R.N. Misra, J.
1. These two appeals by the Collector of Cuttack are directed against award of interest from the date of dispossession preceding the notification under Section 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, in a reference under Section 18 of the Act.
2. The learned Subordinate Judge found that dispossession took place in 1961 but by then there was no notification under the Act though acquisition was contemplated. Learned Additional Government Advocate raises two contentions :--
(i) There is no acceptable evidence of dispossession at any time prior to the notification under Section 4(1) of the Act; and
(ii) There is no power vested in the court for award of interest from a date prior to the notification.
3. The claimant's husband has been examined as P. W. 1 and has clearly stated:--
'State took possession in Feb. 1961, in advance. A saw mill was started on the land acquired and the same functioned in 1964.'
The witness was not cross-examined on the point. The Land Acquisition Officer who has been examined as O. P. W. 1 has said:--
'I do not know when possession was taken.'
4. That possession had been taken prior to the notification had been admitted in the reference itself. Against column 16, the following fact has been stated:--
'Possession was taken before initiation of land acquisition proceeding by the Forest Utilisation Officer.'
In the circumstances, we affirm the finding of the Subordinate Judge that the claimant had been dispossessed in 1961 as proved by her.
5. From the facts of the case it appears that possession had been taken in contemplation of acquisition under the Act. A Full Bench of the Andhra pradesh High Court in the case of The Revenue Divisional Officer Guntur v. Vasi-reddy Rama Bhanu Bhupal, AIR 1970 Andh. Pra. 262, has held:--
'Even assuming that the expression taking possession of the land under Section 28 of the Act, would only mean taking possession of the land under or in pursuance of the Act we do not see any reason why the taking of possession of the land prior to the Land Acquisition proceedings without any objection by the owner (in this case by private negotiation with his consent) followed by valid proceedings under the Act should not be held to be taking possession of the land under the Act. The Act does not prescribe when the Collector representing the Government should take possession of the land. Under Section 16 of the Act he may take possession after he has made an award, but there is nothing in that section or in any other provision of the Act, which prevents the Collector from taking possession of the land earlier with the consent of the owner. ..................
At any rate we are of the opinion that interest is payable on equitable principles on the compensation amount from the date when the owner was deprived of his possession ............ '
6. We agree with these observations of the Full Bench and hold that the learned Subordinate Judge was justified in directing interest to be paid from the date of dispossession.
7. There is no merit in either of these appeals and both of them are accordingly dismissed with costs.
P.K. Mohanti, J.
8. I agree.