1. This Writ Petition has been filed under Article 226 of the Constitution challenging the order of the Land Acquisition Collector dismissing the application of the petitioner to make a reference under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act. on the ground that the dismissal of the same on account of limitation is contrary to law and was made without giving an opportunity of hearing to the petitioner.
2. It is not disputed that the name of the petitioner is not shown as owner in the revenue records. The Land Acquisition Collector had made the award in December. 1958 and the application of the petitioner to make a reference under Section 18 was made on 8-2-1962 (copy of which is Annexure A to the Writ Petition). He has mentioned there in that no notice either under Section 9 or Section 12(2) of the Act was served upon him an that only less than a month prior to the application he came to know that his land was acquired. The petition is sought to be resisted n the ground that no notice was served on the petitioner since he was not a person interested in the property in question and yet it is contended that this application was barred by time. Section 18 of the Act enables an application by a 'person interested' not accepting the award to be referred by the Collector for the determination of the Court for determining the amount of compensation. Such an application has to be made.
(a) within Six weeks from the date of the Collector's award if the person making it was present or was represented before the Collector at the time when he made the award;
(b) in other cases, within six weeks of the receipt of the notice from 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.
This provision was interpreted by the Supreme Court in Harish Chandra Raj Singh v. Deputy Land Acquisition Officer, : 1SCR676 . Gajendragadkar, J. (as his Lordship then was) explained the legal positioning the following terms:
'The knowledge of the party affected by the award. either actual of constructive, being an essential requirement of fair play and natural justice the expression 'the date of the award' used in the proviso must mean the date when the award is either communicated to the party or is known by him either actually or constructively. In our opinion, thereforee, it would be unreasonable to construe the words ' from the date of the Collector's award' used in the proviso to Section 18 in a literal or mechanical.
3. It was specifically observed by S.K. Das, J. in State of Punjab v. Mst. Qaisar Jeham Begum, : 1SCR971 that knowledge of the award does not mean a mere knowledge of the fact that an award has been made and that the knowledge must relate to the essential contents of the award which may be known actually or constructively. the impugned order dismissing the application for making a reference under Section 18 of the Act on the ground that it had not been filed within a period of six months from the date of the Collector's award is not correct and has to be quashed. It is hereby quashed.
4. The further question for consideration is as to the nature of the direction that has to be given. There is no difficulty about the application having to be remitted to the Land Acquisition Collector for his deciding the same again in accordance with law. The legal position having been explained by the Supreme Court. the Land Acquisition Collector will, after giving an opportunity of hearing to the petitioner. decide the application afresh concerning the question of limitation. Shri R.L. Tandon, learned counsel for the Union of India submits that possession might have been taken subsequently in this case and that may itself import knowledge of the contents of the award to the petitioner. It this is so. The petitioner will have to satisfy the Land Acquisition Collector that he did not have any actual knowledge of the details of the award more than six months prior to the date of his application. Since the Land Acquisition Collector himself has to decide this question it is not desirable to express any opinion on this aspect except to direct him to go into the entire question of limitation do novo according.
5. It is sufficient to notice that Shri H.S. Tiagi learned Counsel for the petitioner. addressed arguments on the scope of powers and duties of the Collector under Section 18 of the Act and referred to the decision of Bishan Narain, J. in Sm. Kako Bai v. Land Acquisition Collector, . It is again needless to go into this aspect because it is a matter for the Land Acquisition Collector to decide.
6. The Writ Petition is accepted accordingly. The impugned order of the Land Acquisition Collector dated 30-7-1963 dismissing the petitioner's application under Section 18 of the Act is quashed with the direction that the Land Acquisition Collector will dispose of the same according to law and in accordance with the observations contained in this judgment. There will be no order as to costs.
7. Petition allowed.