A.N. Bhandari, C.J.
1. This petition raises the question whether the petitioners can be deemed to haveabandoned their claim to have a certain matter referred to the District Judge under the provisions of Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894.
2. Some land belonging to the petitionerswas acquired under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. The Collector gave his awardon the 29-3-1955 and the petitioners requested the Collector to refer the matter to the District Judge on29-4-1955.
On 23-9-1955 the petitioners informed the Collector that they did not wish to proceed with their application for compensation in regard to the land, the brick-kiln or the bricks and on the same day the Collector passed a short order which was in the following terms :
'As the prayer has been withdrawn, there is noneed to refer the matter to the Civil Court. TheLand Acquisition Collector is competent to choose not to make a reference or to refuse to do so, vide Mushtaq Ali v. Secy, of State, AIR 1930 Lah 242 and Amarnath Bhardwaj v. Governor General in Council, AIR 1940 Lah 299. Hence I choose not to make the reference.'
On 11-7-1950 the petitioners requested the Collector to review his order as the statement made by them on 23-9-1955 was made under a misapprehension, but the Collector expressed his inability to accede to this request and declined to refer the case to the District Judge. On 20-9-1950 the petitioners presented this application under the provisions of Sub-section (3) of Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act.
3. Mr. Kaushal, who appears for the State, has placed two submissions before me. It is contended in the first place that the present petition is hopelessly barred by time, for although the order declining to refer the matter to the District Judge was passed as long ago as 23-9-1955, the revision application was not presented to this Court till 20-9-1956, that is till after the lapse of almost a year from the date of the order under revision.
Mr. Salooja, who appears for the petitioners, contends that after his clients had made an application for a reference under Section 18 of the Act of 1894 the Minister in charge of the Department concerned gave them an assurance that they would be given some land in lieu of the land which had been acquired from them and that it was in consequence of this assurance that they withdrew a part of their claim on 23-9-1955.
A copy of a note recorded by the Hon'ble Minister in the year 1955 has been produced in support of this contention. I am of the opinion that the petitioners withdrew the claim in view of the assurances which were given to them by the Minister in charge that they would be allotted land elsewhere in lieu of the land which had been acquired from them.
4. It is true that a person who presents a revision petition after the lapse of a period which is similar or comparable to one appearing in the Indian Limitation Act cannot be allowed the relief claimed by him, for the Courts cannot come to the rescue of a person who has slept upon his rights without reasonable excuse or justification; but relief cannot be denied to a person who is in a position to offer a reasonable explanation for his laches in asserting his rights.
In the present case the petitioners were prevented from seeking redress at the hands of this Court by a promise, express or implied, that they would be allowed a plot of land in lieu of the land which was being taken from them for a public purpose. Delay which has been caused by the conduct of the respondent cannot be attributed to the petitioners.
5. Again, it is contended on behalf of the State that the petitioners cannot be allowed to secure a reference under Section 18 of the Act of 1894, for they cannot be permitted to resile from their admission en 23-9-1955 that they did not wish to proceed with their claim for compensation for the land, the brick-kiln and the bricks. This contention appears to me to be devoid of force, for they withdrew the reference under the erroneous belief that Government proposed to compensate them in kind if not in cash.
6. For these reasons I would accept the petition, set aside the order of the Collector and direct that a reference be made to the District Judge under the provisions of Section 18 of the Act of 1894. There will be no order as to costs.