T.R. Handa, J.
1. The petitioner's land was acquired under the Land Acquisition Act (hereinafter referred to as the Act). The award was announced on 31-7-1973. The compensation was paid to the petitioner on 26-8-1973 against receipt. Thereafter on 31-8-1973 the petitioner made a reference petition under Section 18 of the Act before the Collector requiring him to forward the same to the District Court for adjudication of the proper amount of compensation payable to him. The Collector vide his order dt. 2-1-1976 declined to forward that application to the District Court on the ground that the petitioner having received the amount of compensation without protest, the reference petition was not maintainable in law.
2. The petitioner now seeks to challengethe aforesaid order dt. 2-f-I976 passed bythe Collector refusing to forward his reference petition under Section 18 of the Act to theCourt for adjudication. The petitioner claimsthat the aforesaid order dt. 2-1-1976 waspassed in his absence and without affordinghim any opportunity of being heard and is,therefore, bad. His further contention isthat he had received the amount of compensation under protest and that his reference petition had been wrongly withheld bythe Collector.
3. In order to ascertain whether the amount of compensation had been received by the petitioner without protest or under protest, the Land Acquisition Collector was directed to produce the original record concerning acquisition of the land in question for perusal of the Court. Such record has now been produced by the Land Acquisition Collector. A perusal of this record shows that the amount of compensation was received by the petitioner against entry No. 1154 without protest. It may be observed that there were some other landowners like the petitioner who were shown to have received the amount of compensation under protest in the same record. The petitioner thus having received the amount of compensation without protest before filing his reference petition under Section 18 of the Act, the Collector in my view was perfectly justified in refusing to forward the reference petition to the court since such a reference petition did not lie.
4. The contention of the learned counselfor the petitioner is that the Collector couldnot take an ex parte decision on the pointwhether the amount of compensation hadbeen disbursed without protest or underprotest, and that it was obligatory on hispart to have conducted an inquiry in thematter after affording the petitioner an opportunity of being heard before coming tothis conclusion that the compensation wasreceived by the petitioner without protest. I,however find no substance in this contentionsince there is no provision in the Act whichenjoins upon the Collector to hold such, aninquiry. The relevant provisions are foundin Sections 18 and 31 of the Act and may be extracted for ready reference :
'18 (1). Any person interested who hasnot accepted the award may, by written application to the Collector, require that thematter be referred by the Collector for thedetermination of the Court, whether his objection be to the measurement of the land,the amount of the compensation, the personsto whom it is payable, or the apportionmentof the compensation among the persons interested xx xx xx'
'31 (1). On making an award under Section 11, the Collector shall tender payment of the compensation awarded by him to the persons interested entitled thereto according to the award, and shall pay it to them unless, prevented by some one or more of the contingencies mentioned in the next subsection.
(2) If they shall not consent to receive it or if there be no person competent to alienate the land, or if there by any dispute as to the title to receive the compensation or as to the apportionment of it, the Collector shall deposit the amount of the compensation in the Court to which a reference under Section 18 would be submitted:
Provided that any person admitted to be interested may receive such payment under protest as to the sufficiency of the amount.
Provided also that no person who has received the amount otherwise than under protest shall be entitled to make any application under Section 18: xx xx xx '.
5. A combined reading of these two provisions would show that a reference petition under. Section 18 of the Act call be made only by such of the interested persons who have not accepted the award. Section 31 then indicates as to what is meant by a person interested who has not accepted the award'.
Proviso (1) to Sub-section (1) of Section 31 lays down that any person admitted to be Interested may receive the payment of compensation under protest as to the sufficiency of the amount. The next proviso then clearly enjoins that no person who has received the amount otherwise than under protest shall be entitled to make any application under Section 18 of the Act. It is thus clear that before a person can be held entitled to make an application under Section 18 of the Act, it must be shown that he received the amount of compensation under protest. The law does give an option to receive the amount of compensation with or without protest and in case a person chooses the latter course, he will lose his right to apply for a reference under Section 18 of the Act. The Act is silent with respect to the manner in which the protest should be registered by a person interested to show that he does not accept the award. In the absence of any provision in the Act with respect to the manner and the procedure for registering such a protest, it looks reasonable to say that such a protest must be registered either before the payment is received or latest at the time of receiving the payment of the amount of compensation and that the registration of such a protest must appear on the record itself. Since the payment is made against receipt in writing, it is legitimate to conclude that the protest should also be registered in writing.
6. An application under Section 18 of the Act is required to be made before the Collector for onward transmission to the Court. Since in terms of Section 31(2) of the Act no reference petition under Section 18 of the Act lies at the instance of a person who has received the amount of compensation without protest, it would be the duty of the Collector to ensure before forwarding an application under Section 18 of the Act to the Court that the applicant had not received the amount of compensation without protest. The Collector can do so only after scrutinsing his own record since the protest, if any, is supposed to have been registered there. I do not think that it is necessary on the part of the Collector to hold an inquiry into the matter after giving a notice to the applicant when his own record shows that the amount of compensation had been received by the applicant without protest. In any case when there is no allegation in the reference petition itself that the amount of compensation had been received by the applicant under protest or that the applicant had not accepted the award before receiving the payment, there would arise no occasion for such an inquiry. I have perused the original reference petition filed by the petitioner under Section 18 of the Act and I find no allegation therein to the effect that the petitioner had received the amount of compensation under protest. It might have been a different matter in case the petitioner had alleged in his reference petition under Section 18 of the Act that he had received the amount of compensation under protest or that he had already registered his protest before receiving such payment. On the facts of the present case I find no infirmity, much less illegality, in the order of the Land Acquisition Collector refusing to forward the reference petition of the petitioner.
7. The learned counsel for the petitioner has drawn my attention to a judgment of the learned Single Judge of this Court in support of his contention that the Collector is bound to hold an inquiry into the matter after notice to the petitioner and only then can take a decision whether the amount was received under protest. That was a decision given in the facts of a particular case. An inquiry is called for when there is controversy between the parties. In the instant case, as already observed, there was no allegation before the Collector if the petitioner had registered his protest at the time of receiving the payment of the amount of compensation or at any earlier occasion and as such there arose ho question to hold any inquiry. On the facts of this case I find that the petitioner had received the amount of compensation without registering any protest and in the absence of any allegation to the contrary, there was no occasion to hold an inquiry into the matter. In these circumstances I find no merit in this revision petition which is accordingly dismissed.