N.H. Bhatt, J.
1. This is a petition by one citizen in whose favour an award, Annexure A, under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act has been made on 27-7-81 in respect of acquisition of her properties bearing Nondh Nos. 198 and 199 situated in Ward No. 7 on the Station Road area in the City of Surat. The petitioner's averment in paragraph 3 of the petition is that she had already handed over possession of the said property after the award was declared by the respondent, as per her statement Annexure B, but the Special Land Acquisition Officer by his communication, Annexure C, dated 6-8-81 avoided making payment to her of the amount awarded to her on the spacious plea that her tenants had not delivered de facto possession, though she, on her part, had delivered possession in respect of her title to the property. Being aggrieved by the said communication, Annexure C, the petitioner has filed the present petition for a writ of mandamus or any other appropriate writ, order or direction, calling upon the respondent No. 2, namely, the Special Land Acquisition Officer, Branch No. 4, Surat, to pay to the petitioner the amount of Rs. 2,02,945/- as per the award, Annexure A, given in her favour.
2. Though the petition was admitted as back as on 12-11-81 and has been notified for final hearing on the Board of this Court since long, neither the Special Land Acquisition Officer nor the acquiring body, namely, the Surat Municipal Corporation, has chosen to file any affidavit-in-reply. Apart from that, the communication, Annexure C, itself shows that as far as the petitioner is concerned, she had given over possession to the extent she could, but for more than two years, she has been kept away from the amount legitimately due to her. We find no justification for the respondent No. 2 in not making the payment.
3. In this connection, the judgment of the Division Bench of this Court in the Special Civil Application No. 3219 of 1979 decided on 11-3-80 was pressed into service. Our Brother G. T. Nanavati, J. speaking for the Division Bench, consisting of himself and B. J. Divan, C. J., (as he then was) has made it clear that payment of the amount of compensation is not dependent on the handing over of vacant possession by the owner of the land and that once an award is made, it becomes the duty of the Land Acquisition Officer to make payment of the amount of compensation and it cannot be withheld except in the cases referred to under Sub-section (2) of Section 31 of the Act. In that case, the respondent No. 2, the similar authority, was withholding the payment on the almost identical grounds and that had necessitated the filing of that petition. The facts of this case are on all fours with the facts of the case of that Special Civil Application earlier decided by the Division Bench of this Court.
4. Mr. G. N. Desai, who, according to us, has no locus standi in this litigation except for the purpose of assisting the Court, very vehemently contended before us that it was the obligation of a party, whose land had been acquired, to put the acquiring authorities into physical and de facto possession of the land in question. Mr. Desai also submitted that a situation might develop in which the money might be lost and the amount also might be lost simultaneously, and such a situation must be avoided in all circumstances. In view of the Division Bench, judgment (supra) which has exquisitely dealt with this point, we are not able to land any serious hearing to the argument of Mr. Desai though it was vehemently pressed before us.
We, therefore, allow this petition by granting the prayer A of paragraph 12 of the petition by making the rule absolute with costs.