1. This is an appeal by the Secretary of State for India in Council, against a decision of the President, Calcutta Improvement Tribunal, enhancing an award of the Land Acquisition Collector, Calcutta, made in favour of the claimant, by Rs. 25,645, for reasons stated in the judgment of the learned President. It appears that the President granted certificate that the case was a fit one for appeal on the ground that the Tribunal had for the first time perhaps extended a principle of valuation which the Collector had adopted in regard to small plots of land, to the determination of the market value of a fairly large-sized land on a common passage. In this connection it has to be mentioned, that the acquired premises were described in the Collector's award as 'premises No. 670, Beadon Street formed out of No. 67 Beadon Street, (portion),' comprising an area 1 B 12c. 2ch., 36 sq. ft. of land, could be approached by a common passage varying from 12 to 16 feet in width and apart from that they were practically landlocked; and one of the material questions raised in the case before the Tribunal was whether, the land should be valued as having a frontage on a sewered ditch from Nilmoni Mitter Street, or having been in the third belt of an 80 feet belting from Beadon Street. As stated by the President of the Tribunal in his judgment, that was the real issue in the case.
2. The President expressed the definite opinion in his judgment, that the method of valuation adopted by two experts examined in the case,-one on the side of the claimant, and the other on the side of the Government, could not be accepted; and they had to be discarded for the reason that the experts represented extreme views of valuing the property in question. The course followed by the President of the Tribunal mentioned as the sound course to follow in the matter of the valuation of the land, was to apply a principle that has sometimes been followed by the Collector,' and to give the land in question 75 per cent of the value given to a third belt of a property having frontage on Beadon Street. In the judgment of the President, there is no reference to the materials from which he came to the conclusion that the Collector followed the principle mentioned above, but there is reference to the acquisition of 69-6 Beadon Street comprising an area of 10 chittaks of land' in his 'order granting leave to appeal to this Court, from which it appears the Collector held Rs. 2,400 per cotta, to be the reasonable value considering the size and situation of the land, and in consideration of the accepted award of .premises No. 69-8 Beadon Street. It is impossible for us to deduce any principle from the Collector's award mentioned above, and we do not appreciate the reason for accepting the state of things shown in the same, as indicating any principle.
3. It may not be open to this Court in an appeal from the decision of the Calcutta Improvement Tribunal, to go into evidence in a case, for the purpose of ascertaining whether the valuation of the land in question, as made by the Tribunal, is proper or not; but on the judgment of the President of the Tribunal as it stands, there can be no doubt that the method of valuation followed in the case before us, was wholly unjustified. The President rejected the evidence of the valuers examined as experts by the parties concerned, and then adopted as basis of valuation, which we are unable to bold was based on any principle whatsoever; and there is absolutely no doubt that the method of valuation which the President has acted upon, is not supported by evidence on record. In the above view of the case, the decision of the President of the Calcutta Improvement Tribunal has to be set aside.
4. It is necessary to mention that in view of the real issue in the case, as stated by the President in his judgment, whether the land in question should be valued as the third belt of an 80 feet belting from Beadon Street the principle must be re-cognised and kept in view, that the im, mediate contiguity to a highway com.. monly called a frontage, is a powerful element in the value of all lands in populous localities. When frontage to a high road does not exist, propinquity and easy access to a high road are equally undoubted, elements of value: see Metropolitan Board of Works v. McCarthy (1875) 7 H L 243 at p. 263. On this principle, the question of valuation of land in the case before us, must in our judgment, be approached from this standpoint, as to whether or not the land acquired is one to which the basis of valuation by belts on lands having frontage on Beadon Street, could be applied, or whether the only basis that could reasonably be adopted in case of land of this nature, which was practically landlocked (as mentioned by the Collector in his award), was the one applicable to land where frontage to a highway does not exist, and propinquity and access to a high road are the matters to be taken into consideration, in determining the amount of compensation payable for acquisition of such land.
5. In view of the decision we have arrived at the judgment of the learned President of the Calcutta Improvement Tribunal cannot be supported on the ground stated by him. The decision and decree against which this appeal is directed, are set aside; and the case is remitted to the Tribunal for a fresh decision, in the light of the observations contained in the judgment, on the materials already on record, and on such further materials as the parties concerned may be advised to place before the Tribunal in support of their respective cases. The costs in this appeal; will abide the decision after remand; the bearing fee in this Court is assessed at 5 gold mohurs.