1. This writ petition under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India became necessary only because of a very rigid and unimaginative attitude adopted not only by the Land Acquisition Collector but also by the Court. They have both failed to exercise their inherent jurisdiction ex debito justitiae, to do that substantial justice for which alone they exist.
2. The petitioner and his sons own plots of land around the new bus stand and railway station of the fast developing town of Jagraon in Ludhiana district. These lands were acquired by the Government by two separate sets of Notifications under Sections 4 and 6 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. There was a difference of about two months in the publication of initial Notifications under Section 4 of the Act, but it may appear that there was no marked fluctuation of prices during this short period. The public purpose mentioned in both the sets of Notifications was the building of godowns for the storage of food grains. Two Notifications had become necessary because some of the godowns were to be built by the Food Corporation of India while the remaining godowns were to be built on adjoining tracts of land by the Food and Supplies Department of Punjab.
3. The petitioner's land was affected by both these sets of Notifications. The Land Acquisition Collector had awarded the petitioner and other owners of adjoining lands compensation at the rate of Rs. 15,000/- per acre in both the cases. On references made on the applications of the land owners under S. 18 of the Act, the Land Acquisition Court had enhanced the rate to Rs. 30,300/- per acre. This enhancement has been granted uniformly in all the other cases, it has been stated at the bar that regular first appeals have been filed by the land owners who are not satisfied even with this enhancement to more than twice the rate fixed by the Collector. In reply to paragraph 14(vii) of the writ petition the respondents have stated that the Government had also decided to file an appeal against the enhancement of the rate, though it is not clear whether such appeals have actually been filed by the Government or not.
4. In one of the applications under Section 18 of the Act, the petitioner gave the correct particulars of the land in paragraph 1 but by mistake gave in paragraph 2, the number and date of the award given by the Collector in the other case. This mistake was not detected even by the collector who had admitted both these paragraphs to be correct. The mistake was not detected by the Collector even while forwarding the land owner's application under Section 18 of the Act. The Collector is supposed to forward the correct particulars to the Court under Section 19 of the Act. it would not, therefore, be wrong to suggest that the Collector had also contributed in creating a wrong impression and that he has also to share an appreciable part of the blame. He had forwarded a copy of the wrong award which did not relate to the land described in paragraph 1 of the land owner's petition which had been forwarded along with that award.
5. When the mistake was detected in the Court of the Additional District Judge at Ludhiana, the landowner made an application for permission to amend the clerical or accidental error. The application was resisted by the Government and was rejected by the Court, the land owner had nothing to gain by making a deliberate mistake of this type and no prejudice may appear to have been caused to the Government. The petitioner was not acting out of any ulterior motive. The learned Additional District Judge dismissed the application for amendment on the ground that he could not go behind the reference. The land owner's application giving the correct particulars of the land had been forwarded to the Court and if the wrong award had been forwarded with that application, there was no legal impediment against the Collector being directed to send the award relating to that land which was the subject matter of the reference. It was in fact the Collector's duty while making the reference to state in writing for the information of the Court all the particulars mentioned in clauses (a) to (d) of sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Act. Under clause (c) ibid, the Collector had to mention the amount awarded or tendered as compensation or damages to the right holders under Sections 5, 11 and 17 of the Act. Under Clause (a), he had to give the correct description of the land with particulars of trees, building or crops standing thereon. If the Collector had cared to comply with these requirements, he would have at once to realise the mistake that was made by the land owner and which was repeated with eyes closed, by the Collector. I see no reason why the Court could not have allowed the land owner to rectify the clerical or accidental error or why a copy of the award relating to the land could not have been sent for. The land owner's application for amendment was, however, dismissed and he was directed to approach the Land Acquisition Collector for a fresh reference.
6. A similar request for an amendment of his earlier application under Section 18 was made by the land owner before the Collector. The application was dismissed on the ground that it was time barred. No reason is given in the impugned order why the amendment sought for could not be allowed to be made in the original application filed within time. The Collector has nothing to say with regard to his own neglect of duties imposed on him by Section 19 of the Act. The Collector should have allowed to the amendment to be made and to have made a fresh reference on the basis of the earlier application under Section 18 of the Act.
7. Instead of filing a writ petition, the land owner could have come up to this Court in revision against the collector's order under Section 18(3) of the Act. The powers of superintendence and control of this Court have, however, been invoked by the land owner under Article 227 of the Constitution of India. The writ petition case be treated as a revision petition as was done by a single Bench of this Court in Smt. Kako Bai v. Land Acquisition Collector, Hissar, 58 Pun LR 397=(AIR 1956 Punj 231). The land owner had filed this writ petition before the expiry of the period of limitation of ninety days provided for the filing of a revision petition in the High Court. Shri Harinder Singh, the learned counsel for the respondents, has cited in this connection another Single Bench decision of this Court in State of Punjab v. Land Acquisition Collector, 74 Pun LR 853=(AIR 1973 Punj 29). The civil writ was not treated as a revision petition because the period of limitation for filing the latter proceeding had been allowed to run out and it was presumably to get over that difficulty that a civil writ had been filed by the aggrieved party instead of a revision petition. There is no such bar of limitation against the civil writ being treated as a revision petition in our case. The impugned order was passed by the Collector on 23-2-1972 and this petition was filed well within time by the land owner on 10-5-1972. The ruling cited by Shri Harinder Singh is, therefore, not applicable to the facts of our case.
8. In Somireddi Burravya v. Somireddi Atchayyamma, AIR 1959 Andh Pra 26, a Division Bench of the Court had held that as long as the Court was in seisin of the proceedings, it was competent to allow the amendment under Order 6 rule 17 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Section 153 of the Code was also found to be wide enough in terms to confer powers on a Court to correct errors in any proceedings at any stage in order to determine the real question. These two provisions are meant to enable the Court to decide the points in issue and to render justice to the parties.
9. As the Courts below have failed to exercise jurisdiction vested in them by law to do substantial justice. I would quash the impugned orders and grant the petition with costs. The Collector should allow the amendment to be made in the original petition under Section 18 of the Act and to proceed with the case from that stage.
10. Petition granted.