K. Veeraswami, J.
1. This appeal arises out of a reference under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Regulation (XI of 1089-M.E.). That was a reference at the instance of the first respondent. The land acquired is comprised in S. No. 1111 in Ponmanai village, Kalkulam Taluk, and the purpose of the acquisition was to provide land for the Kulasekharam High School. The crucial date for purposes of determining the market value under the provisions of the said Regulation is the date of the declaration under Section 6, which is 6th April, 1954. The property belonged to the fifth respondent who mortgaged the same usufructuarily in favour of respondents 1 to 3 and 6. The mortgagees apparently for purposes of convenient enjoyment by a deed of partition dated 1st June, 1951, divided the hypotheca inter se and as a result, the second respondent was allotted a fourth share the third and the first one-half and a fourth share respectively. Before the Land Acquisition Officer the claim was at the rate of Rs. 7,000 per acre. But the award was only at Rs. 700 per acre. It appears that only the second and third respondents responded to the notice under Section 9 and filed objections making a claim at the rate we mentioned. Nevertheless, after the award, the first respondent alone applied under Section 18 for a reference. In that reference, the other respondents were made parties. The Court below appointed a Commissioner and mainly on the basis of his report fixed the market value at Rs. 5,000 per acre. The State has preferred this appeal.
2. Certain legal contentions on behalf of the appellant are addressed to us. The first of them is that the first respondent, having not responded to the notice before the Land Acquisition Officer, was not entitled to ask for a reference under Section 18. In support of this contention our attention is invited to Section 24 and the terms of Section 18 of the Travancore Regulation. Section 24 (2) no doubt says that when the applicant has omitted without sufficient reason to be allowed by the Judge to make a claim before the Land Acquisition Officer, the amount awarded by the Court shall in no case exceed the amount awarded by the Collector. But the following sub-section gives discretion to the Court if the omission in its opinion, is for sufficient reason to award to the applicant an amount in excess of what had been awarded by the Land Acquisition Officer. Sub-section (1) of Section 18 by itself would suggest that it is only a person interested Within the meaning of the Act who has filed objections before the Land Acquisition Officer and felt affected by such objections after the award who could ask for a reference. But in our opinion, this sub-section will have to be read subject to the provisions of Section 24. If the omission to make objection before the Collector is for sufficient reasons, then Section 18 (1) read with Section 24 Would imply that such a person Would be entitled to ask for a reference. In this case, the reason Why the first respondent did not himself prefer any objection before the Land Acquisition Officer would seem to be that he Was one of the mortgagees and that what applied to one of them would extend to the rest as well, because the security in their favour is one and indivisible. As we consider that this Was a sufficient reason for the first respondent preferring no objection, and as respondents 2 and 3 interested in the security had filed objections, the ground based on Section 24 as to the non-maintainability of the reference at the instance of the first respondent cannot be upheld.
3. It is next contended for the State that inasmuch as a reference was asked for only by the first respondent, the higher claim of respondents 2 and 3 should not be considered under the reference. In principle and in the abstract, the contention maybe well-founded, and it is supported by the decisions in State v. Narayani Pillay : AIR1959Ker136 , and Rajamannar v. State of Madras (1965) 1 M.L.J. 598, In the second case Ramakrishnan, J., held that it Would not be permissible to take into account at the enquiry by the civil Court on a reference the representations of persons who have never applied after the passing of the award within the time-limit fixed by the statute stating whether they accepted the award of were objecting to it. The learned. Judge went further and was of the view that such persons could not be added as parties to the reference made at the instance of persons who did not accept the award of the Collector. The provisions the learned Judge was construing in the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 are in pari materia with the Travancore Regulation. To the facts in that case, the principle pointed out by the learned Judge, which we with respect accept is correct Was applicable. But here as we already mentioned, the facts are peculiar. Though the, mortgagees purported to divide the hypotheca and assumed possession of the relative shares, the hypotheca itself as security is one and entire and cannot be split up. It exists as a mortgage and has to be redeemed not in dribblets but as a Whole notwithstanding the fact that the mortgagees divided the hypotheca between themselves. In fact, it is recognised by the terms of the partition deed itself and it is stipulated there that at the time of redemption all the mortgagees should surrender possession to the mortgagor. That being the case, the position is comparable in a sense to property owned in co-ownership Without a division, in which case any one of the co-owners can represent the whole of what is owned to co-ownership. Just as one of the mortgagees alone cannot insist on redemption of the share allotted to him at the partition, on the same principle, one cannot restrict one of the mortgagees for purposes of Sections 18 and 24 to his assumed interest alone in the mortgage. When one of the mortgagees makes an objection, necessarily it must extend to the entirety of the mortgage Which as We said, is one whole and not capable in law of being split up. The mortgagees have interest in the security as a whole whatever may be the effect of the partit on among themselves for the purposes of convenient enjoyment. On that view, we consider that the second objection also should fail.
4. There is a third ground urged by learned Additional Government Pleader which is that whereas the claim made by the mortgagees for the trees was limited to Rs. 2,000, the Court below enhanced it to Rs. 2,405-55. We think that the contention is right. This is manifest from the terms of Section 24, which restricts the claimant to the compensation claimed by him.
5. It is urged finally for the appellant that the market value fixed ,by the Court below is excessive. As We mentioned, the Court below was mainly guided by the Commissioner's report. But we do not think that this alone could justify the enhancement to the extent allowed by the Court below. There Were a number of data sales available to the Court below for consideration. Of them, no doubt, the sale dated 24th April, 1954 worked out a rate of Rs. 5,700 per. acre. But not only this Was subsequent to the date of the declaration but also it was a conveyance of only a small extent of 7 cents. Further the land was comprised in S. No. 1106, which is bounded on one side by a road. Apparently, this was a more valuable land. It is needless to say that small plots of land do fetch higher prices than large extents. Another sale deed dated 20th April, 1956, covered S. No. 1110 adjacent to the land under acquisition. This also Was a conveyance of only 6 cents but at the rate of Rs. 4,000 per acre. Still later on 1st June, 1957, there Was a sale of 22 cents of land in S. No. 1110. But this was at the rate of Rs. 6,800 per acre. Though these sale deeds were subsequent to the date of the declaration, they do in the absence of other data, give an indication as to the price to be fixed for the land under acquisition as on 1st April, 1954. Taking all the facts and circumstances into account, we think that the market value may reasonably be fixed at Rs. 3,500 per acre. The claimants will be paid compensation on that basis.
6. The appeal is allowed both in respect of the enhancement made by the Court below in respect of the trees in excess of Rs. 2,006 and in respect of the market value which we have fixed at Rs. 3,500 per acre. The appellant Will be entitled to proportionate costs.