M. Natesan, J.
1. These appeals arise out of the order passed by the learned Subordinate Judge of Madurai on a reference under Section 18 (2) of the Land Acquisition Act. The acquisition is of an extent of one acre and 90 cents of dry land in S.No. 140 Kodikulam village of Madurai Taluk for constructing quarters for the police staff at Othakadai. The Land Acquisition Officer fixed the market value of the land at Rs. 30 per cent. and the learned Subordinate Judge has enhanced it to Rs. 8p per cent. While the State has preferred Appeal Suit No/604 of 1961 against the award of additional compensation, the claimant has preferred Appeal Suit No. 74 of 1962 claiming compensation in the appeal at Rs. 150 per cent.
2. The land under acquisition is situated at the junction point of Kodikulam, Narasingam and Arumbanur Village limits and adjacent to Anamalai Hills abuts on the road from Othakadai to Narasingam and other villages. The notification under Section 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act was published in the Gazette on 15th April, 1959. For the claimant reliance was principally placed upon the sale deeds Exhibits B-3 to B-9, dated 24th February, 1947 in respect of the portions of R.S. No. 147 adjoining R.S. No. 140, but separated by a channel. R.S. No. 147 was nanja land and under the sale deeds small extents of seven cents each were sold for house sites and the price ranges from Rs. 142 to Rs. 214 per cent. Reliance was placed also on two sale deeds Exhibits B-10 and B-11 bearing date 16th February, 1947 of sales of land in R. S. No. 144 of the extent of 20 cents under each deed at Rs. 150 per cent. R.S. No. 144 is further removed from R.S. No. 147 and nearer the Madurai Metur Main Road. Two other sale deeds, and these arc of very small extents, relied upon by the claimant are of the year 1948. On behalf of the State two sale deeds Exhibits A-2 and A-3 have been placed on the record as evidence. Under Exhibit A-2 an extent of 18 cents is conveyed in R.S. No. 203 in June, 1956. The rate works out to Rs. 19 per cent. Exhibit A-3, is a sale in September, 1958 of an extent of 16 1/2 cents in R.S. No. 207 for Rs. 400. R.S. No. 203 is far removed from the locality with which we are concerned and beyond the Anamalai Hills and even so R. S.No. 207. These sale deeds can in no sense be considered as comparable sales or of lands similarly situated, and there can be no doubt that guidance if any has to be sought only from the sales evidenced by Exhibits B-3 to B-9 subject to due allowance, but these sale deeds are not recent and this aspect is stressed strenuously for the State.' The learned Subordinate Judge took into consideration the value of the land in the neighbourhood furnished by Exhibits B-2 to B-15 even in 1947 and rejected the value's furnished by Exhibits A-2 and A-3. He took note of the fact that S. No. 147-2 the southen portion of which was the subject of the sales evidenced by Exhibits B-3 to B-9 was about two feet lower in level than the road, while the acquired site was about two feet higher in level than the road. ' He arrived at Rs. 80 per cent as proper compensation. S. No. 147 has been the subject of land acquisition and the award in the case given by the learned Subordinate Judge of Madurai in Original Petition No. 34 of 1949 has been exhibited as Exhibit B-2. Under that award for the southern portion of S. No. 147-2, which is covered by the sale deeds Exhibits B-3 to B-9, the compensation was awarded on the basis of the price paid by the vendees. ' For the northern portion the trial Court awarded compensation at Rs. 100 and it is brought out in evidence that this Court on appeal therefrom by the State reduced the value of the northern portion to Rs. 50 per cent. For the State without filing the judgment of this Court it was contended that the reduction in the compensation amount was in respect of the whole of the property. The trial Court felt constrained in the absence of the judgment of this Court to hold that it could not safely rely on the award Exhibit B-2. Now before us learned Government Pleader for the State and the Counsel for the appellant have both referred to the judgment of this Court in Appeal Suit No. 366 of 1952 where the award came up for Consideration and it has not been disputed before us that this Court on appeal reduced the compensation awarded by the learned Subordinate Judge only in respect of the northern portion of S. No. 147-2. It is not now disputed that there was no appeal even by the State in regard to the southern portion of S. No. 147-2 which related to lands abutting the road leading from Othakadai to Narasingapuram and which were the subject of the sale deeds Exhibits B-3 to B-9. We may here point out that in the trial Court, the claimant had specifically stated that there was no appeal by the State in respect of the southern portion of S. No. 147-2 measuring 52 cents.
3. The learned Government Pleader referred us to the decision of the (Supreme Court in S. L. A. Officer v. T.A. Setty : AIR1959SC429 , where the Supreme Court has affirmed the principle that the function of the Court in awarding the compensation under the Act is to ascertain the market value of the land at the date of the notification under Section 4 (1) and the methods of valuation may be (i) opinion of expert or experts; (ii) the price paid within a reasonable time in bona fide transactions of purchase of the lands acquired or the lands adjacent to the lands acquired and possessing similar advantages; and (iii) a number of years purchase of the actual or immediately prospective profits of the lands acquired. Learned Government Pleader .contends that the sale deeds of 1947 are Wholly irrelevant and ought not to be taken into consideration. But he sought to rely on two sale deeds one of the year 1952 and another of the year 1953 where portions in S. No. 139 had been sold, the market rate working to Rs. 8 per cent in one and Rs. 3 per, cent in another case. This S. No. 139 does not abut the road, S, No. 140 which comprises the acquired site intervening between S. No. 139 does not abut the road, S. No. 140 which comprises the acquired site intervening between S. No. 139 and the road. The sale deeds themselves have not been brought into the record as evidence in the case and we are unable to appreciate how any reliance' can be placed upon those transactions. The Land Acquisition Officer himself has not relied upon the sale deeds. He has awarded compensation at Rs. 30 per cent. If the sale deeds have any bearing on the matter under enquiry, the State ought to have exhibited these sale deeds so that the claimant may meet any inference that may be deduced from them. The proceedings before the Court on a reference under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act are not a mere continuation of the proceeding before the Collector. The enquiry before the Court on the reference are wholly judicial and the decision of the Court has to rest on evidence duly placed before the Court or on admissions that could be properly relied upon. The facts that have been the subject of consideration by the Collector for fixing the market value of the land do not automatically become evidence before the Court unless parties consent to such procedure. The Collector's award when it is not accepted by the claimant and when a reference is sought, is only an offer by the Collector. Of course on a reference under Section 18, the award of the Collector will be prima facie evidence and the claimant will have to displace it. The burden of proof will be on the claimant to show that the compensation determined upon by the Collector is inadequate as his position is like that of a plaintiff, the Government being the opposite party.
4. In the present case both before the Collector and on the reference the method adopted for determining the market value has been to seek guidance from sales of neighbouring lands. The learned Government Pleader's argument that the sales relied upon by the claimant are not recent overlooks that there is no evidence of recent sales of comparable land in the vicinity. The question of market value is not a question of law but a question of fact to be determined according to the circumstances of the particular case. The best evidence no doubt would be of sales of similar land with similar advantages at about the time of the notification under Section 4 (1). In the absence of recent sales in the vicinity, the : question whether the sale deeds relied upon could afford any guide is a question to be determined having regard to all the surrounding circumstances making due allowance for matters that could detract from the value of the evidence furnished by the sales. One thing that has to be borne in mind is that they should not be so remote as to make reliance upon them speculative. In certain localities there may be no sales at all for years and the land may be fallow giving no guidance for, fixation of the market value by reference to the income therefrom. Whether sales are recent or not the degree of remoteness in regard to time is relative. Events may considerably change values in a short time, prices may spiral up or there may be steep falls. In such circumstances little reliance could be placed on sales separated even By a few months. The ascertainment of market value of the land under Section 23 of the Land Acquisition A to like any other matter is a matter for legitimate deduction from the evidence placed,' before the Court. We may in this connection refer to the observations of the Judicial Committee in Raja Vyricherla, Narayana Gajapathiraju v. Revenue Divisional Officer, Vizagapatam L.R. 66 IndAp 104 : (1939) 2 M.L.J. 45 : I.L.R. (1939) Mad 532, wherein Lord Romer has observed 1939 L.R. 66 IndAp 104 : (1939)2 M.L.J. 45 : I.L.R. (1939) Mad 532 : ,,
There is not in general any market for land in the sense in which one speaks of a market for shares or a market for sugar or any like commodity. The value of any such article at any particular time can readily be ascertained by the prices being obtained for similar articles in the market. In the case of land, its value in general can also be measured by a consideration of the prices that have been obtained in the past for land of similar quality and in similar positions, and this is what must be meant in general by '' the market value ' in Section 23. But sometimes it happens that the land to be valued possesses some unusual and it may be, unique features, as regards its position-or its potentialities. In such a case the arbitrator in determining its value will have no market value to guide him, and he will have to ascertain, as best he may from the materials before him, what a willing vender might reasonably expect to obtain from a willing purchaser for the land in that particular position and with those particular potentialities.
The determination of the market value is thus a judicial process and the Court may properly take into consideration all such factors as would influence a willing purchaser in making his maximum offer or a willing vender L.R. 66 IndAp 104 : (1939)2 M.L.J. 45 : I.L.R. (1939) Mad 532 in quoting his lowest price. Of course these materials which the Court has to consider have to be brought on record by relevant and legal evidence and they must be tangible materials capable of objective assessment, not fancied consideration.
5. In the present case while for the claimant it has been stated that the prices of house sites have been going up on behalf of the State it has not been contended, as it could not be that there has been depreciation in price of land since 1947. It is not only a matter of common knowledge and notoriety that there is an all round increase in the price of land, but there is evidence of the claimant in this regard. The only comment that was made for the State as regards this evidence is securing an admission from the claimant that he had no document to show the increase in price. But , it is not disputed that Othakadai in which there was originally one shop, arid one a. chathiram had in recent years grown up and was having a population of 2,000 .people. The claimant has stated that the locality is a market for neigh bouring villages. While arriving at; the figure of Rs. 80 per cent as the market value, the learned Subordinate Judge remarks that there was no independent evidence to move that S. No. 147-2 was lower in level than the road and that the cost of levelling it self would be Rs. 100 to Rs. 150 per cent while the acquired site was about two feet higher in level than the road. What the learned Subordinate Judge has failed to see is that there has been no attempt on the part of the State to disprove those claims of the claimant. At any rate, nothing has been said for the State to value the acquired land at less than the value given for the southern portion of S. No. 147-2 in 1947 It is submitted for the State that in the earlier award evidenced by Original Petition No. 34 of 1949 all that was done was to compensate the purchasers of portions of S. No. 147-2. with the prices they paid. But certainly the awards has Accepted the price paid by the purchasers as the proper compensation for the land. The award thus determined the market value of the lands sold as the price paid for them by the vendees. There is absolutely no evidence before us that these are fictitious sales. There cannot be, as the State has accepted the prices In the absence of any evidence of fall in prices, one may presume at the least that the prices have been stationary in spite of the village growing in population and in importance. It is stated for. the claimant that, there is a Higher Elementary School next to the acquired site and there is a : police station in Othakadai. A co-operative bank and stores have also come up in Othakadai. As regards the northern portion of S. No. 147-2 in respect of which even according to the claimant the compensation was reduced to Rs. 50 per cent it must be noted that S. No. 147-2 was nanja land and the northern portion was land locked. We have another favourable factor in this that between 1947 and 1959 houses have been built in S. No. 147.
6. No doubt allowance has to be made for the fact that the sales evidenced by Exhibits B-3 to B-9 are in respect of small extents of land about seven cents in extent each. The present acquisition is of a total extent of one acre and 90 cents. Also the acquired site though on the road from Othakadai to Narasingam is further removed from the Madurai Melur Main Road. But it is dry land and not like S. No. 147-2, nanja land. Even giving due allowance for such features as may detract from the value of the land, we cannot see how the compensation could be fixed at just Rs. 80 per cent. In our view, while the market value of land cannot be fixed with mathematical accuracy and a certain amount of conjecture is inevitable, we are unable to see any basis for fixing it at Rs. 80 per cent. True, there cannot be exact reasoning for arriving at a particular figure; irrefragable logic cannot be found in the reasoning. But the guidelines followed should be properly indicated. Here we have a feeling that the learned Subordinate Judge, has, for the reason that for the State it was contended that this Court had reduced the compensation even in respect of the southern part of S. No; 147-2, not really taken into consideration Exhibits B-3 to B-9. As pointed out above, in the absence of evidence of fall in prices and even excluding the steadyrise in prices since 1949 sworn to by the claimant, these sales are of land of fairly comparable quality and situation. On that basis, making due allowance that an extent of one acre and 90 cents is now acquired and that it is somewhat removed from the main road abutting another road, we think that for the acquired land fair and reasonable compensation could be fixed at Rs. 110 per cent. Roughly we are deducting about Rs. , 25 per cent on the price evidenced by the sale deeds Exhibits B-3 to B-9 having regard to the location of the property and the extent acquired and other features likely to affect the-value.
7. In the result, Appeal Suit No. 74 of 1962 preferred by the claimant is allowed and the claimant is awarded compensation at Rs. 110 per cent of land acquired with the usual solatium and, the statutory interest, that is, this Court is awarding an additional compensation of Rs. 30 per cent over and above what has been given by the learned Subordinate Judge. Appeal Suit No. 604 of 1961 preferred by the State is dismissed. The claimant will be entitled to proportionate costs in his appeal--Appeal Suit No. 74 of 1962. There will be no costs in Appeal Suit No. 604 of 1961.