1. This petition is directed against the award, dated 6th October 1964, made by the Land Acquisition Officer, Durg, in Revenue Case No. 17-A of 1965. It is urged that the said award was given without giving any opportunity to the petitioner to adduce evidence in support of her claim and is thus vitiated.
2. The circumstances in which the award was pronounced may he briefly stated. Certain land in mouza Kasaridih in the town of Durg was to be acquired for the purposes of the Bhilai Sled Project. Notifications under Sections 4 and 6 of the Land Acquisition Act were issued and pursuant thereto an award, dated 6th July 1961, was also given by the Land Acquisition Officer. After the award was given, the Land Acquisition Officer, however, came to the conclusion that the notification under Section 0 was defective and, therefore, requested the State Government to issue a fresh notification under Section 6. After the fresh notification was issued and was published, notices under Section 9 were issued to the land holders, but the award, dated 6th July 1961 was not withdrawn. Order-sheet, dated 12th July 1962, says:
''The declaration is published in the village on 24-6-62. Out of 65 land holders, 59 landholders have filed claim statements and do not want to adduce any evidence. The remaining 6 land holders are absent, though served. I proceed ex parte against them. Field statements and other statements as directed be prepared by field staff and duly checked by A.S.L.R.'
In the meanwhile, the petitioner had filed Miscellaneous Petition No. 313 of 1962 before this Court challenging the award, dated 6th July 1961, and the propriety of continuance of the land acquisition proceedings pursuant to fresh notification. That petition was allowed by this Court (Dixit, C. J. and Pandey, J.) and it was observed:
'In the view we have taken of this case, the first valid notification under Section 6(1) of the Act was issued on 7 May 1962. It was only on the issue of that notification could the Land Acquisition Officer, Durg, issue notices to the persons interested and proceed to determine the compensation payable to them. He did issue such notices to them on 22 June 1962, but he made his award on 6 July 1961 even before they appeared before him or filed their statements of claim. In this situation the award made by him cannot be sustained. This will not however prevent him from making a fresh award in accordance with the provisions of the Act.'
3. The order of this Court was passedon 6th February 1963 and the matter was takenup by the Land Acquisition Officer on 20thFebruary 1963. Between 12th July 1962 and20th February 1963 nothing was done in thecase apart from awaiting the field statemenls.After 20th February 1963 no fresh notice wasgiven to the land holders when the matterwas taken up afresh for consideration afterreceipt of the record from the High Court.The Land Acquisition Officer proceeded on thebasis of the notices issued under Section 9previously and the claim statements filed bythe petitioner and others and gave a freshaward, which is almost a paraphrase of theoriginal one.
4. The award cannot be sustained, as the petitioner was not afforded any opportunity to substantiate her claim and the principles of natural justice were violated. In the notices issued under Section 9, the land holders were required to submit their claim statements. The notices did not indicate that the parties were also to keep their evidence ready in support of the claim statements. The Land Acquisition Officer was bound to enquire from them as to whether the claimants wanted to adduce any evidence or not. The statement of the Land Acquisition Officer in the order-sheet that the parties do not produce any evidence is unwarranted and unjustified, as they were not called upon to produce any evidence by the notices issued under Section 9. In the claim statement of at least one claimant there is a demand for opportunity being given to adduce evidence in support of the claim. No date was fixed by the Land Acquisition Officer for recording evidence and only field statements and other statements were directed to be prepared. When the original award was set aside and the case was taken up by the Land Acquisition Officer, it was incumbent on him to give notice to the parties that the original award given by him was quashed and that he was proceeding to take action under the fresh notification issued under Section 6. Nothing of the kind was done and acting on the previous order-sheet dated 12th July 1962, the Land Acquisition Officer gave the second award. The whole procedure follow-ed by the Land Acquisition Officer is contrary to fair play and has resulted in denial of natural justice.
5. It was urged on behalf of the State that after the decision of this Court there was no necessity of issuing any fresh notices to the parties, as the Land Acquisition Officer had already taken action on the valid notification under Section 6, of which notice was given to the parties, and they had filed their claim statements in response to that notice. It was their duty to adduce evidence on the dale fixed or, in any case, it was for them to ask the Land Acquisition Officer to give them an opportunity of adducing evidence. From this conduct it was clear that they did not wish to adduce any evidence and no grievance can now be made at this stage. This approach is not correct. The Land Acquisition Officer had already given an award on the basis of an invalid notification. So long as that award was not quashed, it was not clear to the parties as to what was their position. They had actually taken steps to get the award quashed by this Court. When the first award was quashed and the matter was taken up by the Land Acquisilion Officer, it was incumbent on him to give notice to the parties concerned when they could have made appropriate prayer to the Land Acquisition Officer for allowing them to adduce evidence.
6. It is also urged on behalf of the Slate that applications under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act for making reference to the Civil Court have already been filed by the petitioner and other claimants and the petitioner will have fresh opportunity to adduce evidence before the Civil Court; no prejudice has been caused and there is no necessity of quashing the award. We are informed that the applications have been kept pending and no reference has been made to the Civil Court as yet. The claimants are entitled to Ret adequate compensation fixed in proceedings before the Land Acquisition Officer after producing appropriate evidence. If they are dissatisfied with the award, then alone they are required to move the Civil Court. When they do so, they are also entitled to receive the compensation awarded by the Land Acquisition Officer. Had appropriate opportunity been given to the petitioner and other claimants, they would have produced proper evidence and the award might have been different and acceptable to them and they would not have been forced to go to the Civil Court. The Land Acquisition Act makes it incumbent on the Collector to give a proper award. That duty cannot be avoided and cannot be allowed to be improperly discharged on the ground that adequate relief may be sought from the Civil Court.
7. The petition succeeds. The award, dated 6th October 1964, based on no enquiry and without any opportunity being given to the claimants cannot be sustained and it is hereby quashed. The respondents shall pay the costs of the petitioner. Hearing fee Rs. 100/-. The amount of security deposit shall he refunded to the petitioner.