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The State of West Bengal Vs. Somendra Kumar Mitra and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectArbitration;Constitution
CourtKolkata High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSupreme Court Appeal No. 69 of 1972
Judge
Reported inAIR1975Cal335
ActsConstitution of India - Article 133(1); ;Defence of India Act, 1939 - Section 19(1)
AppellantThe State of West Bengal
RespondentSomendra Kumar Mitra and ors.
Appellant AdvocateC.D. Roy Choudhury, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateSankar Lal Seal, Adv. for ;Tarak Nath Roy, Adv.
DispositionApplication dismissed
Cases ReferredAbboy Reddiar v. Collector of Chingleput
Excerpt:
- .....amaresh roy and s. n. bagchi, jj., dated the 29th june, 1970. the judgment disposed of seventeen revision applications and two appeals preferred against orders made by anarbitrator appointed under section 19(1)(b) of the defence of india act, 1939. 2. certain lands lying in the neighbourhood of panagarh in the district of burdwan were acquired for purposes of defence by the government of bengal in september 1943 in exercise of the powers conferred by rule 75-a of the defence of india rules. as no agreement could be reached on the question of compensation payable for acquisition, the central government in exercise of the powers conferred by section 19 (1) (b) of the act appointed an arbitrator to adjudicate on the quantum of compensation. the arbitrator duly made his award for payment.....
Judgment:

S.K. Mukherjea, J.

1. This is an application for grant of a certificate under Article 133(1) of the Constitution for appeal to the Supreme Court from a judgment and decree of a Division Bench consisting of Amaresh Roy and S. N. Bagchi, JJ., dated the 29th June, 1970. The judgment disposed of seventeen revision applications and two appeals preferred against orders made by anArbitrator appointed under Section 19(1)(b) of the Defence of India Act, 1939.

2. Certain lands lying in the neighbourhood of Panagarh in the district of Burdwan were acquired for purposes of defence by the Government of Bengal in September 1943 in exercise of the powers conferred by Rule 75-A of the Defence of India Rules. As no agreement could be reached on the question of compensation payable for acquisition, the Central Government in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 19 (1) (b) of the Act appointed an Arbitrator to adjudicate on the quantum of compensation. The Arbitrator duly made his award for payment of compensation in each and every case at a specified rate. In two cases where the compensation exceeded the prescribed minimum, (Rupees Five Thousand) appeals were preferred against the award under Section 19 (1) (f) of the Act and in seventeen cases, where appeal did not lie, revision applications were filed in this Court.

3. It was contended on behalf of the State before the learned appellate court that no revision lies from an award made by an Arbitrator appointed under Section 19 (1) (b) of the Act having regard to the fact that an arbitrator is not a Court subordinate to the High Court and also because under Section 19 (1) (g) of the Act no other law for the time being in force, applies to arbitrations under the Act. The appellate court rejected these contentions and disagreeing with a judgment of a learned single Judge of the Madras High Court in Abboy Reddiar v. Collector of Chingleput, : AIR1952Mad45 held that a revision application lies in the High Court against an order of an arbitrator appointed under Section 19 (2) of the Defence of India Act. Having held so, the learned Judges proceeded to dispose of the revision cases and the appeals on merits. By the order of the appellate court the rate of compensation was enhanced in each and every case.

4. The proceeding out of which the present application arises was a revision application which was disposed of by a common judgment. It is contended before us that the learned Judges fell into error in holding that revision lies from an award made by an arbitrator appointed under Section 19 (2) of the Defence of India Act. Whether an application in revision lies or not from an award is a substantial question of law. Moreover, the question has been answered differently by the Madras High Court in the case reported in : AIR1952Mad45 and by this Court in the group of cases with which we are concerned. There is, therefore, a substantial question of law on which two High Courts have not seen eye to eye.

5. Learned Advocate, appearing on behalf of the petitioner, submitted that even today there are a large number of pending cases of acquisition under Defence of India Act, 1939 in which Arbitrators have been appointed under Section 19 (2) of that Statute. The substantial question of law is, therefore, of general importance within the meaning of Article 133(1) of the Constitution. It is not difficult to agree with the learned Advocate that that is so. The question which remains for us to be considered is whether in our opinion, the question is one which needs to be decided by the Supreme Court. On a fair reading of the relevant provisions of Article 133(1) of the Constitution it is clear that the High Court has been vested with a large discretion in the matter of granting a certificate. Even when all other ingredients of the relevant Article have been established the High Court has still to consider whether it is necessary for the Supreme Court to pronounce on a substantial question of law of general importance involved in the appeal.

6. After giving the matter our anxious consideration, we are of opinion that here the question is not one which needs to be decided by the Supreme Court. It is not for the Court hearing an application for grant of a certificate to pronounce on the merits of the judgment from which appeal is sought to be preferred. We, therefore, refrain from expressing our views on the judgment even if we were inclined to do so. However, if the learned Judges are wrong, that is to say, if it be the correct law that no revision lies from an order made by an arbitrator, the error may be corrected in future by a Special Bench of this Court, if need be. It is not, in our view, necessary to settle the question in these proceedings. In similar proceedings which may arise in future the Union of India and the State will be necessary parties and they will always be able to agitate this question before a Division Bench and thereafter, before a Special Bench. To refuse a certificate may result in some inconvenience to the petitioner but that is no reason why we should hold that the question of law raised by the judgment of the appellate court needs to be decided by the Supreme Court, particularly having regard to the small stake involved in this case.

7. In the view we have taken, we refuse the grant of a certificate with some regret. The application is dismissed but there will be no order for costs.

8. Let the certified copy of the judgment of the appellate court be returned to the learned advocate, appearing on behalf of the petitioner on furnishing a plain copy.

Sudhamay Basu, J.

I agree.


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