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Ratlam Electric Supply and Weaving Co. and anr. Vs. M.P. Electricity Board, Jabalpur - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectElectricity
CourtSupreme Court of India
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1980Supp(1)SCC598; 1980(12)LC803(SC)
ActsCode of Civil Procedure (CPC) - Sections 115
AppellantRatlam Electric Supply and Weaving Co. and anr.
RespondentM.P. Electricity Board, Jabalpur
Excerpt:
electricity - compensation - section 115 of cpc, 1908 - suit for compensation for land acquisition - application for amendment of plaint to seek compensation fixed by minister rejected by high court - trial court directed to determine plaintiff's right and interest over property and to determine compensation if right established - parties should be allowed to adduce evidence and matter be disposes expeditiously. - [p.n. bhagwati, c.j. and; v. khalid, jj.] in union of india v. bombay tyres international ltd., [1984] 1 scr 347, this court held that under s.4 of the central excise and salt act, 1944, only those expenses which were incurred on account of factors contributing to the product's value upto the date of sale or the date of deliv- ery at the factory. gate were liable to be..........suit will have to be dismissed. on the other hand, if the plaintiff's title is affirmed he is entitled to compensation and it is not for a public body like the electricity board to take up pleas in bar of enforcement of the relief of compensation even assuming there is legal merit in such pleas. therefore, the second question that will have to be decided by the trial court, in the event of the title of the plaintiff being found in his favour, is the reasonable compensation payable to the plaintiff on account of the land taken by the board on the date such land was taken over by the board. the court certainly should determine this issue and need not be bogged down by what the minister did, what the electricity board accepted or not end what the state government on a later occasion.....
Judgment:

V.R. Krishna Iyer, J.

1. We have heard both sides and regret that there has been considerable delay even in the commencement of the trial of a suit for nearly fifteen years and all that has happened is skirmish after skirmish from Court to Court relating to the plaint and its propriety.

2. The suit is one for compensation on the strength of alleged award by the State Government under tha Indian Electricity Act by way of compensation for the land taken along with the electricity undertaking by the defendant (the Electricity Board) from the plaintiff who claim to be the owner of the property.

3. Before tha trial could commence, an amendment was sought and allowed. A second amendment was sought to be made by an application of January 30 1974 wherein the plaintiff wanted to get up an agreement by the defendant Board to pay the sum fixed by the Minister. The Board challenged the propriety of this amendment but the trial Court allowed the amendment. The High Court in revision thought that there was mis-exercise of discretion and refused the amendment CONSEL shri Kacker, appearing for the appellants, contends that the High Court fell into a grievous error in exercising it power under Section 115 of the Civil Procedure Code in interfering with a mere discretionary order allowing an amendment. Counsel Mr. Mehta supports the order of the High Court and justifies it by seeking to convince us that the trial Court had gone grievously wrong. We must admit that interference with the exercise of discretion by trial Courts in purported provisory jurisdiction should be confined to exceptional cases. May be, there may be something to be said in favour of the appellants grievance on that score, but we desist from examining the matter further because we feel satisfied that prolongation of the trial of the suit by interlocutory battles will be an effective denial of justice, whoever may ultimately win or lose the case. In this view and in exercise of our plenary jurisdiction under Article 136 of the Constitution we think it right to issue two directions to the trial Court. Here we may also mention that Counsel on both sides feel, speaking lot themselves that the directions that we pro-pose to make are just and fair having regard to the interests of both parties but that they could not formally commit themselves to such directions by con-sent because they have had no opportunity to consult their respective parties. Nevertheless we proceed to make the order in exercise of the Court's jurisdiction under Article 136.

4. There ere two essential questions which fall for determination. Firstly, the question of title of the plaintiff disputed by the defendants, must be decided. In case the appellant fails to establish title to the property the question of compensation in his favour does not arise and the suit will have to be dismissed. On the other hand, if the plaintiff's title is affirmed he is entitled to compensation and it is not for a public body like the Electricity Board to take up pleas in bar of enforcement of the relief of compensation even assuming there is legal merit in such pleas. Therefore, the second question that will have to be decided by the trial Court, in the event of the title of the plaintiff being found in his favour, is the reasonable compensation payable to the plaintiff on account of the land taken by the Board on the date such land was taken over by the Board. The Court certainly should determine this issue and need not be bogged down by what the Minister did, what the Electricity Board accepted or not end what the State Government on a later occasion chose to do. It is fair to hold that if the plaintiff has any right, title or interest he must be paid reasonable compensation and a civil Court is the best agency to determine reasonable compensation. In this view we direct the trial Court to decided two substantial questions : (a) whether the plaintiff has any right, title on interest to the land taken over by the Electricity Board and (b) if the finding on issue (a) is in favour of the plaintiff. what is the reasonable compensation payable to the plaintiff as on the taking of the land On the basis of these two findings the Court will pass a decree It is represented by both sides that they will cooperate in an oral disposal of the suit and having regard to the fact that the suit has been pending for fifteen years, we direct, in the interests of justice, that the suit shall be disposed of and judgment pronounced before the 31st December, 1980. The parties will be allowed to lead evidence and raise their contentions on the two questions we have formulated, understood not in a pedantee manner but in a comprehensive sense. We may also make it clear that compensation is not necessarily in terms of the Land Acquisition Act but mainly governed by the Indian Electricity Act, under which the tale over of the undertaking was effected. We direct the parties to bear their costs throughout these proceedings.


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