M.M. Ismail, J.
1. A.S. No. 173 of 1970 arises out of O.P. No. 203 of 1966 while A.S. No. 174 of 1970 arises out of O.P. No. 19 of 1968, both on the file of the Court of the Subordinate Judge of Salem and both of them being references under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act. The former appeal is concerned with the quantum of compensation payable for 3 acres and 68 cents of lands, while the latter appeal is concerned with the quantum of compensation payable for 4 cents of land, both the lands having been acquired for housing Harijans in Seelnaickenpatty, pursuant to a notification under Section 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act dated 10th March, 1965. The Land Acquisition Officer awarded compensation at 8 paise per square foot, which was enhanced to 20 paise per sq. ft. by the learned Principal Subordinate Judge of Salem by the impugned order dated 19th April, 1969. The State has preferred these two appeals against the said enhancement principally contending that there was no material whatever before the learned Subordinate Judge to justify the above enhancement and also that the learned Subordinate Judge erred in awarding interest at 6 per cent. per annum.
2. The learned Subordinate Judge has written an elaborate judgment in which he has discredited the witnesses of the claimants and has also rejected all the evidence produced before him. The learned Subordinate Judge made a personal inspection of the lands acquired and has noted the features of the lands present as a result of his personal inspection. Before I refer to. the impressions of his personal inspection. I shall deal with the documentary evidence in the case first.
3. The rate of 81/2 paise per sq. ft. was fixed by the Land Acquisition Officer on the basis of Exhibit B-l dated 27th July, 1964, registration copy of a sale deed, under which 1 acre and 11 cents were sold at Rs. 3,604 per acre. The learned Subordinate Judge rejected that sale deed on the ground that the land covered by that sale deed is a bit a way from the acquired lands and the facilities which the data lands have may not be available for it. On the other hand, Mr. R. Desikan, learned Counsel for the respondents herein, sought to sustain the award of compensation made by the learned Subordinate Judge, with reference to Exhibits A-1 to A-6.
4. The learned Subordinate Judge refers to Exhibits A-1 to A-3 dated 31st April, 1962, 6th August, 1962 and 16th November, 1963 respectively, in paragraph 13 of his judgment under which the rate worked cut to 72 paise per sq. ft. The learned Subordinate Judge has pointed out that the lands covered by Exhibits A-2 and A-3 are at Dhadha-gapatti Village, that it was suggested to P. W. 1 that those lands are 7 furlongs away, that he admitted that there are 8 garden lands between the acquired lands and those lands, that he also categorically admitted that the lands covered under Exhibits A-1 to A-3 are adjacent to Weavers' Co-operative Society Colony and naturally the value would be comparatively very high that P.W. 2 spoke to the sales under Exhibits A-4 and A-5 that it was elicited from him that Exhibits A-4 and A-5 lands are near Trichy. main road and two flour mills had been put up in those sites and that therefore Exhibits A-4 and A-5 could not help to ascertain the correct market value of the acquired lands. Exhibit A-6 dealt with a land 19 x 20 and the consideration therefor is Rs. 1,000. P.W. 3 who spoke about Exhibit A-6 admitted that adjoining the land covered under Exhibit A-6 is a housing colony and on one side is the Nattamangalam road and on another side built up residential areas. Therefore, Exhibits A-1 to A-6, having regard to the special features and the qualities of the lands dealt with thereunder, cannot be of any help to ascertain the market value of the acquired lands. As a matter of fact R. W. 1 in his evidence stated that he did not consider Exhibits A-1 to A-6 sales because the lands sold thereunder were sold as house-sites. He also stated that those lands were six furlongs away from the acquired lands. With regard to the observation of the learned Subordinate Judge that the lands covered by Exhibits A-2 and A-3 are in Dhadhagapatti village, the learned Counsel for the respondents invited my attention to the statement of R.W. 1 in. his further cross-examination that Exhibits A-1 to A-6 lands are inside the village limits. Even assuming that the lands covered by Exhibits A-1 to A-6 are inside the village limits, that will not mean that the lands dealt with there under are comparable to the lands acquired, for the reasons I have already indicated on the basis of the discussion of the learned Subordinate Judge in the course of his judgment. Thus, it will be seen that Exhibits A-1 to A-6 cannot be of any assistance whatever to the respondents herein.
5. Even assuming that any assistance can be derived from Exhibits A-1 to A-6, they do not show the market value at 20 paise per sq. ft. which has been fixed by the learned Subordinate Judge in the present case. There must be some material or some reasoning for fixing compensation for the lands acquired at 20 paise per sq. ft., and admittedly the learned Subordinate Judge has not given any reason whatever for fixing the compensation at 20 paise per sq. ft.
6. Now, I shall refer to the impressions and the record made by the learned Subordinate Judge as a result of his personal inspection. The notes of inspection themselves have been marked as Exhibit C-1. According to the learned Subordinate Judge:
The land acquired is a triangular piece of land abutted on the east and south by two roads, and there is a country road west of it. There are cultivable lands cast of the eastern road, west of the cart track, and south of the acquired land. There is a burial ground which is just east of the eastern road. On the southern side within a few yards, the village proper begins. Considering the fact of the cultivable lands being situated on three sides, it cannot be stated that it was unfit to be a cultivable land. Even the claimants do not dispute the fact that prior to 1961, it was an agricultural land. As it abuts the village and abuts the road, it may be used as 'house sites. The adangal Exhibit B-3 had been filed to show that there had been cultivation of cotton even in 1963. Considering the above fact, it could be stated that the land was an agricultural land, and because it could be used as house sites, it had been acquired for Harijan Colony.
The above statement of the learned Subordinate Judge is contained in paragraph 6 of his judgment. In paragraph 14 of his judgment, the learned Subordinate Judge again stated:
It is clear from the notes of inspection and from the evidence that there are Harijan colonies on two sides of the acquired land. On one side of the acquired land, there is a drainage running south of the acquired land in which the tannary refuse water flows and it was emanating a stinky smell. Within a few feet of the acquired property, there is a burial ground and north of the acquired portion, there is a stream and there was no water at the time of the inspection. Situated under those surroundings, it is not likely to fetch a decent, price as suggested by the claimants. Further, the property is only in a minor Panchayat and there were no signs of any development within a few furlongs from the acquired land. It is seen from the evidence of R.W. 1 that there are only 200 houses in that place and except one or two small terraced houses all other houses are only tiled and thatched houses. Having seen the locality and the place, I feel that it cannot be stated that as a house site, it would have high potential value. It was also stated by R.W. 1 that there was not much demand for house sites in that place. On the other hand, I find that new buildings were coming up in and around the sites covered under the documents produced by the claimant which are very near Weavers' Co-operative housing colony and which is within a very short distance, from the Salem Municipal limits. It was also pointed out by the Government Pleader that even the town bus stops only about 1/2 mile and more away from the acquired land. I did not find any signs of any improvement or development in and around the village proper even. There were only a few shops as stated by P.W. 1.
Having stated so far which are not very complimentary to the acquired land, in the very next paragraph, the learned Subordinate Judge has stated:
The Land Acquisition Officer had fixed the value on the basis of Exhibit B-l. But that land is a bit away from the acquired land and the facilities which the data land has may not be available for it. Considering all the advantages and disadvantages, I find that the rate could be fixed at 20 paise per sq. ft.
7. Thus it will be seen that the fixation of 20 paise per sq. ft. is wholly and completely a guesswork and is arbitrary on the part of the learned Subordinate Judge having regard to the fact that no material whatever was referred to by him for fixing that rate. The learned Subordinate Judge himself has not stated on what grounds and for what reasons he has enhanced the compensation from 81/2 paise per sq. ft. to 20 paise per sq. ft. In all these matters an element of guess work is inevitable and compensation in respect of the acquired lands cannot be arrived at with any mathematical accuracy or maticulous exactitude. None-the-less there must be some material placed before the Court on the basis of which alone compensation should be fixed. In this case a reading of the judgment clearly shows that the learned Subordinate Judge rejected every bit of evidence produced on behalf of the respondents herein and still went on to fix the compensation at 20 paise per sq. ft.
8. Mr. R. Desikan, learned Counsel for the respondents, contended that in paragraph 15 of the judgment extracted already, the learned Subordinate Judge has considered and rejected Exhibit B-l and then only arrived at the market value of the acquired lands and therefore he was justified in enhancing the compensation to 20 paise per sq. ft. I am unable to accept this argument. On a reference under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act, the burden is on the owner of the land who claims higher compensation to prove that the compersation awarded by the Land Acquisition Officer is inadequate and to prove what is proper and reasonable compensation which should have been awarded to him If all the evidence produced by the owner before the Court is rejected the Court has no alternative but to confirm the award of compensation made by the Land Acquisition Officer, because under the law the Court has no power to reduce the compensation fixed by the Land Acquisition Officer. Therefore simply because the learned Subordinate Judge has choser to reject Exhibit B-l it cannot be contended that he has any jurisdiction to fix the compensation at 20 paise per sq. ft. arbitrarily.
9. The learned Subordinate Judge has also stated that the claimants would be entitled to get compensation with 6 per cent, interest. It is admitted that under the law the interest to which an owner of a land is entitled is 4 per cent, and not 6 per cent. Therefore, the learned Subordinate Judge has erred even in this behalf. Consequently on the compensation fixed by the land Acquisition Officer, the respondents-claimants would be entitled to interest only at 4 per cent, per month.
10. Under these circumstances, I have no alternative but to allow the appeal preferred by the State and accordingly the appeals are allowed, the enhancement of compensation ordered by the learned Principal Subordinate Judge is set aside and the compensation awarded by the Land Acquisition Officer will stand restored and the same will carry interest at 4 per cent, per month.
11. There will be no order as to costs.