Mazumdar Vs. The Collector of Cachar  INSC 1065 (3 September 1996)
K. Ramaswamy, K.Faizan Uddin (J)
O R D
appeal by special leave arises from a very elaborate and well considered
judgment of the Division Bench of the Assam High Court made on February 26, 1982 in First Appeal No. 29/65. The
admitted position is that on February 13, 1959,
60 bighas of land was requisitioned under the Assam Land (Requisition and Acquisition) Act,
by publication of the notification under Section 8(1A) of the Act the land was
acquired for the public purpose for settlement of the refugees from Bangladesh. The Land Acquisition Officer
applying the provisions of Section 7(1A) of the Act determined the compensation
@ Rs. 297.69 rounded off to Rs. 300/- per bigha. On appeal, the Division Bench
has confirmed the same but awarded interest at 6% from the date of taking
possession till date of payment. Thus, this appeal by special leave.
learned counsel for the appellant, contended that the land was taken on grant
from the Government on August
8, 1872 for special
the compensation was required to be determined under Section 23(1) of the Land
Acquisition Act, 1894 (1 of 1894) (for short, the "Act") as envisaged
under Section 7(1) of the Act. As specified in sub-section (1) of Section 7 of
the Act, his contention focuses mainly on the question whether the land is
lying fallow or is for special cultivation. The learned counsel contends that
the courts below have not properly understood the contents of the documents and
interpreted the law in that perspective and, therefore, this Court is required
to go into that question.
further contended that though Section 7(1A) of the Act which has been
specifically incorporated in the Assam Land (Requisition and Acquisition) Act,
1964 reiterates what is stated in Section 11 thereof, it is violative of
Article 14 of the constitution. In support thereof, he places strong reliance
on a dissenting judgment dated September 28, 1981 of one of the Judges of a Full Bench of five Judges in C.R.No. 28/67
and batch. Shri Chaudhary, learned senior counsel appearing for the State,
placing reliance on the judgment of this Court, H.P. Baruah vs. The Collector of
Sibsagar, Assam [AIR 1976 SC 68], contended that the controversy has been
concluded by the said judgment in which is was held that for uncultivated or
fallow land and that Section 7(1) stands applicable. In view of the respective
contentions, the question that arises for consideration is what is the nature
of the land acquired ? The reference Court raised issued No. 3 in that behalf
and considered the question elaborately. It held thus :
the perusal of Ext.12 I find that there are certain limitation even though the
lands are redeemed grants. I do not find anything in support of the claimant at
XXV and XXVI of introduction of Assam Land Revenue Manual, Vol I, that the
lands acquired were not grains but fee simple estate pure and simple.
an undisputed fact that the acquired lands were assessed with revenue by Assam
Act. No. XXIV of 1948 which Act was passed before the passing of the Assam Land (Requisition and Acquisition) Act, 1948. It may be true
that the words "special cultivation" might not appear in the rules
passed before 1876 but that does not go to show that the acquired lands were
sold to the company as fee simple Estate, pure and simple and by virtue of that
the company became the proprietor of land as like that of a fee simple estate.
These rules passed in different times are embodies in the Assam Land Revenue
Manual and those rules from a part of this book. Under these circumstances, I
am convinced that the acquired lands are grants for special cultivation.
the evidence placed before above, I am not in a position to accept the
contention of the claimant that there were thatch, shed tress and seedlings
etc. when the lands were requisitioned. From the evidence it is also found that
even seedlings were sometime raised on the slope of the tilla by the garden labourers
on payment of rent to the garden. So this cannot be construed as that lands
were utilised by the garden for the purpose for which those were given.
claimant has failed to show with any documentary evidence that paddy and thatch
were raised in some portion of the acquired lands before the lands were
requisitioned. On the other hand, the objector's witnesses, some of whom are
official witnesses, said that at the time of requisition the lands were lying
patty. I, therefore, find no substance in the argument that the lands were not
fallow, uncultivated or not utilised at the time when these were
requisitioned." After elaborate consideration, it was held that the land
was fallow uncultivated and not unutilized at the time when the property was
requisitioned. The Division Bench of the High Court again elaborately
considered the nature of the grant, nature of the acquisition and the nature of
the factual possession of the land as on the date of the requisition and it
relied upon another Division Bench judgment of that Court in First Appeal Nos.
67-68/69 decided on February 23, 1982 and concluded thus :
expression in the ease of land with respect to which any settlement has been
made for special cultivation or which is included in any grant, if such land is
lying fallow or uncultivated or is not utilised for the purpose or which the
grant or settlement was made or for the purposes unidentical thereto", has
to be given coherent and pragatic interpretation, the words 'fallow' or 'cultivated'
also being understood in the context of the concept of special cultivation for
which the grant was meant.
according to the Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary, means and that has
laid a year or more untilled or unseeded to kill weeds, make the soil richer
etc. land which has been ploughed or tilling of and without sowing it for a
season. It means left cultivated or planted.
to the same Dictionary, utilisation means utilising or being utilised. To utilise
is to profitable account or use, to make useful, as to utilise natural
resources. Thus, all the three expressions, namely, fallow, the three
expressions, namely, fallow, uncultivated and not utilised have to be
understood in the context of special cultivation for which the grant was made.
Cultivation of the land for a purpose foreign to special cultivation or utilisation
of the land for a purpose different from that which the grant was made, would
be as much as cultivation or unutilisation." Applying the above principle we
do not find any infirmity in the findings of the Reference Court that the land involved in this case was covered by Section
7(1A) of the Act and it would not fall under Section 7(1) of the Act. In this
view of the matter the sale deeds and the Jamabardi classification which does
not indicate the use of the land become irrelevant.
the Jamabandi is dated the
5th November, 1959
while the land become irrelevant. Besides, the Jamabandi is dated the 5th
November, 1959 while the land was requisitioned in 1954 and subsequently
acquired in 1959 by notification dated 13.2.1959.
said ratio was applied to the facts in this case and it was held that since the
lands were fallow uncultivated lands they got attracted and accordingly, it was
held that Section 7(1A) was inapplicable. Though Shri Choudhary sought to
impress upon us that land is fallow and, therefore, the land falls within
Section 7(1A), that would be seen under recital grant that would establish that
the lands were assigned by a grant for special cultivation.
the Assam Act of 1964, with a view to remove the ambiguity as to the
"special cultivation' under sub-section (2) of Section 11, the expression
has been defined to mean cultivation which involves, either owing to the nature
of the crop or owing to the process of cultivation, a much larger expenditure
of capital per acre than is incurred by most of the cultivators in the State
and includes cultivation of tea. It would be seen that the special cultivation
was meant to include cultivation higher capital outlay per acre than the
expenditure incurred for cultivation by the cultivators in the State and also a
cultivation of the tea which is against the special cultivation involves higher
investment of higher capital outlay. In view of the concurrent findings
recorded by the reference Court as well as the High Court that the land
remained as fallow, uncultivated or barren land, necessarily the conclusion
would be that the grant contained that the land was meant for special
cultivation. Consequently, Section 7(1) has no application to the determination
of the compensation as per prevailing market value as on the date of the
acquisition under the Act. We do not find that the Act is arbitrary. The full
Bench of five Judges in above judgment, per majority, has elaborately gone into
the question and concluded that Section 7(1A) is not arbitrary.
reason appears to be that the land having been assigned by the Government, when
it is needed for a public purpose, what the assignee would get in return is the
use and enjoyment thereof, he would be compensated with the payment of the land
revenue envisaged under Section 7 (1A) of the Act. It is settled law by catena
of judgments of this Court including one by the Constitution Bench that the
prescription of the principle for determination of the compensation is not violative
of Article 14 of the Constitution. Even in Bhim Singhji vs. Union of India, the
Constitution Bench of this Court has held that the payment of compensation for
the surplus vacant land acquired under the Ceiling Act under Section 6 (11) in
the sum of Rs. 2,00,000/- was not illusory.
from this perspective, we hold that determination of the compensation under
Section 7(1A) is not violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. The majority
of the Full Bench of the five Judges of the Assam High Court has rightly
concluded the issue. Accordingly, we hold that there is no illegality in the
impugned judgment. Moreover, when the High Court has consistently interpreted a
local law in a particular way, this Court would be slow to disturb their
interpretation unless compelling circumstances so warrant.
High Court has not applied wrong principle of law in determining the
compensation warranting interference.
appeal is accordingly dismissed but, in the circumstances, without costs.