1. This is an application by Ram Pratap under Article 226 of the Constitution of India praying that a writ of certiorari be issued quashing the order of the Revenue Minister of the State of Rajasthan dated 30-8-1951.
2. The circumstances in which that order came to be passed are these. A piece of land belonging to the applicant was acquired by former Jaipur State sometime before 1949, and a sum of Rs. 4,123/- as compensation for the construction standing on it and an equal piece of land as exchange were ordered to be given to the applicant. Thereupon, certain persons, who claimed to have an interest in the land acquired, made an application to the Land Acquisition Officer to refer the dispute as to the distribution of the compensation to the Civil Court under Section 18, Jaipur Land Acquisition Act (28 of 1943). The Land Acquisition Officer refused to make the reference by his order dated 1-7-1949. Thereafter, it seems that further attempts were made to get the Land Acquisition Officer to make a reference, and finally on 6-2-1950, he refused to make a reference, saying that it was within his discretion whether to make a reference under Section 30 of the Act or not. It was this order against which these persons submitted what may be called a representation or revision to the Government. The order of the Revenue Minister dated the 30-8-1951, was passed on this representation or revision, The Revenue Minister says in his order that 'the case law on the subject would justify the view that in the interest of justice, the Collector as an Administrative Officer should adopt the course of making a reference to the competent CivilCourts in all bona fide disputes, rather than making his orders final in the matter of awards, so that no objector with a prima facie claim may be put to the hardship of instituting a Civil suit. In this case, the Land Acquisition Officer should, therefore, be given a direction to do so now.' It seems that though the order was passed on 30-8-1951, direction was already given on 20-8-1951 and it further appears that the Land Acquisition Officer has, in pursuance of this direction) referred the case to the Court.
3. The reason why the Revenue Minister has made this order is that there is a difference of opinion in the various High Courts on the question whether the Order of the Land Acquisition Officer can be revised by the High Court, and as such the Revenue Minister thought that the Land Acquisition Officer, who works as the agent of the Government with reference to proceedings under part II of the Jaipur Land Acquisition Act, could be directed by the Government to take certain action in connection with proceedings under Section 18 of the Act. We may, however, point out that Section 18 of the Act appears in part III, which is headed 'Reference to Court and procedure thereon.' There is no doubt that some of the High Courts have held that the Collector or the Land Acquisition Officer acts as an Administrative Officer, when he passed an order under Section 18 of the Act, Reference in this connection may be made to -- 'Bhagaban Das v. First Land Acquisition Collector, Calcutta', AIR 1937 Cal 705, and -- 'Bhajanilal v. Secy. of State', AIR 1932 All 568 (SB). These were, however, cases under Section 115, Civil P. C., and the Courts considered whether the High Court. could interfere under Section 115 with the order made by the Land Acquisition Officer. There was no discussion in these cases of the point whether the High Court could interfere under Section 45 of the Specific Relief Act. In our opinion, where Section 45, Specific Relief Act, is applicable the position is materially different, and there is a remedy provided against the Order of the Land Acquisition Officer, who wrongly refuses to make a reference under Section 18, Land Acquisition Act, and in such areas it is not right that the parties should apply to Government or that Government should give directions to the Land Acquisition Officer. We may in this connection refer to -- 'Alcock Ashdown and Co. Ltd. v. Chief Revenue Authority, Bombay', AIR 1923 PC 138, where it was held
'If the legislature says that a Public Officer, even a Revenue Officer, shall do a thing, and he without cause or justification refuses to do that thing, the Specific Relief Act would be applicable and there would be power in the Court to compel him to give relief to the subject.'
This view was based on the words of 'S. 45, Specific Relief Act.
4. The next case to which we may refer is -- 'Provident Investment Co, Ltd. v. Land Acquisition Officer, Bombay', AIR 1935 Bom 319. The Bombay High Court held that an applicant could require a matter to be referred to the Court whether his objection was on any of the four grounds mentioned in Section 18(1). Where the applicant had stated that he questioned the amount of compensation, it might be safely inferred that the suggestion was that the amount of the compensation was too low, and the Bombay High Court in this case ordered, under Section 45, Specific Relief Act, theLand Acquisition Officer to make the required reference.
5. Lastly, we may refer to -- 'G. J. Desai v. Abdul Mazid', AIR 1951 Bom 156, In that case ft was held that if the Collector was wrong in the view that he took as to the maintainability of the petition, and refused to make a reference, it would always be open to the claimants to come to Court under Section 45, Specific Relief Act, and get the Court to compel the Collector to make a reference if they satisfied the Court that their application was within time.
6. There is thus clear authority for the view that where Section 45, Specific Relief Act, applies, there is a remedy to a party whose application for reference under Section 18, Land Acquisition Act, was wrongly refused, to apply to the High Court for a writ of mandamus. Where, therefore, such a remedy exists, the duty of the parties is to come to the High Court, and the Government should not give directions to the Land Acquisition Officer. We may also point out that the Order of the Land Acquisition Officer under Section 18 is not a purely administrative Order, though in the Allahabad and Calcutta cases, to which we have already referred, the view was taken that the Order was a purely administrative one. We, however, respectfully differ from the view that was taken in those cases, and prefer to follow the view taken by a Full Bench of the Madras High Court in -- 'Abdul Sattar Sahib v. Special Deputy Collector of Vizagapatam', AIR 1924 Mad 442. That case was also under Section 115, Civil P. C,, and though eventually the Court held that it could not interfere with the order of the Land Acquisition Officer or the Collector under Section 115, it was made clear that the order was, at any rate of a quasi-judicial nature, and the case of -- 'Ezra v. Secretary of State for India', 32 Cal 605 (PC) was distinguished. In that Privy Council case it was held that proceedings under Part II were of an administrative nature, and the learned Judges of the Madras High Court pointed out that Section 18 was in part III, and certainly required judicial determination of the question whether the application complied with the provisions of Section 18 and was within time. The determination of these two questions was held to be judicial in nature, and, therefore, the order of the Land Acquisition Officer was a quasi-judicial Order, even though the Land Acquisition Officer may not be a Court subordinate to the High Court within the meaning of Section 115, Civil P.C.
7. The next question that then arises is whether there was a remedy in this State open to those whose applications had been refused by the Land Acquisition Officer on 1-7-1949. In this connection, reference may be made to Section 45, Jaipur Specific Relief Act, which is in these words :
'The High Court may make an order requiring any specific act to be done or forborne by any person holding a public office whether of a permanent or a temporary nature, or by any corporation or inferior court of judicature.'
Thus the former Jaipur High Court, which was then in existence, had the power under Section 45 to issue a writ of mandamus to the Land Acquisition Officer ordering him to refer the case to Court, if in the opinion of the High Court the order passed by the Land Acquisition Officer was wrong. When the present High Court came into existence in August1949, by Virtue of Ordinance No. 15 of 1949, it was invested with the jurisdiction and power throughout the State to issue directions or orders in the nature of the writs of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition 'quo warranto', and certiorari for the enforcement of such rights as are given by any law for the time being in force. These powers still continue in this Court by virtue of Article 226 of the Constitution of India. Under these circumstances, the remedy' for those whose applications had been originally refused on 1-7-1949, was to come to the then Jaipur High Court or to the Rajasthan High Court for the issue of a writ of mandamus, and in this view it was not proper for the Revenue Minister to interfere in the matter. We may point out that the real order of dismissal was passed on 1-7-1949, and the order dated 6-2-1950, was only a reiteration of that order.
8. The next question is as to what order we should now pass. As to that, we are of opinion that even though the Revenue Minister should not have given a direction to the Land Acquisition Officer to make a reference to the Court, and left it to the parties to come to this Court for relief, the actual order passed in the case need not be interfered with, for if those persons had come to this Court, they would only have got that relief which had been given to them by virtue of the directions given by the Revenue Minister.
9. We, therefore, dismiss the applicationwith the remarks given above. As the applicant has not appeared before us, we pass noorder as to costs.