1. The Acquiring Officer awarded compensation at the rate of Rs. 1,200 an acre, The widow Durgamma to whom the northern part of Survey No. 575 belonged at the time claimed at the rate of Rs. 1,400 an acre. After she had surrendered the estate to her husband's reversioners they claimed Rs. 2 1/2 a square yard, but the District Judge held that he was precluded by Section 25(1) of Act 1 of 1894 from awarding a higher amount than that claimed by the widow. In appeal the reversioners ask to be compensated at the rate of Rs. l 1/2 a square yard.
2. Upon the question of law, we are of opinion that Section 25 was designed with the purpose of holding claimants to their own bargains and of preventing demands being increased at every stage from the Collector to the High Court. The word 'applicant' in this section is used to describe the person who puts in a written application under Section 18 for having his objection to the Collector's award referred for determination by a Civil Court. He is not necessarily identical with the person who makes a claim after notice under Section 9, All that Section 18 requires is that he should be a person interested who has not accepted the award, and a 'person interested' is defined in Section 3 as including every person claiming an interest in compensation to be made on account of the acquisition. Under Section 25 claimants are estopped from getting more from the Judge than what they claimed before the Collector, and on the same principle their legal representatives would no doubt be bound. But although a widow represents her deceased husband's estate for certain purposes and has limited powers of disposal over it, the reversioners are not her legal representatives nor are they bound by her acts on any principle of estoppel. The Judge therefore should not have considered his award as limited to the amount claimed before the Acquiring Officer.
3. On the question of fact which is what is the market rate which the plots acquired would fetch at a fair computation, we are of opinion that 8 annas a square yard which is the rate awarded by the District Judge is too low. This land though hitherto used for wet cultivation is surrounded on all sides by lands which have been built upon and it will be suitable for building sites as soon as the level has been raised. In fact the purpose for which it has been acquired is the extension of the village site and this is an element for consideration in estimating its value, though under Section 24(1) the court is precluded from taking into consideration the increase of its value likely to arise from the use to which it will be put.
4. Now from among the multitude of transactions of which the documents filed in this and the connected case afford evidence, if we exclude evidence of transactions that are not sufficiently recent to be a guide to prices prevailing at the present time, since there is ample proof that prices have risen enormously in the last 30 years; if we exclude also evidence of sales of portions of the regular village site which adjoin other properties of the purchasers; if we exclude transfers of lands with houses, wells or crops standing on them when the value of the superstructures or crops is unknown or uncertain; also inam lands, lands with roads or lanes on them, lands in bad localities such as those which adjoin cemetries or medigas' quarters or are far distant from other habitations, and plots of small dimensions which are of little use for determining the value of big blocks, and then take an average of the prices at which lands in the neighbourhood of the land acquired have been selling within the last ten years, we find that the average price, judged from the evidence of documents that are not open to any serious objection, such as Exs. EE, KK, BB, S.R.F and II works out approximately to one rupee a square yard.
5. From this has to be deducted the cost of raising the level by 1 1/2 yards. The 2nd witness for Government estimated this cost at 7 or 8 annas a yard, but this appears to be rather high as the claimants' 2nd witness puts it at 2 annas a yard and their first witness at 6 annas a yard or 2 annas for every half yard that is raised. In para 16 of his judgment the District Judge states that it will cost from 4 to 6 annas a square yard to raise the level but in the schedule both he and the Acquiring Officer allow Rs. 3 a cent for raising the level by 3/4 yard and this works out to 2 annas a square yard for raising the level by 1 1/2 yards. Adopting a mean rate of 4 annas a square yard for raising the level of the land acquired by 1 1/2 yards to make it fit for building purposes and subtracting this amount from the average value, we arrive at a valuation of 12 annas a square yard and the amount of the District Judge's award will be increased accordingly for all the lands concerned in this appeal with interest and proportionate costs.