1. This revision petition is directed against the order of the Additional District Judge, Gurgaon, dated October 13, 1976, whereby the award made by the Land Acquisition Collector was affirmed and the reference under S. 18 of the Land Acquisition Act, (hereinafter called the Act), was rejected.
2. The Land Acquisition Collector gave the award under S. 9 of the Act, for the land acquired which belonged to the petitioners, on June 14, 1972. Reference under S. 18 was made on July 20, 1972. The first appearance of the parties before the learned Additional District, Judge, was on January 9, 1976. However, on June 5, 1976, the date fixed for the evidence, the case was further adjourned to August 11, 1976, for evidence. Meanwhile, on July 17, 1976, the date was changed from August 11, 1976 to October 13, 1976, as the Presiding Officer was not to hold the Court on August 11, 1976. It was stated in the order dated July 17, 1976, that the parties and the counsel be informed of the change of date. On October 13, 1976, no one was present for the claimants petitioners. The learned Additional District Judge found that the Court notices were ordered to be issued to the learned counsel for the parties and that they had been served with the said notices. Shri S. B. Nagar, Advocate, for the petitioners, was served with the Court notice on August 10, 1976 and, therefore, the claimants had ample time to produce the evidence, but none appeared for them for adducing evidence on the issues framed. Instead of dismissing the reference for default of appearance, the learned Additional District Judge proceeded with the case and held that the compensation amount as assessed by the Land Acquisition Officer was fair. Consequently, the reference under S. 18 of the Act, was declined.
3. The learned counsel for the petitioners contended that on July 17, 1976, it was directed that the notices be issued to the parties and their counsel. Admittedly no notice was issued to the parties. Only their counsel were informed. The counsel for the claimants did not inform them about the change of the date from August 11, 1976 to October 13, 1976. In any case, argued the learned counsel, at the most, if no one was present on behalf of the petitioners the reference under S. 18 of the Act could be dismissed for default of appearance, but could not be dismissed on merits by holding that the award of the Collector was fair., In support of the contention, the learned counsel relied upon A. Abbasbhai v. Collector, Panch Mahals, AIR 1967 Guj 118 and Pullamma v. Addl. Special Land Acquisition Officer, Bangalore, Air 1977 Kant 9.
4. After hearing the learned counsel for the parties. I find force in the contention raised on behalf of the petitioners.
5. It was held in Pullamma's case (AIR 1977 Kant 9) (supra), that there is no provision in the Act directly dealing with the situation where a party to the reference absents, nor there is any provision which prevents the Court to pass an order of dismissal of the reference for non-prosecution. Thus, there being no bar, express or implied in the Act to the applicability of any provision of the Civil P. C. and the provisions of the Civil P. C. in general being made applicable by the provisions of s. 53 of the Act, and S. 141 of the Civil P. C., it cannot be said that the application for the setting aside of the order of dismissal of the reference in default is not maintainable. Under the circumstances, in the present case, the proper course for the learned Additional District Judge was to dismiss the reference for default of appearance so that the claimants could make an application for restoration of the reference if so advised. There was no occasion for the Additional District Judge to hold that the amount of compensation assessed by the Land Acquisition Collector was fair.
6. Under the circumstances, the revision petition succeeds and is allowed. The impugned order is set aside and the case is sent back to the District Judge, Gurgaon, for proceeding with the reference in accordance with law. The parties have been directed to appear before the District Judge on 20-12-1984.
7. Petition allowed.