1. This is an appeal under the Calcutta Improvement Appeals Act, 1911 against the decision of the Calcutta Improvement Tribunal awarding compensation far land that has been acquired in connexion with the operation of the Calcutta Improvement Trust. The President of the Tribunal held that the amount of compensation to be awarded in respect; of the market-value of the land should be calculated at the rate of Rs. 6,500 per cottah. The two assessors held that the market-value should be taken as Rs. 7,000 per cottah and the award was made in accordance with the opinion of the majority.
2. The claimant has appealed and the point of law pressed before us is that certain evidence was wrongly excluded. The learned President whose decision on points of law at the trial is binding on the assessors, refused to allow the claimant to adduce evidence about the amount of compensation awarded to him in respect of the set back and the compensation awarded in respect of the acquisition of premises Nos. 161, 162 and 163, Machua-bazar Street, No. 1, Upper Chitpur Road. The reason he gave was that in those cases the awards were made as the result of decisions given by the Civil Court in judicial proceedings, and ha held that the judgments were inadmissible under the provisions of the Indian Evidence Act relating to judgments and orders. We are unable to agree with him on this point. In assessing the market value of a piece of laud the price paid in other transactions relating to land in the neighbourhood must be of some value. What its value-is, it is for the Court of fast to determine; but we hold that it cannot be rejected as inadmissible on the ground given in the judgment of the learned President. For the view we take we have the authority of the Judicial Committee, of the Privy Council in the case of Secretary of State v. Indian General Steam Navigation and, Railway Co. (1909) 36 Cal. 967. In that case certain judgments of the High Court in other proceedings were relied on by the claimant. It was argued on behalf of the appellant to the Judicial Committee that these judgments were not evidence of the value of the land in dispute. Their Lordships, after stating in their judgment that the High Court in a very careful judgment had revised the earlier awards, dismissed the appeal, holding that no question of principle was involved in it. There cannot be a clearer authority that previous decisions in land acquisition cases are relevant in a subsequent case where the market value of lands in the same neighbourhood is in issue.
3. Another piece of evidence which we hold has been wrongly rejected is Exhibit 13; that relates to the sale of a piece of land in the neighbourhood in which there was a pucca building. We are unable to understand why this should not be relevant. It may be difficult to determine the value of the land apart from the building, but it is not necessarily so, and the claimant is entitled to put this evidence before the Court and ask the Tribunal, on a consideration of the evidence, to decide what portion of the purchase price represented the value of the whole land then sold. In rejecting the evidence the learned President referred to a decision of this Court. The case was not cited by him but we understand it to be the judgment of a Division Bench of this Court in the case of Manindra Chundra Nandi v. Secretary of State (1914) 41 Cal. 967. But an examination of the judgment in that case shows that no such principle was laid down as that in valuing waste land the evidence as to the sale of land with a building thereon was inadmissible. What was held in that case was that certain questions set out in the report were rightly disallowed. None of these questions related to a sale of land with buildings thereon. So far as that ruling asserts any principle, it follows the case of Harish Chandra Neogy v. Secretary of State (1907) 11 C.W.N. 875, and there also we find nothing to support the decision of the learned President.
4. The learned Government pleader was unable to support the decision of the learned President as being correct in law. His contention was that the learned President's language was inaccurate and that, when he spoke of inadmissible evidence he meant evidence that was of no value. But we must interpret the judgment according to the plain meaning of the words used. It was further contended that we should not interfere because the claimant had been in no way prejudiced by the exclusion of this evidence. Sitting as a Court of Appeal, with our powers so limited that we cannot consider the evidence on the facts, we are unable to say, that the claimant has not been prejudiced. It is pointed out that the majority of the Tribunal held that the land would be normally worth at least Rs. 9,000 per cottah and that this in itself shows that their award was unaffected by the exclusion of this evidence. But we are unable to say that if this evidence had been considered by them they might not have put the normal value at a higher figure than Rs. 9,000 and the actual value higher than Rs. 7,000 per cottah.
5. We must, therefore, allow this appeal. We set aside the award of the Tribunal and direct that the reference be re-heard after admitting the evidence which we hold to be wrongly excluded.
6. The appellants will get their costs of this appeal from the respondent. The costs in the lower Court both before and after remand will be at the discretion of that Court.