1. This is a Civil Revision Petition put in on behalf of the Secretary of State in Council under Section 622 of the Civil Procedure Code against the decision of the District Judge of Tanjore and the assessors in Compensation Case No. 4 of 1890.
2. The first question which arises is whether the High Court has power to entertain the petition under Section 622, Civil Procedure Code. The Judge and assessors agreed as to the amount of compensation to be awarded, and, under Section 29, Act X of 1870, their decision is final. But under Section 34, the Judge and assessors are bound to state the grounds of their award under Clauses 1-4 of Section 24, and if it can be shown that they have refused to take into consideration any of the matters prescribed by that section or have improperly taken into consideration any of the matters prohibited under Section 25, we think such procedure would amount to material irregularity in the exercise of jurisdiction which would justify interference under Section 622, Civil Procedure Code. We find, moreover, that, in a case in which a question rose under Section 55 of the Land Acquisition Act, the High Court of Calcutta held that though there was no appeal from what the Judge had decided, it could be set aside as being in excess of his jurisdiction. Taylor v. The Collector of Purnea I.L.R. 14 Cal. 423.
3. Passing to the grounds for the award stated under Section 34, we find that the Judge and assessors state that they award under Section 24, Clause 1, the sum of Rs. 42,500 'on the ground of that being its market value judging (i) by the amount actually expended upon the property, (ii) by the amount fetched at sales in neighbouring pans, and (iii) at the average value per pan arrived at with reference to the estimate of the several witnesses.'
4. Prima facie there is no illegality or irregularity in the exercise of jurisdiction in this award, the 'market value of the land' being the first matter which the Judge and assessors were bound to consider under Section 24, Clause 1.
5. It is contended, however, for the Government that the Judge and assessors were wrong in estimating the market value of the land as a salt factory, because the Salt Commissioner could, at any time, withdraw the licence to make salt under Madras Act IV of 1889, that the land could not, therefore, have any market-value as a salt factory, and that the soiling price of the land itself was the proper criterion for value.
6. It is true that Section 16, Madras Act IV of 1889, directs that, when on, cancelment of a licence the Commissioner resolves to retain the salt works, and to acquire the proprietary rights of the late licensee, the value of the land as a site for salt manufacture shall not be taken into account in acquiring the proprietary right, but that compensation shall be paid to the late licensee at the rate fixed in Section 18. But this Act did not receive the assent of the Governor-General till 30th December 1889, subsequent to this land being taken up under Act X of 1870, and, in the former Salt Act I of 1882, we find no corresponding provision. We observe that the lands were purchased by the company in 1885 and 1886 for about Rs. 3,000, and that in making his offer of Rs. 18,002-11-6 for acquiring them under the Act the Collector has taken into consideration the cost of converting them into salt pans. At the time, therefore, the land was acquired, there was no direction that the Government should only be called upon to pay the value of the land alone and that compensation for its special value should only be paid for at fixed rates. Looking to the definition of 'land' in Section 3, Act X of 1870, we are not able to say there was any illegality in the Judge taking into account the value of the works which made the place suitable for a salt-factory, and even if, in making his estimate of market value, the Judge was in error in taking into consideration the price paid for neighbouring pans, the mistake would at most be only one concerning the principles of valuation and not an irregularity in the exercise of jurisdiction. We must dismiss the petition with costs.