1. The sole point urged on behalf of the State at the time of hearing of his appeal was that the learned Addl. District Judge should not have preferred the rates proposed in the tentative award over the rates approved by the Revenue Minister. In order to appreciate this contention, it will be necessary to give a few facts. The Government acquired land for storage tank commonly known as 'Arzan Gurzon' at Chari-Sharief. The land so acquired included the land belonging to the respondents. The Collector prepared a tenatative award and proposed the rates for the different kinds of land as under:-
Abi Awal ...Rs. 800/- per kanalMaidaniRs. 700/- -do-LabrooRs. 650/- -do-Uncultivatedland.Rs. 450/- -do-
The proposal went to the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, for its onward transmission to the Revenue Minister. The Divisional Commissioner sent back the proposal and asked the Collector to reconsider the rates in respect of Labroo and uncultivated land. The Collector revised the rates for Labroo and uncultivated land and fixed them as under:--
Labroo ... Rs. 500/- per kanalUncultivated land ... Rs. 400/- -do-
With this modification the recommendation finally went to the Revenue Minister. The Revenue Minister revised the rates as under:--
Abi Awal... Rs. 588.20 per kanalMaidani... Rs. 540.00 -do-Labroo... Rs. 307.23 -do-Uncultivatedland.... Rs. 354.60 -do-
Eventually the Collector passed an award assessing compensation on the basis of the rates as approved by the Revenue Minister. The respondents asked for a reference under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act. The matter came up before the Addl. District Judge, Srinagar. He has found that the rates proposed by the Collector in the tentative award were based upon objective consideration of the evidence and represented a nearest approximation to the market rates than those approved by the Revenue Minister which were arbitrary and based on no evidence. On this finding he passed the award accordingly. The State has appealed.
2. The argument of the learned counsel for the State is that the learned Addl. District Judge was not justified in throwing aboard the opinion of the Revenue Minister revising the rates. He urged that the Revenue Minister was not required by law to give any reasons. The powers exercisable by him in relation to revision of rates were administrative in nature. His opinion had an over-riding effect on the opinion expressed by the Collector in the tentative award and the same could not be excluded on the ground that it was not supported by reasons. For this, he relied upon Section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act. Section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act in so far as relevant reads thus:--
'Enquiry and award by the Collector: (1) On the day so fixed or any other day to which the enquiry has been adjourned, the Collector shall proceed to enquire into the objections, (if any,) which-
(a) Any person interested has stated pursuant to a notice given under Section 9 to the measurements made under Section 8 and into the value of the land at the date of the publication of the notification under Sub-section (1) of Section 4 and into the respective interest of the persons claiming the compensation.
(b) The head of the department or his nominee has stated pursuant to a notice given under Section 9-A and shall tentatively assess the compensation which, in his opinion should be allowed for the land.
(2) Where the amount of compensation tentatively assessed under Su-section (I) exceeds (the amount specified by the Govt. by notification) the Collector shall refer the record of the case along with the statement of the tentative assessment of compensation for approval of the Revenue Minister or an office specially empowered by him in this behalf.
(3) In a case referred by the Collector under Sub-section (2) the Revenue Minister or an officer empowered by him in this behalf shall, after considering the report of the Collector and after making such further inquiry as may be necessary, determine the proper value of the property to be acquired and communicate it to the Collector and the value so determined shall form the basis of compesation to be allowed for the land.'
3. The words 'after considering the report of the Collector and after making such further enquiry as may be necessary' occurring in Sub-section (3) of Section 11, are full of meaning. They unmistakably suggest that the Revenue Minister should make a speaking order after calling in further evidence, if necessary. Consideration implies application of mind. There can be no application of mind unless the mind is disclosed. There can be no disclosure of mind, unless the action is supported by reasons and logic. The Revenue Minister will be deemed to adopt the reasoning given by the Collector where he approves the tentative award. Where he does not propose to approve the tentative award, he must give his reasons which must be based' upon the objective assessment or the available evidence. Therefore we are not inclined to agree with the learned counsel for the State that the Revenue Minister will be competent to depart from the recommendations made by the Collector in the tentative award, without assigning any reasons. In any event, the opinion of the Revenue Minister would not bind the court though it may bind the Collector. The court is required to see if the award made by the Collector is a nearest approximation to the market value. In the present case, the learned Addl. District Judge has found that the rates proposed by the Collector in the tentative award represented a nearest approximation to the market value and not so the rates allowed, by him in the final award though such rates were approved by the Revenue. Minister. On this finding he has preferred the rates proposed in the tentative award over, those allowed in the final award. He cannot be said to have committed any impropriety much less any infraction of Sub-section (3) of Section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act in fact the learned Addl. District Judge has been more than fair to the State. On the oral and documental evidence produced by the respondents before him, the rates should have been slightly higher. Accordingly the argument of the learned counsel for the State is completely misconceived and cannot be allowed to prevail.
4. The result is that this appeal fails and is dismissed accordingly but without any order as to costs.