1. By this application under Article 226 of the Constitution the Municipal Council, Piparia, seeks a writ of certiorari for quashing a notification issued on 16th May, 1951 under Section 6 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, (hereinafter referred to as the Act), for the acquisition of some land belonging to the respondent No. 3 for the benefit of the petitioner-Council and also for quashing an award dated 20th July 1963 of the Land Acquisition Officer, Hoshangabad, giving to the said respondent a total compensation of Rs. 40,250. The petitioner also prays that the order made by the Land Acquisition Officer on 20th July 1964 rejecting its application under Section 18 of the Act for reference he also quashed and that the Land Acquisition Officer be commanded to make a reference to the Court of the District Judge, Hoshangabad.
2. Having heard learned counsel for the parties we have reached the conclusion that this application must be dismissed. The petitioner-Council is anxious to get rid of the award mainly because, according to it, the amount of compensation awarded to the respondent No. 3 is excessive. Shri Sen, learned counsel for the petitioner, first urged that the notification dated 16th May 1951 was vague and did not specify with precision the land to be acquired. In our opinion, the petitioner cannot be allowed to challenge the validity of the notification at this distance of time, to wit, 14 years after the issue of the notification on 16th May 1951 and when the applicant-Council lost no time after the issue of the notification in taking possession of the land covered by the notification.
3. It was then submitted by learned counsel that when the respondent No. 3 Balmukuad himself had valued the land in question at Rs. 20,000, the Land Acquisition Officer was not justified in awarding compensation to the tune of Rs. 40,250. In this connection learned counsel referred us to Section 25(1) of the Act. It does appear strange that when the respondent himself valued the land at Rs. 20,000, how the market value of this land was fixed at a figure very much higher than Rs. 20,000. But the Act docs not give any right to the petitioner-Council to question the amount of compensation fixed and also does not contain a provision prohibiting the Land Acquisition Officer from awarding compensation in excess of the amount claimed by the person whose land was acquired. Section 25(1) of the Act has no applicability here. It says-
'25. Rules as to amount of compensation : --
(1) When the applicant has made a claim to compensation, pursuant to any notice given under Section 9, the amount awarded to him by the Court shall not exceed the amount so claimed or be less than the amount awarded by the Collector under Section 11.' As is clear from the wording of the provision, it sets limits to the amount that can be awarded as compensation by the Court and not by the Land Acquisition Officer. It says that 'the, amount awarded. .... .by the Court shall not exceed the amount so claimed or be less than the amount awarded by the Collector under: Section 11'.
This direction cannot be construed so as to mean that the Collector cannot also award compensation exceeding the amount claimed by the person whose land has been acquired. If the Collector awards to a claimant compensation exceeding the amount claimed by him, then under Section 25 the question of the Court awarding compensation exceeding the amount claimed cannot arise; but the Court cannot reduce the amount awarded by the Collector which exceeds the amount claimed by the person concerned. It is no doubt odd that a person should be given compensation by the Land Acquisition Officer much more than actually claimed by him. This is no doubt a defect in the Act; but it can be removed by the Legislature and not by us by a forced construction of Section 25(1) of the Act.
4. That the applicant was not entitled to demand a reference under Section 18 and has really no locus standi to question the amount of compensation awarded to the respondent No. 3 is clear from Section 50 of the Act. Sub-section (2) of Section 50 gives to the local authority or company only the right to appear in any proceeding before the Collector or a Court and adduce evidence for the purpose of determining the amount of compensation. The proviso to that sub-section says that no local authority or company shall be entitled to demand a reference under Section 18. It follows, therefore, that so far as a local authority or a company is concerned the award made by the Land Acquisition Officer is final. See Municipal Corporation of Pabna v. Jogendra Narain, (1909) 13 Cal WN 116 and Nagpur Corporation v. Narendrakumar, AIR 1959 Bom 297.
5. It was next contended that the Land Acquisition Officer had first proposed to the Collector on 12th November 1962 that the land of the respondent No. 3 should be valued at Rs. 3,500 per acre; that the Collector thought that this valuation was high and sent back the matter to the Land Acquisition Officer for fresh examination and disposal according to law; and that when the proceedings were again resumed before the Land Acquisition Officer no notice of the proceedings was given to The applicant. It was argued that as under Section 50(2) of the Act the applicant had the right to appear and adduce evidence for the purpose of determining the amount of compensation, it was entitled to a notice of the heating and that in the absence of such a notice to the applicant the land acquisition proceedings and the award made therein were vitiated. There is no substance in this contention. The record shows that when the Land Acquisition Officer took up for consideration the matter after the Collector's order for re-examination, he gave a notice to the applicant and pursuant to this notice the applicant appeared before the Land Acquisition Officer on 28th March 1963. On this date the Land Acquisition Officer gave directions for production of further material as regards the valuation of the land On subsequent hearings before the Land Acquisition Officer none appeared for the petitioner-Council. That being so, the applicant cannot complain that the amount of compensation was determined by the Land Acquisition Officer without any notice to it.
6. The applicant has also made the grievance that during the pendency of the Land acquisition proceedings the -Government sanctioned the transfer of 4.07 acres of the land acquired to the Madhya Pradesh Electricity Board for the construction of its power-house and that this was an abuse of the powers under Section 40 (2) of the C. P. and Berar Municipalities Act, 1922. This allegation has been denied in the return filed by the respondent No. 1 wherein it has been averred that the petitioner-Council itself wanted to give the land to a private company for the construction of a power-house, but that as in the meantime the private company concerned was taken over by the Madhya Pradesh Electricity Board, the Government permitted the petitioner-Council to transfer the land to the Board The petitioner-Council having itself proposed the transfer cannot now be heard to say that the transfer of the land to the Board was illegal. Again, we are unable to see how even if this transfer was contrary to Section 40 (2) of the C. P and Berar Municipalities Act, 1922, it makes the land acquisition proceedings and the award made therein illegal.
7. For all these reasons, we are of the opinion that the petitioner's attack on the validity of the land acquisition proceedings and the award made therein must fall. The resultis that this petition is dismissed with costs.Counsel's fee is fixed at Rs. 150. The outstanding amount of the security deposit after deduction of costs shall be refunded to thepetitioner.