1. This Rule is directed against an order of the specialLand Acquisition Judge, Asonsol, dated the 12th September, 1960, in L.A. Case No. 159 of 1960 by which he heldthat he had no jurisdiction to hear the case because there was no award and no reference in respect of Schedule B lands in the case.
2. The point in issue is whether there is a valid award and a valid reference by the Collector in respect or Schedule B lands (jungle lands). The award of the collectorwas that as the jungle lands vested in the State under the amended Estates Acquisition Act and as the petitioner owner had no subsisting interest in the same after the date of vesting, no compensation should be assessed for those lands and accordingly he awarded nil compensation to the petitioner. The petitioner was dissatisfied with the award and by a written application to the collector required that the matter be referred by the collector tothe Court under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. The petitioner categorically alleged that the refusal of the Collector to assess compensation for the lands and to give compensation to and to make an award in favour or the petitioner in respect thereof was illegal, that the lands ought to have been assessed and compensation for the same ought to have been awarded in favour of the petitioner, that the amendment of the Estates Acquisition Act didnot affect the right of the petitioner to get the compensation, that the lands vested in the State Government underthe Land Acquisition Act and the petitioner became en-titled to compensation, long before the amendment of the states Acquisition Act, that the lands should be assess ed at not less than Rs. 6501- per acre, that the costs of afforestation was Rs. 1402-02-6 pies, and the petitioner was entitled to get compensation on the basis aforesaid. Accordingly the petitioner prayed that the Collector be pleased to refer the matter to the District Judge for awarding compensation for the 'B' Schedule lands as claimed above. I hereupon the Collector made a reference to the Court under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act stating that the petitioner had not accepted the award and had by the accompanying application required that the matter be referred to Court. The letter of reference gave the area of the lands, stated that the petitioner and the State of West Bengal were interested therein, that the amount of compensation awarded was nil, that the amount of compensation was so determined on the ground that 'as the jungle-lands vested in the State under amended L.A. Act and the owners had no subsisting interest in the same after the date of vesting, no compensation was allowed' and that the nature of the objection taken to we award was 'determination of valuation.'
3. The learned Judge held that as the collector did not determine the value of the lands and refused to assess the compensation therefor one of the essentials of an award under Section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act 1894 viz: the compensation which in the opinion of the collector should be allowed for the land was wanting and consequently there was no award, and as the very basis of the reference was lacking, there was no valid reference to Court. We are unable to accept this finding. According to the Collector no compensation should be allowed for the lands as the lands had already vested in the State of West Bengal and consequently the State was not liable to pay any compensation therefor. The substance of the award is that as the acquiring authority itself owned the lands no compensation should be assessed or paid to the claimant. Having held that the claimant had no subsisting interest in the lands and having further held that no person other than the State of West Bengal was interested therein, the Collector thought that no useful purpose would be served by assessing the value of the lands, by Section 11 the Collector is required to make an award of the compensation which in his opinion ought to be allowed for the lands. The Collector decided that no compensation was payable to the claimant and he thought that on this finding he was not bound to assess the value of the lands and the compensation to be paid therefore. The award cannot be said to be a nullity because under these circumstances the Collector refused to assess The value of the lands and the compensation to be paid therefor, see Jivandas Khimji v. Smt. Narbada Bai, : AIR1959Cal519 . In his final speech Mr. Das conceded that in view of the decision cited he could not contend that the award was a nullity on the ground that value of the lands and the compensation, to be paid therefor had not been assessed by the Collector.
4. The learned Judge also held that neither the application nor the reference under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act was on the question of the person to whom we compensation was payable and that consequently he could not In this reference determine that the petitioner was entitled to the compensation and no useful purpose would therefore be served by proceeding with the reference. We are unable to accept this finding also. The award refused to give any compensation whatsoever to the petitioner on the ground that the lands had already vested in the State.in its application to the Collector the petitioner categorically objected to the award of nil compensation and asserted that condensation should have been awarded to the petitioner and stated the basis on which the compensation should have been assessed. The body or the application read with prayer makes it clear beyond doubt that theobjection of the petitioner was with regard to both the amount of compensation as also the person to whom itis payable. The letter of reference annexed this application as part of the reference had and the collector proceeded to make a reference as required by the application stating that nil compensation was awarded as the lands had vested in the State under the amended Estates Acquisition Act and the owner had no subsisting interest in the same after the date of vesting and this determination of valuation was objected to by the petitioner. Reading the letter of reference together with the application for reference, it is plain beyond doubt that the reference was asked for and made both on the question of amount of compensation as also on the question, as to whom the compensation is payable.
5. We have, therefore, come to the conclusion that the award is not a nullity and that the reference is competent and also that the reference to the Court is both with regard to (a) 'the amount of compensation and (b) the person to whom it is payable, it follows that the impugned order cannot be sustained and must be set aside. We pass the following order:The Rule is made absolute. The order of the learned Judge dated the 12th September, 1960, in L.A. case No. 159 of 1960 is set aside. We adjudge and declare that the award made by the Collector is not a nullity and that the reference made by the Collector to the Court is competent. We also adjudge and declare that the reference is both with regard to (a) the amount of compensation and (b) the person to whom it is payable. It will be the duty of the learned Judge to proceed with the reference and to hear and dispose of the same in accordance with raw and in accordance with the observations made above. There will be no order as to costs. C. R. 191 of 1961.
6. In view of our decision in C.R. 190 of 1961, recorded above, this Rule is also made absolute. The order of the learned Judge dated the 12th September, 1960, in LA Case No. 173 of 1960 is set aside. We adjudge and declare that the award made by the Collector is not a nullity and that we reference made by the Collector to the Court is competent. We also adjudge and declare that, the reference is both with regard to (a) the amount of compensation and (b) the person to whom it is payable. It will be the duty of the learned Judge to proceed with the Reference and to hear and dispose of the samein accordance with law and in accordance with theobservations made above. There will be no order as to costs.
A.C. Sen, J.
7. I agree.