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Union of India (Uoi) Vs. National Investment Co. Ltd. and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty;Civil
CourtKolkata High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Rule Nos. 3021 and 3022 of 1973
Judge
Reported inAIR1976Cal107
ActsWest Bengal Estates Acquisition Act, 1954 - Sections 3, 4, 5, 6, 6(1) and 6(5); ;Acquisition of Immoveable Property Act, 1952
AppellantUnion of India (Uoi)
RespondentNational Investment Co. Ltd. and ors.
Appellant AdvocateS.C. Bose and ;P.N. Chandra, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateNirmal Kr. Ganguly, Adv.
Excerpt:
- .....properties covered in the said two disputes. the learned arbitrator has inter alia held that the west bengal estates acquisition act, 1953 did not apply in respect of the properties involved in these two cases. therefore, the two cases before him were maintainable in law.2. in the year 1944, the then government of india under rule 75-a (1) of the defence of india rules, 1939 had requisitioned the disputed plots of land for the purpose of the defence of india. the said requisition had been continued under the requisitioned land (continuance of powers) act, 1947, thereafter under the requisitioning and acquisition of immovable property act, 1952. on june 4, 1959, the central government under section 7 of the said act acquired the same. no agreement fixing the amount payable for such.....
Judgment:

Chittatosh Mookerjee, J.

1. The Union of India has obtained the present Rules against the preliminary decision of the learned Arbitrator in an arbitration referred to him under Section 8(1)(b) of the Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property Act, 1952 that the opposite party No. 1 was entitled to get compensation for the properties covered in the said two disputes. The learned Arbitrator has inter alia held that the West Bengal Estates Acquisition Act, 1953 did not apply in respect of the properties involved in these two cases. Therefore, the two cases before him were maintainable in law.

2. In the year 1944, the then Government of India under Rule 75-A (1) of the Defence of India Rules, 1939 had requisitioned the disputed plots of land for the purpose of the Defence of India. The said requisition had been continued under the Requisitioned Land (Continuance of Powers) Act, 1947, thereafter under the Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property Act, 1952. On June 4, 1959, the Central Government under Section 7 of the said Act acquired the same. No agreement fixing the amount payable for such acquisition could be reached. The Governor of West Bengal in exercise of his powers under Section 8(1)(b) appointed Sri S.S. Ganguli as the Arbitrator for determining the said compensation and the person or persons entitled to such compensation.

3. It is admitted that in March, 1972, a Revenue Officer of the Government of West Bengal had started B. R. Case No. 10 of 1972 for giving an opportunity to the opposite party No. 1 of being heard and for exercising its choice for retention of land under Sub-section (1) of Section 6 of the West Bengal Estates Acquisition Act. On March 23, 1972, the said Revenue Officer allowed the opposite party No. 1 to retain certain lands including the lands which were originally requisitioned under Rule 75-A of the Defence of India Rules, 1939 and was ultimately acquired under Section 7 of the Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property Act, 1952. In other words, the State of West Bengal allowed the opposite party No. 1 to retain the lands, which had been acquired on June 4, 1959, the determination of compensation of which was the subject matter of the aforesaid dispute cases before the learned Arbitrator. According to the opposite party No. 1, the authorities under the West Bengal Estates Acquisition Act treated as a raiyati holding the aforesaid plots of land along with other lands at the date of vesting of the intermediary interests.

4. The State Government by a notification under Section 4 had declared that with effect from April 14, 1955, all estates and the rights of every intermediary shall be vested in the State free from all encumbrances. After the provisions of Chapter VI of the West Bengal Estates Acquisition Act came into force, the State Government issued a notification under Section 4 declaring that raiyati and under-raiyati interests would vest in the State free from all encumbrances with effect from April 14, 1956. At the date of vesting, the above plots of land were under requisition and the owner thereof was entitled to retain them under Clause (k) of Section 6(1) of the West Bengal Estates Acquisition Act so much of the said requisitioned land as he would be entitled to retain after taking into consideration any other land which he might have retained under the other clause of the said Act. Under explanation to Clause (k) of Section 6(1) the 'requisitioned land' means 'any land which was in the khas possession of the intermediary and which was requisitioned by the Government under the provisions of any law for the time being in force or was occupied by Government in pursuance of Rule 49 of the Defence of India Rules and continued to be subject to requisition or occupation on the date mentioned in the notification issued under Section 4.'

5. We are unable to accept the submission made on behalf of the petitionerUnion of India that the respondent Companywas not entitled to retain these requisitionedfend under Section 6(1) of the West BengalEstates Acquisition Act. In the first place,the certified copy of the proceedings of theB. R. Case No. 10 of 1972 under Section 6(5)of the West Bengal Estates Acquisition Actproduced in the present cases established thatthe Revenue Officer concerned had allowedthe petitioner to retain the said requisitionedland. The learned Arbitrator has also recorded that the R. S. Record of Rights inrespect of these lands were revised by recording the name of opposite party No. 1 inthe relevant R.S. Khatian. So long as theorder passed in the proceeding under Section 6(5) stands, it is not open to the Unionof India to contend that requisitioned landsvested in the State of West Bengal on andfrom the date specified in the relevant notification under Section 4 of the West BengalEstates Acquisition Act.

6. There is no substance in the contention of the petitioner that the orders in B. R. Case No. 10 of 1972 under Section 6(5) of the West Bengal Estates Acquisition Act were passed after the Union of India had already acquired the requisitioned lands, and, therefore, the said orders were ineffectual. Right of intermediary to retain lands is to be decided under Section 6(1) read with Section 6(5) of the West Bengal Estates Acquisition Act with reference to the date of vesting. Upon the publication of a notification under Section 4 of the Act, all estates and the rights of intermediaries to which declaration applied vested in the State free from all encumbrances. But, opening words of Sub-section (1) of Section 6 is 'notwithstanding anything contained in Sections 4 and 5 the intermediary shall except in the case mentioned in the proviso to Sub-section (2), but subject to other provisions of that Sub-section be entitled to retain' the different categories of land mentioned in Sub-clauses (a) to (I) as might be applicable.

7. After orders were passed in the above B. R. Case No. 10 of 1972, the opposite party No. 1 under Sub-section (2) of Section 6 must be deemed to be holding the retained lands directly under the State of West Bengal as a tenant subject to the terms and conditions prescribed by the West Bengal Estates Acquisition Rules and subject to payment of rent. Thus, once the order, dated March 23, 1972 in B. R. Case No. 10 of 1972 was passed the same took effect from the date of vesting and since the said date the opposite party must be deemed to be holding its retained lands including lands under requisition directly under the State of West Bengal from the said date of vesting. In the instant cases, the date of acquisition of the requisitioned property was June 4, 1959, that is, after the date of vesting of intermediary interests under the West Bengal Estates Acquisition Act, 1953. Therefore, it is not open to the Union of India to contend that the opposite party No. 1 who had been allowed by the State Government under Section 6 to retain the requisitioned land was not a person, interested in the said property.

8. The learned Arbitrator, in our view, committed an error apparent on the face of the record by holding that the petition of the requisitioned land by opposite party No. 1 was of no avail to it because by the time the said cases were started the referring claimants had lost their right to retain the said properties. As already stated, the question of retention under Section 6 of the West Bengal Estates Acquisition Act is to be decided with reference to the state of things existing at the date of vesting specified in the notification under Section 4 of the West Bengal Estates Acquisition Act and not at the subsequent date when orders are ultimately passed in the proceedings under Sub-section (1) read with Sub-section (5) ofSection 6 of the West Bengal Estates Acquisition Act. We have already referred to Clause (k) of Sub-section (1) of Section 6 which provides for retention of so much of requisitioned lands which do not exceed the ceilings laid down by other clauses of Sub-section (1). The State Government having allowed the opposite party No. 1 to retain the requisitioned land the learned Arbitrator was wrong in holding that the Central Government had acquired the properties from the State Government and not from the opposite party No. 1. After giving an opportunity to opposite party No. 1 to retain the requisitioned lands it was not open to the Arbitrator to hold that the opposite party No. 1 had failed to exercise their right to retain the said lands and the same had vested in the State of West Bengal. For the above reasons, we hold that the learned Arbitrator had committed an error apparent on the face of the record in holding that the Central Government had acquired the property after the same had vested in the State of West Bengal.

9. The learned Arbitrator also committed an error apparent on the face of the record in interpreting the second proviso to Section 3 of the West Bengal Estates Acquisition Act. Section 3 gives an overriding effect to the provisions of the West Bengal Estates Acquisition Act. The said provision, however, is subject to two exceptions. In the first place, nothing in the West Bengal Estates Acquisition Act applies to any land held by a Corporation not being a local authority or a Company established by or under any law for the time being in force. The second proviso to Section 3 runs as follows:

'Provided further that nothing in this Act shall affect any land possession of which was taken by the State Government before the date mentioned in the notification issued under Section 4, in furtherance of any proposal for acquiring such land, whether any formal proceedings for such acquisition were started or not, and proceedings for acquisition of such land may be continued or commenced as if this Act had not been passed.'

The said proviso provides that the West Bengal Estates Acquisition Act shall not apply when the State Government had taken possession of any land before the date of vesting, in furtherance of any proposal for acquiring such lands. In such a case, proceedings for acquisition of such lands may be continued or commenced.

10. The Shorter Oxford, English Dictionary, 3rd Edition, Vol. I at page 764 gives the meaning of the word 'furtherance' as 'the fact or state of being helped forward; the action of helping forward; advancement, aid'.

11. In the instant case, the possession of these lands was taken by the then Government of India under requisition orders passed under Rule 75-A of the Defence of India Rules, 1939. Neither the Defence ofIndia Act, 1939 nor the Defence of India Rules provided that all requisitioned lands would be ultimately permanently acquired. The then Government of India had a choice either to acquire the requisitioned land or to release the same from the requisition. The power conferred by Section 7 of Act 30 of 1952 upon the Central Government to acquire the requisitioned property is subject to the two conditions specified in Sub-section (3) of Section 7. The Sub-section (3) provides that 'no property shall be acquired under Section 7 except in the two circumstances specified therein.' Provisions contained in the said Act and the Rules relating to requisition and for permanent acquisitions were distinct and separate. The former was not in aid of the latter. Thus, in these cases the lands were requisitioned not with the object of permanently acquiring them. The Government of India did not requisition these plots for helping any proposal for acquisition.

12. It is common knowledge that in order to cope with the sudden influx of a large number of displaced persons the State Government had taken possession of a number of plots of land without completing formal proceedings for their acquisition. In these cases, the Government before taking possession had already decided that the lands should be acquired, but because of the urgency formalities for acquisition could not be completed before possession of the lands was taken.

13. We might also refer to some of the statutes which empower the Government to take possession even before completing all the formalities for acquisition in a number of cases. Under Section 27(1) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 :

'In cases of urgency, whenever the appropriate Government so directs the Collector, though no such award has been made, may, on the expiration of fifteen days from the publication of the notice mentioned in Section 9, Sub-section (1), take possession of any waste or arable land needed for public purposes or for a Company.........'

Similarly, Section 7 of the West Bengal Land Development and Planning Act, 1948 contains special provisions in cases of urgency.

14. Thus, the second proviso to Section 3 of the West Bengal Estates Acquisition Act ensures the commencement and continuance of these acquisition proceedings even after the vesting and at the same time protects claims of persons interested in such lands of which possession was taken before the vesting in furtherance of proposals for acquisition of the said lands, but without fulfilling the requirements for vesting under the particular acquisition law. In the instant cases, the requisition of lands cannot be said to have been made in furtherance of any proposal for acquiring them, and, therefore, the requirements of the second proviso to Section 3 were not fulfilled.

15. Therefore, the learned Arbitrator committed an error apparent on the face of the record by holding that the provisions of the West Bengal Estates Acquisition Act, 1953 did not apply to these requisitioned lands. Although, we do not agree with the reasonings given by the learned Arbitrator, we hold that the opposite party No. 1 is a 'person interested', and the preliminary objection of the petitioner has no merit, and, therefore, the learned Arbitrator should proceed to dispose of the dispute in cases in accordance with law.

16. Subject to the aforesaid observations, we discharge these two Rules.

17. There will be no order as to costs.

18. Let the records go down expeditiously.

S.K. Bhattacharyya, J.

19. I agree.


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