Land Acquisition Act, ......'

Section 377 provides that the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure shall as far as possible apply to all proceedings before the Tribunal. Section 380 provides that every 'order' made by the Tribunal for the payment of money shall be enforced, on an application. by the Court of Small Causes of the City, as if it were a decree of that Court. Section 381 is the next important provision and the petitioner mainly relies on it. Section 381, is so far as it is material in this case, reads:

'1. An appeal to the High Court shall lie from a 'decision' of the Tribunal...........

3. Notwithstanding anything contained in the foregoing provisions, no appeal shall lie under this section unless the appellant has deposited the money which he is liable to pay under the order from which the appeal is filed.

.....'

One more provision remains to be noticed. It falls under Chap. XXV. It is Section 577. Section 577 materially reads:

'Save as expressly provided by the provisions of this Chapter or by a notification issued under Section 579-

(a) any ...... order, ...... scheme, .....made . .under the U. P. Town Improvement Act,...... shall, in so far as it is not inconsistentwith the provisions of this Act, continue in force until it is superseded by any...... order, .....scheme, ........

(b) any...... sanction of any improvementscheme for the area included in the City issued under the U. P. Town Improvement Act, ...... shall be deemed to have been issued under this Act and all further proceedings in furtherance of such scheme may be taken accordingly;

(c) all proceedings for acquisition of land whether in pursuance of any scheme of improvement or otherwise initiated under the U. P. Town Improvement Act. ...... .or any otherenactment applicable to the area included in the City may be continued as if they had beeninitiated under this Act;

......'

Counsel for the petitioner has pegged his argument on the word 'decision' in Sub-section (1) of Section 381. Again and again he has reminded methat the Legislature has itself declared that the Tribunal constituted under the Act gives a decision and does not make an order. The word 'decision' is not a word of art. It is a word having broad connotation. It may include a decree or an order within the meaning of the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure; it may also include an award in some cases. In some cases it may include neither of them. Whether it includes any one of them in Sub-section (1) of Section 381 will depend not merely upon that expression, but upon its collocation. It may be observed that in Sub-section (3) of Section 381 itself the Legislature has said that no appeal shall lie under Section 381 unless the appellant has deposited the money which he is liable to pay under the order from which the appeal is filed. It seems to me that Sub-section (3) will apply to a case where the Mahapalika, who is called upon to pay certain compensation, proposes to file an appeal in the High Court. In that event the Nagar Mahapalika would have to deposit the amount of compensation awarded by the Tribunal. The decision of the Tribunal for payment of compensation by the Nagar Mahapalika to a particular person is called an order by the Legislature in Sub-section (3) of Section 381. Sub-section (3), therefore, shows that it is necessary to examine the context of Sub-section (I) of Section 381 in order to find out whether the word 'decision' in that provision means a decree or an order or an award or none of them. Clause (b) of Section 376 provides that the award of the Tribunal shall be deemed to be the award of the Court under the Land Acquisition Act. It would thus appear that in this provision the Legislature has characterised the decision of the Tribunal as an award of the Tribunal. It has gone on to say that its award shall be deemed to be the award of the Court under the Land Acquisition Act. In view of this provision I am inclined to hold that the decision of the Tribunal is an award.

This inference is supported by Sub-section (4) of Section 365. Sub-section (4) provides that all acquisition of land for an improvement scheme shall be completed at least up to the stage of making of award within the period of five years from the date of the notification of the scheme. Sub-section (4) thus contemplates the giving of an award by an appropriate authority in respect of compensation, After that award has been given, it may be open to a person aggrieved with the amount awarded to him to take the dispute to the Tribunal constituted under the Act. Speaking in the popular way the Tribunal sits in judgment over the award given by the appropriate authority. It is, therefore, reasonable to assume that the decision of the Tribunal would also be an award.

10. Counsel for the petitioner has submitted that Clause (b) of Section 376 would not apply to the present case, because the acquisition wasnot made under the Act. This argument would fail in view of the provisions or Section 577 which has already been quoted earlier. In view of the provisions of Section 577 (a), (b) and (c) the proceedings for acquisition of land in pursuance of a scheme of improvement under the. Town Improvement Act or any other Act applicable to the area included in the City shall be deemed to be proceedings initiated under the Act. In view or Section 577 the proceedings for the acquisition of land for Raja Ki Mandi Street Scheme although initiated under the Town Improvement Trust Act and the Land Acquisition Act, shall be deemed to be proceedings initiated under the Act. Accordingly it shall be deemed that the land was being acquired for the Mahapalika under Section 376. Consequently the decision of the Tribunal shall be an award.

11. Section 8 of the Court Fees Act inter alia provides that the amount of fee payable under that Act on a memorandum of appeal against an award made by a Tribunal constituted under the United Provinces Town Improvement Act or any other similar Statute shall be computed according to the difference between the amount awarded and the amount claimed by the appellant. I have already held that the decision or the Tribunal is an award. The Nagar Mahapalika Act will be comprehended within the expression 'any other similar statute' in Section 8. It is pan materia with the provisions of United Provinces Town Improvement Act. Accordingly Section 8 squarely applies to the present case and the Court fee has got to be levied in accordance with this provision. As Section 8 applies, it is not necessary to consider whether Article 11 of Schedule II would on its terms apply to this case, for I have already held that if Section 8 applies Article 11 is necessarily excluded from the field. I have already indicated that in some cases the decision of the Tribunal may be an order, for instance, when the Mahapalika files an appeal from the compensation awarded by the Tribunal.

In view of my opinion that the decision of the Tribunal in the instant case is an award, it is not necessary to go into that aspect any further. There is yet another aspect which I leave unconsidered in this case. Clause (b) of Section 376 declares that the award of the Tribunal shall be deemed to be an award of the Court under the Land Acquisition Act. This provision enacts a fiction to the effect that the award of the Tribunal, although in fact not an award of the Court under the Land Acquisition Act, will, however, be deemed to be so. Sub-section (2) of Section 26 of the Land Acquisition Act provides that every award of the District Judge under the Land Acquisition Act shall be deemed to be a decree. It may be suggested that as the award of the Tribunal fictionally is an award of the District Judge under the Land Acquisition Act, it should also fictionally be deemed to be a decree under Sub-section (2) of Section 26 of that Act. If the argument were correct, the petitioner would be liable to pay Court fee on the memorandum of appeal as if it were an appeal from the decree. Then also the order of the Taxing Officer would be correct, though in that event not Section 8, but Article 1 of Schedule I read with Section 4 shall apply. I do not, however, decide this question finally.

12. Section 376 (a), as already noticed, provides that certain provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, as modified by the Act, shall apply to acquisition of land by the Mahapalika.

The modifications of the Land Acquisition Act are shown in Schedule II to the Act. Clause 12 in the second Schedule has inserted a new Section 24A in the Land Acquisition Act as applicable to the Mahapalika. Section 24-A provides that in determining the amount of compensation to be awarded for any land acquired by a Mahapalika, the 'Court' shall have regard to certain matters. It would thus appear that me Legislature has contemplated that the Tribunal is in the position of a Court as defined in the Land Acquisition Act. If the decision of the Tribunal is held to be an order as suggested by Sub-section (8) of Section 381, in that event it shall be an order of a civil Court. And then the Court fee leviable on a memorandum of appeal from a decision of the Tribunal shall be determined in accordance with Section 8 as it me decision were an order of a civil Court. I have already said earlier that I leave this question undecided in this case because I am of opinion that the decision of the Tribunal in the present case is an award within the meaning of Section 376 (b).

13. Counsel for the petitioner has referred me to certain decisions in support of his argument that the word 'order' in Section 8 has been used in the sense of an order of a civil Court. It is not necessary to deal with them in detail because I have already held that the decision of the Tribunal in the present case is an award. I may, however, mention the decisions relied on by him. They are; Reference under Section 28 of Act No. VII of 1870 in F. A. F. Order Nos. 48 to 75 of 1894: ILR 17 All 238 Debi Din v. Secy. of State : AIR1939All127 . Hirji Virji Jangbari v. Govt. of Bombay, AIR 1945 Bom 348, Crown, through Deputy Commr. v. Chandrabhanlal, AIR 1957 Nag 8, Kanwar Jagat Bahadur Singh v. Punjab State, AIR 1955 Punj 32.

14. To sum up, I am of opinion that theTaxing Officer's order is not vitiated by anymanifest mistake of law. Accordingly the petition is dismissed.


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