1. This petition directed against the order made on 29th May, 1970, by the collector under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act (hereafter called 'the Act') dismissing the application as being barred by time was filed under Section 18(3) of the Act read with section 115 of the Civil Procedure Code. It is conceded that no sub-section (3) was enacted by the Central legislature in Section 18 of the Act and the sub-section relied upon was introduced by the Punjab Legislature.
2. Even where a State Legislature has the right to legislate on any subject covered by an entry in the Concurrent List its enactment will be effective only within the scope of Article 254 of the Constitution of India. That provision is:--
'254. (1) If any provision of a law made by the Legislature of a State is repugnant to any provision of a law made by Parliament which Parliament is competent to enact, or to any provision of any existing law with respect to one of the matters enumerated in the Concurrent list, then, subject to the provisions of clause (2), the law made by Parliament, whether passed before or after the law made by the Legislature of such state, or, as the case may be, the existing law, shall prevail and the law made by the Legislature of the State Shall, to the extent of the repugnance, be void.
(2) Where a law made by the Legislature of a State with respect to one of the matters enumerated in the Concurrent List contains any provision repugnant to the provisions of an earlier law made by Parliament or an existing law with respect to that matter, then, the law so made by the Legislature of such State shall, if it has been reserved for the consideration of the President and has received his assent, prevail in that State:
Provided that nothing in this clause shall prevent Parliament from enacting at any time any law with respect to the same matter including a law adding to , amending, varying or repealing the law so made by the Legislature of the State'.
Sub-article (2) makes it clear that where the law made by a State legislature is repugnant to a Parliamentary enactment, then if reserved for the consideration of the President, after receiving his assent it will prevail only within that State. Sub-section (3) added in Section 18 of the Act by the Punjab Legislature in 1954 may be noticed:--
' (3) Any order made by the Collector on an application under this section shall be subject to revision by the High Court, as if the Collector were a Court subordinate to the High Court within the meaning of Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.'
This petition could not have been filed under that provision, which could be invoked only in that state. The provision was designed to escape the limitation imposed by Section 53 of the Act:--
'53. Save in so far as they may be inconsistent with anything contained in this Procedure shall apply to all proceedings before the Court under this Act.'
The Central Legislature in its wisdom curtailed the applicability of the Civil Procedure Code to all proceedings which may be held before the court under the Act. The court is defined in Section 3(d) of the Act:--
'3. In this Act, unless there is something repugnant in the subject or context,--
(d) the expression 'Court' means a principal Civil Court of original jurisdiction, unless the appropriate Government has appointed (as it is hereby empowered to do) a special judicial officer within any specified local limits to perform the functions of the Court under the Act.'
The Collector is separately defined in Section 3(c) of the Act:--
'(c) the expression 'Collector' means the Collector of a district, and includes a Deputy Commissioner and nay officer specially appointed by the appropriate Government to perform the functions of a Collector under this Act.'
3. The impugned order by the Collector was not passed in the course of any proceedings before any court functioning under the Act. Section 115 in the civil Procedure Code could not have been invoked in respect thereof. The Punjab legislature for that reason added sub-section (3) in Section 18 of the Act. it is, however, not shown that the said provision has been made applicable to the union Territory of Delhi.
4. I have not dealt with the petition from that aspect alone. being conscious of Article 227 of the Constitution of India, I have given detailed hearing.
It is contended that the Collector was in error in dismissing the application preferred under Section 18 of the act as barred by time because limitation was to be computed as from the date of the award and not form the date of service of the notice under Section 12(2) of the act. It is elaborated that within Section 18(2) limitation could be held to have started only form the date of the knowledge of the award as and when acquired by the petitioner. It is submitted that the notice which was received on the 22nd of May 1969, by the petitioner in respect of the award made on 28th March, 1969, not being a valid notice within Section 12(2) of the Act, could not start limitation within Section 18(2)(b) thereof. Both the provisions may be noticed:--
'12. (1) Such award shall be filed in the Collector's office and shall, except as hereinafter provided, be final and conclusive evidence, as between the Collector and the persons interested, whether they have respectively appeared before the Collector or not, of the true area and value of the land, and the apportionment of the compensation among the persons interested.
(2) The Collector shall give immediate notice of his award to such of the persons interested as are not present personally or by their representatives when the award is made.'
'18. (1) Any person interested who has not accepted the ward may, by written application to the Collector, require that the matter be referred by the Collector for the determination of the Court, whether his objection to the measurement of the land, the amount of the compensation, the persons to whom it is payable, or the apportionment of the compensation among the persons interested.
(2) The application shall state the grounds on which objection to the award is taken;
(a) if the person making it was present or represented before the Collector at the time when he made his award, within six weeks form the date of the Collector's award;
(b) in other cases, within six weeks of the receipt of the notice form the Collector under Section 12, sub-section (2). or within six months from the date of the Collector's award whichever period shall first expire.'
Section 12(1) was intended to deal with a different object than sub-section (2) thereof. The Legislature enacted in sub-section (1) that the award was to be imperatively filed in the Collector's office and except as provided thereafter in the Act was to be the final and conclusive evidence between the Collector and the persons interested whether they had appeared or not of the true area and value of the land and the apportionment of compensation. The object was to lay a foundation as to the nature and effect of the award and it was, thereforee, prescribed that it was to be the final and conclusive evidence between the Collector and the interested persons in respect of the true area, the value of the land and the apportionment of the compensation among the said persons.
Although sub-section (2) was enacted as a part of Section 12, the object covered by it was to require that the Collector may give immediate notice of his award to such of the persons interested as were not present personally or through their representatives when the award was made.
5. It is urged by Mr. Sethi on behalf of the petitioners that a notice would not be the notice of the award unless and until it described the true area, the value of the land and the compensation apportioned among the interested persons. The counsel asserts that sub-section (1) in S. 12 overrides Sub-section (2). I am not persuaded to that view. Sub-section (2) stands by itself.
The principle of statutory interpretation is that the words employed must be given their plain meaning. A notice to be issued under Section 12(2) of the Act was to state that the Collector had made the award. It was to be given only to such persons who were to be found interested and who may not have been personally present or represented by any one.
6. I have seen a true copy of the notice received by the petitioners under Section 12(2) and 31(1) of the Act. It is stated therein that the notice was being issued under Section 12(2) of the act and the award had been made inland acquisition case No. 2237. The date of making the award was stated as being the 28th of March, 1969, and it was further stated that a sum of Rs. 22241.93 P. was the amount of compensation in dispute. In the ultimate part of the notice it was stated:--
'If you are willing accept it, you should appear before me personally or by authorised agent on or before 5-5-69. Interest will be payable in case failure to appear.'
The petitioner's case is that the notice was received on 22nd May, 1969. It must have been noticed that the date for appearing before the Collector had expired. For the reason the petitioners should have run with all speed to put an appearance before the Collector and to bring it to his notice that although they had been required to appear before him on 5-5-1969, the notice had been received several days later on 22nd May, 1969. The natural impulse would be to safeguard one's rights. The petitioners should have taken all steps required by the situation created by the service of the notice. It was ordinarily expected that they would have gone to the office of the Collector and taken inspection of the record pertaining to the making of the award. They could have inspected the award itself. Instead of taking any steps whatsoever, the application under Section 18 of the Act was preferred by the petitioners only on the 20th November, 1969.
7. I do not find that the notice issued under Section 12(2) of the Act was in any way defective. It was declaredly a notice under that provision and sufficed for purposes of starting the limitation within Section 18(2)(b) of the Act . The application under Section 18 of the act was hopelessly barred by time and was rightly dismissed by the Collector. Even on considering the merits I am not persuaded to interfere with the impugned order. The petitions is dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.
8. Petition dismissed.