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State of Kerala Vs. Mariamma Abraham and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtKerala High Court
Decided On
Case NumberAppeal Suit Nos. 421, 423, 425 to 427, 435 and 436 of 1963 and Cross-objections
Reported inAIR1969Ker265
ActsLand Acquisition Act, 1894 - Sections 19, 19(1), 19(2) and 23(1); Evidence Act, 1872 - Sections 9, 11, 32, 45, 114 and 115
AppellantState of Kerala
RespondentMariamma Abraham and anr.
Appellant AdvocateAdv. General
Respondent Advocate S. Narayanan Potti,; Joseph Vithayathil,; George Vadakke
DispositionAppeals dismissed
Cases ReferredT. A. Miller Ltd. v. Minister of Housing and Local Government
property - compensation - section 19 of land acquisition act, 1894 - petition filed against valuation of land - land acquired in this case can be classified as bare land, land registered as single crop wet land actually used as nursery and raising crops like bananas - report of commissioner show that land is not fit for nursery - being agricultural land must fetches higher price than ordinary dry garden land - land registered as single crop wet land is suitable for paddy - no material placed by either side regarding market value of such land in locality - ordinarily price of single crop wet land is two third of price of double crop land of same degree of fertility - rate of double crop land is rs. 100 per cent and value of single crop land is rs. 65 per cent - additional amount awarded as.....raman nayar, j.1. these appeals and cross-objections arise out of proceedings taken under the provisions of the (travancore) land acquisition act (act xi of 1089} for the acquisition of 1,72 acres of double-crop wet land and 56.54 acres of dry land (or garden land as if has been called) for the kozha agricul-fural research farm in the kottayam district. the lands, it would appear, are contiguous lands lying in one block. the collector made seven separate awards by which he granted a total compensation of rs. 1.16.000/- (rounded off to the nearest thousand) exclusive of the 15% solatium and interest. not content with this, the landowners (or plaintiffs as they have been called by the court below in accordance with the instructions in the old travancore civil courts guide, the state.....

Raman Nayar, J.

1. These appeals and cross-objections arise out of proceedings taken under the provisions of the (Travancore) Land Acquisition Act (Act XI of 1089} for the acquisition of 1,72 acres of double-crop wet land and 56.54 acres of dry land (or garden land as If has been called) for the Kozha Agricul-fural Research Farm in the Kottayam District. The lands, it would appear, are contiguous lands lying in one block. The Collector made seven separate awards by which he granted a total compensation of Rs. 1.16.000/- (rounded off to the nearest thousand) exclusive of the 15% solatium and interest. Not content with this, the landowners (or plaintiffs as they have been called by the Court below in accordance with the instructions in the old Travancore Civil Courts Guide, the State Government being called the defendant) asked for a reference to Court under Section 18 of the Act, There were accordingly seven separate references all of which were heard together, the evidence being recorded in L. A. R. No, 94 of 1960 (the subject-matter of A. S. No. 436 of 1963) which was treated as the main case. The Court awarded additional compensation totalling Rs. 4,93,000/- inclusive of solatium and Interest. The State Government has come up with these appeals seeking a total reduction amounting to Rs. 4,03,000/- while the plaintiffs by their cross-objections seek enhancements amounting to Rs. 4,04,000/-.

2. The question in all these cases is;What is the amount awardable under clause, 'firstly' of Sub-section (i) of Section 32 of the Act? In other words what was the true market value of the acquired lands within the meaning of that clause on the relevant date thereunder, namely, 14-3-1958 the date of the declaration under Section 6 Or, rather, since we are sitting in appeal:

Ts the award by the Court below under that clause erroneous?

The dispute, we might mention, relates only to the award under that clause --Indeed there was no award under any of the other clauses except for a petty award under clause 'secondly' in one of the cases.

3. Before we proceed to consider this question we have some observations to make regarding the conduct of these proceedings, and we make them in the expectation that due notice will be taken of them by the authorities concerned so that such remissness may not occur in the future with consequent loss to the exchequer, perhaps in some cases, injustice to a party who can't go to Court. (We told that such remissness is a general feature and that is our own experience. The fault, it would appear is of the systems rather than of particular individuals. That is really why we are Waking these observations--their object is the reform of the system, not the apportionment of blame) If our expectations are not completely belied, these appeals and the dis-preportionate amount of time we have had to spend on them (largely because of the unsatisfactory wsy in which the pro-ceedings were conducted by the Collector and before the Court below, leaving the learned Advocate General in the unhappy position of trying to make the best out of what has been done very ill indeed and pointing out that the other side has not done much better) will not have been altogether in vain.

4. These cases might well involve public funds to the tune of over Rupees 10,00,000/-, and we are told that they comprise only part of the land acquired for the farm. Yet it does not appear that any officer of Government higher in rank than a Village Officer inspected the lands with a view to assess their value -- at any rate none has come forward to give evidence. It would appear that the rules made under Section 41 of the Act for the guidance of officers, which require that what are called valuation statements should be prepared by the Tahsildar or the Deputy Tahsildar and when prepared by the Deputy Tahsildar should be scrutinised by the Tahsildar after inspection -- in a case of this magnitude one would have expected the District Collector or at least the Revenue Divisional Officer to have made an inspection --and that some responsible revenue officer who has himself seen the land should, among others, be called as a witness in Court, have been altogether ignored. So far as we can see what happened was that valuation statements were prepared by the Village Officer with the assistance of two persons of the locality known as thadassers (the same two thadassers figuring in as many as 20 such statements) with reference to sale deeds in respect of other lands in the vicinity. These statements were then signed by a clerk of the Taluk office, by the Deputy Tahsildar and by the Tahsildar it does not appear that they did anything mere and all that the. Collector did, so far as his awards disclose, was to adopt the Valuation shown in these statements giving no reasons therefor and no indication whatsoever that he had applied his own mind to the question. His proceedings in the case that is the subject-matter of A. S. No. 421 of 1963 may be set out in full as illustrative of the way he get about his work:

''This case relates to the acquisition of 18 cents front Sy. No. 910/1-6 in Kuravi-langad Village, Meehachil Taluk for the Kozha Agricutural Research Farm. The tenure of the land is Pandaravstka Pat-tom'. Defendant Mathew Varkey is the thandaper-holder of the land. The land In question is in the possession and enjoyment of defendants 2 and 3. The Tahsildar has valued the land at the rate of Rs. 30/- per cent on the basis of sale deed Nos. 5674 of 1956 of the Ettumanoor Sub Registry Office. He has also taken into consideration the location and im-portance of the land. The 1st defendant has claimed land value at the rate of Rs. 100/- per cent. The Village Officer who prepared the valuation statement etc. deposed that the land in question was taken possession of by the State on 2-7-1958 and that the value fixed for the land is fair. The defendant is entitled to the value of land and the usual solatium and interest.Order thereon dated 29-3-1959 The defendants are awarded Rs. 480/-plus the usual solatium and interest.' It will be noticed that there is not even a finding by the Collector as to the true value of the land. The language of the remaining awards is identical, only the particulars arc different, and it would appear that all that was done before the Collector signed the awards was to fill up the blanks in some set form.

5. In making the reference to Court the Collector completely ignored the provisions of Section 19 of the Act. He made no statement furnishing the particulars required by Sub-section (1) of the section -- objection having been taken to the amount of compensation, and his award being what it was, it was most important that he should at least have stated the grounds on which he determined the compensation as required by Clause fd) of sub-section (4); neither did he prepare and forward the schedule required by sub-section (2). All he did was to send his records of the case with a covering letter, called a reference letter, of which the letter in A. S. No. 421 of 1963 may be set out as a sample;


The records of the L, A. Case No. 32/59 on the file of this office are forwarded herewith under Section 18 of the L. A. Act. The 16 cents of land in Sy. No. 916/1-6 of Kuravilangadu Village, Meenchil Taluk was taken possession of by the State on 2-7-58 for the Kozha Research Farm. The amount awarded was paid to the defendant (i.e., the landowner). A copy of the award statement No. 84 dated 29-3-59 showing the name of the defendant, the amount awarded etc. is also enclosed.

Yours faithfully


Revenue Divisional Officer' This is no reference at all as required by the Act and we think that the Court would have been justified in returning it and calling for a proper reference.

6. In Court the plaintiffs produced 14 documents relating to transactions in respect of other lands in the vicinity and examined persons connected with these transactions to prove the consideration paid. The defendant State Government put in 7 documents, Exts. D23 to D29, to show that the value awarded by the Collector was proper; but it examined no-body connected with the transactions to show that the consideration actually paid was the consideration mentioned in the documents. These are the documents referred to in the valuation statements prepared by the Village Officer, D. W. 1, The valuation statements, mahazars and sketches prepared by this witness were marked through him, and apart from that it was he that prepared these documents; all that was elicited from this witness (in chief-examination) was that the acquired lands were two furlongs distant from a busy road junction and four furlongs distant from a church and a High School near another important road junction (facts that one would have thought would ordinarily have been left to the plaintiffs to elicit) and that the lands covered by the sale deeds Exts. D23 to D28 on the basis of which he had prepared the valuation statements after satisfying himself from inquiries that the prices mentioned in these documents were the true prices were lands he knew and that they were of the same quality as the lands acquired. The prices in Ext. D23 to D28 range roughly from Rs. 10/- to Rs. 25/- per cent and the maket value as determined by the Collector from Rs. 10/- to Rs. 30/-per cent. D. W. 1 did not care to tell the Court which was the particular document or documents on the basis of which the price of a particular land was fixed having due regard to its relative quality, and his blanket statement that the land values were fixed on the basis of Exts. D23 to D28 and that the lands covered by these documents are of the same quality as the lands acquired seems to us meaningless. The Superintendent of the farm was examined as D, W. 3. Since the lands acquired were purely agricultural lands valued as such, (no potential use affecting current market-value being alleged) one would have thought that, as an expert competent to speak on the point, he would have been questioned as to the relative fertility of the several lands acquired and of the lands covered by the sale deeds on which the defendant relied. But nothing of the sort was done. He was questioned only about the expenditure incurred and the income derived from some of the lands in 1959, 1960, and 1961, information not very material for the purpose of determining the true market-value of the lands in 1958.

7. The court below ignored Exts. D23 to D28 on the ground that these documents had not been properly proved. It has been contended by the learned Advocate-General on behalf of the defendant that no objection having been taken to the documents being received in evidence, their due execution must be regarded as having been admitted; at any rate it must be taken that proof thereof was waived. We think that the documents were right-ly ignored by the lower Court although the ground it stated, and therefore the answer thereto, are both misconceived. As we have arleady stated the fact in issue here is the true market value of the property acquired on the relevant date. Perhaps the best way of determining this in the case of land is to ascertain, the prices paid for similar land in the vicinity in the course of normal sales (the word, 'normal' postulating a genuine transaction between a willing buyer and a willing seller as also the absence of any special circumstances) at or about the same time. And if there have been such sales of the very property acquired. So much the better. When this method fails (or is not dependable without independent confirmation) owing to insufficient data, iresort is usually had to capitalising the net annual income from the property at so many years' purchase, the multiple traditionally adopted being round about 30 having regard to the income yielded by gilt-edged securities. Whichever method is adopted, the opinion of experts (in turn based on wide consideration) might be often valuable, sometimes necessary. But in the case of land, such evi-idence is most often required where there are structures or other improvements that have to be paid for on the basis of what they would actually cost because they cannot be bought or sold, or because they yield no income, by themselves. When market-value is determined on the basis of sales of similar property at or about the same time, what is relevant (under Section 9 or 11 of the Evidence Act) is not whether there was a valid transfer of title but the price actually paid for the property. Proof of due execution of the sale deed by the owner of the property sold would be proof of the (transfer of title; but that would be no more relevant for our purposes than proof of due execution of a gift deed. What we want to know is what was the price actually paid by the willing buyer to the willing seller of the property sold. That (and not the price mentioned in the sale deed) is the relevant fact and so far as that is concerned, the recital in the sale deed is nothing more than a previous statement by the person or persons subscribing to it. If that person gives evidence in Court, then the recital can be used to corroborate or to contradict him or for the purpose of refreshing his memory, but it seems to us that it is not substantive evidence unless (what, there is not even the least suggestion in the case here) it amounts to an admission or falls within Section 32 of the Evidence Act. (It has been suggested that such a recital might be relevant under Sections 11 and 13 of the Evidence Act, but, speaking for myself it seems to me that these provisions are no moreattracted than they would be in the case a statement regarding the price, made, say, in a letter by the buyer to the seller). Substantive evidence of the price paid would be the testimony of persons who. have actual personal knowledge of the matter (usually the buyer or the seller), and the recitals in a document can be evidence of the matter only if they are relevant as admissions or under Section 32 of the Evidence Act. Of course, a forged sale deed or a bogus sale deed not embodying a real transaction would not be admissible at all, but, ordinarily, the due execution of registered document would not be disputed in cases like this. That no objection was taken to the reception of the documents in evidence cannot be regarded as tantamount to an admission by the plaintiffs that the prices mentioned in the documents were the prices really paid though, of course, it was open to them to have admitted that and dispensed with proof thereof. As it is, the utmost that can be said is that the plaintiffs did not dispute that the documents were in fact executed by the persons by whom they purport to have been executed, but the questions put by the plaintiffs to D. W. 1 in cross-examination clearly show that they did not accept that the prices mentioned in the documents were the prices actually paid. Ineed in the statements some of the plaintiffs filed in Court they had put forward the specific case that the full price actually paid was not shown in the documents relied upon bv the Collector (namely, Exts. D23 to D29) it being usual to show a lower price in order to reduce expenses.

8. It was suggested that in the case of registered sale deeds a presumption might arise under Section 114 of the Evidence Act that the prices mentioned in the sale deeds were the prices actually paid having regard to the common course of human conduct and business in relation to the sale and purchase of property. We doubt whether any such presumption can legitimately be drawn, for, it is notorious that as alleged by the plaintiffs, in order to save on stamp duty and registration charges, if for nothing else, parties often show a lower price in sale deeds than the price actually paid. Even if a presumption does arise, it would be a very weak presumption sufficiently rebutted by a bare denial by the opposite side and we should think that, except in cases where parties accept that the prices mentioned in the sale deeds are the true prices, the sale deeds by themselves are of little value for proving the relevant fact, namely, the price paid, The proper; course, we have no doubt, in the absence of such agreement (which in civil cases ought to be sought and ought to be readily forthcoming in respect of facts that arenet really disputed, but unfortunately, rarely is with the result that a lot of time, trouble and money is wasted over proving facts which the opposite side does not really dispute) is to examine neither the buyer or the seller of some other person associated with the transac-toin as a witness, using the sale deed itself for corroborating the witness or refreshing his memory, (unless the statement in the deed amounts to an admission or Section 32 of the Evidence Act is attracted in which case, of course, the statement would be substantive evidence). That was not done in the case of Exts. D23 to D28, and, even if it had been done, we would have required better evidence than that given bv D. W. 1 for the pur-pore of corning to any conclusion regarding the similarity of the respective lands csvered by the documents with the lands acquired, especially so in the face of the assertion by some of the plaintiffs in the statements they filed in Court that they bore no similarity. The Court below was quite right in ignpring Exts. D23 to D28 and we must do likewise,

9. If the unsatisfactory manner in Which the proceedings were conducted by the defendant has not resulted In the plaintiffs being given more than is their due -- we are far from suggesting that it has not had that result -- in fact, in the plaintiffs being given all they have claimed, it is largely due to the failure of the plaintiffs themselves to take full advantage of the situation. For, as we shall presently show, the bulk of the evidence the plaintiffs have adduced is of little assistance for the purpose of ascertaining the market-value of the lands acquired. This has prompted the learned Advocate-General to urge that the burden being on the plaintiffs to show that the Collector's valuation was wrong, they must fail if the evidence they have adduced does not affirmatively demonstrate the error, even if the evidence adduced by the defendant in support of the Collector's valuation be worthless. But, as pointed out in Harish Chunder Neogy v. Secretary of State, (1907) 11 Cal WN 875 and in Padmaji Miachand v. Dy. Collector, Adoni. AIR 1915 Mad 272 the burden on the plaintiffs in a case like the present, where the Collector has not complied with Clause (d) of Section 19(1) of the Act and his award does not disclose anything beyond that he accepted the valuation made by the Village Officer, is negligible. After all the proceedings are analogous to proceedings for specific performance of a contract to sell at the current market-price, and, if the Act by requiring the seller to sustain his objection places on him the burden of showing that the price he is demanding is the proper price Instead of, as would ordinarily be the case, placing on the buyer theburden showing that the price he is offering is the proper price, it is only: because it has charged a responsible, public servant with the duty of ascertaining the proper price after due Inquiry. A) clear statement in evidence, even if only by the plaintiff concerned, that the truel market-value was what he has claimed, interested though it be, might, in the circumstances, have, sufficed to discharge the burden on the plaintiff, there being as we have seen, no evidence worth' mentioning on the side of the defendant, But, although the plaintiffs have examined as many as 18 witnesses, counsel have been unable to draw our attention to any such statement.

10. Now to consider certain other aspects of the matter common to all the cases. The lands acquired are agricultural lands that have been put to no other use. They have been valued as agricultural lands, and it was never the case of the plaintiffs that the lands had other potentialities such as use as building sites which, have actually entered into their present market-value. In fact, their claim is exclusively on the basis of the valuation of the lands as agricultural lands. That being so, much of the argument advanced before us as to the favourable location of the lands in that they He on either side of an important highway, namely, the, Main Central Road, that they are not far| from busy road junctions and from certain institutions like public offices, churches and schools, is of little force. For, these factors cannot add appreciably to the market-value of land which is actually and potentially purely agricultural land.

11. The bulk of the compensation awarded by the Court below is on account of trees standing on the lands and this has been reckoned as part of the land value awarded under the first clause of Sub-section (1) of Section 22 of the Act, (15% solatium being added thereto as required by Sub-section (2) of the section), not as damages under the second clause. Different considerations might, perhaps, arise in assessing damages, but, what is of more practical significance is that the solatium is allowable only on the amount awarded under the first clause, not on the amounts awarded under any of the remaining clauses. 'Land' is defined in Section 3(a) of the Act as 'imm'ov-able property' is defined In Section 3(26) of the General Clauses Act as including things attached to the earth -- 'attached' perhaps implies some degree of permanency and possibly excludes standing crops but not trees -- with no exclusions as in the definition in Section 3 of the Transfer of Property Act in respect of standing timber. Therefore, 'unless there is something repugnant in the subject or context' the word, 'land' in the, firstclause of Sub-section (i) of Section 22 of the Act must be taken to include the trees, if any, standing on the land, and the market-value to be awarded under that clause would be the market-value, not of the bare land, but of the land with the trees on it. But then, the second clause requires the award of damages on account of the taking of any trees when possession is taken of the land and does this not introduce a 'repugnant' context? Or, is the second clause confined to such trees as have not been included in the land-value awarded under the first clause but might happen to be on the land when possession is taken? The question is not free from difficulty but fortunately we are not called upon to decide it since no objection has been taken to the trees having been regarded as part of the land, to be taken into account in awarding the market-value of the land under the first clause of Sub-section (i) of Section 22.

12. Objection has however been taken on the strength of Section 24 to any award on account of the trees on the ground that, although in their claims before the Collector the plaintiffs claimed compensation for the trees in addition to the value of the land as vacant land, they did not specify any particular amount under this head of claim. But the section does not require separate claims in respect of each head of claim and it is not the case that the total amount awarded by the Court below as the value of the land (including the trees) exceeds the amount claimed by the plaintiffs before the Collctor for the land alone.

13. So far as bare land is concerned (bare, in the sense that it is vacant and has not been planted or built upon, not in the sense of its being barren or poor) the prices fetched by similar lands in the vicinity would ordinarily be a safe guide as to its market-value. But, where the land has been planted or built upon, sales of property other than of the very property concerned might furnish little basis for comparison, since it will be very rarely indeed that the Improvements are of the same character. In such cases, when the land has been fully planted to the best advantage from the point of view of income, capitalisation of the net annual income derived from the trees might be a safe mode of arriving at the market-value. But this method must fail where, as in the present case, the plantations are scattered here and there and the bulk of the land is bare land. In such cases, where the improvements yield an income, a fair way of assessing the value of the improved land would be to deduct from the total area the area necessary for or occupied by the improvements since that area would not be available for any other purpose, value the balanceas bare land, and add to that the capitalised value of the income derived from the improvements. However, even non-yielding improvements (unless they are worthless and cannot really be regarded as improvements) would add to the market-value of bare land, and, in the case of such improvements, their present cost less depreciation might be a proper addition. And, where the improvements consist of non-yielding trees, their fuel or timber value must, it is apparent, be. added to the value of tke land as bare land without any deduction made for standing space. For, if the trees are felled and sold, the entire area without any deduction in area would be available for sale as bare land, Of course, the mini-, mum would be the value of the entire land as bare land, plus the fuel or timber value of the trees whether yielding or non-yielding standing on it, and the deductions made on account of standing space for yielding trees should not have the result of reducing the land value below this minimum. (If no deduction is to be made on account of standing space even yielding trees can be valued only on the basis of what they would fetch if out and removed thus releasing the land occupied by them, and we are unable to appreciate the logic behind the claim of the plaintiffs before the Collector and in the Court below that they should be allowed a fourth of the capitalised value of the income of the yielding trees in addition to the value of the entire land as bare land with no deduction made en account of the land occupied by the trees although that seems to have been allowed in one or two Travancore cases in the special circumstances of the case. Before us the claim has been that that should be allowed if it is more advantageous to the plaintiffs, but, on the land values we are awarding that would not be more advantageous).

14. It is more or lees on this basts that the Court below valued the improvements on the acquired lands for the purpose of arriving at the market value of the lands. To the value of the land as bare land, it added the fuel or timber; value of non-yielding trees. In the case of the yielding trees, it added the capitalised value of the income from the trees after deducting from the area of the land to be valued as bare land, the area necessary for the trees in order that they might produce their yield. In other words, it regarded the capitalised value of the income of the trees as not the value of the trees alone but as including also the value of the land necessarily occupied by them in order to produce the Income, the tree with the necessary land being the income producing unit, not the tree by Itself. This is the principle on which the note to rule 2 of the rulesmade under Section 41 of the Act, and the schedule appended to the rules are based. To give an example, the Schedule proceeds on the footing that the maximum number of coconut trees that can properly be planted in one acre of land is 100 -- c.f. Section 16 of Kerala Act 29 of 1958. (The word, 'Minimum' in the heading of the third column of the Schedule seems to be a mistake for, 'Maximum'). Therefore, the land necessary for a coconut tree to produce its yield is one cent, and, if in assessing the market-value of a land the capitalised value of the coconut trees standing thereon is taken into account, one cent of land must be deducted from the total area of the land for each coconut tree and the balance alone would be available for valuation as bare land. If there are 100 coconut trees standing on one acre of the land, there is no land left after what is necessary for the trees, and the value of the land with the trees will be the capitalised value of the income from the trees. But, if for example, there are only 10 trees, then 90 cents of land must be valued as bare land and the remaining 10 cents must be valued on the basis of the capitalised value of the income from the trees.

15. Both the note to rule 2 and the Schedule make it clear that a deduction on account of standing space is to be made only where trees are valued on the basis of their yield. The standing space for seven kinds of trees is set out in the Schedule, and, what the last sentence of the note means by 'other trees' when it says that, in regard to other trees also a deduction should be made on the analogy of the trees mentioned in the schedule, is, other yielding trees, the note itself being applicable only to cases where trees are valued on the basis of their yield. It does not and cannot mean that a deduction should be made in the case of trees valued as timber or fuel, and, in fact, in the course of the argument, the learned Advocate-General gave up the contention with which he began that a deduction should be made even in the case of such trees.

16. Generally speaking, the Court below has capitalised the value of yielding trees at 20 years purchase -- a lower multiple has been applied in the case of very old trees or trees like coffee trees. It has been argued on the strength of some old Travancore decisions that 6 2/3 and not 20 would be the proper multiple. It was also suggested that, in view of the higher yield now-a-days of gilt-edged securities like Government securities, and the fact that in view of land legislation, actual or impending, land is no longer regarded as the safest form of Investment, the traditional multiple of 30 or thereabouts must be considerably reduced.

But this argument forgets that the gilt has worn off the gingerbread of Government securities even more than of land and that with money going down in value every day, land with khas possession (and what is compulsorily acquired is always that) is still regarded by most people as by far the safest mode of investment, The conferment of greater rights on tenants can affect only the apportion-ment of the value between landlord and tenant and cannot affect the market value of the land itself, and there is not material whatsoever for holding that the threatened land-ceiling threw such a lot of land into the market in 1958 as to depress land values to such an extent as to call for a lower multiple than 20 in the case of land valued on the basis of income1 from it.

17. The lower multiple adopted by the Travancore decisions in respect of yielding trees was for the purpose of assessing compensation awardable to tenants for trees planted by them and must have taken into account the contribution made to the income by the land itself as also the non-permanent nature of the improvements. Ordinarily, when planted land such as a coconut garden is valued on the basis of the net income derived from it, the deductions on account of expenses would meet also the cost of interplantation (which is done in the ordinary course of husbandry) for the purpose of replacing old trees in due course. Therefore, in cases where a deduction from the area of the land is made when valuing a yielding tree on a capitalisation of the income derived from it, the tree must be regarded as a more or less permanent source of income. The multiple of 20 adopted by the lower Court -- the Commissioners appointed by the Court to value the trees adopted the same multiple without objection being taken by the defendant -- seems to us fair and reasonable, and we may point out that this is the multiple adopted by Section 7 (i) of Act 29 of 1958, 3/4th of the value thus reached being awarded to the tenant for his improvements, the remain-Ing l/4th being regarded as attributable to the land itself.

18. We shall now proceed to consider each case separately beginning with the main case, A. S. No. 436 of 1963, in which the common evidence was recorded.

A. S. No. 436 of 1963 and Cross-objection

19. 1.72 acres of double-crop wet land and 36.11 acres of so called garden land were acquired in this case. So far as the wet land is concerned the plaintiffs did not claim any specified amount in the claim they made before the Collector pursuant to notice given under Section 9 of the Act. But they said that the land was capableof yielding a net annual income of 150 paras of paddy valued at Rs. 3.25 per para and straw worth Rs. 75/- making a total net income of Rs. 462.50. This income they claimed should be capitalised at 3%, wet land being scarce and therefore highly prized in the locality, and hence it may be taken that they claimed Rs. 18,750/- as the value of the land -- in fact, at no stage of the case has objection been taken that no specified amount having been claimed, Sub-section (2) of Section 24 of the Act precludes the plaintiffs being given more than what the Collector gave them. The Collector, in his so-called award, adopted the valuation made by the Village Officer, namely, Rs. 30/- per cent. In their application for a reference to court, the plaintiffs claimed Rs 100/- per cent and that has been awarded by the court below. With this the plaintiffs are content but the appellant defendant would have u.s revert to the value of Rs. 30/- per cent awarded by the Collector.

20. In the case of land that is purely agricultural, especially paddy land like this, there can be no doubt that the best way of assessing market-value is to find out what price was paid for like land in the vicinity at or about the relevant time. The plaintiffs relied on the prices paid under Exts. PI, P2, P4, P8 and P9 in support of their claim at the rate of Rs. 100/- per cent. And they examined witnesses with personal knowledge of the transactions both to prove that the prices mentioned in the documents were the prices actually paid and to prove that the lands dealt with under the documents were double crop wet lands of the same quality as the land acquired

21. Ext. PI dated 20-8-1955 is an assignment of a possessory mortgage over 28 cents of land for Rs. 120D/- and Ext. P2 of the same date is a deed of further charge in respect of the same property for Rs. 800/-. (The relevant date, it will be remembered is 14-3-1958). The transaction was spoken to by the mortgagor, P. W. 2, and, on the basis that the total consideration under Exts. PI and P2, namely, Rs. 2000/-, could not have exceeded 3/4th of the value of the property, the Court below worked out the value as disclosed by these documents at Rs. 95/- per cent.

22. By Ext. P4 dated 9-7-1951 P. W. 3 sold 73 cents of land for Rs. 7000/-. There was a standing crop valued at Rs. 160/- and. deducting this, the price of the land itself works out to Rs. 93.70 per cent.

23. By Ext. P8 dated 12-4-1951, P. W. 7 bought 42 Va cents of land for Rs. 4000/- which works out to Rs. 94/-per cent.

24. By Ext. P9 dated 9-7-1951, P. W. 8 bought 62 cents of land for Rs. 6000/-, and, making allowance for the standing crop valued at Rs. 140/-, the price of the land works out to Rs. 94.60 per cent

25. All that was done by the defendant to rebut the evidence furnished by these transactions was to mark a sale deed, Ext. D. 29 dated 20-2-1956, in respect of 37 cents of single-crop wet land --the acquired land it will be recalled is double-crop wet land -- the price shown in the document being Rs. 1300/-which works out to Rs, 35/- per cent. Apart from that, the land is not of the same quality, for reasons we have already stated, namely, that there is no relevant evidence as to the price actually paid and no dependable evidence as to the relative value of the land covered by the document and the acquired land, the document is of absolutely no probative value.

26. The evidence adduced on theside of the plaintiffs clearly establishes that their claim at the rate of Rs. 100/-per cent which was allowed by the Court below is just and reasonable. The Court below has also shown that on the basis of the net income actually derived from the land after it was taken over for the farm, the value works out to more than Rs. 100/- per cent capitalising the income at 3%.

27. The garden lands of a total extent of 36.11 acres were valued by the Village Officer at prices ranging from 'Rs. 10/- to Rs. 30/- per cent having regard, it is said, to their location and quality. Before the Collector the plaintiffs claimed at the uniform rate of Rs. 150/- per cent. But the Collector, as we have seen, unques-tioningly accepted the valuation made by the Village Officer. In Court the plaintiffs claimed at the rate of Rs. 100/- per cent and they have been awarded Rs. 40/-per cent. In so awarding, the Court acted on the report of the Commissioners appointed in the case to the effect that, as bare land, the garden lands acquired in this case as also in the remaining cases are all, more or less, of the same degree of fertility, in other words, that, as agricultural land, they are more or less of the same value. That the lands are more or less of uniform value seems to be accepted by the defendant, for, by its appeal (unmindful of the fact that the Collector himself has for some of the lands allowed Rs. 30/- per cent) it has sought a reduction to the uniform rate of Rs. 20/- per cent. The plaintiffs have, by their cross-objection, claimed Rupees 100/- per cent for some of, the lands and Rs. 75/- per cent for others, and it has been explained on their behalf that the lands for which the higher claim is made are superior lands in which valuable trees like coconut treescan be grown, while the lands for which the lower claim is made are comparatively inferior lands fit only for planting cashew trees.

28. All these values we might repeat are for the bare land. The trees have been separately valued, and, where they have been valued as yielding trees on the basis of the income derived from them, the value has been taken to include the value of the land occupied by them, only the remaining land being valued as bare land.

29. The plaintiffs depend on the sales evidenced by Ext. P 7 dated 1-7-1933, and Exts. Pll and P 12 both dated 2-3-1961, all in respect of what we have called bare land, and on Exts. P13 dated 8-11-1947, P6 dated 12-1-1953, P5 dated 19-2-1955 (this particular transaction is a possessory mortgage and not a sale; the market-value it is assumed would be rot less than 1 1/3 times the mortgage money), P3 dated 16-12-1957, P14 dated 29-6-1959 and P10 dated 11-2-1960, all in respect of lands with improvements in the shape of trees or buildings, in support of their case But, although they have examined persons intimately connected with the transactions to speak to the consideration actually paid and to the relative value of the lands covered by the documents and the lands acquired, we do not think that any of the transactions excepting that effected by Ext. P7, and, to a lesser, degree, that effected by Ext. P10, is of the least assistance for determining the market-value of the acquired lands. Exts. Pll and P12 are in respect of 7 cents and 2 cents respectively of bare roadside land acquired by a club for purposes of a recreation park. The prices paid work out to Rs. 61/- and Rs. 75/-per cent respectively, but obviously these prices cannot be regarded as their market-value as purely agricultural land like the acquired lands with no other potentialities. On the other hand, since it is not claimed that the acquired lands are mere fertile than the lands sold under Exts. Pll and P12, these sales in 1961 serve to show that the value of the acquired lands in 1958 could not, in any case, have been more than about Rs. 60/-per cent. Exts. P13, P6, P5. P3 and P14 are in respect of small bits of land ranging in extent from 2l to 14 cents and used for residential or commercial purposes. After deducting the estimated value of the improvements on these lands the prices paid for the bare land work out to from Rs. 214/- to Rs. 300/- per cent. But, of course, these prices cannot represent their market-value regarded purely as agricultural land.

30. Ext. P7 dated 1-7-1958 is a sale deed in respect of 93 cents of bare land. (That is what the document shows andP. W. 6's statement when examined in 1962 that there were then non-yielding arecanut and coconut plants as also pepper vines in the property cannot mean that these improvements were there when he bought the property in 1958. In his re-examination he said that when he bought the property it was being used for planting tapioca). The price stated, namely, Rs. 3000/- has been spoken to by the buyer, P. W. 6, who has given evidence to the effect that he got the land for a concessional price -- it was really worth Rs. 50/- per cent -- because he was a dependent of the seller and had been cultivating the land from 1956. He has also stated that the land he bought under Ext. 7 is near the acquired lands. His evidence has in no way been rebutted, and judging from that evidence it would appear that the market value of the acquired lands in 1958 must be something more than the price he paid under Ext. P7 which works out to Rs. 32/- per cent.

31. By Ext. P10 dated 11-2-1960 P, W. 9 bought 171 cents of land very near the acquired lands, and, according to his evidence, inferior in quality to the acquired lands, for Rs. 1750/- which works out to Rs. 100/- per cent But it would appear that the land was not bare land. There were coconut and arecanut trees on the land, and, in the absence of evidence regarding the number and value of these trees, it is not possible to say what the bare land was worth. It is also to be remembered that P. W. 9's purchase was three years after the relevant date and during this period there was soma appreciation in the value of even purely agricultural land, although, of course not to the same extent as urban land. Nevertheless Ext, P10 is some indication that the award by the Court below at the rate of Rs. 40/- per cent for bare land -- adding the value awarded for the trees its award works out to roughly Rs. 76/-per cent -- is not unreasonable,

32. The defendant was content to mark the sale deeds Exts. D23 dated 18-4-1955, D24 dated 22-4-1955. D25 dated 19-4-1956, D26 dated 28-12-1956. D27 dated 26-3-1957 and D28 dated 26-34957 according to which the prices paid work out from Rs. 9.80 to Rs. 25/- per cent. But, as we have already said, these documents by themselves prove nothing.

33. On the materials placed before us, we are unable to say that the Court below erred in fixing the market-valua of the garden lands as bare lands at the uniform rate of Rs. 40/- per cent.

34. Objection has been taken by both sides regarding the quantum of the additions made by the Court below to the value of the lands regarded as bare lands on account of the trees standing thereon. We have already dealt withmost of the objections. As we have said, so far as non-yielding trees are concern ed, the Court below added their timber or fuel value to the bare land value without any deduction on account of standing space. But, in the case of yielding trees, the Court valued the trees and the land required for their sustenance as one unit, this unit constituting the land of which the market value had to be determined, and it determined its market value on the basis of the capitalised value of the net income derived from it. It necessarily follows that land value was not separately payable as bare land for the land comprised in this suit. In adopting this mode of valuation the Court followed the rules made under Section 41 of the Act, and although in terms of the section, they are not binding on the Court, the rules being, as we have shown, just and reasonable, it was right in doing so.

35. The Court below appointed three Commissioners to assess the value of the trees standing on the lands, the timber or fuel value in the case of non-yielding trees and the capitalised value of the net income in the case of yielding trees. With very few exceptions, which have not been called in question, it accepted the valuation of the Commissioners. The defendant filed no objection to the reports filed by the Commissioners and adduced no evidence whatsoever to show that the valuation made by them was wrong. It seems to us much too late for it to complain, as it has done, that the deductions made by the Commissioners on account of expenses for the upkeep of the trees in arriving at the net income are inadequate, or that the multiple adopted by them for the purpose of capitalising the income is too big. We have already shown that the multiple, or the number of years' purchase as it is commonly referred to, adopted by the Commis-aoners and accepted by the Court is reasonable, and the only other objection taken by the defendant, namely, that the standing space should have been deducted from the area of the land valued as bare land, even in the case of non-yield-Sng trees valued at their timber or fuel value, was abandoned by the learned Advocate-General himself in the course of the hearing.

36. The objections taken by the plaintiffs stand on no better footing. They relate mostly to details of the valuation made by the Commissioners such as the quantum of the yield of certain trees and the market-price of their produce, and, in a very few cases, almost negligible, the adequacy of the multiple adopted by the Commissioners for the purpose of capitalisation. With regard to these, all we need say is that neither the objections filed by them to the Commissioner's report nor the evidence they adduced(consisting as it does of the bare oral testimony of the plaintiffs themselves) disclose any material to show that the Commissioners were wrong. We have already dealt with the objection taken on behalf of the plaintiffs that, in addition to the value of the land as bare land, with no deduction made for the space occupied by the trees, they should have been paid l/4th of the capitalised value of the net income from the trees, and shown that the method of valuation adopted by the Court below is just and proper and, in fact, more advantageous to the plaintiffs.

37. The award made by the Court below calls for no interference and we dismiss both the appeal and the cross-objection. We make no order as to costs.

A. S. No. 421 of 1963.

38. The land acquired in this case is 16 cents of bare garden land. Before the Collector, plaintiffs 2 and 3 who have been found entitled to the compensation made no claim although a rival claimant, the 1st plaintiff, claimed at the rate of Rs. 100/- per cent But then plaintiffs 2 and 3 were not served with notice under Section 9 and there was therefore sufficient cause for their failure to make a claim. The Collector, adopting the valuation of the Village Officer, awarded Rs. 30/- per cent; the Court below has awarded Rs. 40/- per cent against the plaintiff's claim before it at the rate of Rs. 100/- per cent; and the appellant defendant seeks to reduce this to Rs. 20/- per cent notwithstanding the Collector's award while the plaintiffs repeat their claim of Rs. 100/- per cent. The land, as we have already remarked, is of the same kind and quality as the land acquired in A. S. No. 436 of 1963, and the evidence which we have discussed in full in dealing with that case, clearly establishes that the award by the Court below is just and proper.

39. We dismiss both the appeal and the cross-objection, both without costs. A. S. No. 423 of 1963.

40. In this case 28 cents of garden land with some trees standing on it was acquired. Before the Collector, the plaintiffs claimed land value at the rate of Rs. 150/- per cent in addition to the value of the trees. In the Court below, as also here, they have claimed land value at the rate of Rs. 100/- per cent. The Collector awarded Rs. 20/- per cent; the Court below awarded Rs. 40/- per cent; the appellant defendant would have it reduced to Rs. 20/- per cent. Both with regard to the value of the land as bare land and the value of the trees thereon this case stands on exactly the same footing as A. S. No. 426 of 1963, and, for the reasons we have already given, we confirm the award of the Court below and dismissboth the appeal and the cross-objection, both without costs. A. S. Nos. 425, 426 & 435 of 1963.

41. In all material respects these cases stand on the same footing as A. S. No. 436 of 1963 and for the reasons we have already given we confirm the awards made by the Court below and dismiss the appeals and the cross-objections both without costs.

A. S. No. 427 of 1963.

42. The land acquired in this case is 3.91 acres of what we have called bare land, registered as single-crop wet land but actually used as a nursery and for raising crops like bananas and ginger and therefore dealt with by the Collector and the Court below as garden land. (There were crops on the land when possession was taken but in respect of the compensation awarded for them there is no dispute). Before the Collector, the 1st plaintiff claimed land value at the rate of Rs. 150A per cent but was awarded Rs. 20/- per cent on the basis of the valuation by the Village Officer. In the Court below he claimed Rs. 100/- per cent and that is what he is now claiming before us. The Court below has awarded Rs. 40/- per cent treating the land as garden land of the same quality as the garden land acquired in A. S. No. 436 of 1963.

43. The report of the Commissioners discloses that this land has very good irrigational facilities not ordinarily available in the case of ordinary dry or garden land. We do not think that land suitable for a nursery and for raising crops like bananas can be regarded in the same way as ordinary dry land fit only for raising dry crops or for planting trees like coconut or cashew trees. As agricultural land, such land must surely fetch a higher price than ordinary dry or garden land, and the very fact that that the land is registered as single-crop wet land is sufficient indication that it is suitable for growing paddy. We think it only proper to fix the value of this land as if it were single-crop wet land but, unfortunately, there is no material placed by either side regarding the market-value of such land in the locality. Ordinarily the price of single-crop wet land is 2/3rd the price of double-crop land of the same degree of fertility. We have already fixed the price of double-crop wot land at Rs. 100/- per cent and we consider that a reasonable price for the land concerned in this case would be Rs. 65/- per cent.

44. In the result we dismiss with costs this appeal which seeks to reduce the value to Rs. 20/- per cent, and, partly allowing the cross-objection (but without costs) award the 1st plaintiff land value at the enhanced rate of Rs. 65/-per cent. To the additional amount awarded by us will be added the solatium of 15%, and the amount thus arrived at will bear interest at 6% per annum from 30-6-1958, the date on which possession was taken.

Krishna Iyeb J.

45. A fewwords of my own, over and above what my learned brother has said on behalf of both of us, may not be out of place considering the length of time the arguments have consumed and the matters of public importance which have been covered.

46- The economic goals of our country may compel the exercise, by the State, of the power of eminent domain on a vast scale, so as to provide lands for an expanding public sector in industry, an increasing number of other State projects and a host of activities of quasi-governmental bodies and even private enterprises necessary for national progress. Naturally, the working of the legal apparatus of compulsory land acquisition has to be speedy, smooth, efficient and equitable both to the public exchequer and the private owner. The present batch of appeals is typical of a colossal number of cases pending in many subordinate Courts. In the present case, an extensive area of nearly 100 acres of agricultural1 land has been acquired by the State for a research farm in Central Travancore and the total outlay on purchase of land alone, as it has now turned out, approaches a million rupees. In cases involving payment of heavy sums from the State coffers, the original offer of the price by, the Government, otherwise called the Collector's award, must be carefully worked out by responsible officials so that unnecessary references to Court, protracted litigation and payment of interest and costs can be avoided. The present case is an illustration of the failure to have the initial assessment of the value made by officers at a higher level or after a serious investigation. Again, when a reference is made to Court under Section 18 of the Travancore Land Acquisition Regulation (or its corresponding provision in the Kerala Land Acquisition Act) attention must be paid to the directions in the statute as to what the reference should contain. The grounds on which the compensation has been fixed by the Collector are important both for the party and for the Court, The award itself, whether the statute requires it or not, should contain a short discussion of the documents and oral evidence bearing on the price, and indicate briefly the reasons which have persuaded the Collector to arrive at the price he offers in the award. The award and the reference will together place before the Court the proper materials gathered at the enquiry and put forward by the claimant as well as the basis ofthe price fixation. This raw material will be of immense help to the Court, and even to the claimant, in appreciating the fairness of the award or otherwise, and in appraising the worthlessness of new grounds and materials which the claimant might have hunted up after the award was passed. The award of the Collector, in the present case, is altogether 'unspeaking' regarding the grounds for quantifying the compensation and the letter of reference also has neglected to state them. A perfunctory attitude --may be due to overwork, inexperience or indifference -- on the part of the land acquisition officers is hardly commendable, particularly in cases of heavy financial involvement to the State. It is significant that all that has happened by way of enquiry in the present instance -- at any rate so far as has been brought to our notice -- is a village officer's inspection and valuation report, counter-signed by the Deputy Tahsildar and Tahsildar and glibly adopted by the land acquisition officer. In tragic truth, it is the village official who has fixed the compensation of a few lakhs of rupees in this case. The risk the State runs and the grievance that the party entertains if this were the rule needs no emphasis. And as for the statute, the sections of the Act and the rules indicate that the Collector himself must apply his time and mind and not seek vicarious satisfaction by nodding approval of a small official's report. In certain circumstances, the Collector's award is 'final and conclusive evidence1 of the value of the land. It is not uncommon to find officers outside the Revenue department being appointed Collectors under the Land Acquisition Act; naturally they may not possess the legal know-how unless some special training is imparted and may make a perfunctory job of it, with serious loss to the State. All these are not our province and I wish to make it perfectly clear that I should not be understood to mean anything other than that the land acquisition officer whose performance has come up for judicial scrutiny, in the present case, has, perhaps, done his job as diligently or as negligently as many others. This is the impression that I gained from the submissions at the bar made in those batches of cases. The system needs to be toned up, not isolated individuals.

47, Before the trial Court the presentation of the case has been of a piece with the insouciance displayed at the earlier stages. Of course, it is not the Court's direct concern as to how the State conducts its cases or, for that matter as to how the Government Pleader is instructed in land acquisition cases. But when we see that compulsory acquisitions of a costly nature have to be undertaken by the State on a large scale, litigations,whose impact may not eventually be light, cannot be left to the indifference of the party who figures as the State's representative in Court and judicial notice may appropriately be taken of the failures and defaults, in the hope -- not mere pious hope -- that suitable steps will be taken at the highest level of Government to set right the system if the infirmity is in the system itself. The learned Advocate General has optimistically assured us that our observations on these aspects will serve a useful purpose and will receive governmental attention. Judicial lock-jaw notwithstanding, one must observe that the present practice of the Government Pleader being left initially to spend for the conduct of the case, looking for recoupment long later, ill serves the State. May be, the Collector or some one, who has actively collected the materials necessary for arriving at the proper price and studied the evidence placed by the opposite party to prove his claim for a higher compensation, is the best person to instruct the government pleader in the conduct of the case. But at present, from what the learned Advocate General disclosed, it is doubtful whether such fruitful help is being received by counsel for the State. The consequence is that documents of great value, such as the deeds of sale of comparable lands in the locality or of prior transactions relating to the same property, are not produced and when produced are not proved with special reference to the recitals of prices and the relative advantages and disadvantages affecting price; nor is there an attempt made to study the documentary material produced on the opposite side with reference to the properties to which they relate and their comparability. In the present batch of appeals, the learned Advocate-General had been forced to concede that even the documents produced on his side could not be pressed into service for want of proper proof of the recitals relating to price or reliable evidence regarding the nature of the properties they dealt with. Although the State led its evidence in reply to the claimants' evidence, witnesses were not examined to disprove the worth of the documents put forward by the plaintiffs. Even the documents produced by the State, relevant to the case, were put into Court so late that the Court could not justly rely on them against the affected party. The provisions of Order VII Rule 14, Order VIII Rule 1 and Order XIII Rule 1 of the Civil Procedure Code are wise and fair and require to be conformed to by litigants, including the State, One is constrained to observe that more attention -- and more timely attention --on the part of the Government in the conduct of the case would have helpedthe Court to arrive at a proper evaluation of the lands. For instance, the learned Advocate General raised objections to the commissioner's report on certain facts bearing on the value of the improvements, but no objection had been filed in the trial Court. Naturally, the criticism made about the report, in the absence of even objections at the appropriate stage of the trial, cannot meet with judicial acceptance. All that one can sav at the end of the long arguments on both sides is that each side has matched the other in the omissions and commissions at the trial, not made good by the forensic skill both sides have displayed at the appellate stage.

48. In cases of land acquisition the function of the Court .-- and also of the Collector -- is to ascertain the market-value of the land on the relevant date; and the usual methods of valuation are:

(i) opinion of experts,

(ii) the price paid within a reasonable time in bona fide transactions of purchase of the lands acquired or the lands adjacent to the lands acquired and possessing similar advantages, and

(iii) a number of years purchase of the actual or immediately prospective profits of the lands acquired.

Expert evidence on land values is not ordinarily forthcoming in our State and the common mode resorted to is to produce documents relating to the sale of comparable lands in the neighbourhood In several cases, the capitalisation method is also resorted to. The second method needs evidence of comparative study of the properties relating to which transactions have taken place. The Court should insist upon the documents relied upon by both sides being produced at an early stage of the case. Although this golden rule promotes the fairness and effectiveness of the trial and is prescribed in the Civil Procedure Code, as indicated earlier it is more 'honoured in the breach than the observance' pardonably using this quote in its popular though erroneous sense. Once the deeds evidencing transactions are in Court, the State may be able to depute its officers to study the features of these various properties and to investigate into the bona fides of the transactions relied on by the claimants. Suitable evidence may then be led. The claimants, in their turn, may usefully take out a commission to inspect and report about all the factors and features bearing upon the value of the lands covered by the documents of both sides and, if need be, examine the commissioner in Court. Mere production of documents evidencing transactions of sale will not make the recitals regarding purchases admissible nor will the comparativefeatures be manifest from the deeds themselves. It is a moot question as to whether a witness with a personal knowledge of the transaction should be cited in respect of every deed. Normally, that has to be done and specific evidence led regarding the price paid; in which case the recitals in the deed may be good corroborative evidence. The learned Advocate General invited our attention to Sections 11 and 114 of the Evidence Act in his endeavour to persuade us to the view that statements of prices in deeds of sale may by themselves be admissible.

49. In this connection it is but right to remember that the law of evidence in India has been codified and the scheme thereof compels the Court to search for pigeon-holes of relevancy into which the material placed may be accommodated. Naturally, a certain amount of rigidity creeps in and what might appear to the layman as logically probative may not always be relevant under the Evidence Act. Similarly, there is also the further difficulty arising from the prescribed modes of proof under our statute. It is a matter for consideration whether such a highly sophisticated system will best subserve the judicial quest for truth in a backward and vast country like ours. Courts have therefore been at pains liberally to construe the provisions regarding relevancy and proof so as to bring in even marginal material, giving the benefit of doubt to admissibility. Viewed in this light, one may sympathise with the contention of the learned Advocate General that there will be considerable practical difficulty if parties to hundreds of transactions have to be brought before Court merely to prove the recital regarding consideration, particularly when there is no quarrel about the bona fides of the transactions. May be that Section 11, which makes any fact relevant if it makes the existence or non-existence of a fact in issue or relevant fact highly probable or improbable, casts the net wide enough to help a party out of the difficulty in such cases. At the same time, as the knowledge, observation and experience of men vary widely, judges' notions and rating of probability might well differ considerably, introducing an element of uncertainty in the administration of the law. Nevertheless, it may be plausibly argued that in the ordinary run of cases the recitals regarding prices in deeds of transfer are probably true and therefore relevant under Section 11. It may also be suggested with force that in the routine course, the price for a sale has to be mentioned in the deed and therefore the recital thereof may be treated as coming within the ambit of Section 114 having regard to the common course of human conduct andpublic and private business. It has to be remembered that for purposes of stamp and registration laws, price is a governing factor and is expected to be stated correctly in the deed although the heavy stamp duty appetises the parties to state an under-value. The rigorous provisions of the Kerala Stamp Act and Rules, insisting upon the value of the property or the consideration having to be truly set forth in the instrument with penal consequences in cases of violation of this obligation, emphasise the dependability of deeds of sale as evidence of the actual price of the land covered thereby. In snort/ there is much to be said in favour of the argument that Sections 11, 114 and perhaps even Section 13 may have to be given a broader sweep lest really good evidence be eschewed. In this connection, it is worthwhile remembering the observations of Ramaswami J. in Rangayyan v. Innasimuthu, AIR 1956 Mad 226 which runs as follows:

'In many cases unimpeachable documents of neighbours, who would be the best persons in our country where people are rooted for generations to the same place, about the possession and title of their adjoining properties would constitute the best evidence. There is no reason why what the Americans would call the grass-root evidence should be excluded and incur once more the reproach that the growth of the Indian Evidence Act has been exercised under the influence of English precedents and Indian lawyers by so much restrictiveness that the law of evidence has become more remarkable for what it shuts out than what it lets in. The object of a judicial investigation seems to have become more the obscuring of the truth rather than the discovery of it. I would in this connection refer to a brilliant exposition of this aspect by the late Mr. C. P. Arnold, I. C. S., in his 'Psychology Applied to Legal Evidence and other Constructions of Law.'

In English law, written hearsay is currently jumping the obstacles of inadmis-sibility by statutory amendment. Vide: T. A. Miller Ltd. v. Minister of Housing and Local Government (1968) 1 WLR 992 C. A. where reference is made to the Civil Evidence Bill which seeks to abolish the rule against hearsay even in the ordinary Courts of the land. To sum up, I perceive the force of all these factors and agree that, as far as is safely possible, law should not affront commonsense but do not pronounce upon the point raised under the Evidence Act by the Advocate General finally, since there are other difficulties in pressing the defendant's documents into service, as pointed out by my learned brother.

50. The learned Advocate General raised another interesting, ingenious andimportant question bearing on the methodology of fixing compensation. Thanks to the many drastic changes in the laws relating to agrarian ownership in our State and country. Courts can no longer compute the market value of land by a mere capitalisation of income. The basic assumption in this method is that land is a safe form of investment like gilt-edges and the rent or income represents interest. An investor in an uncertain security expects a higher rate of interest than one in a safe security. When land was a safe form of security -- and agricultural land had been traditionally regarded as the safest -- the number of years' purchase based on the interest payable on Government securities was a useful guide. Today, however, we cannot postulate that agricultural land is lasting investment. The price payable for lands in excess of the ceiling is far less than its market value and may be a factor, in some circumstances, to bring down the price. Of course, it will be rather risky to speculate on the extent to which this factor would depress the price in the market for agricultural land albeit it is a real factor. I do not feel called upon to pursue this argument in the present case since I decline, in the absence of definite data, to launch on mere conjecture and vague guesses. Suffice it to say that 'it cannot be laid down as a general rule applicable to all situations and circumstances, that a multiple approximately equal to the return from gilt-edged securities prevaling at the relevant time, forms an adequate basis for finding out the market value of the land: (1968) 2 SCWR 258=(AIR 1908 SC 1201). The alternative method of relying upon sales, proximate in time, of land, similarly situate with similar advantages, freely entered into, eliminates the depressant effect of land reform legislation.

51. The onus of proof, as an argument at the final stage of a case, is often the last refuge of a losing party; but the Advocate-General was technically right when he urged that if the Court felt that both parties had failed to place reliable evidence to prove the correct market value of the land the Collector's award must stand. But the burden of proof becomes lighter as the award becomes weaker, its strength depending on whether the Collector's order is the product of responsible and reasoned consideration of reliable and sufficient evidence or is his mere ipse dixit or perfunctory opinion (Vide the rulings relied on by the parties AIR 1915 Mad 272: (1907) ILR 34 Cal 599; (1907) 11 Cal WN 875). We have already adverted to the mechanical way the Collector has passed his award and so the State cannot support itself on the rickety crutches of the Collector's award. This feature again emphasises the importanceof the Collector's duty In working out a fair offer.

52. To conclude, we have had to agreelargely with the Subordinate Judge'sdecrees not because we are satisfied heis wholly right but because we are notsatisfied he is clearly wrong: which isthe correct approach to be adopted by anappellate Court.

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