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O.A.O.A.M. Muthiah Chettiar (Died) and ors. Vs. the Revenue Divisional Officer (Land Acquisition Officer) - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1968)1MLJ107
AppellantO.A.O.A.M. Muthiah Chettiar (Died) and ors.
RespondentThe Revenue Divisional Officer (Land Acquisition Officer)
Cases ReferredR.H.C. Raj Singh v. Deputy Land Acquisition Officer
Excerpt:
- .....this petition under article 226 of the constitution with a request that the respondent officer (land acquisition officer) might be directed by a writ of mandamus to give him notice under section 12(2) of the act.2. in the counter affidavit of the respondent, it is stated that the notice under section 12(2) of the act was sent to the petitioner on 31st march, 1959 by registered post acknowledgment due, and that that notice was returned by the postal department, with the endorsement 'not found'. it is urged that the petitioner is not entitled to any notice under section 12(2) for a second time in the above circumstances.3. it appears to me that the contention thus raised in the counter affidavit is not sustainable. section 12(2) provides that the collector shall give immediate notice of.....
Judgment:
ORDER

P. Ramakrishnan, J.

1. The question for decision in this case is a brief one. The petitioner is the owner of a certain land in Valavanur village in South Arcot District, which was proposed to be acquired for the purpose of the District Board High School. It was common ground that he was one of the persons who filed their claims before the acquiring officer, as a person interested in the land. The award was passed on 31st March, 1959. The petitioner admitted that he was not present at the award. But his contention is that, as one of the persons interested in the land and who had filed a claim in respect of it, he was entitled to the statutory notice under Section 12(2) of the Act (Land Acqusisition Act), so that, if aggrieved against the award of compensation, he could apply to the Collector under Section 18 of the Act within six weeks of the receipt of the notice from the Collector or within six months from the date of the Collector's award, whichever period shall first expire, for making reference to civil Court. The petitioner contended that on 27th October, 1959 he wrote to the Collector as to the stage at which the matter was and the Collector replied on 15th November, 1959 that an award had been passed on 31st March, 1959. Thereafter, the petitioner filed a writ petition in this Court, W.P. No. 76 of 1964 praying for a mandamus, directing the Collector to give him the statutory notice under Section 12(2) of the Act. Veeraswami, J., who disposed of the petition, observed that the petitioner should approach the Collector for necessary relief, before moving this Court, and dismissed the writ petition. The petitioner, thereafter, applied to the Collector on 19th March, 1964 praying that he might be given the statutory notice under Section 12(2). But the Collector informed him on 23rd March, 1964 that the statutory notice had already been given to him under Section 12(2). Thereupon, the petitioner has filed this petition under Article 226 of the Constitution with a request that the respondent officer (Land Acquisition Officer) might be directed by a writ of mandamus to give him notice under Section 12(2) of the Act.

2. In the counter affidavit of the respondent, it is stated that the notice under Section 12(2) of the Act was sent to the petitioner on 31st March, 1959 by registered post acknowledgment due, and that that notice was returned by the postal department, with the endorsement 'not found'. It is urged that the petitioner is not entitled to any notice under Section 12(2) for a second time in the above circumstances.

3. It appears to me that the contention thus raised in the counter affidavit is not sustainable. Section 12(2) provides that the Collector shall give immediate notice of his award to the persons who are interested and who are not personally present at the time of the award. Section 18 which is the relevant section for making reference to Court, grants to the aggrieved person six weeks' time from the date of receipt of the notice from the Collector under Section 12(2). This would show that the notice to be a valid notice should not only be sent by registered post, but should also be delivered to the claimant, because, without such delivery there could be no receipt. The position is made further clear in Section 45 of the Land Acquisition Act, wherein the statute itself lays down the provisions for proper service of notices under the Act. The ordinary rule of service mentioned in Section 45 is delivering or tendering a copy of the notice to the person concerned, and if the person could not be found it can be served on any adult male member of the family residing with him. If no such adult male member could be found, it can be served by affixture of the notice in his house. The proviso to Section 45(3) permits the Collector to send a notice by registered post. But in that event, the factum of service should be proved by the production of the addressee's receipt. As the petitioner was not served with the postal notice in this case, it could not be deemed to be valid service of the registered post notice, under the proviso above mentioned to Section 45. The Land Acquisition Officer is obliged, for the purpose of compliance with the statute, to resort to one of the several modes mentioned in Section 45, i.e., either by delivery of tender or by service by affixture to the house and if any such mode of service cannot be undertaken, then by actual service of a notice sent by registered post. But such service has not been effected in this case.

4. For the above reasons, I am of opinion that there has been no valid service of the notice under Section 12(2) as required under the Statute, on the petitioner in this case, and the petitioner is, therefore, entitled to a writ of mandamus as prayed for by him directing the issue of a fresh notice under Section 12(2) in one of the methods of service provided in Section 45 of the Act.

5. There was an argument by learned Counsel for the Government that such service cannot be of any avail for the purpose of obtaining remedy under Section 18 of the Act, because the six months period from the date of the Collector's award has already expired. This argument however does not take to account the principle laid down by the Supreme Court in R.H.C. Raj Singh v. Deputy Land Acquisition Officer : [1962]1SCR676 , where, dealing with the date of the award for the purpose of computation of limitation under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act, the Supreme Court observed that the date of the award should not be determined solely by reference to the time when it was signed by the Collector or delivered by him in his office, but it must involve the question as to when it was known to the party concerned either actually or constructively. Therefore if the petitioner can show that, notwithstanding the fact that the award in this case was passed on 31st March, 1959 he had no means to know of it either actually or constructively, it will be open to him to compute the period of limitation from the date of service of a proper notice under Section 12(2) of the Land Acquisition Act.

6. The writ petition is, therefore, allowed. There will be no order as to costs.


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