Skip to content


Umrao Singh Vs. Union of India - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revision Appeal No. 172 of 1974
Judge
Reported inAIR1975Delhi188; ILR1975Delhi406
ActsLand Acquisition Act, 1894 - Sections 28
AppellantUmrao Singh
RespondentUnion of India
Advocates: D.R. Dhamija, Adv
Cases ReferredT. N. K. Govindaraju Chetty v. Commissioner of Income
Excerpt:
.....the person bound by the decree and order. however, this does not affect third parties, who be in actual possession of the property and who are not bound by the decree or order, and who have not been removed by the taking of the possession. their rights may or may not be changed by the delivery or symbolic possession. but, so far as the judgment debtor or the person bound by the decree or order is concerned, his dispossession is in the eye of law complete by delivery of symbolic possession and neither of the parties to the proceedings can thereafter be allowed to agitate that symbolic possession does not have the effect of delivery of physical possession and the judgment-debtor continues to have the same legal rights as before the delivery of symbolic possession owing to any..........on the same day. the court below accepted the above statement of the naib tehsildar and held that actual possession of the aforesaid two fields had not been taken over by the union of india and as such the petitioner was not entitled to the interest claimed and the application was dismissed by the impugned order. the petitioner, feeling aggrieved, has come up to this court in revision.(3) the scheme of the land acquisition act is that under section 4 a notification is issued indicating that the specific land is needed or is likely to be needed for a public purpose. thereupon, it is lawful for the officer of the government to enter upon and survey and to take other steps for the purpose. under section 5a, the interested parties arc, after the notification under section 4, entitled to.....
Judgment:

B.C. Misra, J.

(1) This revision petition raise's a short but important question of law. It is this : whether a person, whose property has been acquired under the Land Acquisition Act, is entitled to interest under section 28 of the Act on the amount of compensation awarded to him from the date of the dispossession, in case the authorities have taken only symbolic possession and not actual physical possession of the property from him.

(2) The material facts of the case lie in a small compass. Some land including two fields in dispute were acquired by the Collector under the Land Acquisition Act, I of 1894 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act'). The Collector determined the compensation payable for the land including the two fields in dispute. On a reference made under section 18 of the Act, compensation of the land was enhanced from Rs. 800.00 per bigha to Rs. 4250.00 per bigha and interest was awarded according to law. This was also payable in respect of the aforesaid two field's. Consequent upon the enhancement, the Collector remitted the requisite amount to the court which paid it to the claimant petitioner. The petitioner, however, complained that the interest in respect of the aforesaid two fields on the amount of compensation awarded by the court had not been deposited and he applied to the District Court for calculation of the interest and requested the payment of the balance amount. Notice of the application was issued to the Union of India, which contended in reply that interest on the enhanced compensation in respect of the two fields in dispute could not be allowed, since the Government had not taken physical possession of the said fields. On the trial of the application, the facts established on the record are that the Naib Tehsildar took symbolic possession of the two fields in dispute on 15th June, 1963 and then on 13th August, 1964 by a notification issued under sub-section (1) of section 22 of the Delhi Development Act, 1957, the Chief Commissioner of Delhi, by virtue of the powers of the Central Government vesting in him for the purpose, placed the land including the two fields in dispute, which had vested in the Central Government, at the disposal of the Delhi Development Authority for the purpose of development in accordance with the terms of the said Act. The Naib Tehsildar, who was examined as Rw 1, deposed from the record that symbolic possession of the two fields in dispute, namely, Khasra No. 5/15 measuring 3 bighas 11 bids was and Khasra No. 5/16/1 measuring 5 biswas, had also been taken and that physical possession of the same had not been taken by the Naib Tehsildar and he had passed on the Symbolic possession to the Tehsildar, Land and Building, on the same day. The court below accepted the above statement of the Naib Tehsildar and held that actual possession of the aforesaid two fields had not been taken over by the Union of India and as such the petitioner was not entitled to the interest claimed and the application was dismissed by the impugned order. The petitioner, feeling aggrieved, has come up to this court in revision.

(3) The scheme of the Land Acquisition Act is that under section 4 a notification is issued indicating that the specific land is needed or is likely to be needed for a public purpose. Thereupon, it is lawful for the officer of the Government to enter upon and survey and to take other steps for the purpose. Under section 5A, the interested parties arc, after the notification under section 4, entitled to file objections against the acquisition. After considering the said objections, a decision is taken by the appropriate Government under section 5, a declaration is issued to the effect that the specified land is needed for a public purpose and this declaration is conclusive of the fact that the land is needed for the public purpose or for a company, as the case may be and after making such declaration, the appropriate Government may acquire the land in the manner provided by the Act. Thereafter, the Government directs the Collector to take order for acquisition of the land. The Collector then takes steps to measure and mark and prepare plan of the land and then issues a public notice under section 9 inviting persons interested to claim compensation. The Collector enquires into the claims under section 11 of the Act and then determines the questions relating to the area of the land, apportionment of the compensation and the award made under section 11 is published in accordance with section 12. Section 16 of the Act, which is material, reads as follows :

'16. When the Collector has made an award under section 11, he may take possession of the land, which shall thereupon vest absolutely in the Government free from all encumbrances.' Under section 17, the Collector has been authorised to take possession in specified cases before the making of the award. Such land also vests in the Government free from all encumbrances. The aforesaid provisions from sections 4 to 17 are contained in Part Ii of the Act. Part Iii deals with the provisions for reference of the dispute to the District Court and procedure prescribed thereon. It also deals with the principles and procedure for award of compensation. Section 28 on which the party relies is reproduced below :

'IF the sum which, in the opinion of the Court, the Collector ought to have awarded as compensation is in excess of the sum which the Collector did award as compensation. the award of the Court may direct that the Collector shall pay interest on such excess at the rate of six per centum per annum from the date on which he took possession of the land to the date of payment of such excess into court.'

(4) The other provisions of the Act are not material for determination of the dispute raised before me, except that reference has been made to sections 35 and 36 where temporary possession can be obtained by the Government, and under section 47 of the Act the Collector as a Magistrate may enforce surrender of the land to the Collector, in case he is opposed or impeded in taking possession of the land. Section 46 provides for punishment for obstructing the Collector in carrying out the duties under section 4 or 6 of the Act.

(5) The provision of law requiring interpretation in the instant case is section 28, which has been reproduced above. On its construction, there is no doubt that if possession of the acquired land had not been taken, then no interest is payable. If actual physical possession has been taken, then interest is payable as provided in the section. The question for consideration is what is the result of only symbolic possession having been taken.

(6) To appreciate the concept of the two kinds of taking possession, reference may be made to the Code of Civil Procedure. The provision for taking physical possession is contained in rule 35 of Order 21 of the Code of Civil Procedure, while the provision for taking symbolic possession is contained in rule 36. P.ule 35 provides that if possession is to be delivered, it would be delivered, if necessary, by removing any person bound by the decree. Rule 36 provides that if the decree is for delivery of any immovable property in the occupancy of a tenant or other person entitled to occupy the same and not bound by the decree to relinquish such occupancy, the possession is to be delivered by affixing the copy of the warrant in some conspicuous place on the property and proclaiming to the occupant by beat of drum or other customary mode, at some convenient place, the substance of the decree in regard to the property. These provisions lay down that if a judgment-debtor is bound by the decree to deliver possession, the possession should be taken from him by physically removing him from the property. On the other hand, if the actual physical possession be with some person (who is not bound by the decree) possession would be delivered by the order of the court in the manner provided by rule 36 and this would, thereforee, be sufficient compliance with the decree. This kind of possession, where the occupant is not physically removed, but only possession in law is taken from him, has come to be known as symbolic possession.

(7) What is the effect of symbolic possession In Juggobundhu Mukerjee v. Ram Chunder Bysack, 5 Cal 584, (1) a Full Bench of five Judges of the High Court held that delivery of symbolic possession must be deemed equivalent to actual possession in respect of the parties bound by the decree, but as against the third partics, the symbolic possession would be of no avail. This rule of law has been approved by the Judicial Committee in Sri Radha Krishna v. Ram Bahadur and others, Air 1967 Pc 197, where the Committee after mentioning and approving Juggobondhu Mukerjec's case, observed that 'symbolical possession is available to dispossess a party sufficiently where he was a party to the proceedings in which it was ordered and given.' Radha Krishna's case has been quoted with approval by the Supreme Court in M.V.S. Manikayala Rao v. M. Narasimhaswami and others, : [1966]1SCR628 in paragraph 20. In this case, the Supreme Court also observed that even assuming that the grant of symbolic delivery of possession ought not to have been made and that the executing court acted illegally in making such order, it could not be argued that the executing court had not jurisdiction to make the order or that the act of symbolic possession was a nullity in the eye of law. thereforee, the grant of symbolic possession by the court tentamounts in law to delivery of actual possession.

(8) The question is well settled that where the law a

(9) Such a case came up for consideration before a Division Bench of the High Court of Calcutta in Lokessur Koer v. Purgun Roy,7 Cal 418, (4). The court observed that the plaintiff had been put in possession under the decree by the officer of the court and, thereforee, the form in which the execution had been carried out was not material and 'as between the parties, the formal possession operates in point of law and fact, as a complete transfer of possession from the one party to the other'. The court, however, proceeded to state that 'as against third parties, this would not be the result, but as between the parties to the suit, the formal delivery passes the actual possession.' To the same effect is the judgment of a single Judge of the High Court of Lahore in Harbhagwan and others v. Taja, Air 1926 Lah 35, (5). The learned Judge observed that delivery of symbolical possession in the circumstances in which actual possession ought to have been delivered was not a nullity and that 'delivery of such possession even erroneously amount to delivery of actual possession so far as the judgment-debtor and his representatives arc cencerned ............. In the eye of the law, thereforee, the delivery of symbolical possession to a decree-holder, even in cases in which actual possession should have been given, puts an end to the adverse possession of the judgment-debtor and effectually vests the property in suit in the decreeholder.........' The High Court of Madras in A.L.N. Sathappa Chetti and others v. Thyyanayaki Animal, Air 1942 Mad 698,(6) also took the view that where the plaintiff was entitled to take possession of the property, but instead he gets only symbolic possession, the fact that he had obtained only symbolic possession interfered with the possession of the judgment-debtor.

(10) The matter was considered at length by a Division Bench of the High Court of Lahore in Mini and another v. Nur Muhammad and others, Air 1949 Lah 252,(7). The court observed 'the delivery of symbolical possession, whether through mistaken application by the plaintiffs or otherwise, in circumstances in which actual possession should have been asked for or could have been delivered, and minor irregularities not materially affecting the degree of publicity attending the delivery proceedings, do not prejudice the effect of the proceedings in relation to the parties to the suit and if one of these parties is the party in possession, such proceedings will have the effect of determining such possession'. The Supreme Court in Shew Bux Mohata and another v. Bengal Breweries Ltd., : [1961]1SCR680 was faced with the facts that the decree-holder who was entitled to obtain physical possession from the judgment-debtor under order 21 Rule 35 of the Code, satisfied himself by giving a receipt acknowledging full delivery of possession and allowed the execution to be dismissed on the ground that full possession had been delivered by the defendant, but in fact he allowed the defendant-judgment-debtor to physically remain on the premises. In these circumstances, the court observed in paragraph 22 of the report that although the defendant was bound by the decree and could be physically removed, he was not required by the decree-holder to be physically removed, hut the possession had otherwise been taken. Still, it was 'open to the decree-holder to accept delivery of possession under that rule without actual removal of the person in possession. If he docs that, then he cannot later on say that he has not been given that possession to which he was entitled under the law'. The High Court of Lahore in a Full Bench decision in Behari Lal and others v. Narain Das and another, Air 1935 Lah 475, (9) observed 'dispossession may be either actual in the sense of an existing actual possession being forcibly terminated by actual dispossession, or it may be a legal constructive possession being terminated by a legal dispossession.'

(11) As a result of the discussion of the aforesaid authorities, my conclusion is that obtaining a symbolical possession is in law equivalent to obtaining actual physical possession and has the effect of terminating the legal possession of the person bound by the decree and order. However, this docs not affect third parties, who be in actual possession of the property and who are not bound by the decree or order, and who have not been removed by the taking of possession. Their rights may or may not be changed by the delivery of symbolic possession. But, so far as the judgment-debtor or the person bound by the decree or order is concerned, his dispossession is in the eye of law complete by delivery of symbolic possession and neither of the parties to the proceedings can thereafter be allowed to agitate that symbolic possession does not have the effect of delivery of physical possession and the judgment-debtor continues to have the same legal rights as before the delivery of symbolic possession owing to any irregularity in the delivery of possession.

(12) Applying this principle to the facts of the present case, I find that the Government acting through the Collector could take actual possession, but it chose to take only symbolic possession of the two fields in dispute on 15th June, 1963. Thereupon, the said fields had admittedly in view of section 16 of the Act vested absolutely in the Government free from all encumbrances. Thereafter the Government went a step further and placed the said fields at the disposal of the Delhi Development Authority. This could not be done by the Government, unless and until the land had vested in the Government and the land could not have vested in the Government unless it had taken its legal possession. The fact that the Collector or the Government allowed the petitioner to remain physically on the land in dispute and in the circumstances of the case did for any reason not think it fit to physically throw him out, docs not lead to the conclusion that the Government had not taken possession of the land or that the petitioner had not been dispossessed in the eye of law. Surely, after the Collector had taken possession under section 16, the petitioner could not exercise any rights of ownership or possession in respect of the land in dispute, he could neither construct any structure nor let out the land to anybody and in law it would be deemed that he. was holding physical possession of the land under and on behalf of the Government who had legally taken symbolic possession of the land and in whom it had absolutely vested. Had the Government not desired to take possession of the land for any reason, there was no point in its proceeding to take a symbolic possession and then vesting it in the Government and again placing it at the disposal of the Delhi Development Authority. Under these circumstances, it is rather strange on the part of the Government to contend that although for purposes of section 16 it had taken possession of the land which had vested in it and had been placed at the disposal of the Delhi Development Anthority, still it. be deemed not to have taken possession for purposes of paying interest to the claimant.

(13) Section 28 of the Act, which has been reproduced above, does not make any distinction between physical possession and symbolie possession and as soon as the Collector has proceeded under section 16 or 17 of the Act (as the case may be) and has taken possession of the land, the date from which the liability to pay interest arises under section 28 of the Act becomes fixed. Interest under section 28 of the Act is awarded on compulsory acquisition in lieu of possession and for being deprived of the amount of compensation since the taking of the possession. The Supreme Court in Satinder Singh etc. v. Umrao Singh, etc. : [1961]3SCR676 observed in paragraph 19 that when a claim for payment of interest is made by a person whose immovable properly has been acquired compulsorily. he is not making claim for damages properly or technically so called, but he is basing his claim on the general rule that if he is deprived of his land he should be put in possession of compensation immediately; if not in lieu of possession taken by compulsory acquisition, interest should be paid to him on the amount of compensation. In Uttar Pradesh Government v. H. S. Gupta, : AIR1957SC202 . the Supreme Court awarded interest on the amount of compensation which was restored by the Supreme Court and which though deposited had not been paid to the claimant on account of various interim orders. In M/s. T. N. K. Govindaraju Chetty v. Commissioner of Income-tax, Madras, : [1967]66ITR465(SC) the court observed in paragraph 9 that interest was in truth compensation for loss suffered on account of deprivation of property and the source of the obligation imposed by the statute to pay interest arises because the claimant is kept out of his money.

(14) In view of the said rule of law and the construction of the statutory provision, there is no scope for holding that the interest is payable only on physical dispossession and not upon symbolic dispossession under the Act. Surely, the claimant has been deprived of his title and rights in the land and the market value has been paid to him as on the date of section 4 notification only and no more. He could not legally derive any profits or exercise any rights of ownership or possession of the land as against the Government after its taking possession of it under section 16. He is, thereforee, certainly entitled to obtain the interest, which the law allows to him, and which the court had awarded to him, at six per cent per annum from the date of the taking of the possession of the land to the date of payment. of the amount of compensation awarded. The impugned order must accordingly be reversed.

(15) As a result, I hold that the petitioner is entitled to interest in respect of two fields in dispute from the date of symbolic possession which had been taken by the Naib Tehsildar on 15th June, 1963. The revision is, thereforee, allowed and the impugned order is reversed. The lower court will now calculate the amount that is payable in view of my findings and cause the same to be paid in accordanc with law. The petitioner will have costs of the revision from the Union of India.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //