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Land Acquisition Collector Vs. Janki Dass and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty;Civil
CourtHimachal Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Misc. First Appeal Nos. 15, 16, 17, 19, 20 and 22 to 26 of 1966
Judge
Reported inAIR1967HP26
ActsLand Acquisition Act, 1894 - Section 18 and 18(1)
AppellantLand Acquisition Collector
RespondentJanki Dass and ors.
Appellant Advocate Chhabil Dass, Govt. Adv.
Respondent Advocate Tek Chand, Adv.
DispositionAppeals dismissed
Cases ReferredState of Uttar Pradesh v. Abdul Karim
Excerpt:
.....of precedents it had been held that district judge in a reference under section 18 had no jurisdiction to go into question of limitation - order of district judge upheld. -..........have been filed, by the land acquisition collector, mahasu, against the orders of the learned district judge, mahasu, passed in references, under s. 18 of the land acquisition act, (hereinafter referred to as the act), made at the instance of various respondents, in the appeals. though, the facts, in the appeals, are slightly different, yet the questions raised were one and the same and it will be convenient to dispose of all the appeals, by one judgment. 2. lands, situated in rohru town, were acquired, under the act for public purposes. the collector awarded compensation with respect to the acquisition of the lands. the respondents, in the present appeals, who were interested, as proprietors or tenants, in the lands, did not accept the awards of the collector. they filed.....
Judgment:

Om Parkash, J.C.

1. This judgment will dispose of Miscellaneous First Appeals Nos. 15 to 17, 19 and 20 and 22 to 26 of 1966. These appeals have been filed, by the Land Acquisition Collector, Mahasu, against the orders of the learned District Judge, Mahasu, passed in references, under S. 18 of the Land Acquisition Act, (hereinafter referred to as the Act), made at the instance of various respondents, in the appeals. Though, the facts, in the appeals, are slightly different, yet the questions raised were one and the same and it will be convenient to dispose of all the appeals, by one judgment.

2. Lands, situated in Rohru town, were acquired, under the Act for public purposes. The Collector awarded compensation with respect to the acquisition of the lands. The respondents, in the present appeals, who were interested, as proprietors or tenants, in the lands, did not accept the awards of the Collector. They filed applications, containing objections against the awards. The main objection was that the Collector had assessed the market value of the lands at a low rate.

3. The Collector, at first, rejected the applications of all the respondents on the ground that the applications had been filed after the prescribed period of limitation. But, subsequently, he referred the applications to the District Judge for determination of the objections of the respondents. The Collector had, while forwarding the applications, made an endorsement that references were being made without prejudice to the right of the Government to take up the plea of limitation.

4. The references were contested, on behalf of the Collector. It was denied that the market value of the lands, assessed by the Collector, was low. It was pleaded that the ap-Elications for making references, were barred y time and the references were not competent.

5. The learned District Judge was of the view that once the references had been made by the Collector, he (the District Judge) had no jurisdiction to go into the question whether the applications, filed by the respondents, were time-barred and the references were not competent on that ground. He, therefore, did not decide whether the applications were, in fact, time-barred or not. The learned District Judge was, further, of the view that the market value of the lands, assessed by the Collector, was low. On the basis of evidence, adduced before him, the learned District Judge fixed the market value of the land at Rs. 250 per biswa and enhanced compensation, in all the references.

6. The Collector has filed the present appeals against the orders of the learned District Judge.

7. The first contention, raised in the appeals, was that the learned District Judge was wrong in holding that he had no jurisdiction to go into the question whether the applications of the respondents were barred by time and the references were not competent. The contention is not sound. A reference Court, under the Act, is a Court of special jurisdiction. Its jurisdiction arises solely on the basis of the reference and it has no jurisdiction to determine matters not referred to it, vide K. Kanakara-thanna v. State of Andhfa Pradesh, AIR 1965 SC 304. The applications for referring the objections to the District Judge were made, in the instant cases, under S. 18 of the Act. That section reads:

'(1) Any person interested who has not accepted the award may, by written application to the Collector, require that the matter be referred by the Collector for the determination of the Court, whether his objection be to the measurement of the land, the amount of the compensation, the persons to whom it is payable, or the apportionment of the compensation among the persons interested.

(2) The application shall state the grounds on which objection to the award is taken.

Provided that every such application shall be made -

(a) if the person making it was present or represented before the Collector at the time when he made his award; within six weeks from the date of the Collector's award;

(b) in other cases within six weeks of the receipt of the notice from the Collector under Section 12, Sub-section (2), or within six months from the date of the Collector's award, whichever shall first expire.'

8. It is clear that a reference, under Section 18(1), can relate to four objections --namely the measurement of the land, the amount of compensation, the persons to whom it is payable and the apportionment of the compensation among the persons interested. As a reference Court, under the Act, derives jurisdiction from the reference, it can have jurisdiction to determine the aforesaid objections only. The objection, whether the application of the interested person was barred by time is not one of the objections, covered by Section 18(1). It follows that neither the Collector has jurisdiction to refer, nor the reference Court has jurisdiction to determine, the question whether the application, under Section 18(1) of an interested person, for making the reference, was barred by time. The subsequent sections of the Act confirm this view. Section 19 provides for making the reference by the Collector and specifies matters which are to be comprised in the reference This section does not require the Collector to state whether the application filed under Section 18(1) was within time or barred by time. Sections 20 and 21 clearly indicate that the scope of the enquiry in proceedings before the reference Court is restricted to the objections, under Section 18(1). Those objections, as already stated, do not include, an objection that the application for making the reference was barred by time. It will be relevant to point out that their Lordships of the Supreme Court had, in AIR 1965 SC 304 supra, held that in a reference under Section 30 of the Act, an interested person cannot raise, and the reference Court has no jurisdiction to determine, the question of quantum of compensation inasmuch as, that question is not one of the matters covered by Section 30.

9. The conclusion, from the above discussion, is that a reference Court has no jurisdiction to determine, in a reference, made on an application under Section 18(1) of the Act, the question whether the application was barred by time. The expression of an opinion, by the Collector, that the reference was being made, without prejudice to the right of the Government to take up the plea of limitation, cannot confer jurisdiction on the Court to determine the above question.

10. So far as judicial authority, on the point, whether a reference Court has jurisdiction to determine the question whether the application, made under Section 18(1), was barred by time, is concerned, there is a conflict of opinion. This conflict was noticed, though not resolved, by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in State of Punjab v. Mst. Qaisar Jehan Begum, AIR 1963 SC 1604. Their Lordships had observed:

'In the view which we have taken on the question of limitation, it is unnecessary for us to decide the other question as to whether the civil court, on a reference under S. 18 of the Act, can go into the question of limitation. We have already stated that there is a conflict of judicial opinion on that question. There is on one side a line of decisions following the decision of the Bombay High Court In re, Land Acquisition Act, (1906) ILR 30 Bom 275 which have held that the Civil Court is not debarred from satisfying itself that the reference which it is called upon to hear is a valid reference. There is, on the other side, a line of decisions which say that the jurisdiction of the civil court is confined to considering and pronouncing upon any one of the four different objections to a award under the Act which may have been raised in the written application for the reference. The decision of the Allahabad High Court in Secy. of State v. Bhagwan Prasad, ILR 52 All 96: (AIR 1929 All 769) is typical of this line of decisions. There is thus a mark-ed conflict of judicial opinion on the question.'

page 1607.

11. It is not necessary to refer to all the conflicting decisions on the question. Practically, all the decisions, on the question, were discussed in a Full Bench case of the Allahabad High Court, State of Uttar Pradesh v. Abdul Karim, AIR 1963 All 556 (FB) wherein the view taken in AIR 1929 All 769 was reaffirmed. The question, referred to the Full Bench was,

'where the District Judge, in a reference under S. 18 of the Land- Acquisition Act, can go into a question that the application for reference was not made to the Collector within the time prescribed in Section 18(2) of the Land Acquisition Act; and if so, can it refuse to? entertain the reference if it finds it to be time barred?'

This Full Bench, after considering various provisions of the Act and discussing practically all the previous decisions of the various High Courts on the point, answered that the District Judge, in a reference, under S. 18 of the Land Acquisition Act, has no jurisdiction to go into the question that the application for reference was not made within the prescribed period. The Full Bench gave very sound reasons, if I may say so with respect, for disagreeing with the cases which had taken the contrary view. I am in agreement with the view expressed in AIR 1963 All 556 (FB).

12. The District Judge was, therefore, right in holding that he had no jurisdiction to go into the question whether the applications, made by the various respondents, were barred by time, once the references had been made by the Collector. The first contention, raised in the appeals, fails.

13. The second contention, raised in the appeals, was that the learned District Judge was not justified in assessing the market value of land at Rs. 250 per biswa. This contention also must fail. There was unrebutted ample evidence, in all the references, that Rohru was a developing and expanding town and the lands acquired had the potentiality of being used as abadi sites. The respondents had produced oral as well as documentary evidence, which was practically the same in all the references, relating to sales of lands. The documentary evidence, adduced by the respondents, proved that the value of land in Rohru was not less than Rs. 250 per biswa. The Collector did not produce any evidence, with respect to the market value of the land. The evidence, adduced by the respondents, remained unrebutted. The learned District Judge was, therefore, justified in assessing the market value of the land at Rs. 250 per biswa.

14. No other point was urged in the appeals Ml the appeals are dismissed with costs.


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